Organizational Top 25

Let's take a look at the top 25 prospects in the Colonials pipeline!
by Gary Graves | January 18, 2021, 10:48 PM ET

When entering the rebuild, the goal was to position this club to start competing again 3-5 years down the road. The job was to move out expensive veterans and explore all avenues to add picks, cash, and prospects. Moving MacKinnon was a last resort to bring back our 1st round pick and add a number of assets in one shot. Those multi assets basically turned into Raphael Lavoie, Erik Brannstrom and Tim Stuetzle along with a few other pieces.

Given that we are a little over a full year into the rebuild, I figured it was about time to give an organizational ranking of the top 25 prospects in the Colonials system based on various factors such as skating, shot, puckhandling, IQ, etc. for skaters and quickness, vision, rebound control, etc. for goalies. 

Let’s start at the 25th position and work our way through to #1!

Organizational Top 25

#25 - G Devon Levi (2020 draft, pick 65)

What is not to like about this kid! CCHL top goalie and MVP with a 34-2 record and a 1.47GAA. Also named CJHL top goalie and MVP as the best player in off Canadian Junior A hockey. Also MVP at the World Junior A Challenge, an event that features some of the best draft eligible talent in the world. 

The biggest surprise came as a late invite to Team Canada’s WJC camp in November and he basically came in as an unknown to many to grab the starting job and never relinquished it, posting some record numbers along the way! He set all-time Canadian records for goals-against average (0.75) and save percentage (.964), and tied the marks for wins (6) and shutouts (3).

Levi has compete and athleticism. Super fast on his feet with quick pads. Basically a nice mix of technical skills and high compete level. Levi always seems dialed in and no doubt that has to be attributed to his noted three-and-a-half hour game prep. Not sure where Levi ends up in the SICHL down the road, but for now, we are happy he is in the organization. He will carry on his development as a Freshman with Northeastern University men’s hockey this season. 

#24 - C Maxim Cajkovic (trade via Banff)

We acquired Cajkovic this past offseason and we like the potential skill this 2019 3rd round pick brings. Problem is the compete level and work ethic need to get better. Hoping this risk vs reward player gets it together and Maxim could potentially become a middle six player. Cajkovic has a good shot and loves to score. More of a north-south player that doesn’t mind the dirty areas and make hits in pursuit of the puck. Cajkovic was a lock for the Slovaks WJC team but there were criticisms of a dirty hit that kicked him off the team prior to the tournament. Let’s hope he learns from the experience and joins the loaded Val-d’Or team in the QMJHL for the remainder of the 2021 season. 

#23 - RW Graeme Clarke (2019 draft, pick 66)

Clarke’s post draft season was marred by a freak shoulder injury but returned late to flash the offensive tools he possesses, but unfortunately the season ended abruptly from COVID-19. Clarke competed for a spot on Team Canada’s WJC squad but was a late cut. Hoping the OHL does get underway to see what a healthy Clarke can do over the season. Clarke’s bread and butter is his high-end shot with velocity and accuracy. He has a lightning quick release. Still a work in progress with improved skating. Has to get stronger if he wants to take the next step. 

#22 - D Jordan Spence (trade via Havana)

Spence was named the QMJHL’s top defenseman this past season, finishing with 52 points in 60 GP. He is a strong skater with solid offensive skills. He moves the puck really well and finishes plays in the offensive end. Spence is a smaller defender with a great work ethic. Could be a boom or bust offensive blueliner. 

Spence was one of four Colonial prospects that made it into the WJC as an extra D on a stacked Canadian blueline. He did make an appearance against team Slovakia and made the most of his opportunity, scoring a goal in the six shifts he played. 

#21 - C Ty Tullio (2020 draft, pick 95)

Tullio won’t wow with size, but is considered a very effective forechecker. Has quick hands and feet and terrific vision and great around the net with a quick release. Had 66 points in 62 GP with Oshawa last season. Biggest knock is the size/skating ability, but if he improves his skating, the talent is there to be a complimentary skilled winger. 

#20 - RW Zayde Wisdom (2020 draft, pick 61)

Wisdom was ranked 36 in the Hockey Prospects Black Book and we were happy to snag him at 61. Love the work ethic and tenacity of this kid. Obviously playing with two very high end linemates, one should look good, but he plays hard on both the forecheck and backcheck at a high speed and has the tools to support skilled players. I think his ceiling is higher just yet. Wisdom had 59 points in 62 GP with 29 goals. 

#19 - RW Alex Laferriere (2020 draft, pick 107)

Nope this isn’t Alexis Lafreniere! Alex is an under the radar prospect who had a significant improvement last year and part of that was in relation to his skating. His best attribute is his shot, but the tools are there should this Harvard commit continue to develop. Laferriere had 45 points in 42 GP with Des Moines of the USHL last year. 

