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Fallers at the top of the North American skaters rankings

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Who saw their stock drop as the season came to a close?

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Barrie Colts v Niagara IceDogs Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

After taking a look at draft-eligible players who saw a jump in their Central Scouting Services’ rankings yesterday, today we’re going to look at North American skaters who fell within the top 30. If a prospect is in the top 30 of the final rankings they are still in good shape to be taken early in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, but there are reasons why they fell. Let’s take a look at a few of the fallers this year, as well as analyze what they could bring to the table at the NHL level one day.

Ryan Suzuki
Position: Center
Team: Barrie Colts (OHL)
Height: 6’0”
Weight: 176 pounds
Mid-term ranking: 10
Final ranking: 18
Difference: -8
DraftSite Projection: 18th overall

Like his brother Nick, who went 13th overall in 2017, Ryan Suzuki is hoping to go high in the first round of the Entry Draft. After he was taken first overall in the 2017 OHL Priority Selection, Suzuki posted 14 goals and 44 points in 64 games for the Barrie Colts in 2017-18 before he increased those totals to 25 goals, a team-leading 75 points, and 65 games as an alternate captain this season. Suzuki also had an assist in five games for Team Canada at the most recent U-18 World Junior Championship. Out of the 99 OHL forwards who played in 65 games or more this season, at 5-on-5 Suzuki finished tied for 43rd with 15 goals, tied for 30th with 32 primary points, tied for 26th with 44 points, 67th with 99 shots, and tied for 52nd with 0.16 expected goals per game.

Suzuki is a play maker with incredible vision and high-end passing skill. He can score, as illustrated by his 25 goals this season, but Suzuki is definitely a pass-first forward. He won’t be the fastest skater on the ice, but Suzuki has speed and uses it to his advantage for dynamic offensive plays. The forward’s skills with the puck on his stick and his agility allow him to create space for himself or his teammates. On top of this, Suzuki’s hockey sense allows him to be helpful in the defensive zone as well. Although he’s one of the most skilled players in the draft scouts may be concerned about Suzuki’s intensity and the fact he may be too unselfish at times.

Scouting Report

“Suzuki has excellent vision and will connect with a linemate from just about anywhere, regardless of how dense the network of skates, bodies and sticks are clogging a passing lane. He has a soft touch and feathers passes with regularity, but he also can whip the puck around with both accuracy and authority. Although Suzuki is an excellent stickhandler with elusiveness and agility to avoid contact, the puck doesn’t spend a lot of time on his stick at even strength. He’s usually on the periphery during puck battles and the corners, and you will rarely see him engage in physical play. Nonetheless, Suzuki is an effective penalty killer and aggressive forechecker whose positioning, quick stick and awareness forces turnovers in the opposing end. He is capable of turning seemingly harmless plays into quality scoring chances.” - Steve Kournianos, The Draft Analyst

Highlights

More on Suzuki: Ryan Suzuki - Barrie Colts - Player Profile

Raphael Lavoie
Position: C/RW
Team: Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
Height: 6’4”
Weight: 198 pounds
Mid-term ranking: 13
Final ranking: 20
Difference: -7
DraftSite Projection: 15th overall

After he had 63 points in 68 games in 2017-18 for the QMJHL’s Halifax Mooseheads, Raphael Lavoie potted 32 goals and collected 73 points in 62 games this season before having a monster postseason for the Memorial Cup runner-ups. Lavoie finished second in QMJHL playoff scoring with 20 goals and 32 points in 23 games serving as the only player to finish in the top six who wasn’t a member of the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, who the Mooseheads lost to in the QMJHL Final. Following the end of the QMJHL season, Halifax hosted the Memorial Cup and reached the title game but lost to...the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. Lavoie concluded the tournament with two goals on seven shots and an assist in four games. Out of the 110 QMJHL forwards that played in 62 games or more this season, at 5-on-5 Lavoie finished tied for 12th with 24 goals, tied for 14th with 40 primary points, tied for 15th with 51 points, tied for 19th with 155 shots on goal, and tied for ninth with 0.23 expected goals per game.

Considering his size, it shouldn’t come as a surprise Lavoie is a power forward, but that label may discredit some of his skills. He does often use his size to drive to the net and effectively protect the puck, but his speed isn’t a concern and his game doesn’t rely on physical overpowering opponents. Lavoie has a great release on his wrist shot and can create offensive chances in tight areas. The forward has several attributes that make him sound a little like a promising NHL prospect we’re all familiar with, but what may have hurt his stock from the midterm rankings to final rankings is his commitment to playing a 200-foot game.

