Thursday, July 5, 2012

2012 CHL Import Draft Review

On Wednesday, June 27, the Canadian Hockey League held its annual Import Draft where CHL teams got the opportunity to add import talent to their teams. There is two rounds of the draft, and a team can pass on or trade their pick at any time. Just to remind you, CHL clubs are permitted to carry only two import players on their team or protected list every year. However, there was a new rule put in place this year to protect the rights of NHL first round picks. If a CHL team has an Import who was an NHL first round pick (such as Kitchener in Radek Faksa), they have an additional player on their protected list to cover should that first round import (like Faksa) make the NHL.

While the Import Draft can be a bit of a crap shoot, many of the players drafted do come over and can have an impact. Let's breakdown the results of previous two Import Drafts.

In 2010
26 of 26 players selected came to the Ontario Hockey League (100%)
21 of 26 players selected lasted the entire OHL season with their clubs (81%)
10 (open for debate) of 26 players had a significant impact on their OHL teams (38%)

In 2011
17 of 20 players selected came to the OHL (85%)
17 of 20 players selected lasted the entire OHL season with their clubs (85%)
10 (open for debate) of 20 players had a significant impact on their OHL teams (50%)

Looking at these results, the Import Draft has become very significant for the OHL. Over the past two seasons, the league had added over 20 impact players through the draft.

You never really truly know what you're getting in these players, despite what scouting reports or first hand accounts may tell you. Is this year's Import Draft a good one? Let's examine some of the selections with the help of some foreign hockey experts.

3. Erie Otters - Oscar Dansk - Goaltender
The Import Draft hasn't been great to the Erie Otters over the past few years (Tankeev, Tkachev, etc). Even Sondre Olden was a little underwhelming last year. In Oscar Dansk, the 31st overall pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, hopefully they've found something. Have to say that this pick came a bit out of nowhere, since the whispers around the league were that London or Windsor has a cooked deal with him. Definitely a bold move for the Otters, but a great one if Dansk reports (which is looking pretty likely). With the team looking to improve this year thanks to the maturity of their young players and the addition of Connor McDavid, having a solid goaltender will be key to the Otters success and hopeful return to the playoffs.
Scouting Report: In their Draft Preview, "The Hockey News" described Dansk as a big mobile goaltender who has a propensity for stepping up in big games. Marcus Hultgren of Future Considerations says "Dansk is a big and very (note: very!) calm goalie who's great at tracking the puck through traffic and has a great flow in his movement. He plays an effective covering style and rarely scrambles. Great lateral movement and great anticipation. He should really be one hell of a goalie." ISS had Dansk as their top rated goalie for the draft and said similar things about him, however they did mention that his rebound control could use some improvement. There would appear to be nothing that suggests Dansk won't come into the league and be one of the better starting netminders in the OHL. Our anonymous European scout sees him this way. "Can´t help but his technique is mess at times but when his game is on than is almost unbeatable. Plays extremely deep in net, doesn´t challenge at all. Goes down into butterfly on every shot. Big goalie and plays big in net, very compact in net. Leave little space in net, tough to beat down low with his long legs/quick pads and keeps his shoulders up to cover upper part of net when in butterfly. Needs to square to shooters all the time and can get out of position. Never gives up attitude, competitive, strong effort on second or third shots (rebounds)showing flexibility and quick pads/legs, somehow able to stop pucks by every part of his body. Good balance and moves well across the net. Let the play comes to him and forces shooters to make the first move. Calm with traffic in front of him and anticipates the play well. Inconsistent rebounds control incidental with his technique, when he plays well technically, he allows few rebounds, when he fights with his technique, than there is problem also with rebounds."
Stats Link

