Monthly Archives: March 2017

OHL – Defense (2017)

Nicolas Hague (15 – 30)

  • DOB: 1998-12-05 / H: 6’6 / SH: L
  • Big physical defenseman with a nice power play shot …  Decent skater for his size … Excellent tools …  Plays in all situations … Solid defensively and has offensive upside …
  • NHL: “He brings an offensive dimension to his game,” Hockey Canada head scout Ryan Jankowski said. “He’s also effective in a shutdown role with that range, reach and the size he has. He’s growing into his body and growing into his ability. I feel he’s more than your typical huge physical defenseman; he’s a guy who moves the puck very well and brings an offensive component to his game.”

Conor Timmins (30 – 60)

  • DOB: 1998-09-18 / H: 6’1 / SH: R
  • Older draft eligible player … Excellent offensive numbers this season … Plays physical and aggressive hockey …  Worked hard on his skating in the off season …
  • Hockey Now:  Conor Timmins has grown into a leader on the ice for the Greyhounds with his confident play and effectiveness quarterbacking the power play and an effective penalty killer. Has good offensive skills and likes to shoot low, hard point shots that bounce out for rebounds and are good for deflections. Good first pass out of his zone keeps the breakout effective and puts his passes right on the tape. Great puck movement in all three zones. Plays a physical game and will throw a big hit, battle in the corners and clears his net in front. Doesn’t panic under pressure and is quick to the puck on dump-ins. Likes to jump into the rush and is a decent skater with good mobility in his own end. Needs to work on discipline and not get caught out of position in his own end.

Dmitri Samorukov (D) (30 – 60)

  • DOB: 1999- / H: 6’1 / SH: L
  • Average size … Willing to play physical …  Consistency Issues … Has a hard shot but not always accurate …
  • OHL Writers: Offensively, Samorukov has a bomb for a shot. He showed a knack for being able to get it through and on target. He would never ignore his defensive responsibilities and seemed to always make the right decision on when to pinch or when to go on the defense at the opposition blue line.  He has shown to have good hockey IQ, vision and decision making along with an ability to create time and space in order to make the right play.

Mid-Late Round Picks

  1. Eemeli Räsänen:  6’7 right hand shot Finnish defenseman with decent offense … Skating is an issue … Plays a physical style …  Has a hard shot … Solid in his own zone … He would likely be a project (60 – 100)
  2. Jacob Paquette: Good size at 6’3 … May, 26th birthday … Left hand shot … Not much offense … Smart physical player … Might project to be a shutdown defender … Decent skater (60 – 100)
    • Note:  One thing about Kingston whom Rasanen & Paquette play for, they are the lowest scoring team in the OHL.  The average OHL team scores 3.46 GPG, Kingston averaged 2.63.
  3. Noel Hoefenmayer: Little under-sized at 6′ and lacking strength…  Good offensive puck moving defenseman with good upside … Needs to work on his defensive game … Makes a good outlet pass and good when he has the puck on his stick … (60 – 100)
  4. Markus Phillips:  Not tall for a d-man but solidly built …  Solid defensively … Makes good decisions with the puck … Might not be an offensive defenseman but he put up 43 points in 66 games … (60 – 100)
  5. Brady Lyle:  6’1 RHD, born June, 6, 99 … Good speed, skating, mobility ….  Hockey sense and puck moving ability a plus …  Not overly strong and needs to improve defensive positional game … High upside (100 – 150)
  6. Adam Tilander:  6′ RHD, born, Sept, 18, 98 …  Smart defender … Does a lot of things really well but doesn’t excel at anything … Limited upside … (100 – 150)
  7. Reagan O’Grady:  Good size (6’2) right hand shot defender … Decent mobility … Two-way defender … (100 – 150)
  8. Hayden Davis … Big (6’20 right handed defenseman … With good mobility … Decent puck-moving skills … Lacks offensive numbers and needs improvement defensively … Has nice tools (150 – 200)
  9. Tom Hedberg:  5’11 Swedish d-man … Late birthday August, 10, 99 … Skating and puck moving a plus … Needs to gain strength … Needs to work on defensive game (150 – 200)
  10. Jacob Golden:  He’s a 6′ smooth skating defenseman … Doesn’t have much offensive numbers … He might play more next season with Vande Sompel & potentially Juolevi moving on (150 – 200)

OHL Forwards

Gabriel Vilardi  (Top 5)

  • DOB: 1999-08-16 / H: 6’2 / POS: C / SH: R
  • Smart player excellent offensive instincts, hockey IQ is excellent.  Good size, strong along the boards, one of the younger players in the draft and a right hand shot forward.  His forward says that he’s a Corsi monster.  The one thing that’s holding him back is his skating.  Most reports have skating as his major issue.
  • Fan Rag: He’s a natural goal-scorer with a great shot (particularly his wrister) and quick hands, which allow him to be a solid playmaker as well. He sets up teammates easily when the play calls for it, but also isn’t afraid to take the shot himself. Vilardi’s hockey sense is strong, allowing him to utilize his skills to be a dynamic offensive player.

