Sun Sentinel Broward Edition
The top five right wings who could be available when Panthers make their pick.
A look at the top five right wing prospects in this weekend’s NHL draft.
1. Mikko Rantanen, 6 feet 4, TPS (Finland):
Like Aleksander Barkov, Rantanen excelled while playing with professionals in the elite Finnish league (TPS Turko) since he was 16, so he is the most NHL-ready. The 6-foot-4 power forward was ranked No. 2 among European skaters by the Central Scouting Service. Rantanen is a solid playmaker but could be a tad shy offensively because of his lack of a trademark shot.
2. Timo Meier, 6-1, Halifax (QMJHL):
Most NHL scouts like Meier’s physical play, work ethic, puck skills and shoot-first mentality, which helped him net 44 goals and 90 points in 61 regular-season games for the Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL. The 6-1, 201-pound Swiss sniper notched 23 power-play goals and had 10 game-winning goals. He has been favorably compared to Blackhawks wing Marian Hossa. He doesn’t possess breakaway speed yet and tries to make too many home run-type passes on breakouts.
3. Nicholas Merkley, 5-10, Kelowna (WHL):
Finished sixth in the Western Hockey League with 90 points in 72 games and was ranked 23rd by the Central Scouting Bureau among all North American skaters. He’s more of a playmaker, which may scare the Panthers because they have enough playmaking wings, such as Jonathan Huberdeau and Jaromir Jagr. At 5-10, he could be a speedy Rocco Grimaldi-type, which can be good or bad, depending on how both translate their elusiveness into goal scoring at the highest level.
4. Brock Boeser, 6-1, Waterloo (USHL):
Just what the doctor and GM Dale Tallon ordered as he tied for first in the U.S. Hockey League with 35 goals and 32 power-play points, which could only help the Panthers’ 24th-ranked power play. A sturdy 6-1, Boeser has a quick, accurate release and outstanding time of possession with the puck. He needs to work on his defensive zone coverage and get tougher on the one-on-one board battles while playing for the University of North Dakota next season.
5. Michael Spacek, 5-11, Pardubice (Czech league):
The Czech winger has been dubbed creative and exciting while scoring 12 points in 40 games for the top Czech professional league. He’s lightning quick and makes good split-second decisions. Spacek needs to bulk up as his size appears to be the worst knock against him.