6. Kingston Frontenacs - Mikko Vainonen - Defenseman
The Fronts looked to shore up their defense by selecting Nashville 4th rounder Mikko Vainonen. One thing that is definitely encouraging is that he's been team Finland's captain during any of the international tournaments he's played in (last year's Under 17, this year's Under 18). He's got great size and appears to have the skills to develop into a top four OHL defenseman.
Scouting Report: Hockey'sFuture Finnish writer Tony Piscotta says, "Vainonen's skill level is still developing but his ideal size, work ethic, and willingness to defend are encouraging traits." THN said similar things and ranked him as high as 69th for the 2012 draft. ISS suggests he's a pretty safe stay at home defenseman who's still developing the offensive side to his game. They also suggest that mobility may be a bit of a factor for him and is something that he needs to improve on. But they had him inside their top 60. With his size, leadership capabilities, and defensive acumen, he should fit in well with the Fronts, who badly need players like him. Could he be a possible partner for the slick Warren Steele? Our anonymous European scout thinks he can step right into the top four of Kingston. "Subpar, stiff skater with heavy and slow feet, slow pivots/turning and little agility, hasn´t improved it much throughout the season. However surprisingly good skater with the puck, can skate it out of zone. Effective in moving the puck out of own zone. Rarely makes mistakes in decision making with puck in own zone. Hits forward in speed with firm, accurate passes, starts offensive play well with first pass out of zone, not flashy but very efficiently. Reads the play well, patient with puck and excellent timing on his passes. However lacks dynamic offensive skills of some of his teammates, more of stay at home D with good ability to move the puck out of zone. While having solid hands for passing and sees the ice very well his hands are not the softest, limited stickhandling skills. Can be beaten on the rush either wide by speed or with quick moves. Uses his size in own zone, plays physical game, quite strong in battles, competes to keep the crease clear. Inconsistent positionally/defensive decision making, there were shifts/games when he made mistakes regularly. Needs to keep moving his feet against the rush. Captain of both Finnish U17 and U18 national team in last two seasons, has some leadership skills/ability. Should be top 4 D on his team next season for sure."
Stats Link

9. London Knights - Nikita Zadorov - Defenseman
After striking gold with Olli Maatta last year, London has taken another big blueliner with NHL first round aspirations this year. Zadorov is currently ranked inside ISS's Top 20 for the 2013 Draft and is just outside the first round on FC's list. Not only was he a big factor on the Russian Under 17 team this year, but he also played on the Under 18 team as an underager and an impact player (scoring two goals and finishing a +4).
Scouting Report: FC describes him as a very raw player in their 2012 Draft Guide, but someone with a ton of potential. According to them, he's a terrific skater for a big guy and has great puck skill. But he's also still learning how to play defensively. Our anonymous Euro scout says, "Complete package, excellent prospect, big, strong, skilled, mean and physical, very good at both sides. Naturally physical, good timing and leverage on his hits, can deliver classic hip check and/or open ice hits. Understands positional play, rarely gets out of position. Very mobile in all directions, very mobile laterally, smooth stride, strong backwards skater, turns/pivots well. Can really skate with the puck, goes end to end, not afraid to jump into the play. Very good vision, strong first pass out of zone, can find forward with long passes. Hits forward in full speed making excellent outlets just on stick, good timing. Solid reading in own zone and instinctive/creative in offensive zone, can slide from the point, makes strong decision with puck from the point. Enough speed to return into his position on D when going deep into offensive zone. Takes body and uses his long reach well in own zone. Close the gap quickly, pushes forward on outside, tough to beat 1 on 1 off the rush, tights forward up at the board. Top prospect for 2013 NHL draft."
Stats Link

12. Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds - Sergei Tolchinsky - Forward
Another Igor Larionov client, it should come as no surprise that he's looking to play in the CHL. He seems to be widely considered one of the most offensively talented players amongst his age group in Russia. The only issue is that he's only 5'7. At the most recent Under 17's, he was a factor, finishing the tourney with 3 goals in 5 games (including two shorties).
Scouting Report: FC describes him as a tenacious and fearless offensive juggernaut who skates exceptionally well and has terrific puck skill. They do make mention of the obvious size and strength concerns, which of course means he's no guarantee to make an impact at the OHL level. Our anonymous Euro scout says similar things. "Small but low point of gravity, strong on skates(doesn´t look as his weight is 150 pounds, looked much bigger and stronger), well built. Good wheels, never stops moving his feet. High skill level and very good hockey sense. Quick and shifty, tough to contain in tight, creates separation with strong puck control and skating ability. Excellent hands, can beat D 1 on 1, nice finishing touch around the net. Can finish his checks hard, feisty and has some grit player, plays bigger than his size. High energy player, hustles on forecheck, competes hard. Fun to watch and could be excellent junior player but size could be big concern for NHL scouts"
Stats Link

15. Windsor Spitfires - Vladimir Ionin - Forward
Have to say, I'm used to the Spits drafting pretty high profile guys in the Import Draft. When I had seen that they had taken Ionin, I was pretty surprised since I had never heard of him. Nor can I find any stats of his, nor did he play for Russia at the Under 17's. Part of that may be due to the fact that he missed the vast majority of last season with an injury.
Scouting Report:

18. Saginaw Spirit - Nikita Serebryakov - Goaltender
I think it's definitely surprising to see the Spirit take a goaltender with their pick, considering they already have NHL 3rd rounder Jake Paterson, and Clint Windsor in net. This selection might signal the end of Windsor's time in Saginaw I suppose. Serebryakov jumped into the spotlight with a terrific performance at the Under 17's this past year, where he lead Russia to the Gold medal. He's undersized, but that hasn't stopped other goaltenders (like Mike Murphy) from having great success in the OHL.
Scouting Report:
Stats Link

21. Plymouth Whalers - Ludvig Bystrom - Defenseman
This definitely looks like a smart pick by the Whalers who are set to lose, arguably, their top three defenseman from last year (Schmitz, Levi, Trutmann). Bystrom should be able to step right into the Whalers line up and be an impact player. The Dallas Stars 2nd rounder in 2012 already saw time in the Swedish Elite League last year (20 games).
Scouting Report: Elite Prospects says "Bystrom is a smooth skating and puck moving defenseman with great smarts. Has impressive positioning both offensively and defensively. Very good decision making. Fairly good release and passing game. Not overly flashy, but consistent and a team player. Has an edge to his game and gets involved in the rough stuff. Skilled offensively." FC's Marcus Hultgren agrees. "Byström is a two-way defenseman with great skates. It's his best tool and he uses his great mobility wisely. His mobility also helps him positioning-wise. he always seems to be at the right place at the right time. He plays rough and uses his body to his advantage." ISS also appears to be a big fan, ranking him inside their top 30 prior to the draft and echoing the above statements. They suggest that "his physical brand of hockey makes him very difficult to win quality space against." Sounds like he'll fit in perfectly in Plymouth. One last report comes from our anonymous Euro scout. He says, "Bystrom is not flashy and not dynamic offensive skills but plays mistakes-free games at both sides. Poised and intelligent in own zone with puck, makes strong decision with the puck under pressure. Has vision, good hands/puck skills, moves the puck very well out of zone, passes are just on tape and can make both soft and crisp. Defensively aware and smart. Plays well positionally, strong in 1 on 1 situations, hardly beaten off the rush, takes away time and space from puck carriers. Very mobile in all four directions. Not punishing physically but takes body, uses his frame to separate his man from the puck, angles forwards to the board tights forwards up, uses active stick, interrupt plays. Distributes the puck efficiently on PP. Should be top D on team if he comes over."
Stats Link

24. Owen Sound Attack - Gilbert Gabor - Forward
The Attack, looking to find a compliment to Artur Gavrus, go with a big winger who has both Slovakian and Swedish citizenship. Gabor plays in Sweden, but has played internationally with Slovakia.
Scouting Report: FC's Marcus Hultgren says, "Gabor is your typical power-forward. He is big, strong and plays hard. Uses his height and weight to gain advantages all over the ice. Possesses good hands and is willing to drive the net. A talent to watch."
Stats Link

