Round 6 is a lot like Round 7. You make your gambles here. You go for the guys that one scout in your scouting department is adamant can make it at the next level even though everybody else in the room has barely even heard of the kid. You’re hunting for a diamond in the rough, the next Jamie Benn or Jesper Bratt, but you can also afford to spend these picks on long term development projects and kids from “non-traditional” hockey countries.
Keighan Gerrie – Center (Right-Handed)
4/6/01 – Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
Current Team: Thunder Bay North Stars (SIJHL)
The majority of people who read this will never have heard of the SIJHL. It is the Superior International Junior Hockey League. The “Superior” in the name is named for Lake Superior which all six teams that play in the league are reasonably proximal to. It’s not a well known league by any stretch of the imagination, but this is where Thunder Bay native Keighan Gerrie is plying his trade. Frankly, I’m not sure the reason he is there. He was drafted by the London Knights of the OHL. The Knights are an absolute NHL prospect factory, churning out top end prospects year after year. NHL central scouting had this kid ranked 140th among North American skaters in their midseason rankings. There’s good reason for this. The SIJHL is predominantly made up of older players and there aren’t many draft eligible kids there. Gerrie is near the top of the league in point production for this season and last season. EVERYBODY who gets paid to know what they are talking about, who sees this kid, sees real potential. In the footage that I can find, I have seen an aggressive puck hounding player who exhibits exceptional skill at taking the puck away from the opposition and then creating offense. The people I have spoken to who see him more regularly than I do tell me he’s an on ice leader and a goal scorer. I’m going to try to find more on him as the season progresses, but he has to be one of THE most interesting prospects in the upcoming draft at this point.
Alexander Peresunko – RW/LW (Right-Handed)
2/8/00 – Kharkov, Ukraine
Current Team: Boston Jr. Bruins (NCDC)
The Ukraine hasn’t really been a hotbed of producing NHL talent over the years and the NCDC isn’t exactly known for churning out NHL players. HOWEVER, the National Collegiate Development Conference is certainly the best junior hockey league in the Northeastern United States. Peresunko got passed over in his first draft eligible year and that’s not really a shock. The 5’11 winger only had 14 points in 19 games and didn’t have a collegiate commitment yet. While he still does not have a collegiate commitment, his point totals have skyrocketed and he performed well in the Division 1B World Junior Championship, representing the Ukraine. In 31 games this season he’s managed 46 points. It seems likely that by draft time there will be a college that has made the offer to allow him to play at the NCAA level. It will be interesting to see which college that is.
Ben Kraws – Goaltender
8/2/00 – Cranbury, NJ, USA
Current Team: Sioux City Musketeers (USHL)
Ben Kraws is ranked #25 among North American Goalies by Central Scouting. His USHL stats are not overwhelming, but when you take a goalie in the late rounds, you are expecting a project. Ben would be a good project for any NHL team to grab onto. He’s 6’4 which is that sweet spot in size that teams are looking for. He has carried the starting load for his USHL squad for this season and last season, and he’s been picked up by the Miami University of Ohio. Miami U is in that big NCHC conference. If Kraws can get himself the starting job at Miami, he’s going to play in-conference games against North Dakota, University of Minnesota-Duluth, St. Cloud St, Denver and Western Michigan. This Conference turns out a lot of NHL players. This type of seasoning could turn Ben Kraws into a real goaltender of the future.
Yegor Sokolov – Right Wing (Right-Handed)
7/7/00 – Yekaterinburg, Russia
Current Team: Cape Breton Screaming Eagles (QMJHL)
I could not believe Sokolov didn’t get picked his first time around. I noticed him every time I was scouting other players as they played against Cape Breton. He’s an absolute tank on the ice. 6’4, 231 pounds with a booming, accurate shot. He doesn’t pad his overall point totals with a lot of assists, but the kid scores goals. Not only that, but he scores them all the ways that matter. He can take it himself on a breakaway and score, or he can use his size in a power forward role, and be big in front of the net for tips and tap-ins. He’s not the greatest skater, and he’s not the best in his own end, but the puck goes off his stick and finds the net. Who doesn’t want that?
Emil Martinsen Lilleberg – Defender (Left-Handed)
2/2/01 – Norway
Current Team: Sparta Sarpsborg (Norway)
EML is what I’m going to shorten this kid’s name to. He’s currently a boy among men. EML plays, not in Norwegian juniors, but in their men’s league, the GET-ligaen. There’s a few former NCAA standouts over there right now. Former St. Cloud standout Joey Benik is a top scorer in that league as are former AHL players Mario Lucia and Austin Cangelosi. There’s a few other foreign league journeymen there who had good careers in North American juniors or other professional leagues. So the Norwegian league is not just a throwaway. What matters though, is that here is a 17 (soon to be 18) year old kid, who plays with men and doesn’t suck at it. His coach raves about his physical attributes and his grasp of the game. Norway doesn’t produce a lot of NHL players, but this kid could be the next one. A team that drafts him might want to see him spend a year in the CHL similar to Liam Kirk from the UK (Drafted by Arizona in 2018).