Tuesday, July 12, 2016

2016 CHL Import Draft Review

On Tuesday, June 28, 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. Import picks can not be traded. Goalies are not allowed to be selected.

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 Olli Juolevi), they receive the opportunity to add another player to their protected list to cover should that first round import (like Juolevi) make the NHL. There are other scenarios which can allow you to carry the rights of three (such as having an OA Import, having an Import on their protected list who didn't show the year prior, etc). Overall, it's pretty complicated.

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 five Import Drafts.

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%)

In 2013
22 of 25 players selected came to the OHL (88%)
20 of 25 players selected lasted the entire OHL season with their clubs (80%)
7 (open for debate) of the 25 players had a significant impact on their OHL teams (28%)

In 2014
19 of 25 players selected came to the OHL (76%)
18 of 25 players selected lasted the entire OHL season with their clubs (72%)
11 (open for debate) of the 25 players had a significant impact on their OHL teams (44%)

In 2015
23 of 28 players selected came to the OHL (82%)
17 of 28 players selected lasted the entire OHL season with their clubs (61%%)
10 (open for debate) of the 28 players had a significant impact on their OHL teams (36%)

This article will provide you with some information and scouting reports on those selected.

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

Matt Grainda is currently a US Scout for thescout.ca, and is a former USHL scout for ISS Hockey. He can be followed on twitter too (@graindaiv

Dan Stewart is the head scout for Future Considerations. He and the staff there were able to help out and I'm grateful for that.  

Marco Bombino is a Finnish hockey expert who writes for Dobber Prospects and Future Considerations. (@marco bombino).

Patrik Hansen is a Swedish hockey expert who scouts for Future Considerations and works for Djurgardens of the SHL (as a scout). (@Patrik_Hansen)

Mike Mackley is a junior hockey expert who is a scout for the Powassan Voodoo's of the NOJHL. He writes about the OHL at his great site, Prospects Hockey. You can check out his very lengthy Import Draft Previews there. (@Macker61)

Anthony Mauro is the founder and director of scouting for Draft Buzz Hockey. (@draftbuzzhockey)

Miro Simurka is a Slovakian and Czech hockey expert who scouts for Future Considerations. (@SimurkaM)

2. Guelph Storm - Dmitri Samorukov - Defence
Guelph did the right thing selecting a top flight defender to help rebuild their blueline. Samorukov is a 6'3 offensive blueliner (bigger than he's listed on the import draft page) who had a lot of success internationally for Russia this year. He was among the team's best defenders at the U17's and the U18's (because of the meldonium scandal). In fact, he lead the Russian U18 team in scoring as a defender and was the 4th highest scoring '99 at the event. Also, HockeyProspect has him listed 18th in their early rankings for the 2017 NHL Draft.
Scouting Report: Mike Mackley says, "intelligent defender with strong compete and excellent poise. Engages physically, makes a crisp and accurate first pass showing good vision and decision making skills. Keeps his game safe and simple, plays with an edge. Game is tailored as a defensive defenseman with developing two-way skills." From a Paul Osborne article at the Guelph Mercury, GM Mike Kelly states, "“He is real intelligent and plays his position with above average bite and consistently makes high percentage plays.  (Matt Finn) would be a good comparison for Samorukov.  Finn might have been a little better offensively, but Samorukov has better size (at about 6-foot-2).” (that article can be read here). Anthony Mauro says, "Russian D saw substantial growth over the year...really enforced his will at the U17 5 Nations as a punishing hitter and shooter from the point...can skate, defend well, and start the breakout...toning his game down at the WJC U18 shows he has the capacity to become a top D."

5. Sudbury Wolves - Jachym Kondelik - Forward
Sudbury looks to add some size to their forward group, going with the 6'6 native of the Czech Republic (or Czechia...). This could definitely be a valuable addition to their lineup, especially if he can play center. He lead the Czech U18 league in assists this past year.
Scouting Report: In a Ben Leeson article for the Sudbury Star (article here), Wolves GM Barclay Branch states, ""We wanted to take the most intriguing prospect, as well as somebody who fits into the overall plan we have in place. The fact he's a late birth date and the blend of his size and his skill, his potential as a prospect, all of those things go into the decision-making. It all fit, in terms of what our plan is and what we want to continue to do moving forward."