Owen Tippett (Top 5)

  • DOB: 1999-02-16 / H: 6’2 / POS: RW / SH: R
  • High-end skating, elite shot, excellent hockey IQ and outside of Patrick he might be the most NHL ready.
  • Last Word on Sports:  Tippett is extremely dangerous off the rush. He has excellent speed and acceleration. His ability to change speeds allows him to take defenders wide and drive to the front of the net, where he has the soft hands to finish in tight. If defenders back off to respect his speed, he can use his excellent wrist shot or snap shot and beat goalies with a quick release. Tippett’s shot is amongst the very best of anyone in this draft class. He is a pure sniper who is dangerous anytime he finds open space to get a shot off.

Nick Suzuki (10 – 25)

  • DOB: 1999-08-10 / POS: C / H: 5’11 / SH: R
  • Smaller player but he’s quick, creative offensive player with good vision and hig-end hockey IQ.  He’s a hard-worker and will likely fall to the second half of the first round because of size
  • Elite Prospects:  A smart offensive center that thinks the game at a fast pace and makes very good decisions on a consistent basis. Though he may not be the biggest player on the ice, Suzuki plays a thick, sturdy game and is hard to knock off the puck, especially when he has his feet moving. He’s an excellent skater that knows his own game well. Skilled with the puck and has a high level of hockey sense. This blend of talent and work ethic is hard to come by, invaluable in the long run. [EP]

Robert Thomas (20 – 30)

  • DOB: 1999-07-02 / H: 5’11 / POS: C / SH: R
  • Thomas has risen in the draft rankings … He might be in consideration for 1st round draft pick …  High end speed … Plays in all situations … Smart hockey player …
    Being coached by Hunter is also a plus he’s developed Horvat (who he’s been compared too), Tierney & Pu into good two-way players  …
  • Last Word on Sports: Thomas is a decent but not great skater. He has good agility, a quick first step and good acceleration, however his top end speed is merely a slight bit above average. He is an extremely smart player though, making the right plays both with and without the puck. A strong two-way centre, Thomas even plays shorthanded minutes on a strong Knights club. Offensively, he has soft hands and good stickhandling ability. He also has the vision to find teammates with smart passes, and to set up plays.

Isaac Ratcliffe (20 – 30)

  • DOB: 1999-02-15 / POS: LW / H: 6’5 / SH: L
  • Ratcliffe’s major plus is his size … He finished second on the team in points … He’s a good two-way player …  Good hockey sense ..
  • USA Today – Redline Report: Huge winger has started putting together all the pieces, and his game is taking off rapidly.  Has size, skill, and grit.  Ratcliffe has the size that makes every NHL team drool at 6-6, 195 pounds.  He’s showing some edge to go along with that size, and his +10 mark is testament to the improvement in his two-way game.

Matthew Strome: (25 – 45)

  • DOB: 1999-01-06 / POS: LW / H: 6’3 / SH: L
  • Strome doesn’t have the high end skill as his two brothers, but he still has good offensive instincts.  Willing to engage physically.  Could be a potential power forward.  There is major questions about his skating ability which is likely pushing him to the second round.
  • Bloggers Tribune: He does his best work with the puck on his stick. He’s creative in a way that you only see from a handful of players and in a way that helps to overcome his lack of strength. He has great stickhandling and one of the most accurate passes you’ll see.

Morgan Frost (30 – 60)

  • DOB: 1999-05-14 / POS: C / H: 6′ / SH: L
  • Patterns his game after Mikael Granlund …  Hard worker/competitor … Does a lot of the little things the right way …
    OHL Prospects: In a lot of ways, he’s a similar player to Robert Thomas in London. Average sized, but skilled, smart, and contributing in a multitude of ways for a team right up near the top of the OHL standings. I really like the way Frost operates on the powerplay for the Soo. He opens up a lot of ice due to his patience with the puck and his aggressiveness in attacking lanes, when the time comes for it. Overall decision making is top notch. Seems like he’s really gaining confidence in attacking off the rush lately too. Could just be seeing the tip of the iceberg here.

