FCHockey’s Winter Rankings: 5 Fallers
With FCHockey releasing their Winter rankings, it’s time to pour over the changes.
The formerly ranked No. 1 prospect has fallen out of the top-five, a previous top-three pick is now out of the top-15, and numerous prospects are no longer in the top-100.
To take a closer look at some of those changes, we’ve highlighted five players that have made sizable moves down on FCHockey’s draft board.
Brandt Clarke, D, HC Nove Zamky (Slovakia) – LOAN
Preliminary Rank: 1
Winter Rank: 6
Going from No. 1 to No. 6 seems like a massive drop and in a normal draft, it likely would be. This year, however, there isn’t as much of a gap between the (roughly) top-10 prospects. When thinking of the first tier, it’s not hard to imaging No. 1 through No. 10 as one tier.
For Brandt Clarke, FCHockey’s scouts still see him as one of the top prospects in this class and he was in numerous scout’s top-five personal rankings. The defender seems to be adjusting to his new league better now after a slow start, and he is still very much in the conversation for the top pick in this class.
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“Initially it was a tough transition from North America to Slovakia for Clarke,” FCHockey’s Dylan Galloway started. “He’s obviously got the offensive and dynamic skills. He’s starting to find his way in Slovakia now, but initially, he appeared to be forcing plays or making some highly questionable decisions.
“We felt some other players moved ahead of him in terms of their projectible skills development in more recent viewings.”
Carson Lambos, D, JYP U20 (U20 SM-sarja) – LOAN
Preliminary Rank: 3
Winter Rank: 16
Similar to Clarke, the No. 3 to No. 16 fall may seem steeper than it is. Realistically, this is a drop of one tier. There were scouts that had Carson Lambos in their top-10, but ultimately, 16 is where FCHockey’s team landed on the defender.
Playing overseas in Finland, Lambos’ development hasn’t seemed to progress as some of the other prospects in this class have. There’s still an intriguing prospect here, but both his floor and ceiling might be falling from what was thought entering the season.
“The benefit of having hindsight to past Lambos’ viewings over multiple years led me down a path of disappointment when comparing Carson’s Finnish stint to what I’ve seen at the WHL level,” FCHockey’s Justin Froese said. “I still see the structure, technically that makes him an intriguing defensive prospect, but I would be lying if I didn’t say his lustre is wearing a bit thin.
“His skill set is comprehensive, but nothing really seems to have popped for him and maybe the projection of a top pairing type player is a bit of a long shot.”
Aidan Hreschuk, D, USNTDP (USHL)
Preliminary Rank: 43
Winter Rank: 85
One of two prospects that fell more than 40 spots, Aidan Hreschuk entered the season looking like a potential first rounder and simply hasn’t lived up to that. There were discussions about Luke Hughes, Sean Behrens, and Hreschuk all challenging for the top USNTDP defender, but with Hughes’ rise and Hreschuk’s fall, that conversation is no longer needed.
This, combined with the rise of many other prospects on FCHockey’s board, led to the steep drop in the defenseman’s ranking. He’s still in the top-100 as a potential third-round pick, but he’ll need to show that he has the projectable skill to be an effective player at the next level.
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“Hreschuk has the tendency to be overly aggressive and can make some questionable choices that lead to risks that are easily avoidable,” FCHockey scout Dylan Krill said. “One concern that seems to be consistent is that he’s pinching too early and getting caught behind the play, resulting in odd-man rushes and high danger chances against.
“I’d like to see him play more conservatively and be more patient, it will allow him to have the time to judge the play and make the best possible decision.”
Kirill Kirsanov, D, SKA St. Petersburg (KHL)
Preliminary Rank: 60
Winter Rank: 93
One of the biggest things you want to see in a prospect is consistency. For Kirill Kirsanov, that just hasn’t been there. There are games when he looks like one of the strongest defenders on his team, and then there are times where he disappears.
The defender has spent most of his season in the KHL, on top of the 2021 IIHF World Juniors Championship, but in FCHockeys scout’s views, he can seem like a different player from game to game. There’s definitely the potential to still pan out as an NHL defender, but he’ll have to work on bringing his best effort to the ice in every game.
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“Kirsanov is a prospect who has been on the scouting radar for a while now, but he hasn’t been making as much progress as you’d like to see,” Derek Neumeier, FCHockey’s head crossover scout said. “His lack of quickness and difficulties winning back pucks are both big concerns at this point, and there are simply too many shifts where he’s not giving his maximum effort.
“There is definitely some natural talent at play here in how he processes the game and how he controls the puck, but there is a lot of work that needs to be done developmentally, which puts his NHL future into question.”
Cameron Whynot, D, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
Preliminary Rank: 54
Winter Rank: Not ranked
The last player highlighted is also the biggest faller in FCHockey’s Winter ranking, Cameron Whynot. After starting the season ranked No. 54 in the Preliminary ranking, the QMJHL defender slid right off the top-100 board.
Much like Hreschuk and Kirsanov, this move comes down to consistency and processing ability on the ice. Whynot’s decisions can be extremely questionable, due to rushing his puck movements – especially when under pressure. He’ll need to find ways to slow his game down and lessen his turnovers moving forward.
“The ability to skate up the ice with smoothness and find open lanes to the offensive zone fluidly is what first intrigued us in Whynot,” FCHockey’s QMJHL scout, Andy Lehoux said. “But as we dug deeper into him, we shared a few concerns with his decision-making under pressure. Although the puck-rushing defenseman had the tools to evade forecheckers, he often panicked facing pressure and gave away the puck way too easily.
“Adding some shaky defensive abilities to the mix, we believed the rearguard simply possessed too many red flags to be considered a second-round candidate. When it came to shorting those middle-round prospects, no one really battled for Whynot and he fell just below the top 100, notably behind Oscar Plandowski and Evan Nause, other QMJHL defensemen.