Sometimes, ignoring a player’s mistakes in the game can be very effective.
Every draft season, there’s always a handful of potential customers who have great games, but something else that drops them off a fixed number of points. Whether it’s a critical vulnerability or other factors, it always happens. If you are willing to ignore those problems and take the opportunity with a player and develop them in the right way, then things can work out brilliantly. Or not.
It doesn’t matter how often scouts follow a lead during a season. You still don’t know what will happen next. It’s all a guess, trying to envision an idol future for each teenager still in development as a player and as a person.
Today, we’re taking a look at five high-risk, high-reward players for the 2023 NHL Draft. Goalkeepers are excluded for the sole fact that it’s the riskiest position to start. draft. So here are five things you need to know:
Matvei Michkov, RW (HK Sochi, KHL)
This only really applies to the high end of the draft. Many scouts think that Michkov could be the second potential candidate on the shortlist after Connor Bedard. But unlike Bedard or Adam Fantilli, teams will need to wait for Michkov. Three years is not too long for many prospects, especially those at the large grassroots level, who may need two more years before being admitted to the AHL. But with an elite talent like Michkov, the feeling is different. With things going on in Russia, many teams have expressed concern over whether he will actually arrive after his tenure with SKA St. Petersburg end or not.
He has racked up 20 points in 27 games to place fourth in the team’s scoring record. Six of the team’s nine wins went to Michkov in the lineup, and his 0.74 points per game during his time with Sochi was the best by an Under-19 in tournament history — beating Evgeny Kuznetsov, Eeli Tolvanen, Vladimir Tarasenko, Kirill Kaprizov and Artemi Panarin, among others. If I was a GM and he was available, and I had time to be around, I would marry him. It’s only risky if you’re a pressurized GM near the top of the draft class (ahem, Columbus), but you never know, right?
Andrew Cristall, LW (Kewlona, WHL)
Cristall would have easily passed the 100-point mark if he hadn’t suffered a lower-body injury. From a skill perspective, Cristall has everything right for him. His skating can be a disaster at some point, and he can move around defensively. In a vacuum, there’s a lot to like. However, when he has the ball on his stick, he is dangerous. Surround him with quality buddies and you’ll be fine. I have great faith in Cristall.
Lukas Dragicevic, D (Tri-City, WHL)
There is not a better attacking defender in the draft. Not even close. You don’t usually see defensive players hitting the 75-point threshold – heck, not many strikers do either. It’s been a remarkable season for the defender to score first, nervously following with one of his best shots from the point. He’s an incredible breakout defender – possibly one of the best in years. But the poor acceleration and absolutely lousy defense range is where everything falls apart. For whatever reason, we’re seeing a trend of these young, talented defenders not being able to play in their region.
Dragicevic only switched to the blueline a few years ago, so he’s still trying to figure that out. If he can find a way to become significantly more effective in his area, he’ll be fine, because it’s far from ready right now. But from an offensive point of view, he has all the necessary skills.
Luca Cagnoni, D (Portland, WHL)
Cagnoni is one of the best attacking defenders in the WHL this year. Cagnoni – who hasn’t even been called up to the major junior team – has scored 17 goals and 64 points for an interesting Portland team. He is a mass shooter who loves to hit the sticks and is as dangerous as they come when it comes to control. There are few better forward defenders in this class of drafts. Problem? Actually play defensively. He’s definitely improved his play in his own region towards the end of the year, but there’s still plenty of way to go. If Cagnoni can clean that up, he could be one of the best stealers among the guardians.
Cameron Allen, D (Guelph, OHL)
After being predicted to go early in the draft, Allen was unable to build a successful rookie campaign with Guelph, with many of his defensive inconsistencies exposed this season. Good news: He still regularly plays for nearly 30 minutes a night and is likely to have some great evenings. He still has the confidence to get creative with the ball, which has allowed him to succeed as a rookie. But at the Under-18s, and throughout the early part of the season, he looked completely out of place. In his two weeks in Switzerland, it was like he wiped away any goodwill he had gained on the ice with some terrible decision-making blunders.
Fortunately, the fact that he’s outside the top 70 could make him an incredible pick and a scout who isn’t ready to be wiped out. If he can relax and play the game more calmly, calmly, and with self-control, which dominated him as a Draft + 1 year, then he should be able to bounce back. Right away? It’s hard to get a real reading.