Jason Robertson (30 – 60)

  • DOB: 1999-7-22 / POS: LW / 6’2 / SH: L
  • Robertson plays a good north-south game … He’s has good size, decent offense and works hard … He won’t turn 18 til a month after the draft … Likely a second or third round pick but he could be a good middle-six forward … Skating needs a little work …  Jason scored 23.4% of Kingston’s goals and was in on 45.2% of their goals.
  • Hockey Now:  Jason Robertson is an explosive power forward who has all the tools including tremendous strength and speed. Has a powerful stride with balance and a strong first step which helps him accelerate and change gears. Uses his strong lower body to keep control of the puck and skate wide on defenders and drive the puck to the net. Not afraid to do go hard into the corners and dig pucks loose. Real disciplined player on the ice and stays out of the box. Has a real good wrist shot and likes to shoot from between the circles. Good vision and always gives his defencemen a big target to pass to. Had a strong rookie season posting 18 goals and 32 points in 54 games. Always finishes what he starts.

Jonah Gadjovich (30 – 60)

  • DOB: 1998 / POS: LW / H: 6’2 / SH:
  • Skating is one thing holding him back …  He’s got good size plays a physical game … North/South game …
  • Sturdy power winger with average speed but a willingness to take a beating while traversing direct routes to the net. Gadjovich’s stick is always in the right position and he makes a habit out of getting to the spot he wants and looking to tip shots home. His hands are quick enough to corral shots off the end boards and bring the puck on his stick for stuff-in attempts, and he’s quite difficult to move off the puck in one-on-one situations. His lack of speed makes him an easy target for a double team effort, but most of these attempts are futile.

Adam Ruzicka (30 – 60)

  • DOB: 1999-05-11 / POS: C-W / H: 6’4 / SH: L
  • Boom or bust prospect … He’s 6’4 with smooth skills … You’d like a little more offense … Ruzicka has played well in International tournaments for Slovakia
  • OHL Writers: Combined, he’s hard to knock off the puck and allows him to keep possession. He needs to become more proficient at using those strengths along the walls. He’s also a very good skater with very good puck handling skills who can take the disc to scoring areas and release a very good shot.

Mid-Late Round Gems

  1. Jack Studnicka (C) – 6’1 right-hand shot center … Excellent defensively … Strong on the faceoffs … Brock Otten compares him to Jarrett Stoll … Might not be high-end offense but he does everything good in the offensive zone, he’s just not elite … (60 – 100)
  2. Ivan Lodnia (RW) – Positionally strong …  Does not have elite size (5’11), skating is average and offense isn’t high end … Excellent vision and hockey sense … Will play physical and is a two way defender … (60 – 100)
  3. Alexander Chmelevski (C) – High-end hockey sense … He’s been ranked as a borderline 1st round pick … He’s a smooth skater and good offensive instincts … There’s concerns about his play without the puck … Also, I’d like to see more offense from him … (60 – 100)
  4. Nathan Schnarr (C) – 6’3 RHS center for Guelph Storm …  .67 PPG offense … June, 15th birthday … Shoulder injury caused him to miss some time … High potential player … Good size and reach (60 – 100)
  5. Alex Formenton (LW) – Young player born 9/13/1999, a couple of days later he would have been in the 2018 draft … Formenton is a high end skater … He had a growth sprut and grew 7 inches in the last two years, he’ll need to add some muscle to the frame …  Smart player, hard-working player … (60 – 100)
  6. MacKenzie Entwistle (C/RW) – Impressive size 6’3 and skating might push him inside the first two rounds … Plays in all situations, he’s been a solid PK’er … July, 7th, 99 birthday … Like to see more offense .46 PPG … (60 – 100)
  7. Austen Keating (C) – Smart hockey player … Average to below average in size (6′) and will likely need to add more muscle … Skating is a potential concern … Solid offensive instincts … Can play wing or center ..  (60 – 100)
  8. Zachary Gallant (C) – Solid faceoff player … Needs to improve skating …  Hard working physical player, willing to go to the dirty areas … Team player … (100 – 150)
  9. Greg Meireles (C) – Small energy player with speed and plays with an edge … Smart player … Good work ethic … Concerns will be size and offensive upside (100 – 150)
  10. MacAuley Carson (LW) -Coaches player … Physical do-anything type player … Played wing and center this year, but is likely a winger at the next level … Might not have the skills to be a top six forward (100 – 150)
  11. Benjamin Jones (C) – Two-way center with average-below average size (6′) … Skating is a plus … Redline Report likes him and says he might be an agitator … (100 – 150)
  12. Liam Hawel (C) – Huge 6’5 right hand shot center … Smart player with good vision … Offense increased after  trade …  More of a playmaker than a goal-scorer … Like to see a little more assertiveness from him …  Good upside, he has a good skill-set and of course he has the size …(150 – 200)
  13. Linus Nyman (F) – Small Fin (5’9) but good offensive instincts … Despite size he’s not afraid to go into the dirty areas …  Solid skater, smart with excellent puck skills … (150 – 200)
  14. Ryan McGregor (C) – Average size … Speedy, energy type player … He’s a little shy on offense (150 – 200)
  15. Albert Michnac (F) – Smaller player (5’10) … Oct. 18, 98 … Good skater … Energy type player … (150 – 200)
  16. Joseph Garreffa (C/LW) – Small player (5’7) … Born August, 9, 99 … Dynamic player, good offense and excellent skater … Size will cause him to drop in the draft and possibly get passed over, but there’s enough offense here to make me ask is he worth a draft choice (150 – 200)
  17. Brady Gilmour (C) – Smaller player (5’10) decent skater but not elite … High hockey IQ … Good playmaker (200 – 250)
  18. Maksim Sushko (Lw) – Belarus born winger … Average .57 PPG … Decent offensive skill set … Average size (6′) … Plays in all situations (200 – 250)
  19. Cole Coskey (LW) – Coskey is a 6′ RHS LW … Averaged under  .5 PPG … More of a playmaker than a goal scorer (200 – 250)
  20. Daniil Vertiy (LW) – Late ’98 birthday … Disappointing season had better point totals the previous season … He’s short (5’10) but solidly built … Good speed, skill but questionable work ethic (200 – 250)

European Forwards

European Forwards

  1. Jesper Boqvist – Born Oct. 98 … Got 6 points in 16 SHL games …  Has above average puck skill, skating and hockey smarts …  Likely a 3rd round pick or late 2nd … McKenzie had him rated 68th on mid-term ratings. … Perimeter player not overly physical …  Creative hockey player, has NHL skills but needs to get stronger
  2. Filip Chytil – One of the youngest draft eligible players (Sept, 5, 1999) … Played in the Czech Elite league against men as a 17 year-old.  Last year as scored 50 points in 30 games in the Czech U18 league as a 16 year-old …  Numbers are similar to Dominik Simon (Penguins 2015 draft pick 5th round) …  Slightly below average height … Solid offensive instincts … Stickhandling is a plus … Speedy skater … (75 – 100)
  3. Rickard Hugg – Smaller speedy forward (5’10) … Put up decent offensive numbers in the Swedish Junior league … Plays a smart two-way game … (100 – 150)
  4. Emil Bemstrom – Put up 21 goals in 28 games in the SuperElit league …  Has a late birthday June, 1, 99 … Speedy skater …  Despite his size he’s willing to go in the corners … (100 – 150)
  5. Joni Ikonen – Ranked 73rd by Future Considerations … 5’10 RHS Center born April, 14th, 99 …  Nice shot, above-average skating, defensively responsible … Plays a gritty physical game … Size is a concern …  Sometimes overhandles the puck … (100 – 150)
  6. Alexandre Texier:  One of the youngest players in the draft Sept, 13, 99 …  He’s 6′ tall … Plays in the France Elite league against men and former NHL prospects …  In the playoffs he scored 9 points in 10 games …  Skating is a plus he’s quick …  Offensive upside … Been rated as a mid-late round selection … Most recent France prospect was Da Costa who put up 23 points in 9 games in his pre-draft season (he played in the NAHL in his draft year) in U18.  Texier’s numbers were 70 points in 17 games!  … (150 – 200)
  7. Jesse Koskenkorva:  Two-way center … Above average speed … Ranked 26th by Central Scouting mid-term … Averaged a PPG in top Finnish junior league … He’s 6′ tall so a little below average … 5th/6th round (150-200)
  8. Kirill Slepets:  Highly skilled small forward … Projected to be a mid-round pick … Skating is a plus … Would like to see a little more offense – (150 – 200)
  9. Fabian Zetterlund – Late birthday Aug, 25, 1999 .. Short but stocky and strong … Has a hard acurate shot …  Smart, hard-working forward … (150 – 200)
  10. Jonas Røndbjerg – Plays a responsible two-way game … High hockey IQ …The Dane played in Sweden’s junior league this year … Not overly big (6′) and would like a little more offense … (150 – 200)
  11. Tim Wahlgren – Wahlgren is an overager (March, 8, 98) I had him rated as a 4th/5th round grade last year.  He’s a (6’1) two-way player that put up decent numbers in the SuperElite the past two seasons and an intelligent forward.  … (150 – 200)
  12. Jakub Lacka: Smart player with good speed … RHS winger small winger (5’10) … The Slovakian was born Nov. 20th, 1998 & split year between Czech U18 & U20 league …  Averaged 2 PPG in the U18  … Likely a late round pick (150 – 200)
  13. Patrik Hrehorcak:  5’10 Slovakian playing in the Czech U20 …  Good offensive numbers 55 points in 42 games … Smooth skater with good offensive instincts … Potential mid-late round pick (150 – 200)
  14. Lauri Pajuniemi:  Slighly below average for size (5’11) … Would like a little more offense … Very young (Sept. 12, 1999) … Smooth skaking skill forward with solid puck skills … Potential late round pick (150 – 200)
  15. Filip Krivosik:  Big Slovakian (6’4) playing in his 3rd country (Slovakia, Czech & Finland) in three seasons …  He has decent offense … Plays a physical game … Doesn’t have high-end offense but could be a complementary player … May only be a checking forward … (150 – 200)
  16. Emil Oksanen: Older draft eligible player born Sept, 25, 1998 … Average size (6’1) … Skilled winger good offensive upside, good shot …  Played in Mestis league a Semi-Pro league in Finland … Needs some work defensively and is a bit raw but good upside (150-200)
  17. Emil Westerlund … Overager, born Feb, 16, 98 … Committed to Univ of Maine … Can chip in with the odd goal (27 goals in 42 games) and plays with speed … Likely a bottom six player … (200 – 250)
  18. Oskar Stål Lyrenäs – Overager (March, 23, 98).  Averaged .78 PPG in SuperElit league last season.  Doesn’t bring much offense. (200 – 250)
  19. Pavel Shen:  Small forward – 5’9 with a late birthday … Close to a PPG (.97) in the MHL … Did not play in international tournaments … Possibly a late round pick (200 – 250)
  20. Filip Sveningsson – More of a goal-scorer than a passer … I little on the smaller side 6′ .. Likely a late round selection if he’s drafted … Needs to improve defensively and consistancy …  (200 – 250)
  21. Thomas Reichell:  Big center (6’3) … Likely a late-round pick or will be passed over … Offensive production is behing players like Tobias Reider & Tomas Kuhnhackl at similar ages.  He compares to former Flyer pick Noebels & Penguins pick Frederick Tiffelsin terms of production … (200 – 250)
  22. Georgi Ivanov:  He’s ranked a couple of reports to be a mid-round pick …  He brings below average offense … He’s 6′ and is one of the older 1st year draft eligible prospects (Sept, 25, 98) …  He plays a gritty two-way game, likely a bottom six player(200-250)
  23. Daniil Skorikov:  Not much details about this player … He’s 6’3 winger with average/below average offense … Ranked 23rd by Central Scouting Mid-Term rankings … Potential late round pick (200 – 250)
  24. Razat Timirov:  Below Average size (5’11) … Skilled forward with decent offense … Long shot to get drafted (200 – 250)
  25. Erik Smolka:  Not much scouting report but decent numbers and good size … Scored 1.42 PPG in Slovakian U20 league … 98 Born (Nov) … Good size 6’2 … Likely undrafted (200 – 250)
  26. Marek Skvrne:  Small center (5’11) from Czech Rep … Can play a chippy game and he’s a leader  … Offense is a little shy but similar to Columbus draft pick Lukas Sedlak … Potential late round pick. (150 – 200)
  27. Pavel Voronkov:  He’s average size or sligly below average … He’s solid positionally and has good hockey sense … Good offensive instincts and could be a scoring forward … Oct. 98 birthday … (150 – 200)

