Monday, July 8, 2013

2013 CHL Import Draft Review

On Wednesday, July 3, the Canadian Hockey League held its annual Import Draft. It is here, CHL teams get the opportunity to add import talent to their roster. There are two rounds of the draft, and a team can pass on their pick at any time. This year marked the first year that Import picks could not be traded. It also was the last year that goalies could be taken in the first round.

Just to remind you, CHL clubs are permitted to carry only two import players on their team or protected list every year. However, if a CHL team has an Import who was an NHL first round pick (such as London with Nikita Zadorov), they receive the opportunity to add another player to their protected list to cover should that first round import (like Zadorov) 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 three 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%)

In 2012
22 of 27 players selected came to the OHL (81%)
17 of 27 players selected lasted the entire OHL season with their clubs (63%)
9 (open for debate) of the 20 players had a significant impact on their OHL teams (33%)

Looking at these results, the Import Draft has become very significant for the OHL. Over the past three seasons, the league has added over 29 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. The truth lies in last year's results, which were definitely less impressive than 2011 or 2010. Is this year's Import Draft a good one? Let's examine some of the selections with the help of some foreign hockey experts.

Of course this article wouldn't have been possible without the help of these experts.

Sean LaFortune was able to give his reflections on some of these players based on what he saw at this year's Under 17's, and from what he was able to gather from various contacts. He's the man behind and is also a scout for McKeen's Hockey. He's always quick to lend a helping hand with this blog and is a must follow on twitter (@SeanLafortune) for ANY junior hockey enthusiast.

Rafik Soliman is a writer for HockeysFuture and a scout for McKeen's and he's helped out with this review many times over the years. He knows his stuff.

Chapin Landvogt is also a writer for HockeysFuture, in addition to being a scout for Future Considerations. Give him a follow on twitter (@Csomichapin).

Alessandro Seren Rosso is a writer for practically everyone! He writes for HockeysFuture, but also scouts for McKeens and a variety of other sources. He is truly a Russian hockey expert. Follow him on twitter. (@AlexSerenRosso)

And of course our two anonymous experts (who choose to remain that way for various reasons). Without their help, these articles wouldn't be possible year after year. 

2. Ottawa 67's - Alex Lintuniemi - Defense
The 67's kick off the draft from an OHL perspective by selecting this Finnish defender, whose late birthday makes him eligible for the 2014 draft (Sept '95). As such he suited up for Finland at the Under 18's. Ottawa is currently rebuilding and will look to Lintuniemi to play a significant role on their team this year...and into the future. The 67's don't have a ton of talent on the backend, so it was a smart choice for them to look there with this selection.
Scouting Report: Courtesy a Finnish hockey enthusiast (as he chooses to be called), "A big all-around defenseman. Far from a finished product, but has pretty good upside. Skating looks a bit lumbering and he needs to work on his lateral and backward movement. Uses his reach and stick quite effectively to harass opponents, but occasionally gets too easily beaten one-on-one. Took noticeable strides in his development this past season, gained poise with the puck and became steadier defensively. Was a 1st pairing defeseman for Finland at the U18 World Championship's. Has the potential to go in the first three rounds of the 2014 NHL Draft if his development continues on a good path. Should eventually do quite well in the OHL, provided he adapts off the ice."

5. Erie Otters - Andre Burakovsky - Forward
Again, it's the Otters making a huge splash by selecting NHL first round pick (of WSH) Andre Burakovsky. He played for Sweden at the Under 18's, and with Malmo of the Allsvenskan (Swedish 2nd division). Since he's got a year under his belt playing against men (former Sarnia forward Ludvig Rensfeldt was a teammate this year), the expectations would be great on him. The question is will he report? He'd obviously look terrific on the wing with Connor McDavid. However the latest updates aren't good, as his agent has suggested that he's staying in Sweden this year and not coming to North America.
Scouting Report: The Hockey News had Burakovsky as their 17th rated player for the 2013 draft. "When he's on, Burakovsky can change the pace of a game and create space for himself thanks to his speed," says THN. Future Considerations had Burakovsky rated 25th and had the following things to say about him: "He is a fleet-footed offensive minded winger who has superb agility, first step acceleration and straight line speed. He possesses good, quick hands and can make some creative dekes to gain the zone or beat a defender to the net. He also has the size and hand skills to protect the puck in traffic and retain control while moving into a scoring position. He is most effective when he plays with an edge and drives to the net or into puck battles with abandon, showing no fear and using his skill and developing strength once there to create. Burakovsky does not show too much defensive sense or interest in that zone and his effort level wains from time to time and his biggest weakness is a lack of consistency." Sean Lafortune says, "The Washington Capitals first round draft pick is a gifted offensive winger with soft hands and dynamic puck skills. He's shifty in possession, has excellent one on one skills and an ability to break down plays quickly. Hes a skillful shooter with heavy shot and quick release. The expectations are the Burakovsky will team with McDavid and Toronto Maple Leafs pick Connor Brown to have one of the more lethal first lines in the Western Conference. As part of the selection, don't be shocked if the Capitals sign Burakovsky and assign him to Erie after training camp. The biggest question will be either Burakovsky will be a one and done player in Erie or play two years." Our anonymous Euro scout says, "Highly skilled and instinctive, always dangerous with the puck. However he was frustrating to watch last season with often selfish and individualistic plays despite of his vision, playmaking abilities and saucer passes. Excellent, very soft and quick hands, strong in close to the net. Patient and can bury his chances. Dynamic stick skills, can dangle with the puck, slick in tight. Can beat D both off the rush and in tight with highlight moves. Not very physical or strong in battles but plays in corners, takes hits. Shifty and agile skater." If he can iron out those consistency and effort issues, he sounds like a guy who could really help Erie next year, should he report.