Scouting report

“More than his size, what makes the prospect exciting is that he is a deceptively good skater. Lavoie has no problem catching up, or even getting ahead of the play. He doesn’t have the fast-twitching legs of his smaller, speedy counterparts, but instead traverses the neutral zone in a few long and powerful strides. Lavoie’s size would be intimidating on its own for defencemen, but having the 6’4’’ forward driving fast and directly at them makes most of them think twice about standing up at the blue line to stop him.

The Halifax Mooseheads’ right-winger also has good balance. He looks to have matured physically and is solid on his skates; if he turns to protect the puck, it’s possible to attempt a pokecheck against him, but knocking him off of possession is not an easy task.” - David St-Louis, Eyes on the Prize

Highlights

More on Lavoie: Mooseheads’ Raphael Lavoie, a power forward, ready for the NHL draft

Jakob Pelletier
Position: Left Wing
Team: Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL)
Height: 5’9”
Weight: 161 pounds
Mid-term ranking: 20
Final ranking: 27
Difference: -7
DraftSite Projection: 29th overall

Taken third overall in the 2017 QMJHL Entry Draft, Jakob Pelletier has had a pretty impressive two-year run with the Moncton Wildcats. After he accrued 61 points in 60 games last season, Pelletier posted 89 points (39 goals) in 65 tilts this season. Pelletier also produced three points in seven QMJHL postseason games, as well as two assists in seven games for Team Canada at the U-18 World Junior Championship. Out of the 70 QMJHL forwards that played in 65 games or more this season, at 5-on-5 Pelletier finished tied for fourth with 27 goals, tied for 13th with 39 primary points, tied for eighth with 55 points, 16th with 153 shots on goal, and tied for fourth with 0.25 expected goals per game.

Pelletier is a fantastic skater thanks to his speed and edge work, which allows him to be shiftier than most with the puck. This works nicely with his vision and hockey IQ to consistently create offensive chances. Despite his size, Pelletier is willing to go to the dirty areas and is above average at protecting the puck. He also plays a 200-foot game and it’s quite obvious he makes his teammates better when he’s on the ice. What likely knocked him down the rankings is the fact he’s 5’9” without blazing speed or dynamic offensive skill, so a smaller player that won’t blow by or dance on opponents may be a bit of a risky pick early in the draft.

Scouting report

“He’s a fine skater but doesn’t have an explosive stride. His stride breaks down at times, but I’ve seen him pull away from players at times too. He’s skilled but won’t dangle defenders or go end to end. Rather he’s a very smart and very competitive forward. Pelletier shows great vision as a playmaker and makes tough plays in small areas. If you ever can’t find Pelletier on the ice, look around the opponent’s slot or net and you’ll likely spot him. He lives in the tough areas of the ice and competes very well for pucks despite not being that big. He scores by going to the tough areas but has a sneaky good shot, too. You don’t have 39 goals by accident. He also kills penalties quite well. There are legit concerns about a player his size without great speed or hands projecting to the NHL, but he could make it based on his compete level, character and sense.” - Corey Pronman, The Athletic

Highlights

More on Pelletier: Jakob Pelletier May Be The Most Underrated Prospect In The 2019 NHL Draft Heading Into The Season

Fallers in top 30 North American skaters final rankings

Player Position Team Games Points Midterm Ranking Final Ranking Difference
Player Position Team Games Points Midterm Ranking Final Ranking Difference
Ryan Suzuki Center Barrie Colts (OHL) 65 76 10 18 -8
Brett Leason Right Wing Prince Albert Raiders (WHL) 55 89 17 25 -8
Matthew Robertson LHD Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL) 52 33 18 26 -8
Raphael Lavoie C/RW Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL) 62 73 13 20 -7
Jakob Pelletier Left Wing Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL) 65 89 20 27 -7
Jamieson Rees Center Sarnia Sting (OHL) 37 32 23 30 -7
Matthew Boldy Left Wing USNTDP 64 81 6 9 -3
Dylan Cozens C/RW Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL) 68 84 3 5 -2
Peyton Krebs C/LW Kootenay Ice (WHL) 64 68 8 10 -2
Thomas Harley LHD Mississauga Steelheads (OHL) 68 58 9 11 -2
Vladislav Firstov Left Wing Waterloo Black Hawks (USHL) 62 58 21 23 -2
Kirby Dach Center Saskatoon Blades (WHL) 62 73 2 3 -1
Lassi Thomson RHD Kelowna Rockets (WHL) 63 41 14 15 -1

*Stats courtesy of Elite Prospects and Prospect Stats

2019 NHL Draft Coverage