Additional Sites:

European Top Nine Forwards – 2017 NHL Draft

Elias Pettersson (5 – 15)

  • DOB: 1998-11-12 / H: 6’2 / POS: C/LW / Nation: Sweden / League:  Allsvenskan
  • Smart player, plays a complete game needs to put some muscle on his 6’2 frame.  Doesn’t have elite skating but is a good offensive weapon.
  • Elite Prospects: A crafty and agile two-way forward, Pettersson is consistently productive in all three zones. As he gets stronger, he’ll become even more physical and aggressive than he is now, and his creativity could definitely elevate his game to dominant levels. He can be described as a tenacious, jack-of-all-trades kind of player; he is well versed in all the important aspects of his own game. His speed and top-end acceleration continue to improve game by game, and his hard-nosedness shows through in his dogged pursuit of puck control. Elias Pettersson is a complete hockey player that brings intellect and youthful exuberance to a game that feeds on his kind of exciting athleticism.

Lias Andersson  (10 – 25)

  • DOB: 1998-10-13 / POS: C/LW / H: 5’11 / Nation: Sweden / League: SHL
  • His offensive numbers are good compared to recent players drafted out of the SHL (Zibanejad, Fiala, Eriksson-Ek & Vranaa), he also plays a good two-way game.  He might not have high-end upside but he projects as a safe two-way player.  The two concerns are size and his also a late birthday.
  • TSN: He’s quick, fast, determined and skilled and can play all three positions up front. A Swiss (or Swedish) Army knife-type player who’s very adaptable and coaches will love.