#18 - LW/RW Vitaly Abramov (trade via Aces)

Smallish forward with a lot of skill and hockey sense. Abramov finished 4th in scoring for the Belleville Senators last season with 41 points in 51 GP. He has good hands and makes plays quickly and efficiently. Will need to get stronger to compete in the SICHL. Has the talent to be a top six winger, but only time will tell. 

#17 - C Nikita Alexandrov (2019 draft, pick 55)

Alexandrov had 54 points in 42 GP and a strong showing for Team Russia last year at the WJC. The bulky forward is a force along the boards and hard to knock off the puck. Alexandrov has good puck skills and likes to shoot on the net. He has an above average shot and a quick release. He is also a decent skater but needs to get stronger on his skates. He is committed to working hard on the backcheck as well as supporting the defence down low and is already an effective penalty killer. Alexandrov projects to be a middle-six forward. 

#16 - C Alex Barre-Boulet (Free agent signing)

A quick and skilled forward with tenacity best describes this smaller forward. Finished top 5 in points in the AHL in his sophomore season. He also has a very strong work ethic and has the ability to kill penalties. Barre-Boulet could develop into a legit top 6 forward in the SICHL given his offensive instincts.

#15 - C Jean-Luc Foudy (2020 draft, pick 60)

Speedy forward and elite level skater like his brother who is also a prospect in the Colonials organization. Jean-Luc is more of a playmaker than a finisher. Given his speed he can get around defenders and open up scoring lanes. He has above average vision and processing ability. There are definitely some flaws in Foudy’s game, but there is no doubt the ceiling could be very high if everything comes together.  

#14 - D Jeremie Poirier (2020 draft, pick 47)

Poirier is a very skilled offensive defensemen and one of the best in the QMJHL. Poirier led the Q in goals (20) and shots on goal (261). He has the offensive skill and vision but has issues with decision making and effort in his own end. Hoping with time and good coaching these weaknesses are corrected. Poirier is a swing for the fence pick which could be very rewarding or a bust. That is why we draft some of these guys! 

#13 - G Pytor Kochetkov (2019 draft, pick 47)

A very intriguing goalie prospect who had a breakout 2019 year where he was named tournament top goalie at the 2019 WJC. He has a nice combo of size and athleticism. Kochetkov is a blocking style backstop whose broadness compliments his height. He fills a lot of the net with his massive size. Which is perfect as his reflexes are good, not excellent. May need some seasoning in North America and has the potential to be a starting goalie someday. 

#12 - RW Patrik Puistola (trade via Nova Scotia)

Puistola is an offensive winger with top-six upside. Although more of a goal scorer. Disappointed that he was left off of the Finnish WJC squad this year despite his production for the team last year. Puistola is an excellent finisher, especially in tight. Main area of improvement will be his skating. He is currently playing for JYP in the Liiga where he signed a 2 year deal. Hopefully he can showcase that scoring touch someday in the SICHL!

#11 - D Declan Chisholm (2018 draft, pick 182)

Chisholm was considered one of the stronger skaters in the OHL last year and has great puck moving skills as evidenced by his offensive totals as a blueliner with the Petes. Declan had 69 points in 59 GP last year showing a huge jump in his development. I love his offensive upside! He can QB a powerplay and create lanes with his agility and lateral quickness. He currently projects as a 4-6 defender in the SICHL. Will require some seasoning in the pros. 

#10 - RW Luke Evangelista (2020 draft, pick 42)

Evangelista had a breakout year last year putting up 61 points in 62 GP from the prospect factory known as the London Knights. He possesses the hands, creativity and vision to generate scoring chances and can cycle and outwork the opposition offensively. He plays a 200 foot game and has a pretty well rounded game. Evangelista was ranked 21 by the Hockey Prospect Black Book and we were happy to get him in the 2nd round. Considered one of the biggest risers in the 2020 draft.

#9 - G Joel Hofer (2018 draft, pick 126) 

I seem to be picking standouts at the WJC. Coincidence? After drafting Hofer, he ended up making Team Canada in the 2020 WJC and ended up shining in net earning a gold medal and the tournament all-star and top goalie. Hofer has definitely taken big strides in his development and is now a calm and incredibly poised netminder. His movement is controlled, he tracks the puck well and he competes hard. Hopefully a future starter in the SICHL! 

#8 - LW Janne Kuokkanen (trade via Calgary)

Janne is a versatile winger with the offensive skill set to play anywhere in the lineup and in any situation. Has a simple playing style who can play the role of grinder (not the Twitter grinder) and as power forward. Projects as a middle six winger but has the potential to become a top six player. Drafted in the 2nd round in 2016, Kuokkanen is making strides to sticking to the SICHL Colonials on a full time basis. 

