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NHL Draft Prospect Profile: Dennis Yan

BSN Denver Avatar
June 9, 2015


Get to Know Dennis Yan

Date of Birth: 4-14-97
Place of Birth: Portland, OR, USA
Ht: 6”1” Wt: 187 lbs
Shoots: Left
Position: Left Wing
Team: Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL)

Dennis Yan may have been born in Oregon, but he got his hockey legs under him in Russia after his parents moved there when he was 5. He returned to the United States to start his pro hockey development with the US National Team Development program where he put up middling numbers. In a total of 78 regular season games (USNTDP Juniors and US National U17 Team), he scored 18 goals and 21 assists for 39 points.

But something happened to Yan when he was drafted in the first round (8th overall) by the Shawinigan Cataractes in the 2014 CHL Import Draft. Last season, he tore up the Q at over a point-per-game pace, finishing the season with a very even 64 points (33g, 31a) in 59 games. He continued his offense in the postseason with 8 points (7g, 1a) in 7 games.

Yan represented the United states in the U17 World Hockey Championship in 2013-14, winning gold, and in the Hlinka Memorial tournament last season, taking bronze. It’s interesting to note that Yan was also drafted by Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the KHL in 2014 (2nd round, 66th overall).

Yan shows promise to be the most successful NHL player to hail from Oregon in three decades, with the only other notable being Jere Gillis, a bottom-six winger with 386 games played between 1978 and 1987.


What Scouts See

Future Considerations

A goal scorer who can make a difference on the score sheet with not much time or space. Yan is a good skater with a good top speed when he gets his wheels going. Mobility was okay for his size. He could work on his skating. His puck skills are excellent and he has the ability to handle the puck in traffic. He often gains the zone, tries to deke or fakes out the defenseman, then curls back to look for a trailer. He isn’t really one to try to deke a defenseman one-on-one with quick dekes too often. Yan’s passing play might be underrated by some, but he is a very good playmaker; he always has his head high when in control of the puck. He can also open up space for his teammates to make a play by slowing down the play at times. His finishing skills are his bread and butter though. He has a very quick shot release. He can slide into the slot to get a great scoring chance or get close to the net for rebounds and deflections. Yan is not physical at all–he stays away from board battles. Though he stays close enough to support teammates, he rarely jumps in as the second guy for his team in these battles. He is very smart with the puck and makes quick decisions. His defensive play is so-so; he is often not aware of where the player is who he is supposed to cover.

Bill Placzek

Highly skilled winger with excellent speed, first step and offensive instincts. A natural goal scorer finds the open space and buries his chances. Displays a lightning fast release, and hard shot. Flies around the net and finds the soft spots in coverage, always involving himself in high traffic areas. He is a scorer but also an offensive generator, with soft hands and great balance at high speed. Surprisingly physical in pursuit of the puck, and a good forechecker. Needs to balance his offensive prowess with lots more work in his defensive zone.

What BSN Avalanche sees

Yan is a smooth skater with an explosive first stride and effortless top speed. His puck-handling skills are high-end, and he can weave through traffic to enter the zone with possession. Yan’s passes are clean and strong, and his poise with and without the puck is such that he slows the play down to give himself and his teammates a better chance to set up plays. He has great vision with an ability to find the open ice.

Yan has a quick release on his shot, one that brings both power and accuracy. Goalies can’t give Yan much net as he’ll bury his chances more times than not if given the space. He’s versatile, switching to the right wing on power plays where he confidently sets himself up in front of the net. He’s surprisingly strong for such a thin player, ranking first in pull ups at the 2015 combine.

Some reports knock him for not being more physical, but he doesn’t shy away from the corner battles and will take a hit to make the play. He’ll never be the power forward who crashes into the opposition like a bull, but he doesn’t need to be. What he does need is to round out his game, finding more comfort on the other side of the puck.  However, with continued work on understanding his defensive responsibilities, Yan’s game can even out to make him a prototypical scoring winger.


NHL Potential

Yan isn’t suited for a fourth-line role, but he’d add some serious scoring punch to a third line on a stacked team. If he continues on his current trajectory, though, Yan could end up being a top-six staple in the NHL. Next year’s performance, presumably back in the QMJHL for development, will really tell us what Yan might bring to the pros.

Expected Draft Position

Yan probably has the biggest discrepancy in ranking across the major rankings sheets. Scouting Central has him going at the tail end of the first round while Future Considerations puts him just inside their top 100. It’s not a huge surprise, really, when you look at Yan’s career thus far. Was 2014-15 an anomaly, or have we just begun to see what this kid has to offer?

Yan is a potential draft steal, a risk/reward proposition on which some team might very well gamble by taking him in the second round. After all, you can teach defensive responsibility, but that top-end offensive instinct is something you have or you don’t. Yan has it.

How Dennis Yan Fits in Avalanche Organization

An interesting option, to be sure, Yan could bring the Avalanche some depth scoring. He has a good frame, and with age and work, he could fill it out nicely, giving him the size the Avalanche seems to covet now. His skating and puck skills could add a scoring threat on the left to replace Alex Tanguay or Jamie McGinn in a few years. There might be better talent still on the board for that second pick, but Yan presents an golden opportunity to take a chance on someone who is really flying under the radar right now. Certainly if he’s still there in the third, the Avs have to go for it.


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