April 5, 2022

Five fallers in FCHockey’s Spring ranking for the 2022 NHL Draft

The 2021-22 season continues to roll on and some players haven’t been reaching the expectations that were set for them.

In the latest update to FCHockey’s rankings, there are some sizeable moves both up and down the draft board.  To take a closer look at some of these changes, we’ve highlighted five players that have made notable drops down the draft board in FCHockey’s Spring ranking for the 2022 NHL Draft.

Tristan Luneau, D, Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL)

Midseason rank: 23

Spring rank: 34

Difference: -11

Tristan Luneau started the year with high expectations and, while he’s still the top player from the QMJHL in the eyes of FCHockey, he’s on the outside of the first round looking in at this point in the season. He has a solid stat line with 35 points (11 goals, 24 assists) in 51 games, but he’s just left a bit to be desired for the team of Eastern Canada scouts.

“Luneau came into the season with the tailwind of an impressive rookie year,” Quebec-based FCHockey scout Andy Lehoux said. “Yet the excitement seems to be fizzling out as a result of his slow draft campaign. He arguably isn’t having the same offensive impact as last year, and his stagnant progression is starting to daunt scouts.

“I’d like to see him use his outstanding instincts to increase his involvement on the attack.”

Kasper Kulonummi, D, Jokerit U20 (U20 SM-sarja)

Midseason rank: 54

Spring rank: 71

Difference: -17

Kasper Kulonummi has been an interesting prospect this season — not overly impressing while not exactly having a ‘bad’ year. The Finnish defender has 26 points (three goals, 29 assists) in 40 games this season, and was given the ‘A’ for Jokerit U20. His play has been good, but hasn’t matched the progression of those around him in the region, calling his ranking into question.

“It’s not that he has been disappointing during the second half of the season,” Finnish-based FCHockey scout Rasmus Tornqvist explained. “He still excels in puck possession and is great at starting plays from his own zone. He also does well as a quarterback on the power play and has good overall playmaking abilities.

“However, the fact that he is not the biggest guy, and isn’t that much of a scoring threat has him behind both Tomas Hamara and Otto Salin in the defensive prospect ranking out of Finland for me.”

Jordan Gustafson, C, Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)

Midseason rank: 55

Spring rank: 82

Difference: -27

Similar to Kulonummi, Jordan Gustafson simply hasn’t shown the growth that FCHockey’s scouts would like to see at this point in the season. He has a solid stat line with 50 points (22 goals, 28 assists) in 55 games, but just hasn’t been on the upward trend that you look for in a draft year.

“Gustafson is more or less the same player he was at the start of this season and while he’s still a good prospect overall, it would have been nice to see more progression out of him up to this point,” Western head scout Derek Neumeier said. “Prospects need to be able to evolve their games over time to transition to higher levels, so it’s always a concern when you see that evolution slowing down in a player while he is still in junior hockey.

“More than anything else I would like to see Gustafson improve his skating and overall quickness to help him open up the play a little more and have a bigger impact in more of his shifts.”

Spencer Sova, D, Erie Otters (OHL)

Midseason rank: 66

Spring rank: 85

Difference: -19

Spencer Sova is in his rookie season in the OHL and while he did miss all of 2020-21 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has left something to be desired in his play. While he is known as an offensive puck-moving defender, he hasn’t reached his full potential this season. He’s been inconsistent at times but has managed to collect 27 points (nine goals, 18 assists) in his 62 games. It will be interesting to watch him next season to see how time away last year impacted his development.

“Sova, a top-10 selection in the 2020 OHL Draft, still has explosive skating and high upside, but has underperformed expectations this year, particularly in his own zone,” Ontario-based FCHockey scout Joseph Aleong said. “He has great skating form and power, allowing him to defend the rush well, but he isn’t the transition difference-maker on offense he could be, given his speed and agility.

“He could stand to be more aggressive inside the offensive zone and in difficult areas of his own end. Still, the offensive upside at his size will be hard to pass up beyond the first three or four rounds.”

Maddox Fleming, RW, Sioux Falls Stampede (USHL)

Midseason rank: 77

Spring rank: 90

Difference: -13

Maddox Fleming didn’t start out the season as strongly as expected and while he did show some improvement moving to the Sioux Falls Stampede from the US National Team Development Program, it still hasn’t been the step forward that FCHockey’s scouts hoped for. With 26 points (eight goals, 18 assists) in 40 games, it’s a respectable production line — but not that much of a step forward compared to the 30 points (10 goals, 20 assists) in 39 games with the U17 National Team last season.

“Fleming is a player who brings an impressive offensive skill set to the game,” FCHockey’s head US scout Austin Broad explained. “When he’s at his best he can be a high-quality playmaking winger who manipulates the defense with his eyes to open up passing lanes and deliver quality passes to his teammates. The main reasons I have him as a faller are his consistency and where I think his ‘ceiling’ is.

“Fleming hasn’t been as consistent as I expected him to be, and that could partially be because he left the NTDP for Sioux Falls, but I definitely expected him to be more of an impact player. I think having him in the 90s is a good spot for a player of his caliber. He likely caps out as a top-nine forward who can play in multiple situations but I now question if he has what it takes to be a consistent offensive contributor at the next level.”

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