One of the fun things about the Ivan Hlinka tournament is that there are always several 16-year-olds that catch our attention and makes us dream of vast riches two years down the road. Here is a look back at some of the more prominent underagers who participated in the 2016 event last summer.
Several 16-year-olds caught my eye…looks like there will be some talent coming out of Europe next draft, including Czechia once again.
Filip Zadina – Czechia – Left Wing – One of the top forwards at this tournament, tying for the goal-scoring lead with five tallies…loads of skill and has shown a willingness to go to the dirty areas. He looked like a potential top-five prospect who at times was even better than Necas as he’s more willing to pay the price in the scoring areas. Good size, speed and competitiveness
Martin Kaut – Czechia – Winger: Played on the top-two lines and fit right in…brings good size at 6-1 and skill to the wing. He’s the other Czechia forward that could be a top-20 consideration, certainly he looks like he’ll be a first-round candidate.
Jachym Kondelik – Czechia – Center: A 6-6 center that doesn’t turn 17 until November that skates fairly well considering how uncoordinated he could be. Works hard, can handle the puck, see the ice well. Not sure how much offensive capabilities he has just yet…we should get a better idea at the next U-18 in the spring. If he starts playing with more of an edge NHL teams will be that much more enthused.
Jakub Skarek – Czechia – Goalie: Backstopped Czech to a gold, and may well have been the top goalie in the competition. Good size, competes, athletic..he looks like a blue-chip prospect for next year’s draft.
Rasmus Dahlin – Sweden – Defence: Very poised for a young Swedish dman that doesn’t turn 17 until April. Smooth, smart, skilled and mobile…he was one of Sweden’s top blueliners at the U-18, and looks like the early frontrunner to be first overall in 2018.
Joseph Veleno – Canada – Center: Got glimpses of the talent that made him an exceptional status player a couple of years ago, but doesn’t look like he’ll be a special offensive player..not sure he was worthy of being the first Q prospect granted that status when you consider some of the others that weren’t..like Crosby and MacKinnon.
Ryan McLeod – Canada – Center: He didn’t have a noteworthy performance at the Hlinka… but he’ll have another 18 months to reach his enormous potential. Heralded by scouts last season as even better than his brother Michael..that remains to be seen.
Evan Bouchard – Canada – Defence: Lots of refining needed still on his defensive game..showed some indications that he may be capable puck rusher with decent size and skills.
Michal Ivan – Slovakia – Defence: A 6-1 defenceman who puts up three points in four games as an underager at the Ivan Hlinka will always receive an asterisk beside their name in scouting books…he’ll be a Slovakian prospect to keep an eye on next season.
Milos Roman – Slovakia – The Slovakian center had five assists, trailing just Michael Pastujov for the the tournament lead. A late 1999 birthday, Roman has the vision and playmaking skills to be a half-decent pro with some added size.
Alexander Alexeyev – Russia – Defence: One of Russia’s top defencemen at the competition….smooth skater with good size and skill.
Danila Galeniuk – Russia – Defence: Acquitted himself well as one of the few 2000-born blueliners in the tournament, played with some poise and smarts…decent enough size and skill.
Andrei Svechnikov – Russia – Right Wing: Looked better and better as the event went on…looks like he’ll be a big winger with lots of skill and wheels who will score goals…may well end up being better than his brother.
Mikhail Bitsadze – Russia – Center: Has played with Kostin the past two U-18 events, so there’s no denying his talent level. Scouts will be hoping he grows and puts on some pounds in the next year-and-a-half.
Toni Utunen – Finland – Defence: The only underaged prospect on the Finns…impressive for a 16-year-old to be cracking the U-18 team in a country with lots of defensive talent. Hopefully he still has a growth spurt..will likely be a key figure on next year’s U-18 team.
Nando Eggenberger – Switzerland – Left Wing: Hes been a mainstay on the Swiss U-18 teams for the past two years and the second mot promising prospect after Hischier. He brings a nice size/skill combination