2017 Top 30 Habs Prospects: #25-#21

Welcome back to the third installment of Mitch Brown’s Top 30 Habs Prospects, covering prospects #25 – #21.

In this installment there is two overage CHL forwards, two Memorial Cup champions, and the first two goaltenders on the list. This article will discuss the odds that CHL overagers face to make the NHL, as well as the importance of SV% among ECHL goaltenders.

Notes:

  1. All the information is “in my opinion.
  2. The ranking likely has limited-to-no value. Think of the ranking as a way to catalogue players, notes, and data in a non-alphabetical way. The information within the profiles is far, far more valuable.
  3. I mentioned I’m not a scout right? If not, I’m not a scout.
  4. I appreciate all questions, comments, and criticism. You can reach me on Twitter (@MitchLBrown) or email (mitchbrown31@gmail.com). You can also tell me I suck. I don’t care.
  5. AHL/CHL/USHL Stats: Prospect-Stats.com | NCAA Stats: CollegeHockeyInc.com | SuperElit Stats: Stats.SweHockey.se | NHL Stats: Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com

Series Navigation:
Top 30 Prospects: Ranking Methodology – Integrating Statistics into Analysis
Top 30 Prospects: #30 – #26 – Success Rates of Swedish Jr. and USHS Defenders
Top 30 Prospects: #25 – #21 – Success Rates of CHL Overage Forwards
Top 30 Prospects: #20 – #16 – Balancing Players with Opposing Skill Sets and Development
Top 30 Prospects: #15 – #11 – Weighing perceived NHL-readiness with NHL Upside
Top 30 Prospects: #10 Will Bitten – Why His Season Was Better Than You Think
Top 30 Prospects: #9 Victor Mete – How Undersized Defenders Can Excel Defensively
Top 30 Prospects: #8 Josh Brook – Improving Shooting Location Through Movement
Top 30 Prospects: #7 Michael McCarron – Do Big Players Really Take Longer to Develop?
Top 30 Prospects: #6 Charlie Lindgren – The Reverse-VH and When Skill Takes Over
Top 30 Prospects: #5 Charles Hudon – A Case Study on the Impact of Aging for NHL Chances
Top 30 Prospects: #4 Joni Ikonen – Multidimensionality in Attack
Top 30 Prospects: #3 Nikita Scherbak – Comparing Scherbak In and Out of Form
Top 30 Prospects: #2 Noah Juulsen – How to Excel at Defending the Blue Line
Top 30 Prospects: #1 Ryan Poehling – Full Breakdown, Importance of Little Details, and More

 

#25) CAYDEN PRIMEAU
Acquired: 2017, 7th round, 199th
Position: G | Catches: L

Birthdate: 1999-08-11 | Nationality: USA
Team: Lincoln Stars (League)
Height: 6’3 (190cm) | Weight: 185 (84kg)

Overview: Tall, aggressive goaltender with good angles… Capable puck handler, too… Has a tendency to give up soft goals.

It was a downward slide for Primeau this season, but there’s still plenty of upside. | Photo: Elizabeth Robertson, Philly.com

GPWLOTLSOSA/GPMinsSV%GAA
3014111127.116160.8953.16

Primeau entered the season with a fair bit of hype that was eventually cooled with an up-and-down USHL season. He posted just six .900+ starts in his first 15 games, and merely eight in his the last 15. When on, Primeau looked like a game stealer, and he was impressive at the WJAC challenge.

After just six wins and a 0.885 SV% in the first half, Primeau grabbed eight wins and posted a moderately improved 0.899 in his first 15 games.

Inconsistency aside, there’s a quite a lot to like in Primeau’s game. He’s really solid down low thanks to smooth butterfly transitions and decent amount of lateral explosiveness. He’s upright while moving laterally in the butterfly, which is a great technique for a young goaltender to have. He has a penchant for making the hard first stop, but failing to recover to make the second one. Generic goaltender comment: Improved rebound control is key here.

Primeau handles the puck relatively well, and can connect with the odd nice pass. He will battles through traffic, and moves aggressively, but he runs into troubles tracking the puck. For a 6’3 goaltender, his footwork is always impressive.