Martin Necas (10-25)

  • DOB: 1999-01-15 / H: 6’1 / S: R / POS: C / Nation: Czech / League: Czech-Elite
  • Necas plays a complete game he’s a fast, skilled right-handed center with decent size (6’1) and not afraid to go to the hard areas of the ice.  He’s playing in the Czech pro league against men and putting up .37 PPG.  There’s not too many Czech league forwards selected in the first round in the past 10 years but his numbers are ahead of Michael Frolik & Jiri Tlusty who were drafted back in 06.
  • Necas impressed scouts with both his effort and ability to get involved in everything. This guy gets after it. Not the biggest player on the ice, but makes up for it with his creativity and hard work. –Jeff Marek, Wyshynski and Marek Podcast

Klim Kostin (10 – 25)

  • DOB: 1999-05-05 / POS: RW / H: 6’3 / Nation: Russian / League: KHL
  • Big, skilled winger that entered the year as a potential top 5 pick.  Hasn’t had a successful year in KHL/VHL with only 1 goal in 17 games.  But the fact that he has been playing in the KHL and he’s a late birthday is a positive.  I think skill-wise and size he’s in the range with Guryanov, but behind Nichushkin or Tarasenko.
  • Last Word On Sports:  Kostin has the strength and size to play a powerful game, as he is strong on the puck; effective in maintaining possession down low; and difficult to contain when he drives the net. His skating shows excellent speed, balance and power. He is also highly skilled, with soft hands and excellent stickhandling ability; a fantastic wrist shot and release; along with good vision and passing skills. Kostin plays a gritty game, not afraid to get to the front of the net, or battle for loose pucks at both ends of the ice. He could stand to be a little more selfish, and shoot the puck more as he often looks to make a pass.

Marcus Davidsson (25 – 45)

  • DOB: 1998-11-18 / H: 6′ / POS: C/W / S: L / Nation: Sweden / League: SHL
  • Had 10 points in 9 games in the Swedish SuperElite league.  Models his game after Landeskog.  Button had him ranked 3rd entering the season.
  • Craig Button TSN:   Determined centre who gets involved in all of the critical areas of the game. Very good skater with power and he uses it to his advantage with and without the puck. Excellent sense and awareness and makes plays that threaten opponents and creates opportunities. Plays with confidence and has the ability to utilize the skills and talents of those around him.

Kristian Vesalainen (25 – 45)

  • DOB: 1999-06-01 / POS: LW/RW / H: 6’3 / S: L / NATION: Finland / League: SHL
  • Vesalainen entered the year as a potential top 10 pick, now there’s a chance he slips outside the first round.  He has good size but needs to play a smarter game.  He has been playing in against men in the SHL.  However, his numbers in International tournaments and the Swedish junior league (4 points in 10 games) aren’t overly impressive.
  • Finn Prospects:  Vesalainen is hard worker, plays solid passing game, forechecks well, doesn’t shy away in physical battles and is impressive at the defensive zone for a player of his age. His offensive talent most likely prevents him to become elite player but he should have bright future ahead in two-way role.

Lucas Elvenes  (30 – 60)

  • DOB: 1999-08-18 / H: 6′ / POS: RW / S: L / NATION: Sweden / League: SuperElit
  • High end offensive ability.  Solid offensive numbers inthe SuperElite league.  On the small side.  Late birthday.  Rated 51st by McKenzie in his mid-season rankings.  Excellent puck skills.  Above average hockey IQ.
  • The Draft Analyst: A jack-of-all-trades kind of forward, Elvenes played in every situation, to include manning the point on the power play. He’s a key figure for Rogle’s J20 squad (Superelit), and his two-way play was certainly on display. He showed patience off of defensive-zone draw wins, calmly waiting for things in front of him to properly align. When he didn’t see something he liked, he peeled back and re-engaged with a successful breakout. On several occasions, Elvenes made world-class set-ups, including one occasion when he dished a sweet behind-the-back feed from below the goal line while cutting against the grain in a 3-1 win against Russia. Elvenes uses excellent footwork to skate himself into an area with open lanes to attack, and he’s consistent with pass accuracy whether dishing it hard or soft. He plays with his head up, and the timing on passes are excellent.

Alex Lipanov (30 – 60)

  • DOB: 1999-08-17 / H: 6′ / POS: C / S: L / Nation: Russia / League: VHL
  • Put up solid numbers at international tournaments but didn’t produce much during the regular season.  Fast playmaking center that is responsible in his own end.  He has a late birthday August 17th.
  • The Hockey News – Ryan Kennedy:  I haven’t had a chance to write about Lipanov since the World Jr. A Challenge happened in Alberta, but he was awesome there. Not only did he center a potent line with 2018 draft titan Andrei Svechnikov, but Lipanov was also a dogged penalty-killer and all-details player for Russia.