8. Peterborough Petes - Matej Paulovic - Forward
The Petes grab a Slovakian forward who has actually been playing his junior hockey in the Farjestad system of Sweden. He was also a 5th round pick of the Dallas Stars at this year's entry draft. With good size at 6'3, he could be a nice add to the Peterborough forward ranks.
Scouting Report: Our anonymous Euro scout says, "For me a really mind-boggling selection in NHL draft, don´t see NHL upside in his game at all. Big and strong hard-working center, plays hard every shift. Very responsible defensively and hustles all the time at both sides, has character and gives strong effort. Competes hard in high traffic area and in corner, finishes some checks. Choppy skater, lacks smooth effective stride, always skates hard but little speed, acceleration. He needs to improve agility, foot speed. Offensive skills only modest. Okay hands for passing in transition but not smooth with puck both off the rush and in tight. Doesn´t possess much offensive upside, not a creative and/or instinctive center."

11. Windsor Spitfires - Jacob De La Rose - Forward
No Vladimir Ionin repeats this year. The Spits go for the homerun pick, taking the Habs 2nd rounder (34th) in hopes that he'll report. He played for both Sweden at the Under 18's and the U-20's this year, captaining the U-18 squad. He also played in the Allsvenskan (Leksand) so he has experience against men. Needless to say, adding him would be a coup. There are reports suggesting he wants to report but, he also has a contract to play in Leksand again next year. But I just can't see Rychel messing up another Import selection. Something tells me he's been in pretty serious talks with JDLR and his agent and they'll make something happen.
Scouting Report: The Hockey News had De la Rose ranked 29th for the draft and had this to say about him; "De la Rose is a big crash-and-banger." They add (from a scout), "He works in the trenches and plays don't die with him. He's a big strong guy." Meanwhile, Future Considerations had him ranked 53rd. They said, "De la Rose is a powerful two-way winger with good grit. He has a strong smooth stride that generates good power and balance as well as some decent top speed. He has decent hands that allow him to handle the puck but is not one to weave and deke his way through traffic, opting to keep things simple. He has a good shot that has some oomph behind it and similarly throws his weight around and dives into puck battles where his strength allows him to win the majority. De la Rose can lay some devastating body checks and is defensively responsible. Not a lot of offensive sense or anticipation, but he is serviceable at doing the dirty work and being a complementary winger for a skilled centre." Sean Lafortune says, "A gritty, versatile two way forward. Hard to knock off the puck due to solid balance and a wide stance. Welcomes physical play, will act as a torpedo on the forecheck, engaging defenders and causing issues. Thrives on the boards, battles tenaciously to win battles and get pucks to open ice. Has the ability to play all three forward positions, but is better served on the wing where he can utilize his size and strength. Not a pure skater, he does win foot races out of determination. If he can get out of his commitment with Leksand, and its starting to sound that its a possibility, then he has the opportunity to be a top 6 forward with the Spitfires, doing the dirty work for his teammates." Meanwhile, our anonymous Euro scout says, "Big and strong winger is not pretty but powerful skater. Has power in stride, solid acceleration, well balanced on skates. Strong along the walls,goes through checks, uses size to win battles along the boards. Lacks top skills, decent vision and hockey sense but hands/puck skills average, not really instinctive offensively. Lacks ability to beat D with finesses 1 on 1 both off the rush and in tight. Strong on puck and drives the net hard, strong presence in front of net. Hardworking, plays with passion and determination, plenty of character. I´m not a big fan as his offensive upside is limited in my opinion, bottom six potential at NHL level IMO." Sounds like a good guy for Josh Ho-Sang to play with, should he report.

