1. Alexis Lafreniere - The easiest ranking in my list. His blend of smarts, skill, speed, shot, and work-ethic is very rare. I don't think his potential is that much higher than the players than those ranked from 2-6, but I think he's almost a guarantee to hit his upside.
2. Tim Stutzle - The gap between the players in this tier are razor-thin. That said, Stutzle's skating and vision along with the fact that he's proven himself against men is why he leads this tier. I think he's got a very got shot at being a Matthew Barzal type player. Yes, I think he'll be a center in the NHL.
3. Quinton Byfield - Byfield had an impressive season, but he doesn't have the consistent shift-to-shift impact that some of the others do. Maybe I've just caught his bad games, but can float and plays to passively. He is young, however, and has lots of untapped potential as he still hasn't figured out how to use his size. He could definitely prove me wrong with this ranking; he certainly has the tools to do so.
4. Marco Rossi - Rossi is right up there with Lafreniere for most complete player in the draft. He is an incredible passer and playmaker and is also a workhorse that is great in his own end. Brayden Point is a comparable. Despite his size and skating (which I think is a lot better than others give him credit for) I do think he'll be a center in the NHL.
5. Jamie Drysdale - Smooth is the word to describe Drysdale. His skating and smarts are both elite, and his defensive ability is great for his age. If he manages to bulk up, he's a good bet to become a #1 defenseman. He isn't as aggressive offensively as someone like Byram last year but he is incredibly mature for his age. He's more of a two-way puck moving defenseman than an offensive defenseman.
6. Lukas Raymond - I really want to rank Raymond higher than 6th. He's a dynamic skater with great hands and playmaking ability plus a dangerous shot. Yes, he hasn't had much opportunity in the SHL, but he's had the least impressive season out of the players in this tier and holds more risk than the rest of them. Again, there is very little separating him — and the rest of the players in this tier — from the number two spot.
7. Cole Perfetti - This is where things get a bit riskier. All the players in the previous tier are ones that I see as safe bets to be 1st-line forwards or #1 defenseman. Perfetti has that similar offensive upside but his skating could limit him in the NHL. He also isn't as engaged defensively as I'd like and I'd bet he becomes a winger in the NHL. In terms of pure offensive instincts and talent, I think he's top-5 in the draft.
8. Alexander Holtz - Similar to Perfetti, Holtz has top-line potential but also has some question marks. His best asset is his shot but he leaves something to be desired in other facets of the game. His shot selection can be poor at times and his defensive game could use a lot of work.
9. Jack Quinn - I'm a huge fan of Quinn, as the ranking might suggest. His skill, shot, and offensive instincts are all incredible, he's a good 2-way player, and he's got no glaring weaknesses. Could use to build more muscle to bulk up for the next level.
10. Noel Gunler - One of the best pure goal-scorers in the draft. He's got to keep his feet moving at times but I do like his level of hustle and commitment. He's decent defensively, a good skater, and an underrated passer. Consistency is his biggest challenge.
11. Connor Zary - Nothing elite about his game but no clear weaknesses either. Motor, hands, shot, and passing are all very good. He also comes in clutch when it matters. He can also be a bit of a pest which I love. I see him as a very safe bet to become a good 2C. A player like Bo Horvat is my comparison for him.
12. Rodion Amirov - He's agile, deceptive, owns a good shot, and is one of the top players in the draft at driving possession. He could use to improve his speed, but he is a good overall skater. Very good two-way player already.
13. Anton Lundell - Very efficient player with good defensive ability but I don't see the offensive upside to justify a top-10 pick. Numbers are impressive in the Liiga though. Skating needs lots of work. I wouldn't be surprised if he fails to get to the level people are expecting him to.