8. Flint Firebirds - Michal Steinocher - Defence
Firebirds go defence...and go big with another Czech player. The 6'5 defender is no doubt going to be raw considering his December '99 birth day (making him ineligible for the NHL draft until 2018). And he didn't even play for the Czech's at the U17's. But that doesn't mean that there isn't potential there.
Scouting Report: From an article on Flint's website (here), GM George Burnett describes Steinocher. "“Michal is a big, physical, mobile, puck-moving defenseman,” said Flint Firebirds general manager George Burnett. “Presently, our roster is very limited with 1999 birth year players and it was important for us to have balance moving forward. We’re excited to get Michal to Flint early and begin the process.”

11. Hamilton Bulldogs - Marian Studenic - Forward
Bulldogs grab a Slovakian forward with a late '98 birthday, making him eligible for the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. Studenic has played for Team Slovakia at nearly every International event over the last two years (U17, U18, Ivan Hlinka), but has found only modest success. 
Scouting Report: Mike Mackley says, "a smooth skating, offensive minded winger with developing two-way abilities. Skates well and shows an underrated playmaking ability. Protects the puck well and is a strong decision maker. Studenic engages defensively and can force turnovers by getting his stick in passing/shooting lanes." Anthony Mauro says, "Super slick Slovak has immense pure skill with the puck...wavering intensity level means he misses impacting in a greater manner...great hands, eye for directing in open ice yet checks out when faced with pressure...his frustrating inconsistency draws parallels to a better skating Simon Stransky." Miro Simurka says, "Studenic is a pretty good skater, which is very rare in Slovakia. He is offensive minded guy, but as he played a lot against older competition he had to made a big step in his defensive game. In offensive zone he is every time in the right spot, he has instincts of a goal scorer. I would describe his stickhandling as very good both on the rush and in the traffic."

14. Saginaw Spirit - Filip Hronek - Defence
Looking to be very competitive next year, the Spirit go for an older defender who can make an immediate impact; the 53rd overall pick at the 2016 NHL Draft. Hronek, a Wings selection, is a big time player who should help to improve the Spirit's defensive situation (which struggled last year). Considering Detroit drafted him, I'd say it's likely he comes over for a year (a late '97) to be closer to the Detroit's watchful eye.
Scouting Report: The Hockey News had Hronek ranked 76th for 2016 and said, "skilled and smart puck mover who played against men a lot." Mark Seidel of NACS scouting had Hronek ranked 156th for the 2016 NHL Draft and said, "Small but highly skilled defender that showed at the WJC's that he can make plays. Still struggles defending so that has to improve but he makes accurate passes to create scoring chances and help teammates. Would be a deadly CHL Import if he would leave Finland." Future Considerations had Hronek ranked 76th for the 2016 draft and said, "a solid two-way defenseman who has a solid understanding of the play around him. Handles the puck well but can struggle in pressure situations and needs to make quicker reads. Needs to shoot the puck more. Defensively, he needs to add muscle so that he can separate his man from the puck and not get outmuscled in the crease. He did have some very impressive moments this year though."

17. Oshawa Generals - Eeli Tolvanen - Forward
If they can get him to report, what a coup that would be. Tolvanen, an undersized offensive forward, had an absolutely fantastic 2015/2016. He lead the U17's in scoring, Led the U18's in goals (and won a gold medal), and made the USHL all rookie team. He's considered a potential top 10 pick in 2017. Problem is, he's got a commitment to Boston College for 2017. So if the Generals can convince him that playing in the OHL is better for his draft year than the USHL (because his NCAA commitment is another season away), they might luck out and advance their rebuild a little bit. However, it's already been stated he's going to play in the USHL still. A worthy gamble I suppose. 
Scouting Report: The Hockey News has Tolvanen ranked 7th among 2017 draft eligible players and said, "another Under 18 hero for the Finns. Slick wizard will be eyed by CHL teams." Future Considerations currently has Tolvanen ranked 7th for the 2017 NHL Draft and says, "This goal scoring winger is a real offensive threat. He plays with speed and is elusive with the puck on his stick. Likes to shoot and has an absolutely deadly release. Is a hunter on the forecheck and is aware defensively. Does not avoid physical play." Matt Grainda says, "Highly effective offensive catalyst. Great speed and intensity. Smooth skating stride, really loves to keep moving. Quick shot rate along with very good accuracy. Awesome hockey intelligence, knows where to be to create chances. Strong puck-handling skills with quick, dynamic moves and good puck protection. Dual threat with the puck, very efficient generating offense through creative passing and skilled moves."