27. Sudbury Wolves - Dominik Kubalik - Forward
Brother of Columbus prospect and former QMJHL star Tomas Kubalik, Dominik could be looking to make his mark on the CHL. It's certainly clever to take a gamble on someone with strong bloodlines. Kubalik actually saw some time in the Czech Extraliga this year as a 16 year old.
Scouting Report: Our anonymous Euro scouts says, "Scored in Czech elite league this past season as 16 year old. Good skater with stride, burst of speed, acceleration, balance. Scoring winger has nose for net, has hard shot with quick release. Won´t create much chances by himself, needs playmaking center next to him. Has okay vision and good hands, can handle the puck in speed. Finishes some checks, good strength level, goes through checks, plays along the boards. Willing to go straight to the net. Limited creativity and not great passer, he is very good down low but only average in transition. Would like to see more effort defensively and tends to leave own zone quickly looking for long-distance passes beyond D. Should be solid addition on the team next season, physically ready, not top NHL prospect but possible mid-round pick(depends on development)."
Stats Link

30. Mississauga Steelheads (weird to say) - Sam Babintsev - Forward
Perhaps a bit unorthodox, Babintsev did play in North America last year, in the Tier 1 Elite Hockey League with Oakland. He finished second on his team in scoring and his late 1994 birth date makes him eligible for the NHL draft this year. Without knowing a whole heck of a lot about Babintsev, I'm not sure I like the trade of Kuptsov to Belleville knowing this is who they've brought in to replace him.
Scouting Report:
Stats Link

33. Saginaw Spirit - Andrey Alexeev - Forward
Another Russian forward who appears to be a virtual unknown at this point. Didn't play internationally for Russia and appears to be a bit of a ghost in terms of finding stats. With Saginaw selecting twice, I guess that signals the end of Vadim Khloptov.
Scouting Report:
Stats Link

36. Sarnia Sting - Nikolai Goldobin - Forward
The Sting go Russian too, selecting forward Goldobin out of the MHL (KHL's development league). While he did not participate for Russia internationally, he did put up some half decent stats for his age in the MHL (typically a league dominated by 18 and 19 year olds).
Scouting Report:
Stats Link

39. Sudbury Wolves - Dominik Kahun - Forward
A Czech name, but a German player. Kahun has dual citizenship but plays in Germany. He suited up for Germany at both the Under 17's, and Under 18's and put up some pretty impressive stats internationally. He was also the leading scorer of his league (the DNL). Like Tolchinsky, Kahun is a pint sized offensive dynamo. Always great to see little guys given a chance in the league.
Scouting Report: HF's Chapin Landvogt says, "He is a really little tyke who will likely have a lot of adjusting to do when he faced the rougher play out there. He's technically a strong player and lives from his hands and hockey sense. He can score goals, but is definitely more of a playmaker. He'll need to work on shooting more and harder. His skating is pretty decent. He is of Czech heritage, so he does have a more Eastern European understanding of the game. To a degree, he lived a little more off of his linemate Leon Draisaitl this season, who is a bigger, rangier player with less footspeed, but more dominance in his stickhandling. I really don't know what to expect of him. I wouldn't normally think he's all that much more talented than a number of the German kids who have been in the CHL the past season or two who haven't really scored much." Our anonymous European scout says similar things, "Really smallish and not explosive skater lacking more straight line speed and long stride. However slick and shifty and always moves his feet. Smart and instinctive player with very good hockey sense and anticipation. Quick and soft hands, controls the puck well in tight. Moves the puck quickly, plays up-tempo game, give and go, always around the puck. Smart with puck, see the ice well, makes nifty passes in transition. Small and zero physical element in his game but but not soft, perimeter player. Will need time to adjust to level of competition in OHL and don´t think he will have much impact next season. Skills and hockey sense are there but really small and weak physically, not ready yet in my opinion."
Stats Link

