February 21, 2022

NHL Draft Notebook: Slafkovsky, Mateychuk, Hayes & 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.

Here’s a glimpse at their analysis.

JESSE HORACEK | C | Maryland (NAHL) | February 18, 2022

FCHockey Rank: NR

Scouting report by Austin Broad

Jesse Horacek is a speedy center who uses his skating to create space all over the ice making him difficult to defend. His speed and agile footwork allow him to push the pace at the NAHL level. When he gets the puck in open space he has the speed to create space and separation from the opposing team’s defense. Horacek has good vision with the puck. He can spot passing plays before they develop, making him difficult to read when he has the puck. He has strong passing skills, but is not an elite passer. However, he is more than capable of creating quality chances for teammates at this level. There are some puck control issues that raise concerns for me. Multiple times he and a teammate had odd-man rushes and when his teammates hit him with a pass the play died on his stick because Horacek struggled to receive the puck. For a guy who plays a more skilled game, he has to learn to receive passes on his backhand and while skating at full stride, and he will become a much more effective player. I wouldn’t have him on any draft list at this point in time, but there is a foundation of skills in his game that can be developed and potentially allow him to get to the next level of hockey. He could have some potential as a top-nine NCAA forward and if he goes to the right program his game can be developed further.

Full scouting report

JURAJ SLAFKOVSKY | LW | Slovakia (OLY) | February 11, 2022

FCHockey Rank: 8

Scouting report by Rasmus Tornqvist

Juraj Slafkovsky is a big versatile winger, who can both dish the puck and finish the play himself. Playing in his second Olympic hockey game in as many days, Slafkovsky continued his impressive performance to start the tournament. He showed relentless pressure on the forecheck throughout the game, which had Sweden’s defenders in trouble time and time again. His ability to create opportunities both for himself and for his teammates continued to impress me, and he was again one of the most dangerous players on the Slovak team. Slafkovsky also showed relentless effort on the backcheck, and was often the first forward back in the defensive zone to help his defenders. Sometimes his willingness to make things happen got the best of him, and his decision making with the puck on both ends of the ice definitely has room to grow and mature. He still provided an x-factor to his team that definitely had a positive impact on the game overall. His physical game is decent, but given his size he could become an even more scary opponent if he would further utilize his impressive frame when battling opponents near the boards. That being said, he definitely is not afraid to throw his body around either, so I’m anticipating his game to get more physical when he matures a bit. With a second straight game where he impressed me, I would be tempted to bump him up to my top-five in the draft, but I think he needs to show that he can continue playing like this for a longer period of time in order to actually be considered a top-five talent. Regardless, I’m having a hard time seeing him drop outside the top-10, given his very intriguing skill set and clear upside as a versatile power-forward type.

Full scouting report

DENTON MATEYCHUK | D | Moose Jaw (WHL) | January 25, 2022

FCHockey Rank: 15

Scouting report by Donesh Mazloum

Denton Mateychuk is one of the most entertaining players in the WHL, however the uniqueness of his game also makes it difficult to get a read on the kind of player he can be as he progresses up the ranks. There aren’t many defenders to compare him to at the NHL level. Mateychuk’s game is built around his flexibility, creativity, and general quickness in mental processing. Every aspect of his game is proactive and purposeful. He is as dangerous as they come with the puck on his stick. His head is always up surveying the ice and he is always a threat to thread a home run stretch pass. Mateychuk can make multiple reads in a split second, and he shows the confidence and edgework to spin off pressure and create lanes with his feet. He is a master of quick hit passes before darting into space and his ability to make one touch passes is so accomplished that the Warriors run the puck through him in the bumper spot on the power play, as opposed to on the point. Mateychuk brings his same mature understanding of the game to the defensive end. He reads the play well and is quick to jumps routes if the opposition telegraphs their intentions. His lack of size and strength does pose some concerns down low where he can give up too much at the net-front and he can be passive when dealing with a cycle. Mateychuk’s production and ability to command the ice at the junior level are incredibly impressive, however his jitterbug style of roaming the ice is far from prototypical. Where he gets drafted will depend on how teams think his skating and defensive game will translate to the NHL level. I was a little lower on him at the start of the year but as I’ve gotten used to the unorthodox nature by which he goes about things, I’m coming around on his potential. He’s a player I’d target in the 15-25 range.

