Weight: 165 Pounds
Date of birth: February 21, 2002
Hometown: Oakville, Ontario
Position: Right Wing
OHL Draft: Round 1, 14th overall, 2018 Priority Selection
NHL Central Scouting Rankings
|C Prospect||B Prospect||58 N.A.||
If Minor Midget AAA is any indication of offensive prowess, then Luke Evangelista of the London Knights has it in spades. During the 2017-2018 season, Evangelista skated for the Oakville Rangers and potted 39 goals and 51 assists in 36 games. The Knights would select him with the 14th overall pick at the 2018 Ontario Hockey League’s Priority Selection.
Here’s what OHL Central Scouting had to say at the time of the draft:
Luke is a dynamic winger that never stops moving his feet and putting pressure on the opposition. He is a very good skater that is quick to jump to open holes and pounce on loose pucks. He is creative offensively and uses his high skill level to produce with the best in his league. He competes hard each and every shift and you always know what you are getting with this player. He shoots the puck well and is extremely accurate. He is used in every situation and thrives on the power play.
If the 2018 preseason was an indication of things to follow, then there should have been a lot of optimism surrounding Evangelista. As has been said multiple times here, playing on a Dale Hunter squad is more about developing a player in all aspects of the game rather then just handing a spot to someone. But the transition to the OHL, at least offensively, wasn’t kind to him as he dressed for 27 games and notched just 2 assists.
What did happen however, is Evangelista learned how important playing a 200-foot game is and there aren’t many better to learn from then Coach Hunter.
Watch Evangelista, along with teammate Antonio Stranges talk about that first year and the process a young player goes through with the Knights here.
It has been quite the second season for Evangelista as he appeared in 62 games when the OHL seasons was paused due to the corona virus. He’s scored 23 goals while adding 38 helpers and is a plus-15 on the season. He sits among the top 10 draft eligible players in assists, points and plus/minus.
There is no “ugly” to Evangelista’s game, but there is some work to be done. First and foremost, he needs to get stronger. While the willingness to battle along the wall and drive to the net is there, he gets overpowered frequently by stronger players. Yet, there is no hesitation in him and as he adds some muscle, he will begin to win his share of those battles.
What we do like about Evangelista is his hockey IQ. He sees the ice extremely well and can anticipate what is going to happen. His positioning is excellent both in the offensive zone and the defensive zone. Combined with his excellent playmaking abilities, he’s able to set up teammates for quality scoring chances. He’s dangerous when he slows down the game and assesses quickly the options available. Making those same plays at top speed however, isn’t something displayed that often. He does get some powerplay time in London and usually sets up shop from the half wall where he can distribute pretty much at will.
Evangelista has also become effective on the penalty kill. As mentioned, his positioning and anticipation are excellent, but his stick positioning is also excellent, using it very effectively to take away lanes and shots. Again, that all comes under the tutelage of Hunter and the coaching staff.
It’s not always easy to gauge the potential of a young London Knights’ player who is in their draft year. For the most part, the Knights are often a deep, talented team and these youngsters play a depth role until their draft plus one year. But if you watch Evangelista often enough, you can see that the tools, and the tool box are there and they are just waiting to burst out when the opportunity arises.
Since the start of this season, we’ve believed Evangelista was worth second round consideration at the 2020 National Hockey League Draft when teams assemble in Montreal. NHL Central Scouting agrees (finally?) as they initially had him ranked as a C Prospect (typically a 4th, 5th or 6th round option) and moved him up to a B Prospect in November (2nd or 3rd round) and finally 58th overall amongst North American skaters on their mid-term rankings. That still puts him in the third round, but someone will give him some real consideration prior to that.
He deserves it.