Ostap Safin (45-75)

  • DOB: 1999-02-11 / H: 6’4 / POS: F / S: L / NATION: Czech / League: CzechU20
  • He has solid potential.  He’s a big player that seemed to regressed a little this season, but is having a good playoffs.  He’s got a good shot and could be a goal scorer.  He’s a little behind where players like Frolik, Hertl were when they were drafted.  Right now he’s maybe a late second or early third round pick.
  • EliteProspect: A competitive, 200-foot player that can fit in a power or finesse role. Skates very well, with balance and noteworthy speed, and handles the puck with ease and control at top speeds. Displays a dangerously accurate shot that he is never hesitant to use; always a threat in the offensive zone. Uses his frame well, to protect the puck, as well as to impose physically upon the opposition. Defensively stable and actively cuts off passing and shooting lanes. Could be more creative, but is more of a straight-line player. Potential is that of a top six forward that can complement similarly high-caliber players. (Curtis Joe, EP 2016)


European Defense

NHL Draft 2017 European Defenseman Take 1.

Timothy Liljegren

DOB:     1999-04-30
Height: 6′
Shoots: Right
League: SHL

  • The Swedish defenseman entered the year as a potential top three pick and he’s fallen a bit due to injury.
  • TSN: Scouts say his offensive game is far more developed than his defensive game. He is an elite skater, both in terms of speed and agility, and adept at running a power play. He is seen as both a puck mover and an offensive point producer. No one is suggesting he’s the next Erik Karlsson, not by any means, but scouts say he has some of the same qualities and, therefore, has the potential to be projected as a possible top pairing defenceman in time.
  • Future Considerations:  An active, offensive-minded rearguard who likes the puck on his stick…skates with strong fluidity and agility, getting from one point to the next effortlessly as his feet always seem to be in motion…can take the puck end-to-end a la Erik Karlsson…his offensive IQ is off the charts as is his creativity…makes strong breakout passes to move along the attack to his forwards before jumping into the play himself…has a strong wrist shot that is quick off his blade, strong and accurate, and he gets some solid velocity on his slap shot…continually reading the play and moving as he tries to be in strong position to contribute as an option when not in possession of the puck himself…can be a high-risk, high-reward guy as he does take chances that can lead to turnovers here or there…a game-breaker…projected as a top-pairing offensive NHL defenseman.

Miro Heiskanen

DOB: 1999-07-18
Height: 6’0″
NATION: Finland
Shoots: L
League:  Finland Liiga

  • Small smooth-skating puck moving defenseman, likely to be drafted in the middle of the first round.
  • Last Word on Sports: He has very good skating ability. Heiskanen has good speed and acceleration in both directions. He also has the agility and edgework to make quick pivots and transition from defence to offence, or vice-versa. He is also a good passer, and can start the rush or make plays on the point on the powerplay.  Heiskanen could stand to be a bit more physical; as well as work on his slap shot.
  • Finnish Junior Hockey: He is an exceptional skater with excellent puck skills and smarts. His ability to process the game with the puck is at a very high level. Also, a positive thing to notice is that he has got bigger since last season, now being listed at 6’0. Gaining additional muscle will help him to be more effective in board battles and in front of the net. I consider him a Top 10 pick and the best Finnish prospect for this year’s draft. The fact that he is excelling in a men’s league – at the age of 17 – is remarkable.

Erik Brannstrom

DOB: 1999-09-02
Height: 5’10
Nation: Sweden
Shoots: L
League:  SHL/SuperElit

  • Brannstrom is a player that could slip into the first round if not higher.  Ryan Kennedy compared him to Kimmo Timonen.  He was averaging more than a PPG on his junior team before getting called up to the SHL.  He’s likely to be drafted in the second half of round one.
  • The Draft Analyst:  A high-IQ rearguard displays ridiculous puck skills while running his team’s offense. Erik Brannstrom may lack the height you would want in a top-end puck mover, but every other area is drool worthy. He owns a cannon of a shot, carries the puck with anger and confidence, and can hold his own in one-on-one situations. Brannstrom does everything quick and hard — passes, shots, checks — and his international resume is stellar.

Urho Vaakanainen (D)

DOB: 1999-01-01
Height: 6’1
Nation: Finland
Shoots: Left
League:  Finland Liiga

  • Vaakanainen is a smart all-around defenseman, who is responsible in his own end.  Likely doesn’t have the high end upside of Brannstrom, Heiskanen or Liljegren but seems like a safer pick.  He’s likely a late first round pick.
  • Last Word On Sports: Vaakanainen has excellent hockey IQ. He reads the play very well in both the offensive and defensive ends of the ice. He chooses to make the smart plays both with and without the puck. Defensively he has great gap control and positioning. He also can skate the puck out of danger in his own zone, and start the transition game with a good first pass. Offensively he has a hard accurate shot, and the vision to be a play maker from the blue line. He will likely never be a huge offensive contributor, but can score a bit. Overall his game is well rounded.
  • Yahoo Sports:  Scouts Take:  “Our guys find Urho as a quick-thinking two-way defenseman who shows a lot of poise in his game when he’s working on advancing the puck, and no panic when it comes to defending off the rush. He’s smooth in most facets of the game, and while he isn’t flashy, does possess plenty of upside.”