14. Mississauga Steelheads - Artem Rasulov - Forward
The Steelheads opt for a more obscure Russian forward. Rasulov played in a low Russian league (below the MHL), and did not suit up for Russia internationally. He was drafted 14th overall by AK Bars Kazan in this year's KHL draft though, which suggests that he might be a diamond in the rough.
Scouting Report: Alessandro Seren Rosso says, "His agent is Igor Larionov so you can imagine he is very determined in succeeding in the CHL next year. Has a good nose for the net, should be bigger and play bigger. Good potential, I am sure he can do well in the O." We also have this quote from Steelheads frontman James Boyd. Boyd describes Artem as "a skilled player who plays a North American style of game."

20. Windsor Spitfires - Nikita Yazkov - Forward
With their 2nd Import selection, the Spits go for a young Russian forward who was among the leading scorers for Russia at this year's World Under 17 Challenge. He also played in the MHL and was a first round pick in the KHL draft. With JDLR and Yazkov, the Spits are looking to add more depth and skill to their forward group.
Scouting Report: Sean Lafortune says, "A right handed winger who dazzled at the recent U17 tournament in Quebec. A slick, offensively gifted forward. Lethal in possession, effortlessly draws the puck in close to his body and wiring off a searing wrister or snapshot. A talented all around skater with slick edgework and a high pace in possession. Slips by checkers with head fakes and slick one on one moves. Will need to continue to get stronger, but the offensive potential is outstanding. The positive for Spitfires fans is that, according to his agent, Yazkov is 100 percent committed to playing in Windsor next year, and will be another key addition to the Spitfires top 6 forward core. If both Yazkov and De La Rose end up in Windsor, that's a big win." Our anonymous Euro scout says, "Highly talented, excellent skills and tools but a has holes in his game, can be invisible for longer periods, character and heart is ?. Excellent skater with smooth stride, speed, quick burst of speed. Smooth with puck, soft hands, long reach. Tough to handle down low, shifty, skilled. Tall, lanky body. Strong stickhandler, dangerous 1 on 1, can beat D with finesse moves. Has playmaking skills, patient with the puck, sees the ice well." Alessandro Seren Rosso says, "fast player with fast hands, great skating with excellent offensive instincts, not aggressive. Definitely must get bigger if he wants to be drafted."

23. Kitchener Rangers - Dmitry Sergeyev - Defense
The Rangers (on the same day that it was announced Steve Spott was leaving the team for the AHL), opted for a physical Russian defender to make their blueline a little harder to play against. He was a member of team Russia at this year's World Under 17 Hockey Challenge.
Scouting Report: Sean Lafortune says, "A strong, shut down defender who left an impression at the U17 tournament. On a team filled with offensively dynamic forwards, Sergeyev stood out as a hard nosed, aggressive defender. A patient, positional defender who plays hard minutes. Not flashy, efficient and poised. Possesses a good, stable stride, however can work on speed, most notably in transition. Handles the puck with poise and precision, though misses some creativity and imagination. Stickhandling is on the stiff size, however he seems to have confidence in his ability." Alessandro Seren Rosso says, "He is a defensive dmen, plays physically, but will hard to take his style to NA, especially with his lack of size."

26. Guelph Storm - Phil Baltisberger - Defense
With Andrey Pedan, Brock Beukeboom, and Saverio Posa graduating, the Storm opted to try and shore up their blueline with their first of two Import selections. Baltisberger is a late birthday '95 (making him NHL eligible in 2014) who captained the Swiss team at the Under 18's and also played for Switzerland at the U-20's. He also played in the NLB (Swiss 2nd league), a league in which (ironically enough) former Storm forward Brent Kelly was among the leading scorers.
Scouting Report: Sean Lafortune says, "Big, aggressive defender who knows how to use his size. A physical defender, aggressive. Sustains solid gap control, closes down space exploiting an impressive wingspan. Ratchets up the physical intensity, will make opposition forwards pay a price in puck battles. Competes for pucks, blocks shots and makes life easy for his goaltenders. Militantly protects the crease, boxes out and creates sightlines. Not a natural puck handler or powerplay quarterback, but packs a hard, heavy shot that is effective on the powerplay. Makes a decent first pass, but not a pure puck mover, hands are stiff and robotic. Should be a top four defender at the OHL level, one who will add intensity and physicality to a defensive core that will be losing Andrei Pedan and Brock Beukeboom." Our anonymous Euro scout says, "Decent in many areas but doesn´t excel in anything. Solid and steady defensively, plays well positionally, good d-zone awareness. Not a big bruiser but ties forwards up along the boards and competes in front of net. Not great skater, feet a bit heavy, needs to work on turning, foot speed. Not creative with puck but solid decision making in moving the puck out of zone, has some passing skills/vision. Not quick enough skater to be able skate the puck out of zone under pressure or create separation. Good decision on pinching, knows when to go deep to keep the zone and when to stay back." Rafik Soliman says, "Already a veteran of two under-20 WJC and two complete National League B-season with the GCK Lions, where he made his debut at the age of 15 and starting to playing against men. Phil is a two-way defenseman, a solid skater and possesses a booming shot, which makes him a valuable option of the Power Play. Thanks to his strength he has no problems to handle big and strong forwards and is able to log big minutes. Baltisberger has still not confirmed that he is going to play in Guelph for the Storm the coming season, but according to GM Mike Kelly he will."

