NHL Draft Notebook: Mateychuk, Nelson, Casey & More
Every season, FCHockey’s scouts are scouring the globe to get eyes on prospects eligible for the 2022 NHL Draft and beyond.
They spend countless hours watching both live games and game tape to get the best possible analysis on the prospects entering the NHL Draft. Our Unpacking the Notebook series typically looks at prospect reports filed within the last week but with the conclusion of the season has been expanded to feature top NHL Draft prospects.
Here’s a glimpse at their analysis.
TRISTAN LUNEAU | D | GATINEAU (QMJHL) | NOVEMBER 17, 2021
FCHockey Rank: 20
Scouting report by Joey Fortin Boulay
Tristan Luneau is a smart puck-moving defenseman that displays incredible poise with the puck seconded by an elite vision. He shows complete mobility: great four-way agility, elusiveness, smooth edges and stops, excellent backward skating. He gains good speed in straight lines and crossovers but lacks explosion and can lose some races. He’s a great stickhandler, he won’t make any saucy moves, yet he controls the puck fluidly with his silky hands. He can easily win himself time and space, thanks to his high hockey IQ and mobility. He also has the ability to deliver quick tape-to-tape passes in motion. Luneau has great gap control and stickchecking off the rush as well. He makes smart decisions along the blue line and will often send low shots to the net in hope of a favorable rebound. On top of that, he possesses a nice shot arsenal, as he can deliver wrist, snap and slap shot as wanted, without any of those being very dangerous though. He’s fine in his own zone and is willing to block shots, but sometimes can look out of place when the puck is cycling. He’s not the best in 50/50 battles and would benefit of bulking up a little bit. His puck protection can be soft at times, and he can also be caught head down in puck possession when pressurized. In all, I see Luneau as a top pair puck-moving defenseman at best but could end up on a top-four unit, first power play quarterback. He is without a doubt a top-15 pick in this year’s draft.
RYAN CHESLEY | D | TEAM USA (5NATIONS) | NOVEMBER 10, 2021
FCHockey Rank: 16
Scouting report by Douglas Larson
Ryan Chesley is a physical two-way defenseman who excels in transition. He’s always moving around and has a long powerful stride that allows him to get up the ice. He made his presence felt laying the body every chance he got this game. It seemed to separate the opposition from the puck nearly every time. He showed great gap control on the rush and a high compete level when battling for the puck. His decision-making was outstanding, especially when he had the puck in his own zone. Very often he would be the guy to jump start breakouts with accurate passes allowing his team to attack the other way. I’d like to see more offense out of him because I think its in him and he’s just more focused on the defensive side of the game, which is just fine because he’s great on defense. I think he could be a very solid second-pairing, two-way defensemen with a chance of being on the first pair that will play a key piece on the penalty kill. In my eyes, Chesley is a top-five defenseman in the 2022 draft class and I’d have no problem taking him in the first half of the first round.
TY NELSON | D | NORTH BAY (OHL) | NOVEMBER 19, 2021
FCHockey Rank: 22
Scouting report by Mat Sheridan
Ty Nelson is a skilled defenseman who has an ability to make an impact in all three zones. His skating ability and vision with the puck jumps out. He has a great low stance that allows him to accelerate quickly when the puck heads up ice while allowing him to close the gap on players if the puck transitions the other way. He was great at hitting teammates with a pass as they were breaking through the neutral zone and finding teammates through sticks in the offensive zone. He showed a willingness to activate into the rush with the puck and attack open space in transition in an attempt to create offensive zone time for his team. Defensively, he had good gap control and kept his opponents to the outside, limiting their ability to put pucks into high danger areas. In terms of improvement, Nelson sometimes struggles with own zone awareness. I found there were times where he would watch the play develop and allow opponents a little too much space to maneuver. Overall, Nelson excels as a puck moving defenseman who has lots of power play upside but needs to improve his own zone awareness. Based on this viewing, Nelson would be a worthy pick in the first few rounds of the draft.
