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Ryan Kennedy Prospect Q&A: McTavish, Wright, Levi, Nemec and More

The Hockey News logo The Hockey News 1/27/2022 Ryan Kennedy

Our prospect expert takes your questions on some of the biggest names in the draft and development world right now.

Mason McTavish Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports © Provided by Hockey News on Sports Illustrated Mason McTavish Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

There was supposed to be a Prospect Podcast on the website yesterday. Unfortunately, the power went out as the file was saving and it corrupted the original and the backup file.

So, we're answering it online in the form of words you can read.

Three 2022 draft prospects catching my eye

Cutter Gauthier, C/LW, U.S. NTDP: Though Gauthier is listed by Central Scouting as a left winger, he's been playing a lot of center as well and I like what he's done with the added responsibility. The Boston College commit has size, speed and a great shot that often fools opposing netminders.

Grayson Badger, RW, Dexter-Southfield: A very exciting prep school talent, Badger has excellent hands, plays at a high pace and brings tons of creativity to the ice. When his team needs a goal, the Northeastern commit is usually in the thick of things and his playmaking abilities are quite good.

Arseni Koromyslov, D, SKA-1946: We pay a lot of attention to offensive defensemen in their draft year, but Koromyslov is a very impressive defender, full stop. With size, mobility and smarts, he's a real stopper and he is starting to put up some points, too.

Your Questions     

Marleau and Me: Is Mason McTavish bouncing around teams too much?

It's a fair question because the teen has already played for Anaheim, San Diego, Peterborough and Hamilton on top of world junior duty and now, an Olympic berth with Canada this season. But I give McTavish credit for finding his footing during his different stops - especially Hamilton, where he was instantly productive. Next year, I would expect him to be full-time with the Ducks in the NHL, so it'll be a moot point, but since he's handled change so well, I say we just give him full marks for adapting to new challenges.

Raebaeburrrrr: Is Devon Levi a realistic No. 1 for Canada?

Based on Levi's track record in big tournaments (not to mention his nine shutouts for Northeastern this season), Canada definitely has to give him a shot. It will be interesting to see how he matches up against Olympic shooters in a tourney that does not feature NHLers: I'm usually hesitant about riding a small goalie all the way to the end, but who knows in this tournament?

IH8Salmon: HEY!!!!!!!!!!!! Ivan Miroshnichenko - what's the deal with him? So many people hate him but others think he's got top-five potential. What gives?

I've been watching a lot of Miroshnichenko recently and I've been very impressed: He's putting up points, finishing all his checks with authority and earning the trust of his coaches. For me, he's top-five right now and I wonder if some folks saw him struggle earlier in the season and developed a bit of an anchor bias.

Basil Kuh: One NHL draft prospect right now that isn't getting talked about enough.

The first name that comes to mind for me is Luca DelBelBelluz from OHL Mississauga. He's a top-10 scorer in the league, but he also plays an excellent two-way game and can match up against the best in the OHL. He's been particularly good against Shane Wright. Speaking of...

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00__00__00: Shane Wright... is he really not the top prospect anymore?

Shane Wright is my No. 1 and while I understand that people want to see more points, I'm not sure what else you can ding him on: His team is winning, he's an ace on faceoffs and defensive play and he's got an NHL frame. He's a leader and has been his entire career. If he turns into a Patrice Bergeron-type of NHLer who gets 75 points and Selke consideration every season, would anyone complain?

Stanislav Strunzel: I know you've said you don't like comparisons, but thoughts on what Simon Nemec could end up becoming like?

The name that comes to mind right now is Roman Josi, an elite player who impacts the game at both ends. Nemec is very smart and has always been able to defend, but this year he has also put up a ton of points for Nitra in Slovakia's top league. He's right up there with David Jiricek as the top D-man in the draft for me.

Ralphie: Quinton Byfield - is he still trending to be a very valuable player for L.A.?

I think so. With his frame, Byfield was always going to take longer to develop than his smaller peers - it's the Joe Thornton path. And due to the pandemic, Byfield hasn't played nearly as many games as would have been expected at this point in his career, so I would give him a full season's grace right now. I could see him as a Kings regular next year and blossoming the year after that.

Rickety Rockstar: Compared to Matvei Michkov and Connor Bedard, how far off is Adam Fantilli?

I don't think he's far off, but he does play a different game than the other two, so there is an apples-to-oranges aspect here. Fantilli has way more size than Michkov and Bedard, but his skating is just as good, if not better. He's already proven he can dominate a very good league (the USHL), so there really aren't many question marks.

OilCountry88: Oilers fans need a pick-me-up right now. Dylan Holloway, what's his potential looking like right now?

Coming back from his serious wrist injury, Holloway has looked really good in his first few games with AHL Bakersfield. He's a power forward in the making thanks to his size and speed and I wouldn't be surprised if he starts making an impact in Edmonton next season.

Reed Red: Is there a goalie playing in Europe from a non-mainstay country like Sweden, Finland or Russia that's catching your eye?

I would look at Simon Wolf from Germany. He's been playing for Red Bull Akademie in the Czech junior league and has the best stats on his team (which is not very strong this season). He's got NHL size and hopefully will get a nice spotlight on the German national team at the world under-18s - which will be played in Germany this spring.

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