29. Sarnia Sting - Vladislav Kodola - Forward
Last year the Sting selected a relatively unknown Russian forward who turned out to be dynamite (Goldobin). This year, they do the same with hopefully the same results. Kodola is a smaller forward from Belarus, who was also selected in the 2nd round of the KHL draft this year.
Scouting Report: Sean Lafortune says, "The late birthdate 96 comes to Sarnia from Severstal Cherepovets on recommendation of Super agent Igor Larionov. I personally haven't seen Kodola play, however after contacting others who have, Kodola is described as a 'dynamic, high pace forward with incredibly soft hands. Hes a one dimensional offensive player at this point, but one who has the tools to be a star at the OHL level'. With Sarnia losing Charles Sarault, Reid Boucher and other offensive parts, they will be starved for offense past returning import forward Nikolay Goldobin, if Vladislav Kodola comes as advertised, he certainly will help what is bound to be a team starved for offense." Alessandro Seren Rosso says, "Good, interesting forward with good hands, but once again he is rather small. He is a very good dispatcher and has good leadership abilities."
STATS LINK (if you could call it that)

32. North Bay Battalion - Alexander Henriksson - Forward
With Patric Machac and Matej Machovsky both departing, the Battalion had two Import selections to make today. The first of which was Swedish forward Henriksson, who was passed over at this year's NHL Draft (surprisingly so). He was rated 24th among European players by NHL Central Scouting. Like Peterborough pick Paulovic, Henriksson played in the Farjestad junior system this season. He also suited up for Sweden at the Under 18's (where he went goalless).
Scouting Report: Future Considerations had Henriksson ranked 189th for the draft and had this to say about him. "Henriksson is a big body who skates well for his size but lacks the offensive creativity or skills to be an impactful player at both ends of the ice. He does have some two-way power winger upside though, as he is capable of doing the heavy lifting in front of the net." Our anonymous Euro scout says, "Good straight speed, thrives in open using his speed and acceleration, enough skills to handle the puck in speed, can beat D wide 1 on 1 off the rush. Tends to skate with head down though, vision limited as well as creativity. Less effective in traffic as his hands/stick skills are not that quick and soft controlling the puck. Has some scoring touch/instinct down low and has has hard shot with quick release. Big body, uses it well to protects the puck and win some battles in corner. Goes straight to net with and without the puck. Needs to improve lateral agility and first steps quickness." Henriksson could certainly end up being the type of player Stan Butler can get the best out of.

35. Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds - Jorgen Karterud - Forward
All hail Norway. The Hounds pick up a large Norwegian forward (Karterud) in order to fill the shoes of Michael Schumacher next season. Karterud is a '94 who has seen time with the Norwegian Under 18 and Under 20 programs. He's also been playing against men in the top Norwegian league. Hopefully he's a guy who can step in and provide scoring depth in the Soo.
Scouting Report: Chapin Landvogt says, "Jorgen Karterud is someone I've worked with personally, if even only for a few weeks several years ago. He's tall and gangly, but could really be a nice player if he ever puts some man weight on. It won't come now though. He'll need time. Still, he's athletic and talented. He has strong hockey sense. His hands can be butter. He can be smooth. Sometimes it seems like the puck is too heavy for him, but he can snipe and his arm and stick range makes him a very good pokechecker on the forecheck. Also, he has strong hand-eye coordination. He can pick things out of the air and he tends to read the play real well. For me, he looks like a Norwegian who has had lots of success in the national team, Anders Bastiansen. North Americans don't tend to know him. Now, despite all these cool attributes, and the fact that he just spent a season playing against men, he can be seperated from the puck. He also takes more hooking and hacking penalties than are necessary, but that's for a lack of body strength. Still, put up against good peers, I think he'll turn out to be very much like Oliver Bjorkstrand with respect to his impact. Maybe I'm going out on a limb, but I think he can surprise. He wasn't the ONE Norwegian playing in Norway listed by CSS for the NHL draft for nothing."

