We’re inching our way closer to the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. Our staff here at Raw Charge have worked up some draft profiles of players that are of interest for when the Tampa Bay Lightning make their selection at 27th overall. Or perhaps after they trade down into the second round as they have shown some tendency to do when they are selecting in this part of the first round.
Projecting into the later rounds, especially beyond the third round, becomes really difficult. Most teams only put around 100-125 players on their draft boards. While many more players will be selected than that in the draft, most teams will only end up going around 75 players deep on their board. Why is that? Well, every team is looking for something different in prospects. There will be players that the team considers to be a first or second round talent, but they don’t fit what the team is looking for so they don’t go on the board.
There will also be players the team considers a first or second or third round talent, that other team’s either aren’t aware of or have disregarded from their lists. Dmitri Semykin and Magnus Chrona in the third and fifth round respectively last year by the Lightning appeared to be in that category.
Going through HockeyProspect.com NHL Draft Black Book gives us a lot of information to look at, especially for those players that will end up being drafted in the later rounds. The Black Book is the most in depth draft scouting resource available to the public. They have their own team of scouts, but they also often get anonymous quotes from NHL Scouts that help provide a view into what scouts think about players. Some of the quotes are quite hilarious.
So below are a group of players that the Black Book either didn’t rank in their overall list or gave No Draft grades that I consider to be intriguing prospects. When we’re talking about the later rounds, there’s never a guarantee that the player is going to work out. In fact, a player drafted after the third round making any impact in the NHL, like Cedric Paquette, Mathieu Joseph, and Ondrej Palat, is the exception rather than the rule.
Keep in mind that there’s every chance that some or all of these players won’t even have their names called. There could be a variety of reasons for that. I’m in no way saying that the Lightning definitely should draft any of these players, but I wouldn’t be surprised if any of them ended up in the Lightning organization. Even if they aren’t drafted, it would not be a surprise to see any of them pop up at Development Camp as invitees shortly after the draft.
HockeyProspect’s Black Book grades players in Hockey Sense, Compete, Skill, and Skating on a 3-9 scale. 5 is average, 6 is Good, 7 Very Good, 8 Excellent, and 9 Elite. The Average of 5 is based on the player against his fellow draft eligibles in his current draft class. Other factors go into their final rankings, like size, production, and level of competition. A player with a No Draft grade may have some grades that are Very Good or better, but other issues kept HockeyProspect from ranking the player or giving them a draftable grade.
Team: Drummondville Voltigeurs, QMJHL
Measurements: 5’6.25”, 169 pounds
2018-19 Stats: 55 GP, 18-39-57
Simoneau is as small as small gets. Even with the Lightning’s willingness to draft small players, his stature may be even too small for the Lightning to consider. What drew me to him was that he was graded a 7 for Hockey Sense and an 8 for Compete. These are the kind of characteristics that the Lightning scouts value. According to the Black Book, he’s very good shorthanded and has great work ethic. He’s tenacious on the forecheck and outworks the opposition. Offensively, he is definitely more playmaker than goalscorer as his shot is accurate, but lacks power. He’s capable of making great passes.
His skating has some question marks with good, but not high end speed. Obviously his size and strength are also question marks. He has the production though in his first two seasons in the QMJHL to show his production. He’s likely a long shot prospect as a very small forward, but the Lightning have shown that willingness to give such a player a shot on the farm.
Position: Left Wing
Team: Sibir Novosibirsk, KHL
Measurements: 5’11”, 179 pounds
2018-19 Stats: 25 GP, 3-1-4
Shashkov was not ranked, but received a C grade in the Black Book meaning they believe he should be drafted from the 4th to the 7th round. He is an overage draft prospect as he turned 20 years old in March. He seems to be pretty typical of a smaller Russian forward with high hockey IQ and good skills. Shashkov is a two-way forward and plays well defensively. He spent most of the season in the KHL, but did not produce much likely due to being used as a depth player. However in 2017-18 in the MHL, he scored 32 goals and 53 points in 58 games.
He played a depth role for Russia at the U20 World Junior Championships recording two goals and five points in 5 games putting him 7th on the team in scoring. According to EliteProspects.com, he is not under contract for next year and could come over to the AHL immediately if he is interested in playing in North America now.
Position: Left Defense
Team: Chaska High, USHL, Tri-City Storm, USHL
Measurements: 5’9”, 171 pounds
2018-19 Stats: Chaska High - 24 GP, 19-40-59; Tri-City - 15 GP, 2-4-6
Koster is a classic draft and follow type prospect. He is a small, offensive defenseman. Once thought of as just a power play specialist, he started to turn the corner defensively this season. He was selected to play for Team USA at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup to start the season, but struggled to find his groove and only put up two assists in five games. He started the season with Team Northeast in the Minnesota High School all-stars pre-season league. Then for Chaska High, he put up a lot of points while serving as Captain of the team for his second season.
He finished out the season playing with the Tri-City Storm in the USHL just as he did at the end of his junior season. Because of two other defensemen with Tri-City that are highly offensive defensemen, Koster was asked to play a more defensive role and showed better in that area than he did previously. Koster is a University of Minnesota commit for the 2020-21 season and should be spending next season in the USHL with Tri-City. If he’s drafted, the team would have four or five years to watch him develop in college before making a contract decision on him.
Position: Left Defense
Team: Kitchener Rangers, OHL
Measurements: 6’3”, 205 pounds
2018-19 Stats: 68 GP, 3-26-29
Vukojevic made it onto my list here because he was graded a 7 on Compete and Skating. He has the kind of size that the Lightning like in their defensemen. He’s a strong, mobile skater that plays with a physical edge. His defensive game is sound and his mobility allows him to control his gaps. His hands and skill are the big downsides of his game though as he struggles with offensive zone pressure and making difficult passes. He’s at his best when he keeps his game simple. The best outcome for him would be as a third pairing shutdown defenseman that can move the puck a little bit and play short handed. If he goes in the draft, I would expect it’d be in the 6th or 7th round.
Position: Right Defense
Team: Muskegon Lumberjacks, USHL
Measurements: 5’11”, 192 pounds
2018-19 Stats: 58 GP, 6-30-36
Bukes is an overage prospect at 20 years old. He’s completed his third full year in the USHL as an Alternate Captain for Muskegon. In 179 career USHL games, he has put up 74 points. He’s committed to playing at Minnesota State-Mankato this fall. Like Vukojevic, his strong point is his skating. He’s agile, good on his edges, and has good balance. Unlike Vukojevic, he is an offensive minded defenseman. His defense lags behind his offense.
Bukes does fit the profile of players we’ve seen the Lightning take late in recent drafts. He’s overage and has shown well in the USHL. He’s headed to NCAA hockey and the Lightning would have four years to watch him develop his game there to see if he can overcome in short comings.