22. Ryan Merkley (D) | Ottawa Senators
Guelph Storm, 5’11”, 165lbs | 63 games, 67pts (13G,54A)
How does a defender with over a point per game fall to the lower third of the NHL draft? Are scoring defenseman a rarity in the NHL? Yes, but effective NHL caliber defenseman under six feet tall are about as rare.
Standing only 5’11”, Merkley is certainly undersized for the NHL. His scoring prowess is undeniable, but his size will play a huge factor in him being taken so low in the draft.
23. Akil Thomas (C) | Anaheim Ducks
Niagara IceDogs ,5’11”,165lbs | 68 games, 81pts (22G,59A)
It’s hard to find a knock on Thomas’ game. He lead all draft eligible players in points with 81 for the Niagara IceDogs. He’s great 5on5, he’s great on the power play. So why rank him 23? He’s 17-years-old right now, is only 5’11” and is only 165lbs. He’s young and small.
So who knows what he could be by the time he’s ready for the NHL. He’s clearly talented, but the risk-averse NHL won’t be ready to take him higher where we have him. Which will likely please the Anaheim Ducks.
24. Jett Woo (D) | Minnesota Wild
Moose Jaw Warriors, 6’0”, 200lbs | 44 games, 25pts (9G, 16A)
Jett won’t be the type of defender vying for a Norris Trophy in the years to come. He’s not going to put up record numbers or even be that defender that can turn the tides of a game for a team. What he will do is be one of those solid 3-4 defenders that every NHL team needs. Think of a Calvin de Haan/Thomas Hickey type of player. Nothing fancy, but someone you won’t have to worry about when they’re on the ice.