38. Guelph Storm - Pius Suter - Forward
Many people (myself included) thought that the Storm would draft a goaltender today, but instead their second Import selection is a smaller Swiss forward. Suter played for Switzerland as an underager this year at the Under 18's, even leading the team with 3 goals. He appears to be a potentially talented goal scorer who can help the Storm's offense.
Scouting Report: Sean Lafortune says, "Skilled forward who is expected to jump into the Storm's top 6 forward core. Another player that I have yet to see in person, but reached out to a contact for more information. Described as a slick puck handler and lively skater who generates an explosive burst and keeps gaining speed while accelerating. Slippery in traffic, bolstered by solid in close puck stickhandling. Gets lost in one on one strength battles and needs to show greater urgency when driving the net." Rafik Soliman says, "Pius Suter is a center who plays a responsible two-way game. Suter was an underager and one of the younger players in the under-20 Roster of the GCK Lions’ youth team. He played a bottom-six role and celebrated the Junior Elite A-Championship. Suter is a smart forward with decent finishing qualities. His Face-off play need some work and he may be better suited on the wing if he’s not able to improve his play at the draw. The Situation is the same, like with Phil Baltisberger where nothing is confirmed, other than GM Mike Kelly’s quote. Suter was looking at his first season in the National League B with the GCK Lions."

41. Plymouth Whalers - Victor Crus-Rydberg - Forward
In order to help fill the shoes of many of Plymouth's departing core forwards, Plymouth selected Swedish forward Victor Crus-Rydberg, a 5th rounder of the Islanders this year. He played for Sweden at the Under 18's and should be able to come in and play in the Whalers' top six.
Scouting Report: THN had Crus-Rydberg rated 91st for the draft and said, "He's a sniper with a killer wrister who has also been a solid set-up man." Meanwhile, FC had him ranked 118th. They said, "Crus-Rydberg is a skilled centre with strong potential. He has good feet, impressive straight-line speed levels and explosive acceleration off the hop.He has good passing skills because of his solid vision, creative hands and poise with the puck. He even plays the game with defensive awareness, displaying an active stick to pick-pocket in the neutral zone, and a willingness to play the body, however not with full effort, each and every game.His biggest need is to work on his consistency as he has one game where he looks very impressive and then the next three where he hardly makes any impact at all." Sean Lafortune says, "A forward who can do many things well. Smart puck manager with poise and play making vision. Creative passer and shooter, patient in possession, allows plays to develop. A responsible player, steadily maturing as a checker. Coordination and balance continue to fill in, a bit heavy footed but has improved his start ups. Still maturing as a finisher, will bear down on opportunities but will rush delivery. Was projected as a top 60 pick in this year's NHL Draft at one point, but fell to the 5th round due to some consistency issues. A good 'buy low' candidate for Plymouth, who has had some mixed success in Sweden in the past few years." Our anonymous Euro scout says, "Average size but plays slightly bigger than his size,aggressive, a bit physical and plays in traffic. Decent skills with solid hockey sense. Not very creative though but some scoring mentality, gets open in scoring areas." With the Whaler's top three centers all leaving, it seems natural to assume that Crus-Rydberg will look to center the 1st or 2nd line.

44. Oshawa Generals - Jimi Kuronen - Defense
With their first powerplay unit (Petgrave and Schemitsch) graduating, the Generals are going to need someone to generate offense from the back-end. They'll look to undersized Finnish defenseman Kuronen for that. Kuronen is a '95 who was passed over at this year's entry draft (wasn't even ranked by NHL Central Scouting). He did, however, play for Finland at the Under 18's.
Scouting Report: Sean Lafortune says, "Undrafted defender who has represented Finland internationally numerous times. Safe, skilled defender with good positional sense. Plays a solid positional game, supports the puck and teammates as well. Distributes the puck effectively on the powerplay, moves the puck sensibly while finding ways to get the puck on net. Good but not great skater, can upgrade his agility and overall quickness. Responsible and assertive, however could elevate his physical intensity in certain situations. With the loss of Geoffrey Schemitsch and Matt Petgrave, opportunities will be there for players like Kuronen to see ice right away. Depending how he adjust to the league, may be a good pair for rookie Mitchell Vande Sompel." Also, a Finnish hockey enthusiast (as he chooses to be called) says, "Somewhat smallish for a defenseman and has only average mobility. As a result, dealing with some of the defensive responsibilities might become quite challenging for him in the OHL. Possesses some puck moving capabilities, is a decent passer and can be used as a point man on the power play. Has absolutely no NHL upside and likely won't make too much noise in the OHL either." Chapin Landvogt says, "Kuronen is a tough kid. He plays and honest game and will try to make opponents pay the price in the corners and in front of the goal, whether he's successful or not. He has a decent breakout pass and can toss the puck around with his defensive partner very well. He's definitely a shotblocker as well. Throws himself in front of lots of shots. There's not much going forward, but he could end up being a bit of a Jan Kostalek this year, who you are probably familiar with. Very humble, quiet, straight-forward kid. He has decent size and he'll bring a meat and potatoes game with him. Should be a nice fit in the OHL."

