11. Daniel Brickley, D, Ontario-AHL March 30, 1995 | 6-foot-3 | 203 pounds Tier: Legit NHL prospect Brickley had a decent rookie pro season after being a touted college free agent signing. He was an all-situations player at the AHL level but didn’t do much in the NHL. He suffered through some personal tragedy as well. The toolkit makes him intriguing even though he’s a 24-year-old prospect. He’s 6-foot-3, has good hands, good hockey sense, and he skates better than I thought at this time last year. He can penalty kill and play the power play in a pinch because he does have sneaky good vision. I don’t think his game has a ton of pace and he’s not one who will lead a rush in the NHL. Nothing about his game wows you, but all the components are there that he should become a bottom-pair defenseman. 12. Sean Durzi, D, Guelph-OHL Oct, 21, 1998 | six-foot | 196 pounds Tier: Legit NHL prospect Durzi had a fine season, taking off after he was traded from Owen Sound to the eventual OHL champion Guelph. But for an overage defenseman, he wasn’t as dominant as you’d like to have seen. Durzi is an extremely smart puck-mover. There are so many instances where I’ve seen him make elite passes from all three zones. His combination of vision, patience and timing was among the best in junior hockey. The issues in Durzi’s profile are simple. He’s a six-foot defenseman with average feet and average defensive play. The question is whether a player who skates like him and wasn’t a true top player in junior can be carried to the NHL by his hockey sense. Some NHL scouts are skeptical, while others believe in him. I saw enough at the end of the season to think he could make it. 13. Gabriel Vilardi, C, Ontario-AHL Aug. 16, 1999 | 6-foot-3 | 201 pounds Tier: Legit/chance bubble Vilardi missed most of the season due to a back injury, continuing a trend of health issues for him over the past few years. He’s a prospect who generates a ton of debate, both as a player and due to his health. He’s a highly skilled and intelligent player who can play a hard game and make plays down low. Some scouts adore him, some are still concerned by his skating. I think if he’s healthy he’s a true top prospect even with the skating concerns. If he had 100 percent health, he’s a projected first-line forward. But he’s not and there are some teams with major concerns. In a survey of the industry, NHL sources felt his trade value ranged anywhere from a high second-round pick to not even a seventh. The median value was around a 3rd/4th round pick. We are venturing from my preferred field, player evaluation, into the medical realm where I can’t provide as much insight. 14. Nikolai Prokhorkin, C, SKA-KHL Sept. 17, 1993 | 6-foot-2 | 201 pounds Tier: Legit/chance bubble Prokhorkin at age 25 signed with the Kings after a near decade of L.A. fans wondering if they would ever see him in a jersey. He is a big, strong forward with excellent offensive hockey sense and the ability to create inside the offensive zone. He’s patient and finds seams. He’s skilled and can make tough plays around the net. My main concern is whether he can get into the offensive zone. He’s a below-average skater whose stride is not the cleanest, and at his age that will be tough to fix. Add in that he is not that good defensively and it gives me pause on the idea that he’s going to be a legit NHL player even though it seems he’s penciled in to start in the Kings lineup. 15. Lukas Parik, G, Liberec-Czech Junior March 15, 2001 | 6-foot-4 | 185 pounds Tier: Legit/chance bubble Parik played most of the season in the Czech junior league and was good, but in international play he really shined, often having to carry an underwhelming 2001 Czech age group. Parik is a 6-foot-4 goalie who moves well. He’s able to get from post-to-post effectively and jump to difficult spots to make saves. There were times I really liked his hockey sense. I saw dominant games where he seemed to always know where the puck was, cutting off angles and always in the right position. I also saw times where he didn’t track the puck perfectly and scrambled when he shouldn’t need to. I saw more of the good than the bad, though. He’s a goalie without many flaws, even if I wouldn’t give many of his attributes a high-end grade. 