Kostin, Lipanov and Samorukov are the saviours in an otherwise ho hum crop for a country that used to produce a half dozen or more first-round prospects each draft. There are no studs on the blueline, and beyond Kostin and Lipanov, the forward group lacks talent.
Klim Kostin – He looked like a man among boys. Best prospect at this tournament when he was engaged, but that’s not always the case. Size/skill combo are at the top of the draft..when he turns it on he’s hard to stop. Doesn’t always compete hard..but very effective at both ends when he does. He’s a potential top five prospect, maybe top 2. The package is there.
Alexei Lipanov – Has some smarts and skill, decent playmaker and puckhandler. May be a second-round talent, you just wish he was bigger.
Maksim Marushev – Okay size, compete and skill, decent defensively…wanted more offensively as he produced at U-18’s as an underager. Keeping an eye on him…late draft if any unless he shows more offensive upside.
Dmitri Samorukov – He checks off the size box being 6-2…doesn’t make many mistakes, decent mobility. He’s no Provorov or Sergachev, but still the best of an underwhelming Russian crop.
Alex Liakhov – Has the size, a bit of jam…not much skill, strictly a defender. Later draft.
Sergei Mylnikov (G) – He was the top goalie at the tournament in terms of GAA and save percentage. Lack of height will hurt him on draft day.
One of the deepest crop of Czechs prospects in recent years… North American scouts will be making some trips there this winter.
Martin Necas – One of the more pleasant surprises at the tournament, hadn’t heard much about him beforehand. High skill level….good speed and puck skills, played a bit to the outside at times, but certainly one of the top forwards at the IH. Might be a top 15 prospect..one of the ten most skilled players in the draft.
Matyas Svoboda – Needs to keep working on his feet – but strong on the puck, big body presence, protects the puck well, will go to dirty areas. Second or third-round by the looks of it
Ostap Safin – Moves well for a big guy, likes to carry the puck, decent hands and skill..needs to compete a bit more inside, good finisher and shot. He competes harder and he may be a first round pick.
Filip Chytil – I thought he was underused – should have been permanent fixture in top six..okay size, good hands and speed, scored some big goals for the Czechs. May be a second round draft.
Ondrej Machala – Produced at this tournament… skill and work ethic were okay, a little undersized. May be a later draft.
Jakub Galvas– 5-11 dman has good puck skills and smarts, one of the better offensive dmen. Not a defensive stalwart but competed and held his own in this tournament..not sure how it will project at NHL level, but decent mobility and stick skills. Looks like a mid or late-round pick…some scouts aren’t high on him.
Dalimil Mikyska – A little over 6-1, not overly flashy but played a steady defensive game with few mistakes, skates okay. Nothing to get overly excited about, but will keep an eye on him.
David Kvasnicka – Talented puck mover has some smart offensive skills, but he’s 5-9. Later draft if at all.
A few of the forwards looked half decent early on, but as the tournament got into the medal round they weren’t as effective. Miketinac in particular started the tournament very strongly…was arguably one of the better forwards the first two games, but a couple of his later matches were pretty uneventful. No forwards with an eye-catching size-speed combo…the Swedes top two prospects were on defence.
Kalle Miketinac – He’s really smart..maybe the pace got a little tough. He’s a strong kid for his size, good two-way center. Might be a 50-70 range pick….but it’s too early to say
Rickard Hugg – He has pretty good playmaking abilities and a decent shot, but he’s small, and skating is suspect.. Has periods of invisibility in the tournament, will need to learn to compete more consistently. He’s participated in 27 U-17 and U-18 games in the past year, so scouts are well ware of what he can bring. Highy regarded in the Swedish system…jury’s still out on his pro potential…perhaps a second rounder.
Lucas Elvenes – A 6-0 winger with no special dimension, does everything okay. May be a third or fourth round prospect.
Fabian Zetterlund – Was good early but kind of fading…puck skills and playmaking, skating…he’s competitive. 3-4 round.
Marcus Sylvegard – Heavier kid who showed some competitiveness, not the best skater or puck skills. May be a later draft consideration if his skating improves…he can shoot the puck.
Emil Bemstrom and Max Tjernstrom played okay, but smaller and no special skills. Will keep an eye on them.
Timothy Liljegren – He was supposed to be the star dman at this tournament, but he disappointed in that regard. Certainly has a nice skill package – mobile and soft hands, but he tried to do way too much at this tournament, and was prone to mistakes. How good is his hockey sense? Does he have some Kylington in him? Let’s hope not! He’ll get lots of viewings this winter, and plenty of chances to redeem himself. The physical skills are there to be a top-ten pick.
Sebastian Walfridsson – I liked what I saw from the 6-0 blueliner in Slovakia – plays a smart, steady game..good puck mover, good mobility. Not a bruiser or especially hard, but good positioning, decent stick, and poise. At this point in this draft he looks like a top-60 candidate.
Erik Brannstrom – Too bad he’s only 5-11, but given that he was still just 16 at this tournament perhaps he can grow another inch or two. Needs work on his defending given his size, but he competes, is mobile, and has a very good point shot and decent puck skills. May be a top 60 consideration.
Olle Erikson Ek (G)– Suffered from inconsistency as well, let in some soft goals.
There were no Laines or Puljujarvis playing at this tournament. Finland’s main prospects were at the U-20 camp in the US. Two defencemen and two forwards stood out for the Finns at the Ivan Hlinka, but the only one who IMO looked like a solid first-round candidate was Urho Vaakanainen.
Santeri Virtanen – Bring a nice size/skill combo…skates okay for a bigger guy, decent work ethic and puck skills. Liked how he progressed during the tournament by the end he was arguably their top forward prospect. Second or third round is a possibility.
Lauri Pajuniemi – Youngest draft eligible player at the tournament…misses the 2017 draft by four days. Not overly big, he nevertheless was one of the more noticeable prospects…made things happen with diligent effort and speed even if he failed to produce. Might be a third-round consideration…perhaps the fourth, but package is there to get some consideration for the top 60.
Aleksei Heponiemi – Good playmaker..he’ll be a fine WHL player, but remains to be seen whether he can overcome his lack of size to become a coveted pro prospect.
Linus Nyman – Produced at the tournament, certainly has some offensive skills..but at a shade over 5-9 he’ll be a late draft consideration. Will join Rasanen in Kingston this season.
Urho Vaakanainen – One of the better defencemen at the tournament. He’s a mobile puck mover, smart, poised and smooth. Looked like a first-round defenceman, perhaps even a consideration for the top 20.
Eemili Rasanen – One of the bigger players in the event. For the most part plays a smart, simple game within his limitations. He’ll be a reliable shutdown defender who skates okay and has decent puck moving ability. He’ll get lots of attention playing in Kingston this season, should adapt well to the North American game. Looks like he may be a top 50 prospect.
Saku Vesterinen – Smooth skating blueliner with decent puck moving skills…he’s undersized though, and lacks the jam to be an effective defender at this point. Someone to keep an eye on in the QMJHL, but looks like a later draft if any.
Eero Teravainen – Possesses a good point shot and some offensive abilities, but he’s 5-10 and doesn’t look like he’d cope well with NHL size and speed in the future. A longshot.
Ukko-Pekka Luukonen (G) may be one of the better goalie prospects given his size and athletic ability, but struggled to stop the puck with an 86 per cent save percentage.
Some years there are no prospects worth considering in the top 100 of the draft – this year two Slovak forwards could go in the top 60…one of the reasons they were so competitive at the event.
Adam Ruzicka – He’s been on scouts’ radar for the past couple of years…always playing a year or two ahead of his age group. He has the size and skills to be considered for the first round of the draft…but he’ll have to bring a more consistent effort for that to come to fruition.
Filip Krivosik – he’s certainly gotten on scouts’ “to watch” lists..after a productive season as a 16-year-old in the Czech under-20 league, the goal-per-game Hlinka sniper will play for HPK in Finland’s U-20 and elite leagues. He’s got a nose for the net, which is nice to see in a 6-4 forward. He’s always scored goals..no reason why he can’t do that at the pro level some day – a nice prospect that may challenge for top-60 consideration.
Marek Korencik – 6-3 blueliner has some projection as a possible as a bottom pairing dman prospect…decent enough size/skating combo to be watched this season for Lulea in Swedish junior.
Juraj Sklenar – Yet another goalie that had good and bad moments in the tournament…kept Slovakia in some games they wren’t supposed to be in though..including the OT loss to Canada. He looks like a draft…just where is far from being determined. He battles..size is okay at 6-1…has some athleticism.