47. Barrie Colts - Daniel Gibl - Goaltender
The Colts were the only ones who looked to "anger" Hockey Canada by selecting a European goaltender this year. With a need to replace Niederberger, Barrie took Slovakian netminder Daniel Gibl. He was overlooked at this year's entry draft (is a '95), and was only the back-up for Slovakia at this year's Under 18's. Hopefully there is more than meets the eye here.
Scouting Report: Sean Lafortune says, "Well sized goaltender who plays aggressively. Plays a calm, stay at home style, relying on his solid net coverage and above average fundamentals. Key to his game is staying up, being patient with shooters. Not as quick moving laterally from his pads, which leaves him vulnerable when he goes down early. Reads the plays fairly well, stays square to the puck. Can get caught too deep as plays approach, needs to remain aggressive as the play comes to him. With the graduation of Import Mathias Niederberger leaves a big gap between the pipes. Alex Fotinos has not progresses as hoped, and the hope is that Gibl will at the very least push him for the starters job, if not win it outright."

50. Owen Sound Attack - Damir Sharipzyanov - Defense
The Attack have lost Cutting, Ceci, and Chiarlitti from last year's team, which means they'll have big holes to fill on defense. Seems only natural that they use their Import selection on a Russian defenseman who played this year in the MHL.
Scouting Report: Alessandro Seren Rosso says, "He is a defense-first dman, hails from the same hockey school as Nail Yakupov. In the latest year he matured a lot, also physically, can play tough and won't get many penalties. Has a good shot. Interesting prospect for junior hockey." We also have the following quote from Dale Degray (found here), “That’s a top junior league and he was playing 20 minutes a game as a 16 year old,” Attack general manager Dale DeGray said Wednesday. “He’s one of those all-round guys and when I think of players like that, I think of a guy like (former Attack captain) David Kolomatis. I’m not saying he’s going to be another David Kolomatis but he’s got the ability to join the play and also play sound defence.”

56. Belleville Bulls - David Tomasek - Forward
Taken from the same program as Steelheads forwards Sam Babintsev was last year (Oakland Jr. Grizzlies), Tomasek is a average sized forward from the Czech Republic. Like Babinstev last year, Tomasek has been in North America for a few years. And while Babintsev wasn't an impact player, he did play decently in a checking line role and lasted the entire year.
Scouting Report: Our anonymous Euro scout says, "Tomasek is Czech who spent last three season in USA playing for Oakland Grizzlies(there is Czech coach Petr Jonak who is highly regarded by some people in Czech). I had heard that Tomasek was the top forward in his birth year in Czech before leaving for USA. But I have never seen him play, so I can't officially comment." While I realize that isn't exactly a scouting report, it is interesting none the less so I decided to include it.

59. London Knights - Alex Rasner - Defense
The first of two "back-up" selections by London, due to the fact that they get to keep two Euro's on a protected list since their two current Euro's (Maatta and Zadorov) are NHL first round picks. So Rasner will not see OHL ice this year unless Maatta and/or Zadorov make their respective NHL rosters. Regardless, he appears to be an average sized defenseman with offensive capabilities.
Scouting Report: Our anonymous Euro scout says, "Played mostly junior Extraleague as double underager last season and even got the chance to play for Olomouc elite team in second highest Czech league. Not tall but well built, stocky, strong on skates. Can skate with the puck, likes to leads the rush but tends to do it with head down too many times. Needs to work on foot speed, turning, lateral agility. Has solid puck skills/hands and likes to support offence. Not poised and smart under pressure, makes bonehead plays/decision making moving the puck in own zone. Needs to work on his shot but not afraid to handle the puck at the point and goes on pinching deep into zone. Gets involved physically a bit, can hit and solid in battles along the boards. Needs to work on defensive reading though and not committed to play defense every shift."

62. Ottawa 67's - Adrian Sloboda - Defense
The 67's continue to address their defensive shortcomings by adding Sloboda, a young Slovakian defenseman, to the fold. Sloboda played internationally for Slovakia twice this year, at the Under 17's and the Under 18's (as an underager). Like Lintuniemi, he's someone they can hopefully build around.
Scouting Report: Sean Lafortune says, "Touted as one of the best 96 aged defenders in Slovakia. Has represented the country countless times internationally, specifically in the past two World Under 17 Challenges. A Smart, competitive defender who has deceiving strength. Impacts the game in the defensive zone, understands his role and plays to it. Stays square, sustains gaps and keeps an active stick. Keen hockey sense, reads plays and reacts quickly. Misses some lateral agility and north to south speed, can get caught in pivots and turns. Not a puck mover, simple is best. With the maturation and graduation of Michal Cajkovsky and moving both Jake Cardwell and Cody Ceci last year, the 67's have identified the defence core as an area to improve, with the addition of Sloboda, Alex Lintuniemi and 2013 OHL Draft pick Troy Henley, the talent and skill level certainly has been increased." Our anonymous Euro scout says, "Once promising D, his development stalled last season, his game has regressed since previous season. Average size for D and looks developed physically, doesn´t look like someone who could still grow up much. Lost his skating mobility(after adding more muscles) looking a bit heavy on skates lacking more explosive first steps and acceleration, not quick enough to create separation when forechecked in own zone. Agility and backwards above average. Not mean or hard hitting but solid containing forwards in corner/along the boards, tights forward up and plays a bit aggressive game. Needs to play the same way in front of net and clear the crease better. Solid vision, passes are firm and can move the puck out of zone but not very creative or instinctive in offensive zone. Shot is not hard and hasn´t showed enough ability to run PP yet. Still has some potential but was very disappointing last season."

