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The Hockey News April 3, 2017 - Future Watch 2017

The Hockey News has been providing the most comprehensive coverage of the world of hockey since 1947. THN is published 18 times a year, including 14 regular issues and four special issues – such as Future Watch, Draft Preview, Yearbook, the #1 selling hockey annual in North America.

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17 Issues


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secrets to success

TWO YEARS AGO, we put young Winnipeg Jets Mark Scheifele, Jacob Trouba and Nikolaj Ehlers on the cover Future Watch 2015 with the headline: “Meet your 2019 Stanley Cup champions.” While we’re not walking away from that proclamation, we’re getting a little nervous that date is just two years away and the Jets haven’t moved past playoff bubble team. Since that time, Winnipeg’s list of prospects and young NHLers has only gotten stronger thanks to good drafting and a nice draft lottery result. Landing the No. 2 pick in 2016 and selecting Patrik Laine is a big reason why the Jets moved up from No. 5 in FW16 to No. 1 team status again this year. Our panel of scouts graded Winnipeg’s list of top 10 prospects and 21-and-under NHLers the…

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the new need for speed

NICOLAS ROY THOUGHT his name would be called sooner at the 2015 draft. Those who paid any attention to pre-draft rankings did, too. Roy stands 6-foot-4, 200-pluspounds, has a head for the game, is strong at both ends and his scoring touch was starting to come around. But there was a knock against him: his skating wasn’t up to par. So despite projections he would be a late first- or secondround selection, 95 picks went by before the Carolina Hurricanes finally chose him. “I was disappointed,” Roy said, “to be drafted in the fourth round,” Dan Marr wasn’t surprised. Marr has seen the mentality surrounding prospects shift during his decade-plus as director of NHL Central Scouting, and in his years serving as the director of amateur scouting for the Atlanta Thrashers. Philosophies have…

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ripening on the vine

OTHER THAN THE slow-developing goaltender, defensemen take the longest to reach NHL caliber. That’s because there are so many nuances to the position and the ice surface is a full 200 feet long. Mess up as a young forward and your linemates can sometimes save you. Mess up as a young defenseman and you’re down in the minors. So it’s not surprising to see that blueliners dominate our list of Future Watch fixtures. These are the players who have extended shelf lives as up-and-coming prospects. Pittsburgh’s Derrick Pouliot is our poster boy this year. He first appeared in our Future Watch 2013 edition that had Dougie Hamilton on the cover. Pouliot was drafted eighth overall by the Penguins in 2012 and came in as the No. 42 prospect league-wide in FW13.…

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from pain to gain

JIMMY SCHULDT FOR A KID who took awhile to get going, St. Cloud State’s Jimmy Schuldt is certainly making an impression now. The two-way defenseman is only a sophomore, but he’s drumming up a lot of interest amongst NHL teams. “He’s the kind of guy you appreciate over time,” said one scout. “He doesn’t jump out of the cake, but if you need to keep the puck out of your net or get it out of the zone cleanly, he’s your guy.” The Minnesota native is already 21, so if an NHL team wants him, it’ll have to go the free agent route. Schuldt took the long road to college, playing two full seasons with the USHL’s Omaha Lancers after his high school career with the Minnetonka Skippers. While Schuldt was good…

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players to watch

MIKE VECCHIONE C, Union The best of an OK free agent group. Has put up a ton of points for the Dutchmen. Versatility and smarts will allow him to shift to wing or bottomsix role at the pro level if offense fails. ZACH ASTON-REESE C, Northeastern Aston-Reese is a north-south power forward who gets his points through hard work and physicality. He’s competitive and effective on draws and has underrated hockey intelligence. MITCH HULTS C, Lake Superior State Incredible faceoff man with good size. Gets a lot of ice time with Lakers and plays in all situations. Though still developing, he can’t do much more for middling squad. Pros his best option now. TYLER KELLEHER RW, New Hampshire Possibly most talented kid in the nation. Due to 5-foot-6, 160-pound frame, must be put in right situation to succeed. Offensive dynamo tries…

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the best backbones

THE MOST IMPORTANT step to building a team is assembling the core. It’s becomes especially true in a salary cap world where teams have to decide which guys are expendable and which are cornerstones. The core guys are the building blocks, and if they’re not good enough, good luck. With this being Future Watch, we decided to do some forecasting that rates each team’s core… three years from now. That’s right around the time some of the prospects on these very pages should be ready to contribute. Knowing how good the team’s foundation should be gives important context to the system grades in this issue (see pg. 25). If a team’s pipeline grades poorly but its core looks stellar, it might still be able to contend. If they’re both poor, though, it…