16. Jordan Spence, D, Moncton-QMJHL Feb. 24, 2001 | 5-foot-10 | 165 pounds Tier: Legit/chance bubble Spence intrigued me early on this season as a rookie 17-year-old CHLer, getting huge minutes and time on the first power play unit with Moncton right out of the gate. He played well all season, including at the U18s for Canada. I appreciate his hockey sense a lot. Spence shows a lot of poise and vision with the puck. His breakouts relieve pressure well and he can quarterback power plays at a high level. He skates well, but for a small defenseman, his speed and skill don’t wow me. He has enough speed to skate with pros and turn CHL defenders. At his size, he defended fine this season due to his brain. I think if Spence was just any other prospect he’d be easy to slap a late/bubble pick tag on with his toolkit. However, he played so well this season after not even being in the CHL that you could argue there’s more to come with experience. 17. David Hrenak, G, St. Cloud State-NCHC May 5, 1998 | 6-foot-2 | 192 pounds Tier: Legit/chance bubble Hrenak backstopped St. Cloud to their second-straight NCHC title, even if his save percentage dipped a bit. He’s a very smart goalie. Hrenak anticipates his opponents very well and improvises on the fly well, making some of the more creative saves I saw all season. He’s quick and can make tough saves. He’s 6-foot-2 and, while that’s not small, by today’s standards he’s not big either. Hrenak needs to be near perfect with his positional play in the NHL to be a go-to goalie. I found this season, while he was very good, he misread one too many plays. While he’s quick, it’s not high-end athleticism. 18. Austin Strand, D, Ontario-AHL Feb. 17, 1997 | 6-foot-4 | 216 pounds Tier: Has a chance Strand started his first pro season in the ECHL before being called up and becoming a defenseman who would be used on both special teams for his AHL club Ontario. He’s a 6-foot-4 defenseman who isn’t going to dazzle with speed or skill, but he has enough to make plays at the pro level. I’ve seen him pinch off the line or head fake forwards into creating shooting lanes. He moves pucks well. He skates at a pro-average level. He can kill plays and be a reliable penalty killer. I have an upside question with Strand, as he was as productive as a pro as he was during most of his junior time. 19. Chaz Reddekopp, D, Ontario-AHL Jan. 1, 1997 | 6-foot-3 | 218 pounds Tier: Has a chance Reddekopp’s profile is going to sound like a copy and paste of Strand’s. Reddekopp was sent down to the ECHL to start the season but was called up around December, and I liked how he looked in the second half. He’s never going to be a flashy offensive producer, but I see a 6-foot-3 defenseman who is hard to play against, skates well for his size, and has some puck-moving skill. There were several instances during the season where Reddekopp broke out of what you would call the ‘defensive defenseman’ mold to jump up into rushes or make tough seam passes to generate a chance. He even got power play time with Ontario. I’m intrigued by where his development is going and if he carries it over into next season. 20. Markus Phillips, D, Guelph-OHL March 21, 1999 | six-foot | 194 pounds Tier: Has a chance Phillips often wins over his coaches but never wins over his scouts. He played fine for the eventual OHL champion and got a surprising amount of minutes on Canada’s World Junior team. He’s got some pro attributes. He’s a good skater who can move pucks, has some skill and is smart in his defensive zone. He doesn’t have anything about his game that screams NHL, though. His feet are good, not great; same for his offensive touch. And he’s not that big. Some scouts have zero time for him, but he’s done enough that I think he’s got a puncher’s chance. 21. Matt Villalta, G, Sault Ste. Marie-OHL June 3, 1999 | 6-foot-4 | 187 pounds Tier: Has a chance I like Villalta’s size and athleticism a lot. He’s a 6-foot-4 goalie with high-end ability to move laterally across his crease. Villalta, at his best, can steal a game. He’s not always at his best, though. He can over slide pucks too much at times. His reads can be hit or miss. Sometimes he reads offensive plays very well and other times he has issues anticipating forwards intentions or tracking pucks. I do like that he’s aggressive and he tries to challenge shooters. 22. Cole Hults, D, Penn State Univ.-Big 10 May 22, 1998 | six-foot | 190 pounds Tier: Has a chance Hults had a good sophomore season, as an all-situations player for Penn State and a top defender in his conference. Hults is a very smart defenseman. He moves pucks up the ice effectively and is able to make a clean first pass or stretch the ice when the play is there. He’s a good defender because of his brain and some physicality in his game. His skating isn’t a top attribute, but it’s improved from junior to a fair level. There’s not a lot about his game that stands out, but he does a lot well, so I could buy that I’m underrating him.