WHL Players Who Could Get Drafted in the 2018 NHL Draft After Being Passed On In 2017

The NHL Draft eligible players coming out of the Western Hockey League for 2018 is rather scarce. There are four defensemen who could be called upon in the first 62 picks, but after that, it is anybody’s guess. However, the group of players who were passed on in the 2017 NHL Draft is a strong one and there is a good chance that a few of 19-year-olds will be picked in June. Let’s take a look at the Draft +1 players with the best chance of being taken this year.

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TREY FIX-WOLANSKY – RW – EDMONTON
GAMES: 20
GOALS: 9
PRIMARY ASSISTS: 7
TOTAL POINTS: 25
%TEAM GOALS CREATED: 41.67%

WHY DIDN’T HE GET PICKED IN 2017?
Fix-Wolansky is 5’7 (or 5’8, depending on where you look) which is a big reason why he wasn’t taken in his first-year eligibility. He had a decent season in 2016-2017, scoring 24 goals and 54 points, but didn’t dominate enough for a team to take a chance on him. Another small forward, Matthew Phillips of Victoria, was picked in 2016 despite his size because he scored more than a point-per-game in his draft year, which made it easier for an NHL team to use a late pick on him. Fix-Wolansky didn’t have that kind of draft year, however, in this season he is on pace for almost 90 points, so there is a good chance that a team ignores his size and picks him in the 6th or 7th round.

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CONNOR DEWAR – C – EVERETT
GAMES: 21
GOALS: 10
PRIMARY ASSISTS: 3
TOTAL POINTS: 19
%TEAM GOALS CREATED: 31.67%

WHY DIDN’T HE GET PICKED IN 2017?
Although Dewar is already in his 3rd season in the WHL, he is still only 18 years old. Teams looked at his two full seasons and didn’t see anything to write home about, despite his solid defensive play. He’s not a big guy, (only 5’10, 170lbs), so if he’s not putting the puck in the net, he’s probably not a player who can contribute at the NHL level down the line, so it’s not worth a pick. However, this season has seen Dewar being involved in almost 1/3 of Everett’s goals, and he is on pace to double his WHL season best, perhaps convincing a team that he is worth using a 7th round pick or at the very least, a training camp invite that could lead to a contract down the line. Dewar was invited to the 2017 training camp of the Toronto Maple Leafs, so he is on NHL team’s radars.

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SAMI MOILANEN – RW – SEATTLE
GAMES: 18
GOALS: 11
PRIMARY ASSISTS: 4
TOTAL POINTS: 18
%TEAM GOALS CREATED: 30.51%

WHY DIDN’T HE GET PICKED IN 2017?
Moilanen is another small player, standing at 5’8, but he has a lot of skill so it’s a little unclear why a team didn’t take a flyer on him in the draft. He played in the Colorado Avalanche’s 2017 training camp and played well for Finland’s U-18 program in 2016, so he’s on a radar. It’s likely that, if healthy, he will also play for Finland at the U-20 World Juniors, which could go a long way in bumping him up from a late round prospect in 2017 to a 3rd or 4th round pick come June. He probably should have been picked in 2017, but he definitely will get taken in 2018.

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JAMES MALM – C – VANCOUVER
GAMES: 21
GOALS: 10
PRIMARY ASSISTS: 11
TOTAL POINTS: 23
%TEAM GOALS CREATED: 28.40%

WHY DIDN’T HE GET PICKED IN 2017?
Another small center, Malm had a decent season on a bad team in 2017. He hasn’t really stood out as a player with potential a potential NHL future, and he was even left off of the NHL Central Scouting “Players to Watch” for November. It is promising to see that he can contribute to a team that was awful in 2016-2017, and a team who has played better than anticipated in 2017-2018. In a few years, scouts could be looking back on the 2017 and 2018 drafts and wish that they took a chance on this kid in the late rounds when he signs an AHL deal as a 20-year-old WHL overager and becomes a solid bottom 6 player somewhere. The odds are unlikely but he has been impressive so far this season behind the giant shadows of Ty Ronning and Tyler Benson.

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VLADISLAV YERYOMENKO – D – CALGARY
GAMES: 21
GOALS: 6
PRIMARY ASSISTS: 8
TOTAL POINTS: 20
%TEAM GOALS CREATED: 30.30%

WHY DIDN’T HE GET PICKED IN 2017:
At 6’0 and 176lbs, he’s not the biggest defenseman, by Yeryomenko is as mobile as they come. He’s matched his goal total and is 5 points away from his point total after playing 40 fewer games this season. He had a solid rookie year as a European defenseman coming over and playing in Canada for the first time and could be a defenseman that Belarus leans on in their future International tournaments. Teams would be silly to pass on him for a second time, especially if he matches the offensive numbers he is on pace for (20 goals, 69 points). Perhaps NHL clubs wanted to see how he played in his sophomore WHL season before throwing a draft pick his way. It will be easy for a team to do that in the 2018 draft.

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EMIL OKSANEN – RW – REGINA
GAMES: 21
GOALS: 11
PRIMARY ASSISTS: 5
TOTAL POINTS: 24
%TEAM GOALS CREATED: 30.38%

WHY DIDN’T HE GET PICKED IN 2017?
In 2016-17, Oksanen played in Mestis which is the second tier league in Finland (The AHL, if you will), and played well in likely limited minutes as a junior-aged player. He didn’t make the Finnish U-20 World Junior and probably didn’t get a lot of exposure during the season. He made the move to the Regina Pats for the 2017-18 season and has played excellent, putting him on Finland’s World Junior radar for 2018 and a likely mid-round pick in the NHL Draft depending on his play for the rest of the WHL season and how he plays against the best juniors in the World in January. Oksanen is likely the best forward candidate to be picked in the 2018 NHL Draft after being passed on in 2017.

 

Next up on the article docket: We travel to the Ontario Hockey League to take a look at their top eligible prospects for the 2018 NHL Draft.

 

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