With the shortest month of the year upon us comes another week of international play with numerous big events hosted in various countries across the pond that needed evaluators attention.
While the scheduling might be a little tough to get eyes on each event, these showcases are an important time to track prospects progression. No one single event will dictate a prospects final draft outlook, but each of these showcases put together with regular team play does shape their overall final ranking. There can be ground gained and ground lost for all participating prospects at each of these events.
BIG WEEK OF INTERNATIONAL PLAY STARTS OFF FEBRUARY
The event to see was the U18 Five Nations tournament, which took place from February 4-8, 2015 in Kravare and Poruba, Czech Republic. Teams participating had some of the top draft eligible prospects from each of the USA, Finland, Czech Republic, Sweden and Russia.
While there were definitely a few disappointments, like the few underwhelming Swedish prospects and the lack of high-end talent Finland displayed, there were plenty of guys who did impressed us.
Sweden’s big center Joel Ek-Eriksson has slowly been rising up the rankings all season and brought more of the same impressive two-way game with him to the Czech Republic. Russian winger Kirill Kaprizov looked better than he did at the World Junior A Challenge in November, as he was the Russians top penalty killing option and did a solid job with the defensive responsibility given at this event.
American prospects that stood out included center Jack Roslovic who played on a line with super 2016 eligible prospects Matthew Tkachuk and Auston Matthews. Roslovic’s teammate center Colin White also stood out in our view as a strong two-way threat as he continuously contributed on both sides of the puck.
U19’S HELD ITS OWN TALENT
The U19 Five Nations also had some strong draft candidates participating that required attention. Also running from February 4-8, 2015, but in Gothenburg and Molndal, Sweden, this event featured teams from Germany, Finland, Czech Republic, Sweden and Switzerland.
Finnish winger Roope Hintz showed well in Gothenburg. He continued his impressive style of play we last witnessed at the World Junior Championship with his great feet, quick stick work and ability to take the puck to the net. His speed and hard shot made him dangerous in each shift.
The top draft prospect at this event was Swedish winger Robin Kovacs, who also led the event in scoring with six points in four contests. He continues to show off his impressive skating ability, that he knows where the net is and how to get himself in position to score. Also, he showed off a little of that confident attitude high-end scorers have as well, only question is his size.
Some of Kovacs other draft eligible teammate’s including forwards Daniel Bernhardt, Fredrik Forsberg, Christopher Mastomaki, Kevin Stenlund and goaltender Erik Kallgren all had positive showings at this event as well.
U17’S A PREVIEW OF THE 2016 & 2017 CROP
The U17 Five Nations was a great chance to see what the world has to offer for the upcoming drafts. Held in Dmitrov, Russia from February 3-7, 2015 and featuring teams from the USA, Finland, Czech Republic, Sweden and host Russia.
The one prospect that really caught the eyes of scouts was flashy Russian winger Vitali Abramov, who displayed great creativity offensively, quick and slick hands, elusive and explosive skating and most impressively a non-stop motor. He led the tournament in scoring and his Russian squad to the event title with nine points in just four games.
Other names that stood out include Czech forward Ondrej Najman, Swedish forwards Alex Nylander and Lias Andersson as well as USA names such as forward Max Jones and goaltender Jack Oettinger, who looking strong in his two starts.
FEBRUARY PROSPECT MOVEMENT
In our most recent top thirty you will see plenty of movement has taken place.
On the top end, the most drastic move was with Swedish offensive defender Oliver Kylington dropping from eight to 12. His high risk play and inconsistent results factored into the decision as whenever he had the puck at the recent Five Nations he left us wanting more of a positive impact from a projected top ten talent.
The top riser was none other than the red hot Timo Meier of the Halifax Mooseheads, who has jumped up 10 spots from 30 to 20 this month. He has become the model of constancy and continues to rake up the points and make a positive impression in each game we watch him in.
There are plenty of other prospects who have made significant moves around our monthly top thirty, so check it out on the Future Considerations website.
Join me again next month as ‘Directors Cut’ continues to take a look at more NHL draft prospects and news.
Director of Scouting