42. Peterborough Petes - Jonatan Tanus - Forward
I guess they figured, after Lino Martschini was fairly successful in his time in the OHL, it couldn't hurt to take another undersized offensive forward. Tanus put up some impressive stats in the Under 20 league this year and has been the Captain of Team Finland Internationally for his age group the past two years.
Scouting Report: Our anonymous European scout says, "Small,smart, playmaking center, patient with the puck, can slow the play down. Doesn´t skate hard without the puck and a bit of perimeter player but puck follows him around the ice, plays well positionally. Cuts passing lines well. Slick skater, lacks great speed but deceptive skater. Soft hands, smooth handling the puck, soft touch on his passes. Sees the ice well, good hockey sense, instinctive. Decent balance, agile, slick with puck. Can handle the puck by both sides of stick, strong passer, makes good backhand passes. Not physical at all doesn´t get involved in battles along the boards, counts more on reading and positioning. Reminds me Markus Granlund in some aspects but not that good."
Stats Link

45. Barrie Colts - Samu Markkula - Forward
The 61st ranked European skater by NHL Central Scouting, Markkula went undrafted in the 2012 Entry Draft, most likely due to being undersized at 5'9. He put up some fairly impressive stats at the Under 20 level in Finland this year, and scored 2 goals for Finland at the Under 18's. He looks like someone who could at least play a secondary scoring role in the OHL.
Scouting Report: Our anonymous European scout says, "Small but not afraid to play in high traffic, takes hit to make play. Good effort and determination, competes every shift. Finishes some checks and hustles in puck pursuit, some aggressivity. Decent skills, controls the puck fairly well in speed, solid hands and receives tough passes on skates easily into the stride. Has some quickness and a bit shifty but lacks separation gear. Plays in traffic and drives the net a bit but lacks size/strength/speed to create separation in tight, easily knocked off the puck at times. Solid hockey sense. More of good junior player than NHL prospect, I suppose should be solid but unspectacular forward in OHL, lacks top line upside(at OHL level)."
Stats Link

48. Oshawa Generals - Teddy Blueger - Forward
Pittsburgh Penguins 2nd rounder, Teodors Blugers (or Teddy Blueger) is a Latvian forward who starred for the famed Shattuck St. Mary's team this past season. He was also a big time participant for Latvia internationally, even playing on their Under 20 (WJC) team. He's got some huge shoes to fill after it was announced Niklas Jensen was heading back to Sweden. That's if Blueger even reports, as he's currently committed to Minnesota State for next season. Maybe the Pens are swaying him towards the OHL route?
Scouting Report: ISS had Blueger inside their top 75 prior to the draft and state that he's a very talented playmaker with very good pucks skills and skating ability. FC scout Dan Shrader had this to say abot Blueger. "I got to see Bleuger roughly 12-15 times this last season, and there is no doubt he is very talented. He skates very well- he's got good speed and the agility to make quick moves, but he isn't as dynamic laterally as a guy like Yakupov; Bleuger is mainly a north-south kind of player, but the east-west movements typically come in the offensive zone. What is really impressive is just how sturdy on his skates he is- for being 175 pounds I've seen him drag defenders with him while he has the puck, and uses it to his advantage because he's very good at puck protection- his "office" so to speak is getting the puck down low behind the goal line and using his vision and deft touch to feed his teammates from there. Therein lies the problem- I think he's very much a perimeter player. Not in the sense that he's soft and afraid of high traffic areas, its that I think his level of comfort is so high along the edges of the ice- he doesn't use the center of the ice enough in my opinion. He's got good creativity and touch, its just that when he's heading up ice with the puck it is usually along the walls. His game is largely predicated on making little finesse passes through traffic. He's feisty and competitive, and I think he has some pest-like qualities to him- granted he wore a cage this season, but you can tell he's chattering because he'll draw penalties born from frustrating his opponents. I've seen kids butt end him, try and rip off his helmet, take runs, etc. To me, its a part of his game he needs to explore and expand upon. He is prone to fits of bad body language- glaring down a teammate on a bungled pass, slumping shoulders on the bench, etc. I think he could have played up a level- he was major junior ready, as there were times where there was no challenge for him; his Shattuck squad was just a machine this year, so where is the development going to come from when your team is ahead 8-0, ya know? That said, his international experiences at the WJC and U18's should be beneficial."
Stats Link