20. Mississauga Steelheads - Jacob Moverare - Defence
With it seeming more and more likely that Alex Nylander won't be in Mississauga next year (either the AHL, back to Sweden, or the NHL), the Steelheads went big for the rights to their 3rd Import (to go with the recently acquired Vili Saarijarvi). Moverare was a 4th rounder of the LA Kings at the 2016 NHL Draft and he was voted as one of Sweden's top 3 players at this year's U18's. Considering LA and Mike Futa love the OHL as a development league, I'm sure he could be coerced into coming over if Nylander ends up being done.
Scouting Report: The Hockey News had Moverare ranked 98th for 2016 and said "smart, rarely gets in trouble but his skating is a concern." Mark Seidel of NACS scouting had Moverare ranked 61st for the 2016 draft and said, "Been very well coached and it shows. Doesn't make a lot of mistakes and has good defensive positioning, active stick and clears the crease effectively. Not a high end defender but a winner." Future Considerations had Moverare ranked 72nd for the 2016 NHL Draft and said, "is a quick thinking, strong, two-way defender. Shows good skating but can be a little choppy when skating the puck up the ice. Possesses a big, powerful slap shot from the point. Is very steady in his defensive positioning and acts as a leader on the ice. He will make you work for every inch of ice in his own end."

23. Peterborough Petes - Matyas Svoboda - Forward
Svoboda is a 6'3 forward from the Czech Republic who played at the U17's this year where he scored 2 goals. Peterborough, set with a solid defence, is hoping Svoboda can provide some scoring depth next year.
Scouting Report: From a Peterborough Examiner article by Mike Davies (found here), Petes GM Mike Oke says, "“He's a big boy,” Oke said. “He's strong and demonstrated an ability to go to the net with and without the puck. He's strong on the puck and tough to check. He's good on the cycle. We saw him score a pretty nice goal in a shootout during one of the games in Plymouth. He showed a decent touch around the net.”

26. Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds - Otto Makinen - Forward
A very astute pick by the Hounds, selecting a likely very motivated Finnish forward. At different times this year Makinen was considered to be a candidate for the top three rounds of the NHL Draft in 2016. But a disappointing U18's caused his ranking to slip and he ultimately went undrafted. A smart two way center, Makinen would be a great add for the Hounds.
Scouting Report: The Hockey News had Makinen rated 59th overall for 2016 prior to the draft. "From a first liner at the Five Nations to a deft third liner at the U18's, Makinen as impressed scouts in a variety of roles. One scout says, he's your prototypical two-way guy with really good hockey IQ. He works as hard as anyone in the draft defensively and always seems to make the right play." Mark Seidel of NACS scouting had Makinen ranked 108th among 2016 eligible players and said, "Makinen came into the year high on our list but his season was just ok. He is kind of a 'tweener in that he isn't big but he isn't small and he has shown some offensive flair but not enough to guarantee an NHL career." Marco Bombino says, "A center with good offensive skill set and playmaking abilities. Good vision and pretty soft hands. Definitely of a passer but does have a quick shot. Plays with decent intensity in all three zones. Personally, I expected a little more from him in the U20 league in his draft season, however, I do think he can be a key player in the OHL next season."

29. Owen Sound Attack - Maxim Sushko - Forward
One of those selections that comes a little bit out of thin air, but Sushko hopefully can add some scoring depth to a lineup that could stand to be a little more dynamic in the offensive end. Sushko is a Belarussian who led Belarus in scoring at the U18's (Division A), helping them get back to the main pool next year.
Scouting Report: Mike Mackley says, "Maxim Sushko is a dynamic offensive minded winger with good size and impressive speed. A player who analyzes his options quickly and makes good decisions with the puck, Sushko thrives on the power play were he excels running things off the half boards. Sushko possesses a deceptively strong shot that comes off a quick release and packs impressive velocity, he can beat you as a goal scorer or a playmaker. A player who shows a relentless in puck pursuit, Sushko really hunts the puck and wants to take possession, leading to a strong compete in puck battles. Lacks engagement away from the puck, puck watches and gets caught flat footed defensively, Sushko’s upside at this time is purely offensive and even then there he is certainly far from a finished product."