Full scouting report

CHARLIE LEDDY | D | NTDP (USHL) | February 2, 2022

FCHockey Rank: NR

Scouting report by Douglas Larson

Charlie Leddy is a defensive defenseman who shuts down lots of plays while having little offensive skill. There’s nothing flashy or exciting about his game, but one thing that’s for sure is he’s very effective while on the ice. I thought everything about his defensive game was great: he had good gaps, an active stick, and was pretty physical throughout the game. With little-to-no offensive skill, he plays a low event game that works for him. I thought he struggled a bit with his passing. He had his successful ones but there were definitely some ones that were off target or intercepted. If you were watching the game casually and don’t notice Leddy that probably means he’s doing his job. His rough and tough shutdown style of game isn’t one that is sought after but he is a key player on his team. Even with a below-average offensive instincts, I still think his defensive game can take him a long way in his hockey career. But if he can add more skill and awareness in his game I think it’ll increase his chances of being an NHLer significantly. With the right development, I can see Leddy being a solid bottom-pair defensive defenseman while also making a big impact on the penalty kill. At this point I’d be comfortable selecting Leddy in the sixth round of the upcoming draft.

Full scouting report

GAVIN HAYES | RW | Flint (OHL) | February 4, 2022

FCHockey Rank: 68

Scouting report by Brandon Holmes

Gavin Hayes is a north-south winger who heads to hard areas in the offensive zone to make himself available for scoring opportunities. What stood out the most with Hayes throughout this game was his combination between his mobility and motor. He moves well and is able to get up and down the ice efficiently with strong top-end speed and isn’t shy about playing aggressively on the forecheck and finishing his checks on opposing defensemen. He works hard to get to hard areas in the offensive zone, including both the goalmouth and below the goal line, and often opted to park himself in front of the opponent’s net to make himself available to teammates for scoring or rebound opportunities. On occasion, Hayes displayed above-average puck skills but did not do much to create offense off of his own stick. In his own zone, Hayes was generally well-positioned but did little to assist his defensemen in generating breakups. My main concern with this showing is that Hayes appeared to be more of a passenger than a true driver on the offensive side of the puck by not doing much to generate offense for his linemates. In future viewings, I would like to see Hayes play with more creativity with the puck on his stick and show growth in his play driving ability, however, at the moment I would project Hayes as a complementary piece for an NHL bottom-six and is someone I would place as a mid-round selection for the 2022 NHL Draft.

Full scouting report

ALEXANDER PELEVIN | D | Chaika (MHL) | February 5, 2022

FCHockey Rank: 72

Scouting report by Whittaker Heart

Alexander Pelevin is a fleet footed, two-way defender with potential offensive playmaking upside. Lightning quick feet and fluid hip mobility combine to make him a really outstanding skater. A small heel kick when extending consecutive strides, giving a ‘running on ice’ illusion is the only notable efficiency flaw in his maneuvering, but his linear crossover ability masks this already. Physicality already is a strength in his game at times to a fault, as he loves to step up and break up a rush with his strength. In his own zone, you can see his quickness keeps him glued to speedy forwards and his physicality allows him to finish through them. Occasionally he is slow to recognize who his check is, but the consistent swivelling head leads me to believe that won’t be an issue for too long. He passes the puck well and carries it with poise, often supporting the puck and making the conservative play. The potential for him to be a modern age undersized but smooth skating puck-mover is most definitely there, but the offensive production will certainly have to improve. Pelevin’s shot doesn’t pose much of a threat and he shows an inability to create his own shot. He was deployed on the power play in front of the net, certainly an unconventional look, but speaks to his coaches’ trust in his compete level. The consistent hounding of pucks in the corners when called upon demonstrated a really aggressive motor in his game. I really like Pelevin and think he has a lot of his best hockey yet to be played. I can see him becoming a mainstay on an NHL blue line at one point and landing in the top three rounds of the draft, given an opportunity to continue to succeed.

Full scouting report

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