Forwards pushing for first-round consideration
It’s no secret that NHL clubs can, have and will fall in love with a prospect.
The ‘consensus’ isn’t guaranteed to be the consensus on draft day. That fact alone makes the draft that much more interesting – for fans, teams and players alike.
With a strong season, a player can hope to catch the eye of an NHL club and make himself a first-round pick, even to the surprise of other organizations.
Kingston Frontenacs centre Ryan Kujawinski will try to do just that this year, and he’s well on his way.
Kujawinski’s game in Sarnia to start last season was inconsistent and full of nerves while the opposite can be said of his time in Kingston after he was traded for Ryan Spooner. He showed more willingness to use his speed, size and physical abilities as well as the confidence to take the puck to the net and utilize his shot more often.
He’s expected to continue to build on last year’s success in his draft season.
Ryan Hartman is hoping for a similar fate.
After some time with the USNTDP, Hartman has jumped to the Plymouth Whalers in the hopes of jumpstarting his draft year. Hartman is a gritty playmaker who will be called on to produce some offense for the Whalers in this his draft season.
Hartman and Kujawinski aren’t not the only ones flirting with first round consideration.
Quebec Rempart winger Anthony Duclair has some very impressive speed, shiftiness and a good shot that will keep him on the radar for the first round. Muskegon centre Connor Hurley will be called upon to use his speed, skills and intelligence as he makes the jump to the USHL from high school hockey.
Skelleftea centre Lukas Wallmark will look to carry over his strong offensive performance from the Hlinka to league play, as will power centre Bo Horvat of the OHL’s London Knights. Wallmark is not overly physical but shows good intelligence and some strong creativity with the puck. Horvat, on the other hand, is a strong two-way contributor who can really play it any way you want to: gritty, defensive or run-and-gun.
Then there are those candidates who early results look like they could go as early as 20th or out of first round considerations altogether depending on their next few months.
Swede Jacob De la Rose of Leksand, a power forward type centre who is strong offensively, fits that bill perfectly. Quebec Remparts winger Nick Sorensen, who despite suffering an injury after a handful of games last season and missing the rest of the year has many excited for what he could do this season. Left winger Tyler Motte of the US NTDP U18 team was very productive last season before going though a mild slump to end the year.
Six-foot-four power forward Ross Olsson will suit up for the Lincoln Stars after playing in the New England Prep circuit. The massive right winger, who hails from Billerica, MA, works hard on and off the ice and is more than willing to play physical and initiate contact with the opposition, even when they do not want to. The big winger, who is a beast along the wall and in corners, also has demonstrated a very good shot.
Swedish winger Gustav Possler of MODO is another one to watch as is Marko Dano of HK Dukla Trencin in Slovakia.
Finnish winger Artturi Lehkonen is a goal scorer who is already moving up the boards and Regina centre Morgan Klimchuk has the makings of a strong offensive season for the Pats.
There are just so many other quality forwards to keep an eye on as the 2013 NHL Draft is chock full of forward talent from seemingly all regions of the globe.
Which step up and which stumble will be revealed over the next nine months of hockey.