32. Ottawa 67's - Andrei Golikov - Defence
Who knows what to expect out of this 6'1 Russian defender. He didn't play internationally for Russia (and never has), so it could be tough to get a read on what to expect from him. 
Scouting Report: From an article on the 67's website (here), GM Jeff Brown says, "“We like what we’ve seen from Andrei. He’ll be a solid three year player for us. He’s a big, right shot defenceman that compliments the assets we already have in place on defence.”

35. Niagara IceDogs - Pavel Demin - Forward
The IceDogs opt for an undersized offensive center who played for Russia at the U17's and U18's. Demin (also spelled Dyomin) also saw some minimal time in the MHL this year (Russia's feeder league). He could potentially be a nice addition to Niagara's lineup as they retool a little next year.
Scouting Report: From an article on Niagara's website (here), Director of Player Personnel Joey Burke says, "Demin is a young, high end player that will grow with our young group. He has good feet and skill, and is committed to playing in Niagara this upcoming season. We hope for him to be a huge part of this group moving forward.” From an article by Bill Potrecz at the St. Catharines Standard (found here), head coach Dave Bell says, "He’s extremely skilled and an extremely intelligent player. He’s not the biggest guy but we watched video and did research on him and got multiple reports that he is slick player. He’s all-out skill.”

38. North Bay Battalion - Adam Thilander - Defence
As North Bay aims to replace Kyle Wood next year, they select a very talented Swedish defender, Adam Thilander. A late '98, Thilander (also spelled Tilander) has long been considered one of the top defenders of his age group in Sweden. As part of the Swedish national team, he won two silver medals this year (at the Hlinka and the U18's). Will be interesting to see if he comes over.
Scouting Report: Mark Seidel of NACS scouting has Tilander ranked 10th overall for 2017 currently and says, "We like him more than most. Plays a smart game with a lot of upside." Patrik Hansen says, "A right handed, two-way defenceman with nice mobility and good size. His good hockey sense and passing game allows him and his teammates to maintain speed going forward. He likes to play the puck forward and stick to stick. Got put under pressure a few times taking a little bit to long before delivering the puck. He has an active stick trying to knock the puck off the opponents and also uses his body to stop them from trying to enter his own zone. Likes to join the rush when opportunity is given. His quick feet and hockey IQ makes him a good PP-option on the blueline."

41. Windsor Spitfires - Urho Vaakanainen - Defence
An interesting pick by the Spitfires, who could stand to take a chance on a high quality player thanks to Mikhail Sergachev being an NHL first rounder. Vaakanainen, a 6'1 defender, is a very highly touted prospect who is considered to be a potential lottery selection in 2017. As an underager, he played a key role for the gold medal winning Fins at the U18's. He also played a regular role already in the SM-Liiga for Espoo (Blues), and has already signed with JYP for next season. With the acquisition of Julius Nattinen and Serg likely to return, this is a pick for next year (if his NHL team wants him in NA). 
Scouting Report: Mark Seidel of NACS scouting has Vaakanainen ranked 17th for 2017 currently and says, "Moves well and already plays a heavy game. Will be a CHL Import Draft pick." Future Considerations currently has Vaakanainen ranked 8th for the 2017 NHL Draft and says, "an intelligent two-way defender. Moves the puck well and has a good first pass. Is composed and does not panic with the puck. A great, smooth, and balanced skater. Complete defender who is more of a stick defender than a physical aggressor." Marco Bombino says, "Shows lots of composure with the puck and makes crisp passes to start the attack. Fluid skater with agility and speed, has a clean stride and displays superb edge work. Defensively, he can keep forwards on the outside and has a quick stick to interrupt plays. Good hockey sense but does have a tendency to make some risky plays at times."

44. Barrie Colts - Alexei Lipanov - Forward
The Colts seem pretty set to enter rebuild territory after trading Julius Nattinen this offseason. As such, they roll the dice on Lipanov, an offensive center from Russia who excelled with the U17 and U18 teams this year. 
Scouting Report: Back in November, TSN's Craig Button released an early ranking for 2017 and Lipanov was on it, ranked 15th (here), He describes Lipanov, "Open up ice quickly' type of speed that can break down defenders and leave them defenseless. Also has excellent agility and quickness that he uses in tight areas to be elusive. Very smart and he makes good plays everywhere in the game and he competes hard. Has an excellent shot and is a hungry, determined player. Very responsible centre in the Russian mold of centres."