There are a couple of quirks in Primeau’s game, notably the way he seals the post, or glove and blocker positioning. He lets his glove and blocker sink too low occasionally, and it got him in serious trouble. His reactions are fast, but his aggressiveness will need to be reined in.

Primeau will head to Northeastern University this upcoming season, where he will likely play the backup role to Ryan Ruck. Ruck hasn’t been stellar by any means, so perhaps Primeau could steal the starting job in his freshman year.

Ranking Explanation: There’s no way around this: Primeau was one of the worst goaltenders in the USHL this season. His .895 SV% scored just above the 8th percentile, good for the third-worst in the league. This is a league where the average SV% is .907. Primeau split the net roughly 50/50 with Josef Korenar, his elder of one year, and Korenar posted a .925 SV%. In no way, shape, or form are these encouraging numbers.

Of the 11 goaltenders who played their draft season in the USHL and made the NHL, only one posted a SV% lower than Primeau (Jared Coreau), while the average SV% was .907%. While interesting, this is a tiny sample size to evaluate, and goaltenders are so unpredictable.

Projecting goaltenders from level to level seems like a futile experiment at best. SV% is far from a quality indicator.

In the instance of Primeau, I ranked him as the lowest goaltender because he’s the further behind in his development.

 

#24) ZACHARY FUCALE
Midseason: #19 | 2016: #14 | 2015: #16 | 2014: #7
Acquired: 2013, 2nd round, 36th overall
Position: G | Catches: L
Birthdate: 1995-05-28 | Nationality: Canada
Team: Brampton Beast (ECHL)
Height: 6’2” (188cm) | Weight: 187 (85kg)

Overview: Technically skilled goaltender with smoothness and poise … Disconnect between skills and execution have plagued his post-draft hockey career.

Although ECHL-ridden for much of the season, in three starts in the AHL this season, Fucale posted a .919 SV%. | Photo: John Warren, Brampton Beast

Following a decent AHL rookie season, Fucale ran into a developmental rut. He was pushed out of the net by Charlie Lindgren, and found himself as the starter for the ECHL’s Brampton Beast. There, his .898 SV% was way behind the league average. His average SA/GP increased from 28.5 to 33.2 in the playoffs, which also saw his SV% skyrocket to .932 and won the Spengler Cup, which probably only adds more fuel to the “winner” narrative.

GPWLOTLSOSA/GPMinsSV%GAA
5625122423.4325390.8983.17

Fucale posted a .932 SV% in an 11-game playoff run beginning at game #47, continuing the trend of Fucale SV% improving in the postseason.

Poise, relaxed, composed have all been Fucale’s calling card since his divisive QMJHL days. While he never dominated the Major Junior level, he was hailed as a winner. There’s not too much flash in Fucale’s game. He’s a simple goaltender who thrives as a puck blocker. A smooth transition into the butterfly, strong angles, and smart positioning of his extremities are fundamentals of any quality goaltender.

Fucale isn’t particularly explosive, but he tracks the puck fairly well. The fact that he’s rarely exposed five-hole is a testament to the strength of his down low game. The glove and blocker are adequately placed, but lacking in the fast-twitch explosiveness of top goaltenders.

There’s notable reason for concern when watching him play. He tracks the puck fine, but he gets just beat too often. He’s leans too far forward during lateral movement, plus there’s considerable problems with his rebound control. But it’s worth noting that he times his drops into the butterfly much quicker and smoother now, and keeps himself more upright.

There’s no denying his professional career had encouraging spells, but the flaws that plagued him through junior remain. It’s not clear where he will play next season. Price is Price, while Montoya and Lindgren will duke it out for the backup. McNiven will also turn pro, so I suspect that it will be either Fucale or McNiven who takes the backup job in Laval.

Ranking Explanation: A sub-.900 SV% in the ECHL isn’t very encouraging, especially since Mike Condon’s .931 is burned into the back of my memory. I felt Fucale was better as an AHL rookie on a weaker team than in the ECHL.

Going to the ECHL alone is certainly not the kiss of the death it can be made out to be, but going to the ECHL and not outperforming your peers may as well be. The list of goaltenders going from sub-.900 ECHL tenders to NHLers since 2005 is so short I’ll list them all here: Jared Coreau. While Fucale is four and a half years younger, Coreau has since become a legitimate AHL starter and is 6’6.