#7 - D Pierre-Olivier Joseph (trade via Banff)

Joseph possesses a high hockey IQ with strong skating. He is a good two way blueliner with flashes of offensive upside. However, this lanky blueliner will have to work on getting bigger and stronger in order to win puck battles and avoid getting separated from the puck. There is top four potential, but will need a few seasons to work his way into the limeup. 

#6 - C Raphael Lavoie (2019 draft, pick 25)

Lavoie is a big talented scoring winger who is more of a finesse forward than a power forward. Lavoie put up 82 points in the Q last year over 55 games played, split between Halifax and Chicoutimi. With an impressive toolbox, Lavoie is a threat whenever he is out on the ice. This season he is on loan to the Vasby IK of the Allsvenskan where he is leading his team with 24 points in 33 GP. Lavoie is sometimes knocked for his consistency, but the tools are there for him to be a top six forward. 

#5 - LW Ridley Greig (2020 draft, pick 26)

With skill and grit, Greig is considered one of the best pests in the 2020 draft. Ranked 14th overall in the Hockey Prospect Black Book, Greig seemed like a solid choice for the Colonials at 26. He is a high octane, two-way player who plays with a lot of energy. Brings the tenacity and yet has the skill to play with other skilled forwards. One scout that followed him for a long time now, says he keeps on getting better. No doubt that Greig has the speed and skill to keep up with the modern game. If he finds another skating gear the potential is there for a top six forward. 

#4 - LW John-Jason Peterka (2020 draft, pick 31) Loved the play of Peterka at the 2021 WJC! He was a bright spot on the weaker German squad which ended up making the quarterfinals, finishing with 10 points in 5 games. Peterka has very good puck handling and passing skills with great speed and quickness. He’s an explosive and powerful skater who can switch up to his top-gear rapidly. He will most likely play a couple of years in Europe before crossing the pond to play in North America. Projects as a top nine forward, but let’s watch his development over the next year or so before making any predictions. 

#3 - C Liam Foudy (2018 draft, pick 24)

Foudy’s best asset is his top flight skating ability. This former track star shows an explosiveness that compares to the upper echelon of the SICHL. He continues to work on his game and is starting to mold into a solid two-way player. Currently Foudy projects as a middle six forward who can be an effective penalty killer and he can definitely open up ice for his linemates with his speed. 

#2 - D Erik Brannstrom (trade via Whitehorse)

Brannstrom was part of the multi-piece deal involving Nathan MacKinnon. Brannstrom is a smart, skilled undersized blueliner. Erik can QB the powerplay and jump into the rush with ease. Needs to get a little stronger and continue to work on his defensive game. Brannstrom has a good first pass, strong shot and great vision. Projects to be a top pairing defenseman that can run a powerplay. 

#1 - C Tim Stuetzle (2020 draft, pick 3)

Elite talent that had a whale of a WJC tourney! Tim was named tournament best forward finishing with 5 goals and 10 points pacing the German squad to a quarterfinal appearance where they narrowly lost to the Russians 2-1. Stuetzle has a number of high end tools including skating, elite agility, vision, and dazzling puck skills. As Craig Button says “this kid can stickhandle in a phone booth”. Tim has high offensive upside and has a chance to be a superstar in the SICHL. Such a fun player to watch and he will be a cornerstone first line forward for this team in the very near future. Tim could be in the Colonials lineup as early as next year! 

Now for a few honorable mentions that quite didn’t make the top 25:

Honorable mentions

  • D Zach Whitecloud (free agent) Whitecloud is a smart and responsible defender who keeps his game simple. Already showing the signs of playing like a seasoned veteran. Has some offensive upside. 
  • D Brogan Rafferty (trade via Banff) Rafferty is a late bloomer who has skill, positioning and hockey IQ. He brings a strong two-way game but will have to prove himself at the SICHL level. 
  • D Leo Loof (2020 draft, pick 118) Loof is more of a physical defensive defenseman. He skates well and hits hard. Projects to be a bottom pairing defender who can play a shutdown role and time on the PK. 
  • D Viktor Persson (2020 draft, pick 147) Some believe that Persson may be one of the bigger sleepers from the 2020 draft. “A bit raw defensively but a lot to like about his game” said one scout. He is a two-way puck rushing defenseman who can impact both ends of the ice. Strong passer, underrated playmaker who is supposed to play with the WHL Blazers if the season ever starts.  
  • D Axel Bergqvist (2019 draft, pick 194) Bergqvist had a great season with the Kitchener Rangers in the OHL last year putting up 52 points in 62 GP. It took him about a month to adjust to the league, and he ripped it up as one of the better offensive defensemen in the league. He has solid mobility and is elusive with the puck. He possesses excellent vision and runs an efficient powerplay. The only question is his size at 5’ 9”. He projects as a third pairing defenseman.


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