FCHockey’s Winter Rankings: 5 Risers
FCHockey released their Winter rankings this week, and there were some big changes.
There’s a new No. 1 in town, a previously not-ranked prospect has rocketed into the first round, and a number of other players took some big jumps up.
To dive into some of those changes, we’ve highlighted five players that have made significant leaps on FCHockey’s draft board.
Luke Hughes, D, USNTDP (USHL)
Preliminary Rank: 5
Winter Rank: 1
The top of the 2021 NHL Draft is extremely interesting. There’s no consensus number-one overall pick, and this has resulted in as many as 10 prospects earning some discussion as the top prospect in this draft.
For the scouts at FCHockey, Luke Hughes has shown enough to earn the top of the podium at what would normally be halfway through the year. The mobile defender is excellent in the offensive zone, recording over a point-per-game with the United States Under-18 National Team.
Combining the eye test with the fact that he’s one of the youngest players in this class – just six days away from the 2022 NHL Draft – Hughes could very well hear his name where his brother, Jack Hughes, heard his name called just two years ago (spoiler: it was No. 1 overall).
“The reason for moving Hughes up to number one is our feeling that he best displayed the skills that would translate the best to the next level,” FCHockey’s Dylan Galloway explained. “We felt that his offensive upside in combination with his smooth skating and great habits with the puck made him the most projectible of the top players in this draft.”
William Eklund, C, Djurgardens (SHL)
Preliminary Rank: 21
Winter Rank: 5
Another big jump in the first round was William Eklund, the Swedish centerman that has also been garnering some first-overall discussion. While he’s not there just yet, jumping from No. 21 to No. 5 puts him very much in the thick of the race.
After playing 20 SHL games last season with just two assists, Eklund has stepped into a top-six role with Djurgardens and has collected 16 points (eight goals, eight assists) in 29 games this season. His impressive step forward at one of hockey’s best stages played a big part in his rise up the rankings.
“Eklund has shown that he can excel at the SHL level by using hesitations, forechecking hard, and a quick playmaking speed and vision,” FCHockey scout, Joel Henderson said. “He is able to find teammates to continue cycles and get dangerous opportunities. His rise in rankings has been deserved.”
Matthew Coronato, LW, Chicago Steel (USHL)
Preliminary Rank: Not Ranked
Winter Rank: 31
The award for the biggest riser in FCHockey’s Winter ranking goes to Chicago Steel forward Matthew Coronato. After not being ranked in the preliminary ranking, Coronato now finds himself inside the first round at No. 31.
Coronato’s dominance this season has been nothing short of remarkable. The left winger is second in the USHL in points with 48 (22 goals, 26 assists) in 25 games. He also set the USHL record for the longest point streak. Yeah, he’s earning some attention.
“I think Coronato has really shown flashes of high-level skill with consistency this season. He shows the ability to put the puck in the net but also has excellent playmaking ability and very good vision,” Ray Napientek, FCHockey’s US-based scout, said. “He rounds out his game playing a 200-foot game and has a compete level that is excellent.
“He showed last season he was someone to watch but has taken his game to the next level this season as he flies up draft boards. To me, it’s his consistency and overall game that are making the difference, not just his impressive offensive numbers.”
Oliver Kapanen, C, KalPa U20 (U20SM-sarja)
Preliminary Rank: Not Ranked
Winter Rank: 43
Another prospect who went from not being in FCHockey’s top-100 to inside the top-50 is Oliver Kapanen. The cousin of Pittsburgh Penguins’ Kasperi Kapanen has been catching the eyes of FCHockey’s scouts, demanding a march up the draft board.
The KalPa U20 centerman sits ninth in points in the U20 SM-sarja with 38 in 35 games. He’s also second in the league in goals, with 22. While it’s not his offense that captures attention, it certainly helps to show what a complete player he already is.
“Kapanen is one of the more well-rounded forwards in this draft class,” FCHockey’s Derek Neumeier started. “He’s a smart center who plays with pace and makes a positive impact for his team in all three zones and in all situations, including both sides of special teams.
“Kalpa’s under-20 team asks him to do a lot of heavy lifting as their number-one center and an alternate captain, and he excels in the role. While Kapanen might not have the highest ceiling offensively, he has a lot of professional upside overall and could be a player who goes on to a long NHL career.”
William Stromgren, LW, MODO (HockeyAllsvenskan)
Preliminary Rank: 94
Winter Rank: 46
The final riser highlighted here is Swedish forward William Stromgren. Mainly spending his season with MODO across the J18 Region, J20 Nationell, and HockeyAllsvenskan, the winger has some very intriguing tools in his toolbox.
There is still a rawness to his game, which is completely normal at this point, but FCHockey’s scouts are feeling confident in Stromgren due to his processing, mobility, size, and overall team play.
“Stromgren is a player that has developed a lot over the last year. Step by step he finds his way of making good things happen on the ice,” Swedish regional scout Fredrik Haak said. “He is not just a good skater or handles the puck well, he makes good, fast decisions on the ice and seems to be really adjustable to his environment.
“Offensively, Stromgren has many tools to be creative and score points for his team. This season, I think he has really earned more attention for this coming Draft.”