51. Ottawa 67's - Ladislav Zikmund - Forward
Let the parade of talented, but tiny, offensive forwards continue. Zikmund is only 5'8, but has offensive potential.
Scouting Report:
Stats Link

54. Ottawa 67's - Richard Mraz - Forward
With the 2nd of back to back selections (in terms of the OHL), the 67's go with Mraz, a slightly more mature player than who is usually drafted. This '93 born forward finished 3rd in scoring for team Slovakia at the Under 20's (WJC's) this year, and even saw time in the MHL and KHL this season. He should be able to jump right into the line up, possibly even in the top 6. This selection signals the end of Michal Cajnovsky's time in Ottawa.
Scouting Report: Our anonymous Euro scout says, "Last season(2010/2011) was buried on poor Nitra team in awful U-18 Extraleague where he scored plenty of points without help of his teammate. Also showed flashes of offensive skills on poor Slovakian U-18 national team. This season has taken opportunity to play for new team joining Russian junior League(MHL) when no CHL team has displayed interest and even got opportunity to play in KHL for Lev Poprad at the end of regular season. Still raw and kind of long-term project but one of the best Slovaks at World juniors. Big winger with good hands, creativity and finishing touch. Can beat D off the rush with moves and drives the net a bit. Solid along the boards, competes in battles and finishes some checks. Accurate shot with quick release. Good hockey sense, has offensive instinct. Smooth skater with power in stride, good balance, speed and acceleration. Has made nice improvement since last season. Health is concern, suffered with various problems at the end of the season, underwent surgery in April and probably won´t be ready for the start of the season in September. Will be top six forward on team if healthy and should receive attention from NHL scouts in his third year of draft eligibility."
Stats Link

56. Niagara IceDogs - Ondrej Kopta - Forward
The Dogs go with Kopta, a Czech forward who played in the NAHL this past season (near equivalent to the USHL). The learning curve to North American hockey should obviously be smaller for him.
Scouting Report:
Stats Link

58. London Knights - Nikolai Prokhorkin - Forward
The Knights take advantage of the new protection rules with Imports who become first round picks (Olli Maatta) to select their 3rd Euro. Prokhorkin was a 4th rounder of the LA Kings this year and was one of the top rated Russian players for the Draft (ISS, THN, and FC all had him inside their top 75 prior to the draft). The question now lurking over London is...what happens if Olli Maatta is returned to the Knights? London would then have 3 high profile Imports and could only keep 2 of them on the roster. Would they trade one? Would Zadorov head back to Russia for a season? Would the Kings elect to play Prokhorkin in the AHL? Tons of questions, not many answers right now. It does sound like Prokhorkin is going to try and make Manchester (LA's AHL team), and if he doesn't then the CHL would be the back up plan.
Scouting Report: FC suggests that Prokhorkin is an excellent offensive forward with a real creative side. He's got great size, but isn't one to "consistently get involved in the rough stuff." ISS echoes much of the same sentiments calling Prokhorkin a forward "who is blessed with a ton of natural tools and ability." Both FC and ISS suggest that consistency is an issue and that he needs to up his intensity level. Playing with London will certainly fix that...if he wants to play that is. As a '93, Prokhorkin already has experience playing in the KHL this year and should be able to step into London's line up and pay immediate dividends...if he plays in the OHL.
Stats Link