Robin Salo

DOB: 1998-10-13
Nationality: Finland
Height: 6′
Shoots: L
League:  Finland Liiga

  • He’s a late birthday, but playing in a pro league in Europe and logging an estimated 20 minutes.  His lack of high end offensive ability might drop him into the second round.
  • Sportsnet: A calm, solid defender. Currently sitting out a three-game suspension for a knee-on-knee hit.
  • Finn Prospects:  Salo is not the flashiest player on ice but his defensive skills are impressive for a player of his age. He already looks solid in men’s league, positions himself well and even shows some grit and willingness to play physical game. However Salo could add some power to his skating as he seems bit slow at times. While his offensive skills are somewhat limited, he is capable of decent passing play …

Filip Westerlund
DOB: 1999-04-17 / H: 5’11 / S: R / League: SHL

  • Small calm d-man with good offensive instincts has been compared to Sami Vatanen.  Should be picked in the second round.
  • Elite Prospects: Westerlund is a defenseman who stands out with his vision and puck control. Plays a calm, cerebral game and can hit forwards with long passes from the backend. Defensively, there is room for improvement given his hockey IQ. Also, his skating could use some work, especially his first few steps. Isn’t that agile yet, either.

Tobias Geisser

  • DOB: 1999-02-13 / H: 6’4 / S: L / Nation: Swiss / League: Swiss-Elit & Swiss-Junior / PPG .29
  • Geisser is a big defenseman likely going to be a stay-at-home defender.   Projected as a 3rd round pick.
  • The Draft Analyst: Tobias Geisser has slowly developed into a reliable defender with top-four upside, and he uses his long reach and active stick to make up for a lack of upper-body strength.

Jakub Galvas (D)

  • DOB: 1999-06-15 / H: 5’11 / S: L /  Nation: Czech / League: Czech / PPG: .17
  • Galvas is an offensive defender who is playing in the Czech league against players old enough to be his dad.  Actually, he plays against his father Lukas Galvas this season.  He’s played well in international tournaments this season.  Right now he’s projected as a mid-late round pick.

David Kvasnicka (D)

  • DOB: 1999-04-14 / H: 5’10 / S: L / League: Czech / PPG:.13
  • Kvasnicka is a small, smart, smooth skating offensive defender.  Was averaging over a PPG in the U20 Czech league.  He has good vision and puck moving ability.  Projected to be selected in mid-late round.

Radim Salda (D)

  • DOB: 1999-02-18 / H: 6′ / S: L / League: Czech-U20 / PPG .43
  • Smooth skating power play defenseman with an excellent shot.  Projected to be a mid-late round pick.

Martin Bodak (D)

  • DOB: 1998-11-28 / H: 6’1 / S: R / League: Jr. A Liiga / PPG: .35
  • Bodak is a right hand defenseman from Slovakia playing in Finnish junior league.  He’s a late birthday.  Bodak has good vision and mobility but has limited offensive upside and is likely to peak as more of defensive defender.

Venyamin Baranov (D)

  • DOB: 1999-01-08 / H: 6’1 / S: l / League: MHL / PPG .30
  • Baranov is strong in his own end, has decent size and has good playmaking ability.  Was drafted first in the KHL draft.  He’s likely a late round selection.


  1. Otto Latvala – Big (6’5) defenseman with a late birthday (May, 14th, 1999) although he doesn’t project to be an offensive defender he put up numbers in the Finnish junior league.  Needs to improve skating.
  2. Gustav Lindström- 6’2 RHS D, late birthday – Oct. 20, 1998, his uncle is former Sharks dman Magnus Ragnarsson, good offensive instincts.
  3. Simon Johansson – Late birthday (June), good size (6’2) right hand shot defenseman with decent point totals (.54 PPG) in the SuperElit league.
  4. Anton Bjorkman – Small (5’11) defenseman that is playing in the SHL but doesn’t bring much offense.
  5. Jonatan Asplund – Big (6’3), LHS dman with decent offensive numbers (.39 PPG) in the SuperElit game.
  6. Dmitri Rodionychev – Stay at home defenseman playing in the KHL as an 18 year-old.  Doesn’t bring much offense.
  7. Gustav Jäderberg – Second draft year (born May, 98) he’s got decent size and putting up alright number (.50 PPG) in the SuperElit league.
  8. August Berg – Small right hand shot defenseman with good offense.