71. Niagara IceDogs - Alexander Mikulovich - Defense
Looking to add a little toughness and depth to their blueline, the Dogs go with Mikulovich, a good sized Russian defender who played at this year's Under 17's.
Scouting Report: Sean Lafortune says, "A mean, aggressive defender who has represented Russia Internationally. A member of Russia's entry at the Youth Olympic Games and more recently at the World U17 Challenge in Quebec. Imposing defender, knows how to use his size and reach. A powerful aggressor, imposes his will down low, grinds down and suffocates the cycle. Has a surprisingly strong skating stride, can struggle with lateral mobility and his startups, but moves well north to south. Defending angles and gap control can still be raw in some parts. He can chase hits, gets flat footed when making a poor read. Could partner with fellow 96 born defender Aaron Haydon to be a true shutdown pair by the time they mature." Alessandro Seren Rosso says, "probably the top Russian 96-born defensive prospect, great skating, good size, it was incredible that was picked up in the second round as he is better than I'd say 95% of drafted players in the import draft. Niagara with the steal of the draft with him and Protapovich."

80. Niagara IceDogs - Alexander Protapovich - Forward
With their second Import selection, the Dogs try to add some scoring depth up front with Protapovich, who played on the same second division MHL team as Steelheads selection Artem Rasulov. Protapovich was also the 6th overall pick of this year's KHL draft, which is definitely interesting.
Scouting Report: Our anonymous Euro scout says, "Plenty of skills and tools, has size, skills, skating ability. Lanky, needs to gain strength but still protects the puck fairly well. Smooth controling the puck in full speed, good hands, smooth puckhandler. Good passing touch and decision making with the puck, anticipates well. Keeps moving his feet and goes to the net straight without the puck, plays in high traffic. Competes and plays with intensity, aggressive, finishes checks occasionally, good effort on puck pursuit. Shot is weakness, neither hard nor quick release." Alessandro Seren Rosso says, "good playmaking center, once again how can he survive 80 picks is a mystery. He can play both center and winger, but usually plays center. He's not too big, but has great offensive instincts, soft hands and good skating. Niagara drafted (recruited?) very well."

92. North Bay Battalion - Vincent Praplan - Forward
The Battalion take another forward with their 2nd Import pick, this time a slightly older Swiss forward. Praplan led the Elite Jr. A league in scoring this year as a '94. This was the same league that Maple Leafs draft pick (and fellow Import draft selection) Fabrice Herzog played in. Should be a good bet to contribute on one of North Bay's top three lines.
Scouting Report: Our anonymous Euro scout says, "Effortless skater with speed, acceleration, smooth stride. Can beat D wide to get the zone. Good feet and agility. Fairly quick and soft hands, smooth handling the puck in top speed. Solid thought process both with and without the the puck. Not great physical presence but plays with intensity, backchecks hard to get the puck and tenacious and quick on forecheck. Won´t have same impact as, for example Tanner Richard, but should be at least solid third liner there with chance to be top six forward there(I don´t know how deep and strong the team is offensively)." Rafi Soliman says, "Vincent Praplan led the Swiss Junior Elite A-League in both Goals scored and Points in both the Regular Season and the Playoffs. Praplan is an offensive forward with soft hands and a nose for the net. At the age of 15 Praplan was a teammate of Canadiens-Draft choice and French-native Tim Bozon and the jury was out on who was the better player. Bozon made the jump to Northamerica and made a lot more progress, than Praplan who was toiling around in the Swiss Junior League. Praplan is not known for his physical play and it will be interesting to see if he’s able to adjust to the tougher play in the OHL. Due to an injury in the last exhibition game before the WJC, Praplan missed the tournament." Sounds like Praplan could be another Stan Butler type of player and that the Battalion might have done well to add two solid offensive pieces to their lineup via the import draft this year.

