Since our last published ranking in February (Top 20 inside the Winter Blue Dispatch) there have been some pleasing developments that are making this class look more and more interesting.
Even sticking just to the top 10 prospects, which this last public release is about, some remarkable performances have caused a bit of a reshuffling in their ranks.
While Rasmus Dahlin has decided to cut his busy draft season short (don’t expect that to have any impact on his position on our final list, nor on where he will be drafted), the three prospects we rank after him all stepped up their play.
Jesperi Kotkaniemi displayed at the U18 Five Nations in Michigan the qualities that have made him the highest ranked forward on our board for a long time, but the good news pertain especially to the two Russians we’ve had high on our lists since last season.
Left winger Grigori Denisenko finally started to produce according to his obvious skill level and found some needed consistency.
Right winger Vitali Kravtsov exploded in the post season, going on an unprecedented run for a KHL player in his draft year, recording 11 points in 16 games, the most ever totalled by an U20 player in KHL playoffs.
One of the few top rounds candidates coming off a substandard period through February and March is Jacob Olofsson, but the Swedish center seems to have picked up his play in his most recent outings, barely keeping a place inside the top 5.
Meanwhile Adam Boqvist continues to flash his offensive toolset, but in our book still hasn’t eliminated some of the question-marks surrounding his game.
Martin Kaut has continued to impress in Czech Republic while playing against men. After making an impact in the playoffs and recording his first points with the senior national team he moves up a couple of spots on our board.
We continue to like Jesse Ylonen’s game, even if he does not have a big-time performance to draw additional upwards push in the ranking, like some of the previous names do.
Competitive scorer Filip Hallander and highly talented Dominik Bokk complete our current Top 10, although there was some discussion for the final spot on this list, with additional prospects turning in solid performances that at least warranted serious consideration.
This Top 10 is our final ranking release before the Blue Dispatch draft guide, which will be published in June and will feature a much deeper ranking (last year we ranked and profiled 80 prospects for the 2017 draft).
As we move into the final stretch of the season, we are encouraged by several players stepping up their game also among second tier prospects. As it stands, it seems like this will be a European class with fairly good depth.