Here we are in mid-February and most of the big annual showcase events/tournaments for draft eligible have come and gone.
With only the U18 World Championships in Sochi, Russia from April 18-28 remaining, there are fewer and fewer opportunities to evaluate some of the 2013 NHL Draft’s best.
Making the U18 5-Nations Cup in Jonkoping, Sweden in early February that much more notable.
Future Considerations had Josh Deitell and Roman Solovyev in attendance and while they have not officially filed their reports from the event there were some news that filtered out of the event.
Big Valeri Nichushkin, who scored the bronze medal-winning goal against the Canadians at the World Junior Championship, was the story of this event as he led his Russians to the top spot with a dominant effort.
“Interesting and unbelievable things happen here like one NHL scout said ‘the Red Machine is back’,” Solovyev said. “Nichushkin is on fire here. He is the best player (in attendance).”
It is not that Nichushkin was just good but he was dominant as he scored seemingly at will against strong competition and finished the event with five goals and six assists for eleven points in four contests.
“He got a chance to be ‘the guy’ at 5-Nations after mostly (supporting) at the World Juniors and relished it,” Deitell said. “Man amongst boys.”
Nichushkin, on the right side, paired up with fellow draft eligible winger Pavel Buchnevich, on the left side to form a dynamic duo as the latter also put up some nice offensive numbers with seven points in four contests.
Buchnevich is a skilled puck handler who has the ability to change the outcome of a game with one strong shift.
Russia as a team was physical and completely dominant in stretches.
Sweden’s Jacob de la Rose was another strong performer at the 5-Nations as he contributed a couple goals and a point-per-game in Sweden’s second place finish.
“(He’s a) really strong 2-way player,” Deitell noted. “High energy. Very physical. Strong skater. Only issue I have is he’s a little too simple offensively.”
After being inconsistent and lacking in intensity most of the season for the NTDP U18’s, big winger Hudson Fasching finally came to play in the last contest of this event. It is games like these that make NHL teams and other scouting services like Future Considerations keep the underperforming prospect on their lists.