With this year’s NHL Entry Draft just a few weeks away (July 7th and 8th) the NHL Central Scouting Bureau has released their final rankings of this year’s top prospects.
This article is the first of a two-part series where I will be profiling the top ten North American skaters for this year’s draft starting with:
#10 Owen Beck
Weight: 190 lbs
Team: Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)
The Mississauga Steelheads selected Beck in the second round of the 2020 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection Draft.
In 68 games with the Steelheads this season, Beck had 21 goals and 30 assists for a total of 51 points.
Beck is described as an excellent skater with an extremely strong work ethic and as an NHL prospect in this years draft, is projected to go anywhere from the 20s to the mid-second round.
#9 Isaac Howard
Weight: 182 lbs
Position: Left Wing
Team: U.S. National Team Development Program (USNTDP)
Howard is currently playing for the U.S. National Team Development Program and is committed to the University of Minnesota-Duluth for the 2022-23 season but before that, Howard played at the legendary Shattuck St. Mary’s, a school that has produced players such as Sidney Crosby, Zach Parise, Jonathan Toews, and Nathan MacKinnon.
At this year’s IIHF Men’s U-18 World Championships, Howard had a four-goal game on the first day of the tournament against Team Canada.
Howard is currently projected as going anywhere in the first round or early second round of this year’s NHL draft. However, one thing that could impact where he gets drafted is his skating as it is described as a weakness of his in multiple scouting reports.
#8 Luca Del Bel Belluz
Weight: 175 lbs
Team: Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)
Del Bel Belluz is described as an “Extremely creative player with the puck and is effective in his own zone.” However, there are two aspects of his game that he needs to work on, his skating and bulking up as he currently only weighs 178 lbs but he has gained 30 lbs since his rookie season in 2019-20.
While the OHL shut down due to the pandemic hurt a lot of players, it actually was helpful to Del Bel Belluz as it allowed him to work on some of the smaller aspects of his game such as his front-line skating.
Del Bel Belluz is currently projected as a mid to late second-round pick in this summer’s NHL draft.
#7 Kevin Korchinski
Weight: 185 lbs
Team: Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)
Korchinski is one of the top defensemen headed into this July’s draft. This past season (’21-’22) the 17-year-old blueliner recorded 61 assists in 67 games played, which was the most by any rookie in the Western Hockey League.
Korchinski is also after some hard work on his behalf, being tabbed as one of the best skaters in this year’s NHL draft class while also making the case for him to be the first defenseman selected in the draft.
#6 Pavel Mintyukov
Weight: 192 lbs
Team: Saginaw Spirit (OHL)
Mintyukov was born in Moscow, Russia but made the transition to North America after the Saginaw Spirit selected him with the 52nd overall pick of the 2020 CHL Import Draft but didn’t play at all during the 2020-21 season due to the Ontario Hockey League being shut down because of the pandemic.
His reasoning for making the transition is as he described in an interview with NHL.com, he said;
“I think the OHL is tougher (than the MHL) because the players are more skillful, have more speed. It’s more offensive hockey and that’s why I made the decision to come over to North America.”
Mintyukov describes himself as an offensive defenseman and he looks up to Cale Makar of the Colorado Avalanche and Quinn Hughes of the Vancouver Canucks.
Mintyukov is currently seen as a potential first-round pick at this year’s NHL Entry Draft.
#5 Conor Geekie
Weight: 205 lbs
Team: Winnipeg Ice (WHL)
The younger brother of former Carolina Hurricanes and current Seattle Kraken forward Morgan Geekie, Conor Geekie stands out among his peers in this year’s NHL draft class due in part to his size. As most players his age are trying to put on weight and bulk up, Geekie is already pretty much NHL-ready at 6’4″ and over 200 lbs.
Geekie plays for the Winnipeg Ice of the Western Hockey League who also features another top NHL prospect for this year’s draft in forward Matthew Savoie.
Geekie is pretty much a lock to go in the first round, it’s just a question of which team in the first round selects him.
Stay tuned for part two featuring the top four NHL prospects.
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