47. Sarnia Sting - Filip Helt - Forward
Helt, a 6'1 winger from the Czech Republic was a 7th rounder by the St. Louis Blues at this year's NHL Draft. He should jump right into Sarnia's top 9 and be able to provide (at the very least) solid scoring depth for them.
Scouting Report: Honestly, I've never seen so little information available about a recent NHL draft pick (even if he was the last pick of the draft). St. Louis' 7th rounder seems to be quite the unknown. Anyone I ask seems to know next to nothing about him. The only thing I can really find is a few random notes from St. Louis' recent development camp where onlookers were describing him as very quick and the type of guy who can play with high energy.

50. Kitchener Rangers - Cedric Schiemenz - Forward
Kitchener takes an average sized scoring forward from Germany who's been playing in the terrific EC Salzburg program in Austria. The problem being that he's got an NCAA commitment to Maine and was also selected in the USHL draft this year (By Fargo). But he recently renounced his NCAA intentions and has stated that he's coming to Kitchener.
Scouting Report: Not much to be found here. Only a small tidbit from Josh Brown of the Kitchener Record (here), where GM Murray Hiebert says, "He's quite a skilled player. He competes hard and makes really good passes."

53. Kingston Frotnenacs - Linus Nyman - Forward
Kingston hopes to grab some scoring depth by taking Finnish forward Linus Nyman. He's undersized at 5'9, but did play with the Finnish National Team at the U17's this year.
Scouting Report: Marco Bombino says, "A skilled, creative forward with really good puck skills. Always has his head up, allowing for smart decisions. Pretty dangerous in one-on-one situations and makes fine passes. An agile skater with good speed and skating technique, plays with good jump. He isn't a very physical player though, will need get much stronger to be more effective in battles."

56. London Knights - Janne Kuokkanen - Forward
Had to know that London would be utilizing their first import pick on a top quality player. They nab Carolina 2nd rounder Kuokannen, who won a gold medal with Finland at the U18's. Kuokkanen does apparently have a contract with Karpat for next year, but I'm sure Carolina could work their magic to get him loaned to London.
Scouting Report: The Hockey News had Kuokkanen ranked 70th for 2016 and said "goal scorer with a terrific release and a powerplay expert." Mark Seidel had Kuokkanen ranked 82md among NHL draft eligibles for 2016 and said, "Started out slowly but really came on as the year progressed. We weren't sure about how high his compete was but it is good and he has the skills to match. Rising by the end of the year." Marco Bombino says, "A very smart player who can play both center and wing. Has some nice finesse to his game, handles the puck well in tight areas, moves the puck through traffic. Versatile offensively, has a quick shot too. Not an explosive skater but regardless quick and agile. Responsible and aware defensively but could be more aggressive."

58. Erie Otters - German Poddubnnyi - Forward
Poddubnnyi has actually been playing in North America already for quite some time, suiting up for various teams in the Philadelphia area over the last few years. He was also the 8th overall selection at this year's USHL Draft. So the competition for his rights will certainly be fierce. 
Scouting Report: Matt Grainda says, "Talented, offensively skilled scorer and playmaker. Very good hockey sense and situational awareness. Stealthy shooter with great accuracy. Likes to take his chances and gets shots to the net often. Makes strong decisions with the puck, has some skilled hands and solid puck protection. Skates hard with speed and good quickness. Moves through traffic with ease, can shake off defenders fairly well with the puck."

62. Guelph Storm - Albert Michnac - Forward
Michnac is an undersized forward (listed at 5'10) from the Czech Republic who managed to play most of the year in the Czech U20 league. Tough to say what to expect from him. 
Scouting Report: Paul Osborne's article from the Guelph Mercury (linked above) includes a scouting report from Redline Report on Michnac, which states, “(It is like) watching a waterbug on ice, flitting around with great, short bursts and constantly changing gears and directions.  He has very fast hands and great puck control.  Instinctive around the offensive end, and often goes to where the puck is going to be two seconds from now.  Slick and elusive and has the knack of getting to open ice in scoring territory.” (here)