63. Erie Otters - Artem Kuleshov - Defenseman
With the selection of Dansk and now Kuleshov, I guess that means Sondre Olden will not be returning to Erie as an overager this season. The Otters don't have an Import first round pick, so they don't fall into the rule of being allowed to protect three. Kuleshov is a relatively unknown Russian defenseman, but drafting defense is what this team should be doing.
Scouting Report:

66. Kingston Frontenacs - Henri Ikonen - Forward
Ikonen was a fairly highly regarded prospect for this year's draft, but ended up going undrafted. The talented Finnish forward was ranked 22nd by Central Scouting among European skaters, and was rated just outside the top 100 by ISS, and just inside the Top 100 by FC. He surprisingly went undrafted, so I suppose he's hoping he can pull a Tanner Richard next year.
Scouting Report: HF's Tony Piscotta says, "Ikonen can play either center or wing and is a versatile player." Meanwhile, FC says "Ikonen is a hard working, drive the puck to the net kind of forward." They suggest that he has good hands and excellent work ethic, but lacks in the skill department. It is also suggested that his skating could use improvement. However ISS suggests his skating is fine, and that he is an already defensively responsible forward who can also chip in offensively. Our anonymous Euro scout says, "Up and down winger who competes well at both sides, goes to the net. Well sized winger, thick body, strong along the walls, finishes checks, has grit. Strong on puck, uses his body well to keep opposing player off the puck, takes hits, absorbs checks well. Uses size effectively down below the circle. Won´t beat D with finesse moves or by speed but goes through checks, always involved around the net, not afraid to get his nose dirty. Average puck skills, not much playmaking skills, more of scoring mentality. Quick release of his shot and can bury his chances. Strong on skates and straight speed is okay but lacks more agility, feet are a bit slow and heavy. Okay hands for passing and can control the puck in tight space/along the boards a bit. Probably better suited as third line checker with some scoring touch in OHL( but could see some time on second line and on PP too)." I like what the Fronts have done with their picks in this Import Draft, taking two Finns who should make an impact in the Top 9 and Top 4 respectively. Adding quality depth to the team will be key to getting back to the playoffs this year.
Stats Link

69. Mississauga Steelheads - Andrei Vasilevski - Goaltender
There seemed to be a lot of rumours about Vasilevski coming to play in North America this year, but interestingly enough, most linked him to the QMJHL. When he didn't go in the first round, I kind of figured he wouldn't be going. So needless to say, I was shocked when the Majors, I mean Steelheads took him in the 2nd. It's definitely a great gamble for the team whether he comes over or not. If he comes over, the Mississauga has a terrific goaltender to split time with Spencer Martin. If he doesn't, Martin's still the man. Never a bad move to take an NHL first round pick (To Tampa Bay) and hope he shows up.
Scouting Report: THN calls him a "prototype of the big stopper," and a guy who "combines his size with excellent athleticism." ISS calls him one of the most impressive Russian goaltending prospects in recent memory. They say he "reads, anticipates, reacts to opponents moves very well and has the ability to steal games." However, they also say he can be prone to laziness and can get rattled after bad goals. FC says similar things and applauds his glove hand for being very impressive, and his athleticism and flexibility for a big man. However, they also mention his laziness and sloppy footwork. Our anonymous Euro scout says, "The best goalie prospect from this year NHL draft crop in my eyes(but I haven´t seen Subban though). Great mix of size, athleticism and flexibility. Excellent size, plays well positionally, really big in net, leaves little space in net. Big enough to cover upper part of net when going into butterfly. Calm, patient and composed. Anticipates well. Smooth in his movement around the crease, squares to shootes, doesn´t make wasted moves in net. Could challenge more. Quick legs/pads and strong balance, recovers quickly for second shots. Absorbs shot well into his body, strong rebound control, angles shots to corners. Tough to beat down low with long legs and quick pads, moves well laterally in net. Solid glove hand." I saw a quote on Coming Down the Pipe recently that suggested Vasilevski would cost a team six figures to bring over and that's why he fell so low in the Import Draft. Here's hoping the Steelheads new owner is looking to make a big splash and gets the deal done. With all the talent he's drafted from the OHL in recent years, I'm sure Stevie Y and the Lightning would rather have him in the league than back in Russia.
Stats Link