While I feel this season was positive for Fucale’s development, I’m not convinced that it was significant enough to outweigh the larger trend of problems. Fucale still has significant problems with his rebound control, and hasn’t proven to he can make the big stops with consistency. Two underwhelming professional seasons is enough to begin questioning, especially if those questions mirror the same ones in junior.

Yes, Fucale has won many championships: Memorial Cup, Gold at WJC, and Spengler Cup. And yes, his numbers miraculously improve when the playoffs start. But you need players to get you to the playoffs, and the results just aren’t there.

He was sub-.900 SV% as a fourth year junior, and save for his draft season never placed in the 80th percentile of QMJHL goaltenders. This season he was an .898 SV% goalie in the ECHL.

There’s still upside here, I’m just not sure if we will see it, especially when considering the glut of goaltenders the organization has. I gave him the edge over the slightly more explosive Primeau because Primeau had a rough USHL season, and Fucale has made it further in the organization.

 

#23) ANTOINE WAKED
Acquired: 2017 Signing
Position: LW | Shoots: L
Birthdate: 1996-05-17 | Nationality: Canada
Team: Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (QMJHL)
Height: 6’ (183cm) | Weight: 194 (88kg)

Overview: Direct forward at best with short, powerful touches … Capable as both a shooter and playmaker, but not high-end in either.

After three seasons as a depth player and secondary scorer, Waked  more than doubled his career totals this breakout campaign. | Photo: RDS

GPGAPP1SOGSH%G/GP1A/GPP/GPP1/GP5v5 P1/GPSOG/GPHD+MD SOG/GPTM.INV%GF.Rel%
673941806622517.33%0.580.41.190.990.673.361.5429.63%10.89%

Was there a more improved player in the QMJHL than Antoine Waked? I doubt it. The overage forward (but only in his fourth year of junior) outscored his first three QMJHL seasons combined with 80 points and 225 SOG. Formerly a complementary player and PK specialist, he became Rouyn-Noranda’s top ES scorer and primary point contributor. And while he doesn’t project as a player driver in pro, he pushed the needle with a 10.89 GF.Rel% (67.6 GF%).

Waked hit the scoresheet in 75% of his games, while (mostly) maintaining a high-volume SOG/GP clip.

There’s legitimate skill in Waked’s game, perhaps more than this ranking would indicate (I’ll explain why he’s here in a bit). Offensively, he’s a gifted player with an endless motor. He owns a nice shooting/playmaking balance, and can complete the odd high-skill play in both disciplines. A dangerous in tight playmaker, he can connect with slick dishes into and/or through high-danger areas.

With a powerful wrister and slick angle-change just before release, Waked is a quality medium-range threat. He reads his teammates well, has a knack for getting redirections with an always open blade. Best down low, where he utilizes his body positioning, powerful lower-body, and quick first step to battle and drag the puck to the net. His 1.54 HD+MD SOG/GP scored in the 91-percentile in the QMJHL this season—legitimate proof of his ability to get to the net.

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A strong support player who reads his teammates well with smart positioning, Waked has a knack for being around the puck. He’s not too effective in transition—best when deferring to his linemates—as his one-on-one moves are limited and has a preference for uncontrolled entries. Short, quick touches are Waked’s calling card.

Waked is a quality defensive player. He’s direct and sturdy, allowing him to win battles and free up pucks. He has a knack for causing turnovers with his directness without the puck. The stride is hunched and wide, but he accelerates quick and occasionally gets the jump on defenders with a decent top-gear.

Ranking Explanation: Skill-wise, I’d give Waked the edge over Addison. While he’s not as flashy as Vejdemo or Audette (you’ll read about both in a bit), he’s roughly on par with them, too.

Here’s the main concern: Waked is technically an overager, and the list of overage forward who make the NHL is extremely small. Coupling that with his lack of a dynamic skill set, and this is a player up against major odds to make the NHL. I appreciate his skill set more than this ranking indicates, but it’s a gamble on his rapid upward development curve continuing in his first professional season.

More on this at profile #21.