DENTON MATEYCHUK | D | MOOSE JAW (WHL) | NOVEMBER 9, 2021
FCHockey Rank: 13
Scouting report by Derek Neumeier
Denton Mateychuk is dynamic with a capital “D” and is arguably the single most entertaining defenseman in the 2022 draft class. His playing style is very similar to that of Miro Heiskanen — exceptional skating ability combined with oodles of confidence and a superb competitiveness. Not only can he move around the ice effortlessly, he has fantastic conditioning and outworks players on the other team. What that looks like on the ice is Mateychuk appearing all over the place, constantly, leaving a gigantic stamp on shifts. He’s a monster on the rush, either carrying it himself or blazing up the ice to make himself a passing option, a shooting trailer, or just someone who draws opposing attention and opens up room for his mates as a result. Mateychuk will pinch all the way into the offensive zone and then hustle back hard to make sure he’s not putting his team in trouble, and is smart about when he makes those gambles. Mateychuk’s strides aren’t the longest naturally but he gets excellent extension and has ideal form. His footwork and edges are amazing, allowing him to move smoothly and quickly cover ground in any direction. Has no trouble at all escaping forecheck pressure. Mateychuk can gap up easily and will sometimes do it aggressively in the neutral zone. He’s laser-focused during his shifts and is comfortable thinking and reacting at his top speed, which is faster than pretty much everyone else’s top speed. Mateychuk’s hand-eye coordination is very good, and when you combine that with his other best assets he should become an elite stick-on-puck defender and gap controller in due time. He contributes offensively at even strength because he’s so involved in the play, and he’s an easy guy to put on the power play at this level, though I don’t know if his puck skill, playmaking or creativity are necessarily elite. Sometimes Mateychuk’s passes can be best described as hopeful, but those will become less frequent as he matures. He’ll score goals around the net when he goes there, but I see his point shot being better for tips than goals. Mateychuk is overflowing with upside, and if he can frequently put forth more games like this one he could make a case for himself to be the first defenseman taken in the 2022 draft and someone who gets picked within the single digits.
SEAMUS CASEY | D | TEAM USA (5NATIONS) | NOVEMBER 11, 2021
FCHockey Rank: 14
Scouting report by Dennis Schellenberg
Seamus Casey is a very gifted, offensive-minded defenseman who can contribute at high level at both ends of the ice. Very skilled with the puck, Casey is a great puck-mover and can handle the puck with great care using his smooth hands. Very skilled and gifted when carrying the puck, he likes to jump in offensively. I really liked his confidence with the puck and vision. He was aware of his linemate at any time and dished out some smart passes. Although he is not overly big in size, he is strong on his skates and kept opponents away from the puck. Also physically, he shall not be underestimated, won a few puck battles by simply using his strong lower body and great timing when using his body to bump opponents off the puck. Casey possesses great skating abilities, is very agile, and an overall smooth skater. Is able to make quick turns with the puck and is hard to defend in the own zone for opposing teams. Keeps his feet moving and is always in motion. Overall, a great offensive contributor. Possesses great shot accuracy and release too. Really hard to find any flaws in his game, especially against an underwhelming Swiss team. He was not really tested defensively and had many occasions to shine offensively. Definitely need to see him against better teams to evaluate his own zone game in more depth. Casey can become a two-way defenseman at NHL-level and I would not be surprised if he is a first-pair defenseman one day. Expect him to be a first round pick, likely even a top-20 guy.
KASPER KULONUMMI | D | JOKERIT J20 (U20 SM-SARJA) | NOVEMBER 5, 2021
FCHockey Rank: 46
Scouting report by Joshua Frojelin
Kasper Kulonummi is a no-nonsense defenseman who keeps a simple game. His best trait is maturity. He never tries to make an overly-aggressive play that could see him out of position. He will make simple passes that lead to offensive breakouts, or every so often head a rush himself when appropriate. In the defensive zone, he’s calm with the puck under pressure and will make moves that positively impact his team. He has decent mobility, but I would not classify the him to be a particularly stellar skater. For a player receiving first/second round hype, I was not particularly impressed with his offensive creativity. I was shocked to see he’s averaging 0.71 points-per-game at the U20 level, given his lacking offensive upside. On the power play, I was quite disappointed to see his mainly simple play, and inability to stickhandle or walk the blue line much. Come July, I would need to see much more offensive upside from the blueliner to see him as a top-60 prospect in the upcoming draft. I would select Kulonummi later, as a low-upside but high floor defenseman who could be part of my third pair defense group eventually.
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