For a description of the methodology in these rankings, please see the Introduction. We'll be revealing more of the Top 100 every few days leading up to the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
Full list of Top 100 NHL Draft Prospects
51. Dillon Fournier, Defense, Rouyn-Noranda-QMJHL
Fournier is a pretty gifted defenseman who has a desirable upside but did have shoulder issues this yearhis offensive production was still pretty impressive. He is an above-average skater with nice overall mobility, good jump in first few steps, and a solid top speed. When it comes to his puck abilities, Fournier's technique is a lot like another QMJHL prospect, Brandon Gormley, in that he looks a little lanky when holding onto the puck but still exhibits soft hands, good one-touch ability, and moves the puck around effectively and efficiently. Fournier likes to do things offensively, but he sometimes will make some over risky decisions, be it when rushing up or doing too much with the puck. He is able to be somewhat effective defensively with his mobility and awareness, but physically he needs to bulk up a bit to show even a decent physical game. Also as a side note, when I watched Rouyn-Noranda, Fournier was lined up on his off wing, the right defense slot as a left-handed shot.
52. Jarrod Maidens, Center, Owen Sound-OHL
Maidens came into the year with a little bit of hype but he ended up playing a shortened season. He is not a flashy player who wows spectators with puck skills or skating but he does everything well and is what scouts have called a "classic underrated type". His best skill is his hockey sense, which is plus and translates into his offensive game through his positional play and great vision as well as his play in the defensive end. He regularly makes impressive feeds and will show high-end playmaking ability. Maidens' puck skills are decent and can flash a tick above that, so if he doesn't have the space to work with, I don't see him as the kind of player who will create that kind of working area for himself, but if you line him up on a power play from the sideboards, he can see all the options unfold. Maidens has a decent physical game as he protects the puck fine and plays the body, but he has a beanpole frame and needs to put on a lot of muscle. He also needs to work on his skating, as despite good mechanics, his speed is below average.
53. Phil Di Giuseppe, Left Wing, University of Michigan-CCHA
Di Giuseppe had a fine freshman season for the Wolverines and showed desirable traits as a toolsy physical scorer, but he still has some work to do. He's a solid skater with fine speed and impresses more in that regard with his balance in the cycle game, on top of having very good agility and edge work as he can be pretty elusive from a standstill. Di Giuseppe is very skilled with the puck, flashing plus ability in that regard. He's can dangle in open ice while being checked in tight and I've seen a few instances where he's made a couple of nice coordinated plays handling the puck from his knees. Di Giuseppe also has good technique on his passes and will regularly make above-average feeds. He does have good vision, but his hockey sense is his one major issue. Much too often, he rushes plays, overreacts to pressure, makes passes to nobody, and looks like he'll need a good number of years to iron out the kinks, although he does play decent defense. Di Giuseppe does a solid job attempting to be effective in the physical game, but he has a pretty skinny build and will need to put on a lot of muscle before his power game becomes something that can translate to the pro game.
54. Erik Karlsson, Left Wing, Frolunda- J20 SuperElit
This skilled forward bears a strikingly familiar name, but I can't place my finger on where I've heard it before. Oh well, if it was a hockey player, he probably wasn't anyone good. Karlsson is a solid skater, although arguably a grade above. He's a good all-around mover with impressive edge control, a fluid stride, easy power off his push offs, and he gets up to speed quickly. Karlsson is a pretty skilled player who creates a lot with the puck, regularly displaying above-average hands or better anytime the puck gets on his stick. His open ice moves seem to come effortlessly to him as while he has some flash to his game, his puck-handling also gives off the impression that he is in control. Karlsson knows where he needs to go in the offensive zone, sees the ice well, and doesn't seem to have a true hole in his offensive game. He also positions himself fine in his own end. He's a small guy, who needs a boat load of strength and probably will be replacement level at best physically at his peak even though he does attempt to at least engage himself in battles.
55. Jimmy Vesey, Left Wing, South Shore-EJHL
The son of former minor pro player Jim Vesey has scouts saying he has the same quality puck skills and hockey sense as his father, but not the replacement level skating that kept him out of the NHL. Vesey has a good possession skill base between his hands and playmaking skills. He has very desirable hockey instincts in terms of how he anticipates the play well off the puck and the way he sees lanes and plays develop when he has the puck. I'd say his puck skills are above average and may even flash a tick higher although he does showboat a bit with the puck here and there. Vesey's skating has improved somewhat from last year when he went undrafted, although I'd say it is still slightly below average. He's not a bad skater though, and he has a mechanically sound stride with decent power off his extensions, he just doesn't generate a good top speed. There are some concerns from the odd scout about his physical game and work ethic, but the majority of those I've heard from do not seem concerned with that aspect of his game. Vesey is a potential sleeper in the draft with legitimate scoring upside.