 

 

#22) JARRET TYSZKA
Acquired: 2017, 5th round, 187th overall
Position: LD | Shoots: L
Birthdate: 1999-03-15 | Nationality: Canada
Team: Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)
Height: 6’2” (188cm) | Weight: 187 (85kg)

Overview: Mobile, rangy blue liner with an explosive first step and quality passing ability … Big-time project due to decision-making needing refinement, but undeniable upside.

Although Tyszka has yet to find his offensive groove, the former 16th overall pick in the WHL Draft was the top scoring blue liner in his Bantam league. | Photo: Seattle Thunderbirds

GPGAPP1G/GP1A/GPP/GPP1/GP5v5 P1/GPTM.INV%GF.Rel%
5461925120.110.110.460.220.1113.23%-1.35%

Tyszka was a staple second-pairing defender on the WHL Champions. There’s nothing impressive about Tyszka’s stats. He wasn’t a play driver, as illustrated by a -1.35 GF.Rel% and just six even-strength primary points. Furthermore, he was involved in a mere 13.23% team of his team’s goals, which was the below average of the WHL defenders drafted this season. With that said, it’s clear that Tyszka does have plenty of skill—but he needs refinement.

Coinciding with a shoulder injury, Tyszka P/GP clipped dropped from 0.62 in the 29 games before the injury, to 0.34 P/GP in the 41 games after.

Tyszka’s wonky-looking stride is actually quite effective, as he generates above-average speed with an explosive first step. He’s an aggressive player on both sides of the puck, jumping into decisions quickly and without hesitation.

However, often times these are poor decisions. Defensively, his decisiveness drives his effectiveness, but also hampers it. He’s prone to poor decisions around his own net defending, and has gap control that rarely finds the middle ground. His eyes seem glued to the puck far too often, making him a common target for aggressive forechecking. He can be pressured into throwing the puck away while under pressure.

On the flip side, Tyszka can make a difference. He’s not a dynamic playmaker, but makes a consistently crisp breakout pass and connects with the odd high-skill pass in the offensive zone. He can wire the puck, preferring to shoot low for rebounds and redirections. He’s mobile up high, and can seek out lanes with his footwork. He also plays with a bit of an edge, and his first step gives him extra space in puck races and battles.

Not an offensive contributor or defensive stalwart, but there’s reason to believe he could develop into one at the WHL level. Perhaps more patience will go a long way for Tyszka. Beyond the decision-making, if there’s one major issue I have, it’s an inability to make puck plays while in stride.

Next season will be an interesting one for Tyszka. Seattle will lose its star power, including WHL Defender of the Year Ethan Bear. It will be a great chance for Tyszka to prove that he belongs on the top pairing.

Ranking Explanation: There were only a few players on this list (all above) that I had as much trouble ranking as I did ranking Tyszka. Disclaimer: Most of my viewings were in the second half of the season, after his shoulder injury. It’s worth noting that Trevor Timmins mentioned his pre-shoulder injury play was better.

Canucks Army’s pGPS has 30.1% of players with a similar profile as Tyszka going on to make the NHL. This is a very encouraging probability for a fifth round pick.

The “tiers” of prospects are defined by upside, with résumé or one particular element defining the placement within the tiers. In Tyszka’s case, I have him likely a tier outside of his potential upside because I’m not quite sure what to make of lack of results. Waked, Eisenschmid, Grégoire, etc. are likely fourth liners in the best case scenario, while Fucale and Primeau are both projects with underwhelming results—yet I see the tools for perhaps a fringe second pairing defender with Tyszka, it’s just that he’s going to need a significant leap(s) in development to achieve even half of that.

So, while acknowledging his toolkits and upside*, I lean on the low-end of the spectrum due to decision-making and rawness.

*Tyszka is my breakout candidate of next season.

 

 

#21) JEREMIAH ADDISON
Midseason: #20 | 2016: #26 | 2015: #20
Acquired: 2015, 7th round, 207th overall
Position: LW | Shoots: L
Birthdate: 1996-10-21 | Nationality: Canada
Team: Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
Height: 6’ (183 cm) | Weight: 183lbs (83kg)

Overview: A “heavy” grinder with a soft touch and scorer’s release, but lacks in finish.

