The easiest way to understand what we lack in-depth knowledge of is to compare it to something we do know.
When it comes to the prospects to be drafted later this month in Nashville during the 2023 NHL Draft, it's the best way to illustrate what the top players of this year's class might be able to do when they make it to the top.
After all, a lot of fans spend most of their time watching their favorite NHL teams and that's about it. Only the most ravenous of us watch junior or college hockey games or even games in Europe to see who among the 17-and-18-year-olds appeals most to them.
After taking in the scouting combine this weekend in Buffalo and with the Vegas Golden Knights a win away from winning the Stanley Cup, it's really time to focus on the draft. Hundreds will be chosen, but we'll keep our eyes on a handful of the players we'll see (likely) chosen in the first round and tell you who they remind us of the most.
Some players mentioned guys they liked to watch and others said they have players they like to model their game after, but their size and skills tell us everything we need to make the call. Will they be the second coming of the players we're comparing them to? If we're lucky and they're that good, they will.
A player like Connor Bedard is a unicorn and he's been endlessly put in the same boat as Connor McDavid and Sidney Crosby. The same can be said for Adam Fantilli being like one of either Matthew or Brady Tkachuk. But there are others in the draft you may not know as well, and we'll highlight six of them for you.
Ryan Leonard: Matthew Tkachuk
Florida's Matthew Tkachuk is going to spawn a lot of imitators in the years to come, especially among strong players who enjoy mixing it up and scoring goals.
Ryan Leonard from the US National Team Development Program Under-18 team grew up a Boston Bruins fan (being from Massachusetts and all) and said he loves watching the guys that mix it up, like Tkachuk. At nearly 6'0" and 190 pounds, he's not nearly the size of Tkachuk (who is 6'2", 200), but he plays with tenacity and feeds on playing a physical attacking game.
Leonard was ranked fifth among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting and he'll almost certainly be selected in the top half of the first round, if not the top 10. He plays center or wing and, like the Tkachuk boys, he can get under the skin of just about everyone on the opposing team. Playing for the USNTDP, those opportunities don't always arise, but playing on the top line also means putting the puck in the net more than sitting in the box. He scored 51 goals with 94 points so he showed he can handle all aspects of the game rather well.
If he can fill the net at the next level and do it while also terrorizing defenders and goalies, whoever lands him will be well beyond happy they did if for no other reason than to have a countermeasure against opposing irritants.
Given his Boston-area background and love of the Bruins, that offers Leonard more than a few examples to draw from through recent history for scorers that play strong and upset opponents (see: Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand).