Several prospects for 2018 stood out in this tournament which is usually an
indication that this wasn’t a superior set of prospects. This Hlinka tournament
featured a thin crop in Russia beyond Kostin, a subpar draft class from Sweden and
the US, and no standout Canadian defencemen. At the start of the tournament I
thought this might be a pretty deep group of prospects…but as the tournament went
on I became less and less enamoured with the top-end talent. In general a rather
disappointing group of defencemen…where for perhaps the first time in memory there
were no North American dmen that looked like first-round picks.
On a positive note it looks like Finland is going to have impressive group of
defencemen in this draft, including a couple that played in the Hlinka Memorial, and
this might one of the strongest groups of Czech forward prospects in recent years.
Here is a look at the US and Canadian prospects at the tournament –
At the start of the tournament I thought there may be six or seven solid first-round
forwards but as the tournament went on they looked more and more
underwhelming…most didn’t produce or stand out.
Max Comtois – Needs a half step – but very smart, competitive. Looked real good. He
played hard…he looked tired at the end, but make plays and can finish.. good puck
skill. Has a shot at the top ten.
Owen Tippett – He’s got it all except perhaps vision…does not look for teammates
as often as one would like. A good cycler, strong, can skate, good shot..needs to
pass more. May be a top ten but looked 10-20. Will need to step up his team play.
Michael Rasmussen – He went to the net…a bit more jam than Entwistle when
comparing two similar sized-guys. Decent two-way center, has some playmaking
abilities and puck skills…still needs to work on his quickness. 10-20 range most
Matthew Strome – Needs work on his skating, inconsistent…like to see him compete
harder, good skill and shot for his size. 1st round talent…perhapstop 15.
Stelio Mattheos – Played his role…scouts like that he stuck to it. Work ethic is
there..finishes checks. Would like to have seen him in a more offensive role, but
did what was asked of him. Let’s see if he scores.
Nick Suzuki – A responsible player, made some plays later in the tournament, smart,
competes pretty well, size is the main drawback. Came in to center Comtois as
tournament went on and performed well.
Mackenzie Entwistle – Skating is good north south, plenty of speed for his size,
need work on his agility… Not much offensive potential shown. Physical dimensions
are there, work ethic was fine. 25-40 potential if he can show some offence.
Shane Bowers – Responsible..worked okay..more of a puck manager than an offensive
guy…decent puck protection and okay on the cycle..not sure about his creativity.
He produces in the USHL could go late first or 2nd.
Jack Studnicka -Didn’t get a whole lot from him. Big kid, keep an eye on him.
Greg Mereiles – Limited puck skill, but a very good skater…he played abottom line
role. Competed okay.
Jordy Bellerive– Least impressive forward…didnt play much, wasn’t very noticeable
Defence – Perhaps the least impressive group of dmen Canada has ever sent to the IH
Is there a top 50 prospect among them? Maybe not. Not sure any one of them stood
out above any of the others..all pretty close in blandness…average size and
skills at best.
Antoine Crete-Belzile – Not very big, not great offensively or defensively. He’ll
get lots of opportunity in BLB, but doesn’t bring a lot of dimensions…best
attribute is his mobility..but not very big or physical, didn’t see any offence.
50-70 perhaps because he can skate and has some poise.
Ian Mitchell – He had one good game where he scored a couple of goals, defensively
he was in and out. Worth keeping an eye on…has some offensive skills. Maybe a
second or third rounder? Worth viewing.
Markus Phillips – Average mobility, might be overweight. Smart…competes okay. Got
beat one-on-one too often. Overrated by Hockey Canada IMO.
Jonathan Smart – Not very smart. At times he looked okay..other times he had some
struggles…some poor puck decisions at times.
Josh Brook – Didnt play very much…one of those guys where suddenly he does
something nd you look down at the roster to see who he is as most of the tournament
he was invisible, which is often the case when you’re sitting on the bench. Still…
some intrigue there as he has decent size and mobility.
Elijah Roberts – Small…thinks he’s a rover. Can carry the puck, tries…that’s
about it. Not a draft
Michael Dipietro (G)– Okay junior goalie..inconsistent..small, but he’s athletic and
Ian Scott (G) – Don’t know about him yet, didn’t play enough. Fulfills the size
Well-coached team given the lack of talent. Like Canada there weren’t any standout
defencemen…but fewer forwards with top 30 or top 60 potential.
Ryan Poehling – Best of the bunch. I wasn’t sure about his skating early on, but it
looks okay..not special speed wise but okay for his size. Smart, competitive, good
anticipation, puck skills are decent, good vision. Looks like a character kid.
First round potential.
Michael Pastujov – Had some good games early in the tournament, slowed down some as
it went on…needs to improve lower body strength and skating…good shot, competes,
makes plays…saw some things I liked. Led the tournament in turnovers. A second or third-round
prospect if he improves his skating.
Sasha Chmelevski – Dangerous around the net – not the tallest guy or fastest, but is
puck and goal hungry. Good puck skills, smart, deft with the puck. May be a first
round candidate in this draft..likely a 2nd after getting nine points in four games.
Ivan Lodnia – was rumoured to be good…but he didn’t impress much…not that big or
After that it was slim pickings..Dougherty had a few flashes…maybe a draft.
Messner didn’t project as anything special, but he had three goals, and showed some
Ben Mirageas – I was told he was the top dman – I didn’t mind him, works okay, not
too many poor decisions…but looks to have limited offensive upside, more of a
steady defender with a decent first pass who skates pretty well.
Tommy Miller – Not a great skater or full of skill, but given the top dman role and
contributed with some timely offence, and was solid enough defensively. He looked like
a potential third-round guy if the skating comes…but will need to keep working on his
decision making as well. Based more on performance than upside..so there’s a good bet
he’s not overly coveted by NHL teams.
Tyler Inamoto – Played better as the tournament went on as he was given a shutdown role
with Miller..competed okay, defends okay..limited skill level and no offence. Mid-round
guy perhaps, but not sure there’s an NHL dimension.
Reilly Walsh – Not very big or particularly fast for his size…he nevertheless had good
puck skills and mobility. He looked better early but got less ice time as the tourney
went on..not especially physical or effective defensively. He will be someone to take
another look at.
Mikey Anderson – He was highly touted by some going in…didn’t do a lot for me.
Looks like a draft, but nowhere near the first round as some have claimed.
Joey Keane – Pretty average and vanilla..limited phyical skills.
Ronald Brickley – I don’t know that he’s a draft. If so..late. Didn’t like him…plodder,
limited abilities, too many errors.
Cayden Primeau – Had some good games and clunkers. Lots of work to do on his consistency.
Mid-round projection at this point.
Reports on the top prospects from Finland, Czech Republic, Sweden, Slovakia and Switzerland will be posted on Mar. 6.