Mitch Marner (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)
Who is the better Maple Leafs prospect, Mitch Marner or William Nylander? And what should Colorado fans expect from power forward A.J. Greer in his sophomore year at Boston University? Our prospect expert has the answers to your questions.
Welcome back to the THN futures mailbag, where I answer all things prospect and draft related. I'm really getting a good crop of questions coming in, so keep that momentum going, folks (hit me up at @THNRyanKennedy with the hashtag #thnfutures). With the major junior season around the corner and the Traverse City prospects tournament also coming up, I may save some questions until the action begins, for accuracy's sake. So hold tight if you don't see your submission right away. Let's get to it:
You wrote on the upside of A.J. Greer. What are his expectations for this year and why should Avs fans be excited?
– Jackie (@tigervixxxen)
Colorado snapped up Greer early in the second round of the draft this summer and his sophomore season with Boston U. will be a big one. Not only did the Terriers lose Jack Eichel and Evan Rodrigues (their two top scorers) to the pros, but the remaining scorers don't have much size, outside of converted D-man Ahti Oksanen.
There are some nice freshmen coming in, such as mammoth Minnesota pick Jordan Greenway and two-way center Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson (Boston), but expect Greer to maintain the top-six spot he earned at the Frozen Four (The Terriers' top two lines will be much closer in ice time this year with Eichel gone).
And why should Avs fans get excited? Because Greer already plays a nasty, physical game and if his offense develops to his potential, he'll be a load to handle once he gets to the NHL.
What are your thoughts on Ryan Pilon and why he fell to the fifth round?
– Canucks (@HockeyVancouver)
Pilon had an excellent offensive year with the WHL's Brandon Wheat Kings, which is not surprising since the Wheaties were one of the best teams in the nation. He's got size, mobility and skill, but the reason the New York Islanders were able to get the blueliner in the fifth round is that many NHL scouts have reservations about his engagement and drive.
If he can discover his fire, then the Isles got a steal. If not, we'll know why 146 players went before him in the draft.
Who is Toronto's top prospect, Mitch Marner or William Nylander?
– Kyle Derbyshire (@derbykyle10)
I almost punted on this question. If the Leafs needed someone to step in right away, I'd say Nylander, since he has already played against men (in two great pro leagues – the SHL and AHL). But if we're talking long-term NHL potential, I'm gonna say Marner. Neither player is huge and both are quick and offensively creative, but I'm going to take Marner's vision over Nylander's stickhandling. Marner's ability to find the open man – and do so with lightning speed – is a highly transferable skill, giving him the edge over Nylander, who is learning how to go through traffic instead of around it in North America.
How high do you think Olli Juolevi will go in the 2016 draft?
– Jared Gatzemeyer (@the_great_gatz)
Right now, I see Juolevi in the middle of the first round. Slot-wise, I think he'll be this year's Jakub Zboril – a very good defense prospect whose number will be determined by the blueliners taken ahead of him. Zboril went 13th to Boston once Noah Hanifin, Ivan Provorov and Zach Werenski were off the board. Juolevi, who will play for OHL London and has drawn comparisons to former Finnish Knight Olli Maatta, definitely has Jakob Chychrun in front of him in 2016 and probably Dante Fabbro.
We still have to play the season, but Juolevi starts off in a pack of blueliners with Knights teammate Victor Mete, Team USA's Chad Krys and WHL Brandon's Kale Clague.
Who is the best one-shot scorer yet to break out in the NHL?
– Darryl Keeping (@dkeeping)
I'll go with New York Islanders pick Michael Dal Colle. It's insane how fast he gets his shot off.