Eligibles leave lasting impression at Hlinka

Aaron Vickers2017 Draft Center, IIHF, International Events, OHL, QMJHL, USHL, WHL

The Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup is the launching ground for a prospect entering his draft eligible season.

This year was no different.

With plenty of high-end draft eligible prospects participating, it didn’t take long for several to stand out amongst their peers.

Count Klim Kostin at the head of that list.

“He was the most intriguing prospect to watch at the Hlinka with his entertaining playing style,” said Future Considerations scout Dennis Schellenberg.

“Kostin is a big forward who possesses good puckhandling skills smooth hands. He can both finish off scoring chances as well as set up plays with his strong vision and awareness. He is hard to knock off the puck because of his long reach, which he uses effectively when protecting the puck. Often went from the outside to the inside with one direction change and got past the defenders quickly.

“Kostin was also used to kill penalties and was positioned very well in shooting lanes not being afraid to block shots. Would need to simplify his game and he is not the most explosive skater with his first few strides. He really stepped up in big games for the Russians after a slower start into the tournament.”

Kostin, 24th in Future Considerations’ preliminary ranking for the 2017 NHL Draft, finished the tournament with four goals and seven points in five games.

He wasn’t the only one to impress.

Timothy Liljegren, Future Considerations’ highest-ranked prospect in the tournament, also stood out.

“Watching him for only some shifts showed why he’s so highly ranked,” Schellenberg said. “Liljegren is extremely poised and calm with the puck and has smooth hands to make plays in tight and under pressure. He uses his bursting speed to move the puck up the ice with great velocity and love to jump the rush or even enter the zone directly with the puck on his stick. He can organize the power play and does have heavy shot, which makes him an elusive contributor.

“Defensively, he does not give puck carriers much space with an active stick and tenacious body-work along the boards. Liljegren is a leader on the ice and is not afraid to take responsibilities in his hands in big moments. He turned some pucks over when he tried to dance his way into the offensive zone, but that is something which will most probably go away with his development.”

Maxime Comtois, ranked fifth, was a standout for Team Canada.

“He was their most dangerous offensive player and top scorer,” Schellenberg said. “He’s a gritty forward, who can both play at the wing or center, competes hard at both ends of the ice and does not take a shift off. Offensively he can make you pay with his shooting skills as his wirster is powerful and accurate and his backhand shows a quick and unpredictable release. He likes to go into one-against-one’s and can beat you with his speed and puck skills. He shows a good top speed and solid overall skating abilities, and is good around the net and often positioned in the right place.”

Ryan Poehling, not ranked within the first round of Future Considerations’ preliminary ranking, helped his stock immensely with a strong tournament.

Poehling finished the tournament with four goals and six points in four games for Team USA.

“He is a big-sized center who shows a competitive overall game,” Schellenberg said. “He can help a team in many ways but probably his biggest asset is his strong vision and combination of size and competitiveness. He does make it very hard for opponents to take away the puck as he uses his big frame to protect the puck efficiently and with good strength on the skates.

“He showed good leadership and communicated very well with his linemates. Poehling is a powerful skater who can take off in a hurry despite his big size. He might not possess high-end puckhandling skills and is not the type of player who amazes you with fancy moves.”