While many young NHL prospects will hear their names called this weekend in Chicago for the NHL Draft, there will also be those players who will not hear their name called. Many NHL players who did not get drafted in their draft year were not quite fully developed and needed another year of seasoning before breaking out into a solid NHL Draft prospect. Many players wait until the draft the next season or the next to get picked up when they’re finally ready to step in and make an impact as a professional hockey player.
There will be surprises and some surprise omissions from the 2017 Draft class but here is a list of CHL players that are considered “underrated” and should be drafted this weekend.
Morgan Geekie, Centre – Tri-City Americans, WHL
The second year eligible Morgan Geekie is a smart defensive centre who sees time on the power play and is an effective two-way player. He has shown tremendous growth in his defensive game from a year ago and has developed a wicked shot from the slot. After only posting 12 goals and 25 points in his draft year last season, Geekie played in all 72 games and finished just outside the top 10 in WHL scoring with 35 goals and 90 points finishing with a +/- of +22.
ISS Rank: 61
Jonah Gadjovich, Left Wing – Owen Sound Attack, OHL
Gadjovich just completed his third full season in the league. An OHL veteran who was just under the cut off last year, the power forward was a catalyst during Owen Sound’s push through the season, putting up an impressive 46 goals and 74 points in 60 regular season games. He takes up a lot of space on the ice with his frame and he works well in the corners. He really likes to shoot as indicated by the 275 shots he took this season which placed him in the top 10 in the OHL.
ISS Rank: 62
D’Artagnan Joly, Right Wing – Baie-Comeau Drakkar, QMJHL
Joly is a strong specimen and did very well at the NHL combine. He checks all of the boxes on what NHL teams look for in a power winger. He skates real well, has good size, is a good playmaker, is creative with the puck and creates opportunities with his determination around the net. Hard to play against and plays with an edge. He played for a weak team in Baie-Comeau but finished with a respectable 16 goals and 48 points in 66 games.
ISS Rank: 139
Zachary Gallant, Centre – Peterborough Petes, OHL
Gallant played a big part in the Petes’ turnaround this season which saw the Petes make it to the Conference Finals. Gallant has done a real good job of flying under the radar this season and brings a strong skill set to the table. He has developed a strong scoring touch and is a strong physical competitor in front of the net. He plays a solid two-way game and has not been getting the attention he deserves. Scored 21 goals and 47 points in 60 games this season and added nine assists in 12 postseason games.
ISS Rank: 89
Josh Brook, Defence – Moose Jaw Warriors, WHL
A surprise omission from the CHL Top Prospects Game, Brook’s fluid skating is noticeable right away. He likes to skate the puck through the neutral zone and will take it deep into the offensive zone to create a play. His zone entry is explosive and many defenders can’t keep up with his speed in the neutral zone. Brook has offensive upside and should develop into a complementary two-way defender. Created offence all year collecting eight goals and 40 points and a +/- of +17 in 69 games.
ISS Rank: 66
Shawn Boudrias, Right Wing – Gatineau Olympiques, QMJHL
Boudrias is the youngest player eligible for the 2017 draft, making the cut by one day. He is a huge kid who has the size to get him places on the ice where he is difficult to move like in the corners and in front of the net. He is a physical presence who has the potential to grow into a mature physical power forward down the road. He split time between Charlottetown and Gatineau and this season scoring a total of 17 goals and 33 points in 58 games and added three goals in seven playoff games.
ISS Rank: 149
Michael DiPietro, Goalie – Windsor Spitfires, OHL
DiPietro backstopped the Spitfires to a Memorial Cup championship this past May and that performance still doesn’t give him the credit he deserves. Due to his small size (6-0,193), he most likely won’t be in the top 50 but whoever decides to take him will be getting a steal of a pick. He has great coverage of the net with tremendous reflexes. Real quick to get down to the ice to block shots and gets back up as quickly as he went down. Kept the Spitfires in the playoff hunt down the stretch and finished with 30 wins, 2.35 GAA and .917 save %.
ISS Goalie Rank: 6
Dylan Coghlan, Defence – Tri-City Americans, WHL
Coghlan is one of the most underrated defencemen for a second straight year on the draft board. He plays a mature, quiet and patient game on the back end and keeps his game simple not rushing the play. He benefited from playing top pairing minutes and a regular shift on the power play where he likes to shoot. He wins puck races, eludes the fore check and anticipates well in his own end. His offensive numbers were doubled from his draft year – in 2016-17 he scored 15 goals and 53 points in 71 games.
ISS Rank: Not ranked
Maxime Fortier, Right Wing – Halifax Mooseheads, QMJHL
Fortier was one of the best players not drafted in his draft season in 2016 despite scoring 31 goals and recording 77 points for Halifax. This season, he skated alongside fellow draft eligible forward Nico Hischier and made it very hard for scouts to ignore scoring 32 goals and 87 points. His skating puts him in the top tier of best skaters available in the draft. He owns a powerful stride and can get it in top gear with only a few short strides. Keeps the puck alive in the offensive zone by creating plays and put the puck into open space to retrieve.
ISS Rank: Not ranked
Jason Robertson, Right Wing – Kingston Frontenacs, OHL
Robertson only got better as the season went on and was another surprise omission from the CHL Top Prospects Game. He is an explosive power forward who has all the tools including tremendous strength and speed. He has a powerful stride with balance and a strong first step which helps him accelerate and change gears. He uses his strong lower body to keep control of the puck and skate wide on defenders and drive the puck to the net. He finished the OHL season just outside the top 10 in league scoring but did lead Kingston in scoring with 42 goals and 81 points in 69 games.
ISS Rank: 36
1) John Dean Returns to OJHL to Coach Toronto Patriots
2) Off-Season Brings About Massive Turnover for OHL Coaches
3) Justin Sourdif Named 2017 HockeyNow Player of the Year for B.C.
4) Where Are They Now: 2016 Player of the Year Owen Lalonde
5) Former NHLer Jason York Now Part of Kemptville 73’s Ownership Group