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2020 NHL Draft Profiles: North American Defensemen: Donovan Sebrango, Tyler Kleven, Yan Kuznetsov

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2020 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game
Donovan Sebrango handles the puck in the 2020 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game
Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

Donovan Sebrango

If you’re looking for a defenseman with average size, and no true flaws to his game, Donovan Sebrango is likely the player you’d fall in love with.

Sebrango was taken in the 2nd round, 40th overall in the 2018 OHL Priority Draft. Standing at 6’0”, 179 pounds, Sebrango slipped in the draft due to concerns that he would enroll at Boston University, neglecting the OHL altogether. In fact, Sebrango had already committed to Boston University prior to the draft. However, he was convinced to join the Kitchener Rangers, and responded by posting 7 goals and 19 assists in his first season, before also joining Team Canada for the U-17 team.

According to Last Word on Hockey, Sebrango thrives in skating and passing, with both a strong offensive and defensive game.

Sebrango has the potential to be a top-four defender in the NHL and play significant minutes if he develops properly. He is a bit raw though and needs time to continue to bulk up, while still maintaining his mobility. Sebrango should be able to contribute at even-strength and on the penalty kill. While he is unlikely to be a first-unit power-play contributor, he might be able to help run the second unit. Sebrango shoots left but often plays on the right defence, showing his versatility. His game is reminiscent of Roman Hamrlik. This is a stylistic comparison only and not one based on skill and potential.

In terms of his weaknesses, Sebrango is very raw, and can be overaggressive in joining the rush or pinching the line. On a Devils team very weak in defense, this could be seen as a huge negative if he doesn’t develop as needed.

HSD Prospects released some highlights from Sebrango a month ago, as seen below

Based on these highlights, I think it’s fair to note that a fair amount of his assists were on deflections, which may have inflated his assist numbers. However, some positives that are evident are Sebrango’s smooth skating, as well as his ability to disguise a pass as a wrist-shot. He seems fairly good at finding the open man, and does seem aggressive on offense.

His draft rankings are listed below:

Ranked #74 by FUTURE CONSIDERATIONS

Ranked #77 by MCKEEN’S HOCKEY

Ranked #59 by NHL CENTRAL SCOUTING (NA Skaters)

Ranked #57 by TSN/McKenzie


Overall, I view Sebrango as someone who could last until the late-2nd/early 3rd round, which sits outside the Devils range. If he falls to the 3rd round, where it’s still unknown if the Devils will have a 3rd round pick, then I would say he likely won’t fall to the Devils. In the off chance he’s available to them in the 4th round or later, I would hope they scoop him up.

Tyler Kleven

On the other side of the scale, Tyler Kleven plays a game extremely different from Sebrango. If you were to look only at his offensive numbers, Kleven would be borderline undraftable. He recorded 2 goals and 10 assists through 45 games with the U.S. National U18 team, with only two points playing for the USNTDP Juniors.

What is impactful about Kleven, however, is his stay-at-home impact. Kleven stands at a massive 6’4”, 201 pounds, and is amazing at blocking the lane and starting break-out passes.

According to Dobber Prospects

Kleven is a big defenseman who plays a sturdy defensive game. His skating is fairly average but he uses his long stick to break up rushes. When a player is able to get by his stick, he has shown the ability to impose his will physically.

Because of his style of play, there do not exist many highlight videos of him on Youtube. However, there are a view highlight plays found below.

Here he is absolutely blasting a Russian player across the ice

As well as a goal against Slovakia. Kleven seems to have a pretty strong wrist shot.

As well as one interview with Kleven, where he talks about his game, what he sees on the ice, and his perspective on the NHL draft.

Overall, these are Kleven’s draft projections.

Ranked #123 by ELITEPROSPECTS.COM

Ranked #79 by FUTURE CONSIDERATIONS

Ranked #21 by ISS HOCKEY

Ranked #60 by TSN/CRAIG BUTTON

Ranked #37 by MCKEEN’S HOCKEY

Ranked #42 by NHL CENTRAL SCOUTING (NA Skaters)

Ranked #36 by TSN/McKenzie

As you can see, Kleven’s draft projections are all across the board, likely due to his style of play. He he somehow falls to the 4th round, I would be all for the Devils developing Kleven, possibly into a player with a similar game to Kevin Bahl. However, I would not be happy with a first round pick, due to the risk associated with drafting a defense-first prospect that early.

Yan Kuznetsov

Lastly, Yan Kuznetsov is an 18-year old defenseman from Russia, who qualifies as a North American player due to his time spent in the USHL as well as spending time at UConn.

Physically, Kuznetsov is a 6’3”, 201 lb LD. He was the only U-18 player in the NCAA in his freshman year.

As mentioned by The Hockey Writers, Yan Kuznetsov wasn’t expected to do well in his first year with UConn. In his only season with the USHL’s Sioux Fall Stampede, Kuznetsov only recorded 4 assists through 34 games, and was incredibly young heading into the NCAA.

However, Kuznetsov surprised, recording 2 goals and 11 assists through 34 games, and offering solid defense.

As for his overall game, it can be summed up in a perfectly worded one-liner. (The UConn Blog)

“When I play physical I play good, when I don’t it’s so-so,” [Kuznetsov] said with a smile.

‘Underrated’ seems to be a common word used to describe Kuznetsov. As per Josh Bell, of the Hockey Writers

“Another underrated player in this draft class, I think Kuznetsov might be one of the best defensive players in this year’s group. As the youngest player in the NCAA, he more than held his own and looked very good. He played big minutes this year, and should only continue to get better.”

Here is a short clip of Kuznetsov cleaning up in front of the net

As well as him calmly dealing with Canada’s deadly offense

Overall, I really like what I see from Kuznetsov. He seems to be fairy undervalued on draft boards, as seen by his rankings below

Ranked #92 by ELITEPROSPECTS.COM

Ranked #123 by FUTURE CONSIDERATIONS

Ranked #30 by ISS HOCKEY

Ranked #32 by TSN/CRAIG BUTTON

Ranked #170 by MCKEEN’S HOCKEY

Ranked #36 by NHL CENTRAL SCOUTING (NA Skaters)

Ranked #62 by TSN/McKenzie

However, given his status as the youngest player in the NCAA, I could see Kuznetsov being taken in the 1st round, with a late pick. Personally, I see enough potential in Kuznetsov to justify the Devils using their latest first round pick on him. I’m excited about this player in terms of potential, and am admittedly hesitant to believe that he drops past the 2nd round.

Your Thoughts?
In the end, however, it doesn’t matter what I think. Let me know what you guys think in the comments below. Which of these prospects do you like the best? Should the Devils use their 1st round picks on any of them? Feel free to answer these questions, as well as any other statements, below. Other than that, take care, and have a wonderful weekend!