We’ve come to that point in the early season where some prospects have caught the attention of our eyes in the stands with their early season performances.
Guys like Shawinigan defender Samuel Girard have impressed our guys with each viewing and keeps getting better. Future Considerations’ Luke Tully had these thoughts on Girard: “I loved this player,” Tully said. “He can skate for days and has a fantastic ability controlling the play in transition.”
We feel he could become one of the better defensemen in this draft due to that hockey sense, his wily smarts and ability to start the attack.
In the Ontario Hockey League, Kitchener winger Adam Mascherin is also tearing it up and leading the Rangers to a strong record early in the season.
“Mascherin is strong on the puck and isn’t afraid to use his frame and pure strength to throw the body and protect the puck. The undersized winger has been dangerous on the power play thanks to a rocket of a shot and the vision to set up down low and, pick apart lanes with seamless passes. Mascherin has taken his speed to another level and has excellent separation speed in his arsenal.”
Moose Jaw center Noah Gregor has really started off the season strong and shows some promising NHL potential to our evaluators as well.
“The first thing you notice about his game is his quickness and very strong stride,” noted Future Considerations Western-based scout Zenon Herasymiuk. “He still looks a little bit raw, but with a bit more time he is going to be a dominant skater. Displays good hockey sense, quickly identifying good passing options while showing a natural propensity to create offense in any way possible.”
Our Patrik Hansen is also pushing for Jacob Cederholm as someone who deserves first round consideration with his play in the SHL this season.
“Jacob has had a really good bunch of games in SHL while the rest of his teammates were struggling overall,” the Swedish-based Hansen said. “Even though he lacks that confident and cocky part of his game he shows in Junior the kid is young and it was his first stretch of SHL games in a row. In juniors he´s been a beast and looks comfortable joining the rush more than last season. I think Cederholm is a guy destined for the late first round.”
There are also those who have stood out in tournaments during the first international break. Events like the U17 World Hockey Challenge, U18 Five-Nations and U20 Four-Nations highlight the calendars of our evaluators this month and each event had some positive performances to report.
The Five-Nations Tournament in Monthey, Switzerland is a highly scouted event with teams from Switzerland, Sweden, Finland, Czech Republic and the Americans making up the field. There was plenty of draft eligible talent on display with Clayton Keller of the US standout out the most as someone climbing the rankings. His 12 points, including five goals, in just four games led the tournaments in scoring.
“Keller was arguably the best forward on the ice,” Dennis Schellenberg, an FC evaluator in Europe, said. “He showed good acceleration and top speed; makes up for his size with his tremendous vision and skating skills. He is a player (that when he has the puck) you can always expect something to happen. A great playmaker and treat to watch.”
In Tampere, Finland the recently finished U20 Four-Nations also held some high end draft eligibles in Finland’s top options, Patrik Laine and Jesse Puljujarvi. Each had their moments in front of scouts as Laine was able to show off his big shot and sound positioning on the power play, while Puljujarvi displayed his skating with some nice rushes and finished plays with his strong shot. Both finished with two goals in three games.
Undrafted goaltender Veini Vehvilainen helped Finland take the title, with a .940 save percentage in the two games he played. We fully expect his name to be called this season as he looks to help lead the Finnish U20 program.
Others who were on scouts radars at this event but did not make the same impact as the above three Finns include Czech defender Filip Hronka, Russian center German Rubtsov and Swedish forwards Rasmus Asplund and Carl Grundstrom.
Lastly, the World Under-17 Challenge is our big event to get early looks and build the database on the next crop of draft prospects for the next few years. The 2015 event, in Dawson Creek and Fort St. John, BC, was no different as many 2017 and 2018 NHL Draft eligible prospects stood out.
The event, which was won by Canada White, had more talent than the provided space to talk about here so just to name a couple who have us excited for the future.
Owen Tippett, who played for Canada White, showed off his impressive shot and desire to score. Canada Black center Joseph Veleno, a 2018 eligible prospect, was creating offensive chances out of nothing while Maxime Comtois of Canada Red utilized his complete level and overall skill to dominate some shifts.
American pivot Scott Reedy displayed his impressive playmaking and finishing blend that makes him so dangerous. Rogle defender Timothy Liljegren of Sweden showed us his puck skills and IQ as he played a dominating two-way role and Andrei Svechnikov of Russia, a 2018 eligible winger, displayed his speed and creativity each time he touched the ice.
Pardubice junior club winger Filip Zadina, another high end 2018 eligible, of the Czech Republic was ripping pucks on net and showing off his blazing speed while Sioux City (USHL) rookie winger Eeli Tolvanen of Finland was also making an impression lighting the net up with his opportunistic shot and tenacity.
The future sure looks bright with the talent we witnessed this month.
Join me again next month as ‘Directors Cut’ continues to take a look at more NHL draft prospects and news. Until then, see you at the rink.
Director of Scouting