With an average of 1.11 G/GP during the playoffs and Memorial Cup, Addison was doing a lot of he does best–celebrating goals. | Photo: Adrian Wyld, The Canadian Press

GPGAPP1SOGSH%G/GP1A/GPP/GPP1/GP5v5 P1/GPSOG/GPHD+MD SOG/GPTM.INV%GF.Rel%
512419433314017.10%0.470.180.840.650.472.751.4123.76%-2.94%

Jeremiah Addison had himself a fantastic postseason, notching 10 goals in nine games split between the playoffs and Memorial Cup. His regular season production—the larger body of work—remained roughly the same as last season, with one major change: He increased his ESG/GP from 0.19 to 0.35—the 20th best rate in the league.

Addison has been a complementary piece of a skill line throughout for the past three years, not a play driver. He positions himself exceptionally well, as noted by his ability to get point blank chances. Has an NHL release with top-notch power, and can shoot off balance. Despite this, there’s a notable lack in finish in his ogame, reinforced by the fact that he’s hit 20 goals just twice in his five-year OHL career.

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Passable in the OHL, Addison is likely mediocre or average at playmaking in pro. He lacks space creation ability, and suffers from tunnel vision in transition. With that said, there has been improvement in both his skating quickness and stickhandling. He has bit more flash in his game, and will occasionally put a defender on their heels.

Not particularly physical or exceptional defensively, instead the owner of a heavy game. He’ll throw the odd hit, but instead puck hunts with his thick frame, making him a forechecking force. Strong, centred, and compact in battles, Addison can win with sheer muscle, but has also shown the ability to twist and turn his way out with slick edge work.

All-in-all, an interesting prospect due to his skills, but falls behind as a result of a lack of execution. Next season, he will join the professional ranks, where I would think it’s likely Laval (AHL) for him.

Ranking Explanation: More of a heavy, grinder type with a dash of skill rather than the opposite, Addison is likely a fourth liner IF he makes the NHL. And that is a big IF because of his overage status and limited production. While Addison’s late-’96 birthdate makes him a slightly different case in terms of NHL draft status, I found no connection between late birthdates and NHL success in overagers.

There’s a maximum of 180 overagers per season (three per team) across the CHL, but it’s rarely met. Since 2005, just ~20 overagers have gone on to play in the NHL.

Of those ~20, just eight have played over 100 NHL games: David Desharnais, Tyler Johnson, Ryan Callahan, Matt Calvert, Jonathan Marchessault, Micheal Ferland, Rob Klinkhammer, Derek Dorsett, and Frazer McLaren. Joseph Blandisi could make it nine this upcoming season. Those eight have averaged 0.4 P/GP (0.435 P/GP with McLaren removed) in the NHL, roughly a 33-point pace, which is a valuable NHL player. Of course, not all overagers are created equal, but this a major consideration to remember.

The particularly troublesome part for Addison is all of this is percentages. There’s such a small number (~1.0%) of overage forwards that make the NHL. He produced substantially less than all of the overagers (average: 1.31 P/GP, Addison: 0.84) who turned into “useful” NHLers (Read: Excluding McLaren). For Addison to buck that trend would be an incredible defeat of the odds.

I was tempted to put Waked ahead of Addison, after all, Waked had better results in his QMJHL overage season, and his development is on a massive upward curve. Ultimately, I settled on Addison (and this is true with Tyszka, too), I’m more familiar with his game and feel comfortable projecting him as a solid AHLer.

When I watch Addison, I’m generally quite a bit more impressed than this ranking would indicate. But the odds are just too against him, in my opinion, to have him higher on this list. I’m all for being wrong.

Addison wraps up Tier #5, a grouping of prospects with upside to carve out a career in the NHL. In the case of the two forwards ranked (Addison, Waked), fourth line duty is likely their upside. In the case of Tyszka, Fucale, and Primeau there’s more upside to be had, it’s just that a massive, and unexpected leap in development is required for them to make the NHL.

 

The list so far…

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One Response to 2017 Top 30 Habs Prospects: #25-#21

  1. “L” – I know it’s simply trivial but what Nationality are we to derive from that code pertaining to Fucles nationality? I just prefer the old standby -> CANADA

    PS. I truly enjoy your player breakdowns in the Prospect category. Well done! Cheers!

    Ned Stark July 27, 2017 at 11:47 pm Reply

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