This is it. We’re getting there. In the reverse order that they are drafted, but whatever. This is where it really counts. Missing on a few second round picks in a row, can doom your franchise to being starved of talent. These guys have to pan out for you. At worst they need to be depth players in your system and preferably they are guys who will be key parts of your franchise in the future.
Brett Leason – Center/Wing (Right-Handed)
4/30/99 – Calgary, Albera, Canada
Current Team: Prince Albert Raiders (WHL)
Much has been written about Brett Leason, so I’m going to be brief. He is the most highly regarded, overaged, undrafted player in probably a generation. There has been genuine talk of him being first round potential and the hype is not just hype. He’s a 6’5 right handed shot forward, who scores all kinds of goals and makes it look effortless. He can set people up too. Did I mention he’s 6’5. He’s a no brainer pick and somebody will take him before the second round is over.
Bobby Brink – Right Wing (Right-Handed)
8/8/01 – Excelsior, MN, USA
Current Team: Sioux City Musketeers (USHL)
I am comfortable saying that Bobby Brink reminds me of Kyle Palmieri, maybe with a little less snarl. The shot is there and the willingness to fire it from anywhere is there. He’s a little diminutive for a 5’10 forward, only checking in at 165 pounds, but he’ll have plenty of time to bulk up before reaching the NHL. He’s currently committed to the University of Denver for the 2020-2021 season. It’s a top school in a top conference, and it will make him a more complete player. He has the basic tools needed to be a scorer in the NHL, but he’s a bit raw and will need the time.
Graeme Clarke – Right Wing (Right Handed)
4/24/01 – Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Current Team: Ottawa 67s (OHL)
Graeme Clarke is one of my favorite players in this draft. I think he’s tremendously under rated because he’s buried on a very deep Ottawa OHL squad. He only has 25 points in 44 games, but he has showed time and again that he can score true highlight reel quality goals. He was awarded player of the game honors in the CHL/NHL top prospects game for good reason. He was everywhere. His offensive talents are there, but his backend play is quite good also. He’s not afraid to get to the dirty areas and battle for loose pucks. Everything I see from him tells me that his stats are not the story. Whomever picks him is going to love what they get. I’ve seen him projected to go in the third round and I find it absurd. The talent and work ethic are there, who cares about the stats?
Yegor Afanasyev – Left Wing (Left-Handed)
1/23/01 – Tver, Russia
Current Team: Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL)
Yegor Afanasyev is a mover and shaker on draft boards this season. He has rocketed up the rankings as this season has gone on, mainly because of his ability to fire pucks into the back of the net. He’s got great size, at 6’3, 203 pounds and a shot similar to first round projected forward, Arthur Kaliyev. His threat as a shooter allows him to make quick passes to set others up. He’s got a good accurate slap shot and wrist shot, but he’s also not afraid to play big in front of the net for the tip-in. He gets it done in all the ways you want to see a scoring forward do it. Not always the best in his own end, but he’ll get time to work on that at Michigan State, where he’s committed to play NCAA hockey. Another one of my favorite prospects in this draft. He shoots, he scores, he’s a guy you want your team to have.
Judd Caulfield – Right Wing (Right-Handed)
3/19/01 – Grand Forks, ND, USA
Current Team: US national Team Development Program
Judd Caulfield is also 6’3 and 200+ pounds, but he seems to have a grasp on how to use his size better than many kids his age. He’s absolutely tenacious in contested puck battles and is an absolute Ox to play against. He’s got good offensive instincts and knows where his size is most effective. What Caulfield is then, is a new-age power forward. He has the size and style to be physical and powerful, but also has the speed, skating and edgework to be effective in the modern NHL. Those talents will be on display as he plays for the University of North Dakota next season. That’s really a perfect place for a power forward of the future to hone his game for the NHL.