107. Barrie Colts - Adrian Kempe - Forward
A very interesting selection by the Colts towards the end of the draft. Kempe is a highly sought after forward from Sweden who is currently considered a first round talent for the 2014 NHL Draft. He has size and goal scoring ability, all of which were on display at this year's Under 17's. He can stay in the Modo program at home in Sweden, or he can come to North America. Seems like the later is a longshot at this point, although his brother Mario did play two years in the QMJHL (which resulted in him being drafted into the NHL). 
Scouting Report: Future Considerations currently has Kempe rated 22nd for the 2014 draft, saying "Kempe is  power forward that blends size, power and work ethic." They continue, "he plays physical as he finishes his checks and has the ability to both make a move around or just drive through defenders. He has a good stride that is both balanced and strong, generating decent speed. He also plays the game to win, blocking shots and working hard in his own zone…a true battler." Sean Lafortune says, "Kempe is projected to be among the top players selected for the 2014 NHL Draft. Has represented Sweden internationally at the recent World U17 Challenge and is expected to be an offensive leader for them in the upcoming Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament in August. An agile skater, soft hands with good one touch skills. Brings a rich offensive skillset, can dangle in one on one situations and be an offensive threat whenever he touches the ice. Strong, compact skater with smooth footwork and acceleration. Not the toughest player, but has the ability to elevate others. Arguably among the ten most skilled players selected, however its extremely doubtful that he comes over for the 2013 OHL season, given the new Swedish rules regarding U18 participation and his interest in playing with Modo next year. That said, there may be a greater opportunity for him to come over next year if he is a top 30 pick at the 2014 NHL Draft, which makes the selection an intelligent one. At that stage of the draft, it's rare to get an impact player, so taken an educated gamble was a smart move for the Colts, and one that may pay off next year." Our anonymous Euro scout says, "Excellent size, big, strong, goes through checks. Beats D wide and drives the net. Possible power winger. Good hands for big kid even doesn´t beat D with finesse moves but controls the puck well both in speed and in tight and can make saucer passes. Excellent speed, accelerates quickly. Gets involved physically, finishes checks, strong along the walls, intense, works hard. Lacks elite hockey sense but still above average. Has a bit of playmaking skills too. Interesting prospects to watch next season." Kempe sounds like a real coup for Barrie should he come over. He could be a real replacement for Mark Scheifele.

113. Plymouth Whalers - Yannick Rathgeb - Defense
Interestingly enough, Rathgeb is listed as both a forward and defender on several websites, so it remains to be seen which he'll play for Plymouth. Either way, he's a late birthday '95 who played for Switzerland at the Under 18's this year and should provide depth to the Whalers.
Scouting Report: Our anonymous Euro scout says, "Saw him only once, had really bad luck with him, saw Swiss U18 four times but played only once. Solid mobility in all four directions. Has puck skills and vision. Heavy shot. Competitive and while not rugged and physical, not afraid of contact." Rafik Soliman says, "A versatile Player, who is able to play Defenseman and Forward. Yannick Rathgeb displays solid offensive instincts. What started as a project, where he played the point on the Power Play, has become normal while he was playing with the Junior Elite A-Team of the SCL Tigers and he changed positions even during a game. Thanks to his flexibility Rathgeb plays a solid two-way game, but has the danger to play to offensive minded when he’s back, or to passive when he’s forward. Rathgeb has already confirmed, that he will play in Plymouth next season."

118. London Knights - Tim Bender - Defense
Another "back-up" selection by London, Bender is a German defender who has suited up for Team Germany at the last two Under 18's. He was rated 108th by NHL Central Scouting this year but was not selected. Interestingly enough, he was also drafted in the USHL draft this year, which suggests he's very eager to come to North America. Just likely won't be with London.
Scouting Report: Sean Lafortune says, "Bender is one of the top 95's in Germany, having represented the country internationally on multiple occasions. Was rated as the top German available on their final 2013 NHL Draft list, but was not selected. A calm, methodical puck mover with understated skills and awareness. Anticipates the game well, makes a strong first pass. Not a flashy skater, but possesses efficient mechanics, gets to where he needs to be without much issue. Strength and aggression where areas to manage last year, as he struggled in limited viewing with his physical intensity. At this point I would be shocked if we see him in the OHL, given that the Knights are expecting Olli Maatta and Nikita Zadarov back next year." Chapin Landvogt says, "For Bender, we're talking about a young man who is willing to work and follow instructions, but truly fancies himself an offensive Dman. He's been playing on a dominating team for several years, so he hasn't had to pay attention to defense - and this showed internationally. He doesn't keep his feet moving and he loves going forwards, but not necessarily working backwards. He has a strong breakout pass and some good movement with the puck, although I wouldn't call him a puck rusher per say. He pinches on the blueline and loves to move around like a forward in the offensive zone. He has a heavy shot from the point, but also likes to fake it and dish off a sleek pass. Still, he has problems getting back and his partner is going to face a number of odd man rushes. He's also not terribly physically developed. He IS athletic, but will need to be adding weight in the years to come. This said, he does wish to come to North America and he seems to think that the NHL is an option for him one day, so I'm assuming that he'll be going over this summer and will work his tail off. He'll need an adjustment period though."

1 comment:

Terri said...

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