14. Mavrik Bourque - Bourque plays the game at his own pace, which is a very slow one. That isn't a bad thing; players like Leon Draisaitl excel at driving the play by slowing it down. Bourque has excellent passing, shooting, and smarts. His point totals are crazy good led by a 7-point night. I would say he is the best player in this tier at creating chances and might have the highest upside in this range. However, his average skating and lackadaisical defensive play make him a riskier selection.
15. Dawson Mercer - It is quite rare to see players of his age play in the WJC, and Mercer managed to hold his own. His shot and hands are great and I think he's an underrated skater. I'm not sure if I see him becoming an NHL center, but with his shot and offensive instincts he should still be very effective on the wing. Probably one of the more NHL-ready players in the draft.
16. Jan Mysak - Mysak is a bit more of a north-south player than I'd like, but I really like his blend of skill, speed, and shot. One of the more complete players in the draft despite being one of youngest. He's also one of the most dangerous penalty killers I have ever seen for a guy his age.
17. Jacob Perreault - Perrault is an interesting one. His shot is among the best in the draft class and I could see him becoming a dangerous forward, but I have doubts about his ability to be a center in the NHL. Perreault tested incredibly well at the Top-Prospects Game in terms of skating. He was faster than Foudy, who I consider to be the best skater in the draft. However, he appears to be an average skater during games. Is this a bad thing, or does it suggest that there's room to improve? I don't know. Perreault will need to learn to simplify his game as he matures.
18. Braden Schneider - I think Schneider might be able to step into the NHL in a 3rd pairing role next year. His defensive instincts are elite, and combine that with his reach, skating, and physicality, you get a great defensive player. I like his shot and while he isn't a flashy offensive player, he's a very smart and efficient passer.
19. Jake Sanderson - Like Schneider, Sanderson is a defenseman who excels in his own end. Right now he is probably worse than Schneider defensively and lacks the physical element but he is younger and might have more offensive upside. Real solid payer but I don't think he's a top-10 pick like others do.
20. Seth Jarvis - I don't think he's quite as good as his numbers suggest, but he's very skilled and his skating is great to watch. I like his hustle and two-way play as well. Real nice release on his shot too.
21. Dylan Holloway - Slightly disappointing season on a very disappointing Wisconsin team. His speed, hands, and work-ethic are his calling traits. While he may not possess top-line offensive upside, he could become a dependable two-way top-6 winger. He isn't afraid to throw a big hit.
22. William Wallinder - Very, very raw, but his skating and puck-handling are insane for a guy his size. One of the younger players in the draft so there is lots of room to improve. If his game matures and he cleans up his defensive game, his ceiling is almost limitless.
23. Yaroslav Askarov - I'm going mostly on hype and numbers here as I am not a great judge of goalie's talent. He was incredible when I saw him at the U18s though.
24. Hendrix Lapierre - His concussion issues are the only reason he's this low. I love the way he plays the game offensively and defensively but he has more 3x more concussions than goals this year and that's very concerning. If it weren't for his health issues and he had played a full season I don't think it would be a stretch to call him a top-15 player in the draft.
25. Marat Khusnutdinov - I'm higher on Khusnutdinov than most. He's very fun to watch and it's even more fun listening to others try to pronounce his last name. Skilled, dynamic center with great skating, passing, and hands while being a very dependable two-way player. Lack of size and "The Russian Factor" are working against him.
26. Tyson Foerster - One of the best goal-scorers in the draft. He's got a great release on his wrist shot and has a killer one-timer on the left half-wall. Skating is a weakness but he's got plenty of time to work on that. Foerster was a top-3 player at the Top-Prospects Game.
27. Kaiden Guhle - Great skater, good defensively, decent offensively. I like his physicality but don't see anything more than a #3/4D, which would still be a great outcome at 27th overall.
28. Lucas Reichel - He has a real knack for getting in high-danger scoring areas. It is remarkable how many shots he gets from the slot despite playing in a men's league. He's a very smart player and a good passer. Needs to get stronger.
29. John-Jason Peterka - The 3rd German in my 1st round has speed, a heavy shot, and good two-way ability. He had a very impressive showing at the World Juniors. Not much of a playmaker. Someone like Jason Zucker might be his ceiling.
30. Jeremie Poirier - Perhaps the most polarizing player in the draft class. His skating and hands are unreal, but his defensive play is a very real concern. His shot is great, his shot selection is not so great. Passing is nothing special. Huge upside, huge risk.
31. Jake Neighbours - I love the way Neighbours plays. He isn't afraid to use his body and plays a smart and gritty game. He could be a very effective complimentary winger at the next level. Neighbours was the best player on his line with Byfield and Mercer at the Top Prospects Game.
32. Roni Hirvonen - Small but skilled, Hirvonen was impressive in his stint in the Liiga. His hands are electric and he's a dangerous passer.
33. Justin Barron - Everything that could have went wrong for Justin Barron this year did. He missed time with a blood clot and, by his standards, played poorly for the rest of the year. I do believe in his tools, though. He is a smooth skating defensiveman that can QB a PP and not be a liability in his own end.
34. Helge Grans - Grans is big and can skate very well, and has a knack for getting shots through. I don't think his offensive game is as dynamic as others do, but he is very well rounded and could become a quality top-4 defenseman in the future.
35. Zion Nybeck - Nybeck is a small winger that owns both a sneaky shot and impressive playmaking abilities. His production in the SuperElit was incredible. Needs to work on his footspeed to make it to the NHL. If he doesn't pan out as a top-6 winger, you can bet he'll be a star in the AHL/Europe.
36. William Villeneauve - He was better than Poirier this year on the same defensive pairing. Right now he's arguably a top-5 defenseman in the draft but I question how much room there is for him to improve. Very steady in both zones and could become an effective 2nd pairing defenseman.
37. Alexander Pashin - Lots of upside packed into his 5'7 body. He was great at the Hlinka and had a nice season in the MHL. Electrifying offensive forward with great hands, skating, and playmaking ability. He is one of the younger players in the draft so he has plenty of time to put on strength and improve. I think Pashin is one of the more underrated players in the draft.
38. Topi Niemela - Steady, versatile defenseman with excellent skating and a nice shot. Already very good in both zones in the Liiga. Efficient passer.
39. Daniil Gushchin - Small and speedy winger that is as dangerous a scorer as he is a playmaker. Very good defensive player too. Gushchin was far and away the best player on his team this year. I think he's underrated too.
40. Ryan O'Rourke - Very smart defensive defenseman that isn't afraid to throw a hit. Not much offensive upside but his no nonsense approach makes him a good bet to be a supportive #4 defenseman.
41. Ridley Greig - I really like Greig's game. He's just 5'11 and quite skinny but plays a gritty game that you would expect out of someone much bigger. I think he's a pretty safe bet to become a complimentary middle six scorer in the NHL. His August birthdate is also notable.
42. Dmitri Ovchinnikov - He's the definition of a boom-bust pick. His skating, puck-handling, and playmaking make him one of the most electrifying forwards in the draft. He improved quite a bit as the season went on. His omission on Central Scouting's list is puzzling, to say the least. I could be convinced to take a swing on his upside right at the start of the 2nd round.
43. Jean-Luc Foudy - He had an underwhelming year but his skating and playmaking makes him hard to pass on. Probably the fastest player in the draft. He shouldn't slip much further than this.
44. Thomas Bordeleau - One of the best offensive players in this range. His vision and playmaking is top-notch, and he has an underrated shot to go along with it. His skating is good but could use some work, as could his defensive game.
45. Lukas Cormier - Smooth but undersized defenseman with good mobility and edgework. He has good puck skills and can support offense well but isn't much of a catalyst. His top speed isn't great for a guy his size. Pretty good defensively.
46. Emil Andrae - Another undersized defenseman. I think is pretty similar to Cormier in that he also has good puck skills but isn't very fast. His skating is worse than Cormier's but he is more of a standout offensively.
47. Martin Chromiak - Chromiak is one of those players that is seemingly good at everything but nothing in particular really stands out about his game. His line with Wright and Wisdom (one of my favourite draft prospects, more on him later) was loads of fun to watch this year. Chromiak projects to be a complimentary scorer.
48. Joni Jurmo - Big, raw, defenseman with elite skating. He's a long-term project but could pay off immensely. He has some of the highest upside in this range. Needs to improve defensively.
49. Evan Vierling - One of the more underrated players in the draft, in my opinion. Vierling is a center with good skating, vision, and puck-protection, and plays a very responsible two-way game. He exploded when he was traded mid-season to the Barrie Colts, playing with Tyson Foerster.
50. Luke Evangelista - Creative offensive catalyst with great vision. Lots of skill and creativity. He completely outperformed expectations this year in London, jumping up the depth chart ahead of guys like Antonio Stranges.
51. Tristen Robins - Well-rounded center with good compete level but no standout qualities. Very intelligent player though, and I think he can carve out an NHL career as a guy that can play anywhere in the lineup.
52. Roby Jarventie - Big, scoring winger that put up great numbers in the Mestis despite being an August birthdate. Great shot, but needs to improve compete level in the defensive zone if he wants to make it in the NHL. Very good skater.
53. Veeti Miettinen - Small forward that absolutely dominated the SM-Liiga this year. Great playmaking abilities and wrist-shot, and I've seen him display nice hand-eye coordination as well. Look for him to be a regular in the men's league next year.
54. Kasper Simontival - Another small, skilled Finnish forward. Simontival's calling card is his hands, which are unreal. He can wow you at times but I haven't seen it consistently enough to have him ranked higher.
55. Brendan Brisson - Good playmaker with a very heavy one-timer. Skating isn't bad but could use some work. Average size. Defensive game isn't shabby. For a player in this range, he's a good bet to become a top-6 forward.
56. Carter Savoie - It's tough to gauge his talent level since he plays in the AJHL, but his hands and shot are undeniable. Good vision and very high hockey IQ as well. Next season will be key for him as he moves to the NCAA. Size and skating could limit him.
57. Ozzy Wiesblatt - Wiesblatt plays a feisty game coupled with really good hands. His agility is impressive and his production was great this year on a very good Prince Albert team. He'll need to build up strength. Also notable is that his siblings are named Orca, Oasiz, Ocean, and Oceania.
58. Zayde Wisdom - He's my favourite player projected to go in the mid-rounds. He grew up in a poor family and was picked on as a kid for being fat. He went from 250 lbs to 200 in one year and managed to get to where he is today. His compete level is incredible every shift and he is a great compliment to Shane Wright and Martin Chromiak on the Frontenacs top line.
59. Michael Benning - The second player on this list from the AJHL happens to play on the same team as the first. He's an offensive defenseman with great playmaking ability and can QB a powerplay very effectively. Nice first pass. Likely won't be more than an offensive #4/5D.
60. Tyler Tullio - Small, hard-working winger is a good skater and has an exceptional wrist shot. He crashes the front of the net often and effectively and projects to be a top-9 forward.
61. Brandon Coe - Big winger with a good shot and above average speed. Very intelligent player. His production is very impressive when you consider he played on the worst team in the CHL.
62. Brett Berard - The 5'9 forward models his game after Brad Marchand with good skating, skill, and work-ethic. Quite creative and very willing to go to the dirty areas. His production was amazing in the USHL, but mediocre elsewhere.
Emil Heinamen, Sam Colangelo, Vasili Ponomaryev, Ty Smilanic, Eamon Powell, Ronan Seeley, Theodor Niederbach, Ty Smilanic, Anton Johanneson, Samuel Knazko, Oskar Magnussen, Drew Commesso, Nico Daws, Dylan Garand, Jan Bednar, Jesper Blomqvist