Welcome to the second part of the Best of the Rest series of the 2021 Top 25 Under 25. Yesterday we profiled #44 through #35 which can be viewed here. Today we will go from #34 to #26 which includes the three honorable mentions for the Top 25 list.
#34 - RW Rory Kerins, Soo Greyhounds (OHL)
Last Year: #32, Drafted in 2020 - Round 6
Kerins is very similar to Jack Beck in that he’s a sixth round pick who lost his entire season in the OHL as a result of Covid. Fortunately for Kerins he was able to dress in four games with the Stockton Heat to get a taste of professional hockey. I really liked this pick last season after he had 59 points in 64 games in 2019-20 with the Greyhounds. He will be looking to return to that level of production and then some this year.
#33 - D Cole Jordan, Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)
Last Year: NA, Drafted in 2021 - Round 5
In terms of value, getting Jordan in the fifth round was tremendous work by the Flames as many had him projected as at least a third or even second rounder. While his point totals (10 in 23 games) don’t jump off the page, it’s his defensive game that was really impressive with Moose Jaw this past season. Jordan certainly has the potential to be a big hit of this draft given his position. Definitely a player to watch in the upcoming seasons.
#32 - D Cameron Whynot, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
Last Year: NA, Drafted in 2021 - Round 3
With easily the best name among the prospects, Whynot comes in at #32 on the list in his first year of eligibility after being drafted this past season. He had 23 points in 34 QMJHL games this past season, showing a lot of offensive potential. We will see if he can continue his point growth in a full season with Halifax this fall.
#31 - LW Demetrious Koumontzis, Arizona State University (NCAA)
Last Year: #37, Drafted in 2018 - Round 4
While Koumontzis hasn’t reached the same heights that he hit in his freshman season with ASU where he had 20 points in 35 games, Koumontzis did have a bit of a bounceback this past year. He ended the year with 10 points in 22 games and was really playing well for stretches, but did have his season broken up by an injury along with a bout of Covid.
#30 - D Ilya Solovyov, Dynamo Minsk (KHL)
Last Year: #28, Drafted in 2020 - Round 7
Solovyov returned to Belarus this past season as he joined Minsk after a season with the Saginaw Spirit in the OHL. He dressed in 41 games with 9 points along with suiting up for Team Belarus for four games at the IIHF World Hockey Championships. Solovyov signed his ELC in April and will probably head over to join Stockton this fall, but with some experience in pro hockey already under his belt, he could be a dark horse to climb the ranks more quickly.
#29 - C Ilya Nikolayev, Buran Voronezh (VHL)
Last Year: #26, Drafted in 2019 - Round 3
Nikolaev’s ranking took a bit of a fall this season but he did get into a lot of action between the VHL and MHL. Perhaps the biggest reason that Nikolayev fell this year is that we still don’t know a ton about him as a prospect. He is expected to either play in the KHL or make his way to North America this season but we don’t know for sure. Either way I expect him to make a big jump in the rankings after he gains some name recognition this season.
#28 - G Daniil Chechelev, HK Ryazan (VHL Russia)
Last Year: #30, Drafted in 2020 - Round 4
Chechelev is most well known for the long winning streak he went on last fall shortly after the NHL draft where he just couldn’t lose for a few weeks. After that he bounced between the MHL and VHL which are the third and second best leagues in Russia respectively. He even backed up briefly in the KHL although did not get into any action. He put up consistently solid numbers in both leagues and should be a player to watch this season.
#27 - C Josh Nodler, Michigan State University (NCAA)
Last Year: #38, Drafted in 2019 - Round 5
Nodler took a bit of a step forward in his sophomore season, upping his point total from eight points to 11 points in nine less games. His team as a whole wasn’t great, going 7-18-2, but we should wait to see how they rebound in a full season as Nodler likely takes on a big role this upcoming season as he heads into his third year.
#26 - RW Eetu Tuulola, Stockton Heat (AHL)
Last Year: #23, Drafted in 2016 - Round 6
At this point it feels like Tuulola is destined to be an AHLer rather than making the jump to the NHL as he turned 23 in March. He fell out of the Top 25 list this year for the first in a few seasons and it doesn’t really feel like he will find his way back in barring a big year with the Heat.
That’s it for everyone outside the Top 25. We will start the main series tomorrow with the first of the 25.