68. Flint Firebirds - Kristian Vesalainen - Forward
Super interesting selection by the Firebirds in the 2nd round. Vesalainen is considered to be a potential lottery selection for next year's draft. He's a 6'3, 200lbs winger who won Under 18 gold with Finland this year as an underager. Early word is that he's not going to come over, but this was well worth a shot by Flint who's doing a lot of things correctly this offseason after doing so many things wrong last year.
Scouting Report: The Hockey News has Vesalainen ranked 6th among 2017 draft eligible players currently and said, "big powerful kid was a driving force for the gold medal winning Finns at the U18's." Future Considerations currently has Vesalainen ranked 9th for the 2017 NHL Draft and says, "a big and strong winger who can impact the game in many ways. Plays a versatile and up tempo offensive game, but is also a beast along the wall. Mixes a heavy game with very soft hands and a great, powerful shot. Builds impressive speed and is tough to stop. When he wants to he can dominate but does not always play with consistent effort." Marco Bombino says, "I've always liked Vesalainen's potential. Big, strong kid who's skating has come a long way since I first saw him in the U16 league. He's also started to utilize his frame more effectively, both offensively and defensively. Strong along the boards and in front of the net, smart in possession and has a deceptive shot. Versatile, has pretty soft hands, plays with good intensity."

77. Oshawa Generals - Renars Krastenbergs - Forward
Interesting selection by the Generals in the 2nd round. Could be a bit of a diamond in the rough. Already in North America after playing with the TPH Thunder program this year. The late '98, 5'11 forward also suited up for Latvia at the U18's this year and led the team in scoring. This year's Martins Dzierkals?
Scouting Report: Mike Mackley says, "A competitive, undersized winger with intriguing two-way capabilities, Renars Krastenbergs shows a raw but intriguing skill set. Offensively speaking Krastenbergs would be considered a shot first winger and for good reason as he possesses a fairly strong shot that comes off a deceptively quick releases and boasts above average accuracy. A player who shows a tenaciousness in puck pursuit, Krastenbergs will engage physically, however his lack of strength often leads to him simply bouncing off the opposition. With a long and powerful stride, Krastenbergs does possess good to slightly above average speed, however his first step does lack some explosiveness. While Krastenbergs competitiveness is there and his developing skill set is intriguing, he does lack vision and offensive creativity, along with ideal hockey sense. A player who can find a niche a complimentary third line winger or fourth line energy player at the Major Junior level, Krastenbergs season with the TPH Thunder has allowed him to adjust to the North American style of game."

83. Peterborough Petes - Igor Martynov - Forward
Belarussian forward from the same program as Owen Sound's pick Maxim Sushko. Martynov is a 6'0 forward who scored 4 goals for Belarus at the U18's, helping them (Like Sushko) qualify for the main division at next year's tournament. Interestingly enough, Peterborough seems like it will have a choice to make because last year's pick Janne Tammela will be reporting to the Petes after signing an NHL deal with Tampa (and should be an impact player). Of course, that means that 2nd Import spot will come down to Svoboda vs. Martynov at training camp.
Scouting Report: From the same Davies article linked above (in the Svoboda profile), Petes GM Mike Oke says, "He's a good-sized player, too. He's got some skill Being in Belarus I think he's maybe a little bit under the radar, but he's played for the national U18 team and produced there with four goals in five games. He's shown he has a knack for finding the back of the net."

95. Niagara IceDogs - Ondrej Machala - Forward
IceDogs select another forward hoping to provide them with some more depth at the position next year, given the amount of graduations they'll incur. Machala suited up for the Czech Republic at the U17's but went scoreless.
Scouting Report: From the same Potrecz article linked above, Coach David Bell says, "He’s more of a shooter, he’s a goal scorer. He’s nifty around the net and he plays a little bit more in traffic.” Meanwhile, Joey Burke says, “Machala is a high end young player that fits with our group and new direction. He was a very highly touted forward and we are very excited to have him join.”

104. Barrie Colts - Tom Hedberg - Defence
I'm sure Barrie is hoping Hedberg can be Rasmus Andersson's replacement on the backend. Hedberg already played against men last year with Leksands in the Allsvenskan (Swedish 2nd league), which is mighty impressive for a 1999 born defender. 
Scouting Report: From an article by THN's Ryan Kennedy (here), "A modern offensive defenseman in the Oliver Ekman-Larsson/Erik Karlsson mould, Hedberg is a 2017 NHL draft prospect who was also apparently considered by Mississauga. Now the Colts have the right-shot blueliner in their stable." Patrik Hansen says, "Tom is the modern defensive d-man. He moves well and he got that nice combination of smartness and skills. Good positioning and a good first pass. Very young but mature for his age. Impressed during the qualifications in the post season so he´s already been put to test at senior level."