90. Plymouth Whalers - Simon Karlsson - Defenseman
Taking advantage of the new rule, the Whalers take their third Import player to protect, in Karlsson, a Nashville 5th rounder in 2011. The Ducks just recently signed Rakell to an entry level deal and there is a lot of talk out there suggesting that Anaheim thinks he could be ready to make the jump. If he's not, Karlsson will most definitely be the man on the outside looking in, as Ludvig Bystrom seems to be the much better player. But you never know what can happen. Karlsson saw some limited time in the Swedish second league this year and appears to be a talented player. Maybe the Whalers can parlay him into something good if another OHL team is unhappy with their Import selection.
Scouting Report: Elite Prospects says this about Karlsson. "A very smart defenseman with good hockey sense and solid puck skills. Contributes both ways. Decent mobility."
Stats Link

96. Sarnia Sting - David Nemecek - Defenseman
It seems pretty likely that Nail Yakupov will be suiting up for the Oilers this year, so naturally, the Sting took another player in the draft. However, they retain Yakupov's rights. Nemecek is a big defenseman who played internationally for the Czech's at the Under 17's this year, and based on his penalty totals at the tournament, he seems to be a physical, in your face kind of guy.
Scouting Report: Our anonymous Euro scout says, "Top 4 d on Czech U17 national team, see him as third-pair D in OHL next season. Limited viewing on him, didn´t play in junior Extraleague but only U18 Extraleague. Will need time to adjust, it´s a big step from Czech U18 Extraleague to OHL. Very good size, solid skating mobility for his size, plays physical game, takes body all the time, solid in battles along the boards. Hands/puck skills limited, plays it simply with the puck, not creative puck moving D. Decision making is okay but not smart with puck, would like to see more willingness to skate the puck out of zone."
Stats Link

108. Kitchener Rangers - Juraj Bezuch - Forward
The Rangers take their 3rd protected Import player, in case Radek Faksa cracks the NHL this year. I'd say that's a long shot, so if Faksa is back, the likelihood of Bezuch seeing any time in Kitchener is pretty damn unlikely, since the Rangers still have Tobias Rieder too. Bezuch actually played in the CHL last year, with Lethbridge in the WHL. They released his rights and Kitchener scooped him up.
Scouting Report: Saskatoon Blades colour commentator and FC scout Cody Nickolet had this to say about Bezuch. "He's a pretty decent offensive player. A good skater, good hands and has the ability to play wing, center and also suit up on a powerplay. Doesn't have a ton of grit in his game and that's probably his biggest weakness. Not terribly well rounded, but isn't bad defensively by any stretch."
Stats Link

116. Niagara IceDogs - David Sysala - Forward
With Tom Kuhnhackl and Milan Doudera moving on, the Dogs needed to draft a couple of guys to shore up their Import spots. Sysala is an offensive center who played for the Czech's at the Under 17's this past year.
Scouting Report: Our anonymous European scout says, "His development stalled last season, lost his regular spot on Czech U17 national team. Average size, has some skills and solid hockey sense, has some playmaking skills. Poor skater, will be big hurdle at higher level(even at junior level). Short and ineffective stride, lacks speed/acceleration, slow feet/first steps. While his effort is decent, he is not energy, hardworking guy who is strong in puck pursuit/battles along the boards. Not sure what kind of role he should receive to succeed next season, neither good enough to play on scoring lines nor grinder/checker. It will be positive achievement, if he is in line-up on regular basis next season."

Stats Link

Still waiting on a few more scouting reports, in particular the Russian guys. Will add those when I get them!

That's it folks. Hope you enjoyed the read! Thanks to everyone who contributed and helped out with scouting reports!

No comments: