FCHockey’s top-10 draft-eligible prospects of the month – November 2020
FCHockey’s scouts can be found in all corners of the globe, watching players at the professional level, right down to junior.
They see a countless number of players in action, but there are always those that shine.
Through the 2020-21 hockey season, our team will collect the names of those prospects that have caught their eyes. From standing out in their leagues to impressing at tournaments, from making history to accomplishing remarkable feats for their age, we’ll take a look at the 2021 NHL Draft-eligibles making waves in the hockey world each month.
Here are FCHockey’s top-10 draft-eligible prospects for November 2020, alphabetically listed:
Matthew Beniers, C, University of Michigan (NCAA)
The University of Michigan came out of the gate with all cylinders firing, and the three 2021 NHL Draft-eligible freshmen on the team are at the forefront. Arguably leading that charge is centerman Matty Beniers. The two-way pivot has been an absolute force to start his NCAA career, collecting two goals, three assists, and five points in his first six games. He looks to be an early riser on draft boards and a potential top-10 prospect – at least – in this class.
“He’s so active all over the ice and is a disruptor of the play,” said crossover scout Josh Bell. “His compete might just be second to none in this class. He’s constantly battling for the puck and is extremely creative in how he fights off defenders when he has it. He’s that perfect two-way center, covering for the defense, often being that first pass to lead the breakout.”
Corson Ceulemans, D, Brooks Bandits (AJHL)
He may have just two games under his belt, but Corson Ceulemans is already showing that he’s a dominant player. Playing with the AJHL’s Brooks Bandits, the smooth-skating defender has already collected two goals, three assists, and five points. He has a mastery of the game that is evident in his instincts and vision on the ice. Players in the AJHL tend to see their stock fall in the draft due to the level of competition but Ceuelemans looks to have something to say about that.
“He’s got a cerebral eye for the offensive game,” said head Western Canada scout Justin Froese. “And can control flow of play and takes free ice with his ability to combine high-end vision, deception, skating ability and puck skill. He’s a big powerful kid who has no limitations in mobility, is highly dynamic in his stance and excels at lateral skating and adding a deceptive layer by using edge work to change angles.”
Matthew Coronato, LW, Chicago Steel (USHL)
In 2019-20, the Chicago Steel were a team to watch, especially for those interested in the NHL Draft. In 2020-21, that looks to become a trend. He’s not the player garnering the most interest on the team (we’ll get to him), but Matthew Coronato is definitely catching the attention of FCHockey’s scouts. In just six games so far, Coronato has racked up a massive seven goals, nine assists, and 16 points, leading both the team and the league. He’ll be a riser in the next edition of FCHockey’s rankings.
“He has a certain level of deceptiveness to his skating,” started Eastern Canada scout Chris Smith. “Which makes him tough to defend and contain in the offensive zone, very good at driving through lanes or openings to get to the net or pull a defender to him and then create a play. He is just average size but has a very high compete level and was often first on the puck, very good awareness to keep himself on the right side of the puck.”
William Eklund, C/LW, Djurgårdens IF (SHL)
One of the players in this class that has been standing out early on this season is Swedish forward William Eklund. Playing in Sweden’s top league, the SHL, for Djurgårdens IF, the dynamic forward is proving that he has the skill to play against men in one of the best leagues in the world. The forward has seven goals, five assists, and 12 points in 16 games so far, pushing Fabian Lysell for the title of top Swedish forward in this class.
“The forward has a very well-rounded game, highlighted by his exceptional vision and processing in the offensive zone,” said Bell. “All over the ice, Eklund’s head is on a swivel. He’s constantly checking for where his man is and where everyone else is. Then, when he gets possession, he already knows where he’s headed… It allows him to pull off some deceptive drop and behind the back passes, making him a very intriguing playmaker.”
Kent Johnson, LW, University of Michigan (NCAA)
The second University of Michigan player on this list is left winger, Kent Johnson. There was some hesitation around Johnson entering the season, coming from the tier II BCHL. There were questions about whether or not the skilled winger could have the same impact in the much-tougher NCAA. Well, he’s putting those questions to rest, starting off his season with a goal, seven assists, and eight points in his first six games. That ties him for second in the league and he shows no signs of slowing down.
“Absolutely sublime puckhandler,” said Eastern Canada scout Joseph Aleong. “Perhaps the biggest arsenal of one-on-one moves in this class, elite vision, and the ability to manipulate defenders with head fakes and subtle handles. Shows great awareness and anticipation when looking for teammates, protecting the puck well against stronger players and putting the puck in good spots for his linemates to string together subsequent plays.”
Carson Lambos, D, JYP U20 (U20 SM-sarja) (LOAN)
With the WHL yet to drop the puck on the 2020-21 season, and the start date in question, many players are looking for ice time elsewhere. One of those players has been defenseman Carson Lambos, who is on loan from the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice to JYP U20 in the U20 SM-sarja. One of the top defensemen in this class, Lambos has been fitting in very nicely in his new league, collecting two goals, three assists, and five points in seven U20 games, and three assists in two U18 games. His play has been keeping him in the conversation for first overall in this class.
“He’s got deceptive layers within his game and can con opponents into taking poor routes to pin him down,” said Froese. “While his offensive play is at times explosive and he can manipulate space with his mobility and false information, he plays rather responsible within reason and simply manages the game. It’s not uncommon to see him dart down the wall to read a rim to squander a breakout or time a play late where he emerges at the top of the dots to provide himself as a pass target.”
Viljami Marjala, LW, Quebec Remparts (QMJHL)
Jumping over the pond to play hockey is no easy feat, but Finnish forward Viljami Marjala is making it look that way early on in the season. After playing last season in the Jr. A SM-liiga and the U18 SM-sarja, the left winger was drafted 14th overall in the CHL Import Draft by the QMJHL’s Quebec Remparts. With six games under his belt, his vision and offensive awareness is standing out, helping him collect one goal, four assists, and five points so far.
“He displays incredible poise with the puck on his stick,” said Smith. “Sees the ice well and has smooth, quick hands…. He has a certain level of maturity and calmness to his game that will help him at the next level. Very good at driving his feet and using his hands and body to shield the puck while coming out of the cycle and creating a scoring chance. ”
Owen Power, D, University of Michigan (NCAA)
Our third and final University of Michigan player, Owen Power has been a standout on a must-watch team for those interested in the 2021 NHL Draft. Power has stepped in just like Beniers and Johnson, impressing early on this season. From the backend, he’s right behind his two draft-eligible peers, with one goal and three assists for four points in his six games played. As he continues to get used to the speed of the NCAA, we expect those point totals to rise while continuing to improve in his own end.
“The attribute that stands out most with Power is how gifted a skater he is for a player his size,” said crossover scout Brandon Holmes. “He’s very smooth on his skates, able to change direction quickly with seamless pivots on his edges and generate good speed with just a few long strides. Power’s skating ability allows him to control gaps effortlessly and does a great job at identifying the proper amount of space to leave between himself and opposing skaters, allowing his reach and active stick to disrupt plays while also maintaining strong positioning to deny passing lanes and paths to the net front.”
Justin Robidas, C, Val-d’Or Foreurs (QMJHL)
Back to the QMJHL, Val-d’Or Foreurs’ forward Justin Robidas has been turning many heads early in the season. In his second season with the Foreurs, the centerman has shown that his development has taken a big step forward in 2020-21. In his freshman year, Robidas collected 21 goals, 22 assists, and 43 points in 57 games. Just 15 games into this season, he’s racked up eight goals, 12 assists, and 20 points and is donning the “A” as an alternate captain. Don’t let his five-foot-seven frame deter you, this prospect plays a big game.
The diminutive centreman on Val D’Or, showcases an impressive amount of compete and generally solid habits on and off the puck,” said Eastern Canada head scout Dylan Galloway. “As a relatively quick pivot, Robidas moves around the ice with good speed, and in a fairly dynamic and energetic way. When he’s on he can be a menace on both sides of the puck and be a thorn in the side of his opponents. When he’s not he can become all but invisible on the ice. Overall, I like the stick and positional habits I see in Robidas and while small, he seems like the type of player that, if he hits his ceiling, can project as a fairly solid middle 6 offensive threat at the next level.”
Matthew Samoskevich, C, Chicago Steel (USHL)
Finally, we come to our second Chicago Steel player on this list, Matthew Samoskevich. The centreman is going to be garnering a ton of attention this season as the likely top-prospect from the prospect development factory that is the Steel. The crafty forward is playing at a two-points-per-game pace, collecting two goals, 10 assists, and 12 points in just six games. The team’s alternate captain looks to be joining the three Michigan players on this list next season, committing to the Wolverines way back in 2018.
“Not afraid to go to the front of the net,” said United States scout Ray Napientek. “Keeps active skates moving to find openings in the defense. Very good skater. Sneaky with the puck on his stick.Quick with his decisions with the puck on his stick. Takes pressure and brings defenders to him to open up teammates. Plays at top speed with the puck on his stick and does not need to slow down to make plays. Works hard on his positioning to keep his defender off the net. Active stick tying up the opposition. Quick decisions with the puck on the power play.”