107. Sarnia Sting - Adam Ruzicka - Forward
Sarnia swings for the fences with their other import pick (aka insurance for Pavel Zacha). Ruzicka is considered a potential first round pick at next year's draft and has long been hyped as one of Slovakia's next superstars (considering their current slump). He's a 6'4 center who was already near a point per game as an underager at this year's U18's. If he comes, that's a BIG get for the Sting.
Scouting Report: Anthony Mauro says, "Agile man-child has been a workhorse for Team Slovakia as an underager...takes to the ice as a forward looked upon to lead...can handle himself well one-on-one, but could glue the puck to his stick more...complete package offsets the risky, slowly improving resume." Working on finding another concrete scouting report on Ruzicka, but he's consistently described as a budding power forward with raw physical skills. Miro Simurka says, "He is big, fast and possesses great offensive skills. In my opinion he may be the best slovak prospect since Tomas Tatar or even longer. He creates a lot of offense, makes a lot of successful zone entries, can hold on the puck in the offensive zone and create scoring opportunities for himself and his teammates. He is also very smart without the puck. The thing I like the most about him is his stickhandling on the rush, alongside his fast and agile skating he is almost unstoppable when he skates with enough speed through the neutral zone. He is a goal scorer, he can make accurate and well timed passes as he sees the ice very good, but he likes to shoot much more. Sometimes he miss the right moment for a pass. He is backchecking and trying to play responsibly in the defensive zone, but he could use some practice there. If necessary he can keep the game simple and when he will use big body better along the boards he will translate very easy to the North American hockey."

110. Kitchener Rangers - Lias Andersson - Forward
Kitchener is another team who swings for the fences with their 2nd import selection. Andersson is a late '98 forward who is considered a potential lottery selection for next year's draft. The 5'11 forward was one of Sweden's top players at the U18's this year (wearing an "A"). Will he come over? 
Scouting Report: Future Considerations currently has Andersson ranked 14th for the 2017 NHL Draft and says, "A smart, mature, two-way center. A three zone player who has an advanced understanding of the game. Protects the puck very well and has solid offensive instincts. Has good balance and decent speed but there is room to grow in his skating. A potential two-way guy in the Zetterberg mold." Patrik Hansen says, "The son of former NHL player Niklas Andersson shows potential to be a great 2-way center. Lias was given an A this season and he has really grown with the responsibility. He led his team by example out on the ice blocking shots, covered up the ice for his teammates on the backcheck and always gives his best in both ends. Offensively he put up some really good numbers last year. A lot thanks to his smartness and playmaking skills. With his quick hands and good vision he runs the PP from the circle, finding a rushing defencemen with a nice cross that cuts the defence open on the far post. His skating is average so it could use some improvement to gain his skill as a puck mover."

113. Kingston Frontenacs - Eemeli Rasanen - Defence
Frontenacs take a hulking 6'6 defender who played for Finland at the U17's this year. Hopefully he ends up being a better player than Konstantin Chernyuk.
Scouting Report: Marco Bombino says, "Big defenseman with excellent reach. When I saw him this season he was strong defensively, fairly physical and hard to get around. Good point shot that hit the net quite often. However, struggled with the puck under pressure, puck skills need some refining. Lacks some mobility and isn't very agile, so if he comes over he'll likely need some time to adjust to the speed of the league."

116. London Knights - Robin Salo - Defence
Olli Juolevi insurance plan. London's 3rd Import is a back-up plan should Juolevi make the Vancouver Canucks this year. Salo's a pretty solid prospect though. He's a late 98 and he played in the Liiga this year and won gold with Finland at the U18's. Not a bad insurance plan.
Scouting Report: Future Considerations currently has Salo ranked 13th for the 2017 NHL Draft and says, "A guy a coach can rely on in all situations. Skates well and has impressive vision. Is more effective when making a solid first pass compared to rushing the puck out of the zone. Not overly big but plays a physical game. His defensive anticipation is outstanding." Marco Bombino says, "Makes a good first pass and processes the game quickly. Plays efficiently under pressure and makes calculated decisions. Has a heavy point shot with high velocity. Shows strong positioning and awareness defensively. Not the flashiest defenseman nor the greatest skater in my eyes but he's solid all-around."

1 comment:

Steve said...

I really question how this Mackley fellow living in Ontario could have more info on these kids, some of whom had games never televised, then your average OHL team, but that's me