2019-20 Team: London Knights (OHL)
Date of Birth: Feb. 21, 2002
Place of Birth: Oakville, ON, Canada
Ht: 5’11” Wt: 165 lbs
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2020 first-year eligible
Say what you will about how Luke Evangelista experienced an offensive bump this season, but in his first full year with the OHL’s London Knights, the 18-year-old prospect averaged nearly a point per game with 23 goals and 61 points in 62 games for the perennial contenders prior to the season’s cancellation.
Related: 2020 NHL Draft Guide
Surely, the Oakville native benefitted from time spent on lines with Columbus Blue Jackets’ prospect Liam Foudy and Washington Capitals’ prospect Connor McMichael, but the fact that Dale Hunter trusted Evangelista enough to put him in that position only shows the ceiling that this kid has.
Size, not being his strongest attribute, Evangelista uses his skating ability to beat defenders along the outside and draws the attention opening up the ice and opportunities for his linemates on a regular basis. While he was able to pot 23 goals in the 2019-20 campaign, his obvious strong suit came on the playmaking side of things.
But, this season aside, it didn’t come easy for the youngster to start his OHL career. He played 27 games for the Knights in 2018-19 and tallied just two assists over that span. It wasn’t until late October during the 2019-20 campaign that he was able to record his first OHL goal and it seemed to open the flood gates for the talented first-round OHL draft pick.
Wherever he goes in the upcoming draft, Evangelista does have a lot to offer any team that takes a chance on him. With a little more development, especially from the NHL player-making-machine that is the London Knights, he could be a significant playmaker for an NHL squad down the road.
Related THW Draft Profiles
Luke Evangelista – NHL Draft Projection
To start, this kid is ranked all over the map. While some have taken into account his offensive explosion from this season and have him as a potential first-round pick, the consensus seems to be that he will be a late-second to early-third round pick. With all things considered, including what he might need still to take that step to the next level, look for Evangelista to slot in somewhere between the 55th overall pick and the 75th selection in this year’s draft.
“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.” – Dominic Tiano, OHL Writers
“He’s quick and he hooks off and finds late guys (for passes), which we like. You factor in he can skate. He has incredible skill in his passing and he ran the half-wall (on the power play).” – Rob Simpson, Associate General Manager for the London Knights (from ‘Knights take high-scoring Luke Evangelista with first-round draft pick’, The London Free Press – 4/7/18)
- Hockey IQ – seeing the ice
- Making plays at top speed
- Strength and size
There shouldn’t be as much of a size bias in the NHL as there once was which plays into the favour of guys like Evangelista. While the urge to battle is evident in Evangelista’s game, his strength and size still doesn’t top out at the same level as some of the competition. That said, his raw skill and playmaking ability will drive a lot of teams to take a closer look at him. Given the time and right situation to develop his overall game, Evangelista could find himself in a top-six role at some point down the road. That said you’re looking at more of a three to four year experiment than a quick turnaround on this kid.
Risk – 3/5, Reward – 4/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense – 8/10, Defense – 7/10
There isn’t a long list of achievements at this point for the young forward, but he did make noise while playing at the South Central Triple A Minor Midget (SCTAMM) level with the Oakville Rangers. In 2017-18, prior to being drafted by the Knights, Evangelista finished with the most goals in the SCTAMM with 39, the most assists with 51 and the most points with 90. Other than that, there’s a lot of room to add to this list over the next few years.