56. Dylan Blujus, Defense, Brampton-OHL
Blujus is a pretty intriguing prospect who has a fair amount of upside in a 6'3" frame but will take quite a few years of development. His best asset is his hockey sense as he is a true plus thinker who excels as a puck mover. He sees his options very well breaking out of his zone, threads bullet passes through tight lanes consistently, and he can be seen as the go-to quarterback on the power play to be the starting point on scoring chances. When you see that kind of puck-moving upside, production, and frame, the picture of what Blujus can become is pretty desirable. However, he has two main areas of concern. The first thing is that despite his size, Blujus is not physical at all, as he relies more on using his stick to break up plays and defend. He also needs to work on his mobility and foot speed, as he can be turned around by faster forwards. When moving regularly, he seems a bit uncoordinated as well, but that may partly be due to the fact he hasn't grown into his frame yet. Blujus has the potential to be a fine if not good defensive defender due to his size and sense, but if his physicality and skating don't improve, he may get exposed in that aspect of the game.
57. Dalton Thrower, Defense, Saskatoon-WHL
Thrower has been a prospect I've gotten mixed reviews on, and personally I haven't been too enthralled in viewings by him, but I have talked to a few scouts who think pretty highly of him. He's an above-average skater who has pretty good agility, edge work, and four-way mobility. Thrower isn't a speedster, but can join the rush fine if he needs to. He's a smart player who makes a good first pass, can get things done on the power play with his solid puck skills and good instincts, and rarely forces bad plays. Thrower regularly gets described by industry sources as "tough as nails", "very hard to play against", and "very physical", so it should be no surprise that despite a 5'11" frame, I think Thrower should be able to be at least average in the physical game for a defenseman even at the highest level. Thrower is an effective defender who can break up plays with a good stick, closes gaps quite effectively, and displays fine strength during his battles. He's not a wow prospect in any regard, but he does a lot of solid things.
58. Cristoval Nieves, Center, Kent-US High School
Nieves is a plus skater whose ability to move on the ice gets described within the industry by scouts as "explosive" and "sublime". He has tremendous acceleration that sees him rocket off after his first few steps with seemingly no effort behind his steps. Nieves' top speed isn't at the same level as his acceleration but is still very dangerous as he projects as the kind of forward who will always have defensemen on their toes when he's coming down on the rush. He's also a pretty gifted technical skater with a good stride which shows possible indication of taking his speed to a notch higher with more leg strength as well as good overall footwork in tight spaces and moving laterally. His puck skills are solid to above-average and can flash beyond that, but over the long-term basis he looks more of a "good, not great" type of player when it comes to his puck-handling ability. Nieves certainly does have some creativity and can make plays in open ice or off the half-wall, but I don't see the top-end hand-eye coordination to get to that next level. Nieves, known as "Boo" commonly, main knock is his physical game and his on-ice work ethic. His body still needs a ton of work, as he has a prototypical string bean frame and versus stronger opponents is easily knocked off his feet. However, he also really seems to lack the willingness to engage and show consistent hustle. His overall hockey sense is decent, as he will flash a creative move or nice seeing-eye pass offensively, or show good anticipation and positioning on defense, but then there will be several instances of getting way too cute with the puck and forcing bad plays. There certainly is projection in that area and it could just be a "high-school" thing, but it's worth noting the highs and lows of his game processing.
59. Tomas Hyka, Right Wing, Gatineau-QMJHL
Hyka has an interesting story attached to him. He went undrafted last year, but the Flyers liked him a lot and invited him to their camp this summer and wanted to sign him to a contract, but a CBA issue kept them from doing so. He's an above-average and arguably plus skater with tremendous speed and well above-average acceleration. Hyka has a light frame and he just soars through the neutral zone when he gets a couple of steps of momentum. He can push the pace in transition with his speed but also has the skill and sense to make plays. Hyka is a good thinker as he has the vision to create for his team mates; he can make passes through tight lanes and also has a solid pair of hands to create offense in open ice. He has an admirable work ethic too, as he will get in on the forecheck to pressure opponents and hustle back to cover his assignment. His one major area of concern is his physical game. He's so small and weak physically that he can be brushed off the puck with a single push and had a hard time planting himself in the high percentage areas. I like his intangibles so, I think there's room for that concern to clear up if he works on his body a lot.
60. Denis Kamaev, Right Wing, Rouyn-Noranda-QMJHL
Kamaev had a fine first season in North America and is the kind of player who every time I saw him or talked to scouts about him, he generally gave a positive impression. He's an above-average skater who has a desirable top gear, is quick on his feet and picks up speed well, and has good technique on his lateral and standstill movements but his straight away extensions could be addressed in terms of technique/stride. Kamev is a pretty good puck possession forward, as he's a good puck handler who can makes plays with the puck well when holding it along the half wall or when coming up the ice with speed. He's also an above-average playmaker who has fine patience and vision who makes as many good plays that get the puck to teammates as he does individual moves. Kamaev is by no means a finished product, though, as he's a short, slight forward who doesn't really attack the physical areas and has a lot of work to do in that area. My notes aren't concise in this area, but he also seems just okay in terms of his defensive play, although when at the Under-18s, he looked better in his own end than earlier on in the season.
Corey Pronman is an author of Hockey Prospectus.
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