Future Considerations’ German scout Chapin Landvogt gives his thoughts on who from the 2013 NHL Draft class left him impressed, who disappointed and who his sleeper is on draft day.
To go even deeper into the draft class, pick up Future Considerations’ 2013 NHL Draft Guide.
Spending the season scouring talent available for the 2013 NHL Draft, it appears more and more that there isn’t a surefire candidate in Germany that will hear his name called. That doesn’t mean there weren’t some impressive kids, though.
When it comes to this year’s German ice hockey scene, there hasn’t been a whole of impressing going on. The season started off with a bit of boom when 17-year-old Kevin Orendorz was getting a semi-regular shift for Krefeld of the DEL, but that playing time tapered off and his stints with the junior team didn’t even see him play at a point-per-game pace. He ended up not even being selected for Germany’s entry at the World Under-18 Championship in Sochi.
At the same time, things were looking real good at midseason for defenseman Tim Bender, who had an astronomical plus/minus and a point-per-game pace for Germany’s non-plus-ultra program out of Mannheim, which went on to convincingly take the championship in Germany’s junior circuit. He was also the last cut from the World Junior Championship entry and many feel he should have been taken along for the ride in order to be better prepared for what was to come at the U18 World Championship.
The problem at the U18’s ended up being that he — and many of his Mannheim teammates who ultimately made the U18 team — were so dominating at home this past winter, that they just hadn’t faced anything like the competition in Sochi. They weren’t ready and it showed. That this competition was too much to keep up with was quite apparent, getting rolled over by several world powers.
For Bender, it was clear to all in attendance that he just couldn’t keep up with the movement of his opponents and missed a number of assignments throughout the tournament, often because he just didn’t move his legs to get back into position. The dominance at home had allowed him to cheat a good bit of the time, something he couldn’t get away with at the U18, which has seen his draft ranking plummet. Now we’ll have to see if he stays at home or finds his way to North America, where he’s already been drafted by the Des Moines Buccaneers of the USHL.
However, there was one German player who impressed mightily this season, but Yasin Ehliz is an overager in the truest since of the word.
He even missed out on being eligible for the World Juniors because he turned 20 on December 30th of 2012, just barely missing the cut-off date. Despite only being five-foot-nine and roughly 170-pounds, Ehliz managed to notch a top-six role alongside former NHLer Steven Reinprecht. He scored 13 goals and 27 points riding shotgun to Reinprecht, and showed he was s a shifty, agile winger with speed to burn. His offensive instincts are as good as any seen from a German-raised player without North American experience.
At this pace, he’ll be one of the league’s top scorers within two years, which is mighty impressive considering a number of ex-NHLers and former AHL scoring stars dot the line-ups of just about every team around the league. One has to think that several teams have him on the map even if they figure he’s likely to be a guy you can just sign as an international unrestricted free agent in the years to come. With a bit of a youth movement in store for Germany’s national team, his is a name one might see more often in international competition in the years to come.
Still, if solely one German simply had to be taken this summer based on having the skill set that would best indicate success at the NHL level, Ehliz would currently have to be that guy.
Young forward Markus Eisenschmid looks a bit like a 15-year-old kid when he’s in his regular attire, but he just spent this past season playing a lot of minutes in Germany’s second highest men’s league.
He only gathered seven points, but he did so as a 17-year-old who was concentrating on manning a line intended to keep pucks out of the net. He did chip in another 24 points in 23 junior league games for the same club.
Going into the U18 tournament, he was expected to play right wing on a line with Leon Draisaitl (Prince Albert Raiders) and Dominik Kahun (Sudbury Wolves). It started out that way, but the line was highly ineffective in a 9-1 thrashing at the hands of Sweden. Eisenschmid was seen as the weak link and then moved to the third line to play the wing there. Again, he looked out of place and the line was barely staying above water. It also allowed all three goals against in the one German victory in the tournament, a 6-3 class clincher over Slovakia.
He was then moved him to center and things looked a little better for two games, which were each losses to Switzerland and Russia, against whom Eisenschmid looked highly frustrated, throwing around punches at various times, often after the whistle had blown. The tournament’s biggest ruckus saw Eisenschmid right in the middle of it all in what ended up being an 8-4 loss to Russia in the opening playoff game.
Although he did get an assist at the tournament, he wound up a minus-5 with 27 penalty minutes, something not too impressive for a kid who had just spent the winter playing a defensive role adequately against men. Neither his skating nor his on-ice awareness looked on par for playing against the world’s best at his age level. He also didn’t seem to have profited much in the experience department from having attended the previous U18 tournament in the Czech Republic.
Theoretically, unless a scout or two really, really liked what they saw from him in his regular season play, Eisenschmid should not expect to hear his name called on June 30th.
A really tough category for this year’s German class, but defenseman Andreas Schwarz might just have opened a few eyes at the U18 tournament.
At 6-foot, 170-pounds, the young man isn’t afraid to throw around his weight with aplomb and although a bit of a choppy skater, he does get from point A to point B without any problems. Interestingly, he seems to have a real good read on the game and pays attention to his positional assignments. He can close a gap and can throw hits without necessarily putting himself out of position. There is also little fear to detect in his game. His outlet pass can be very, very good and his blueline skills look like they could develop nicely over time if he’s brought into the right learning environment.
He only played a handful of junior level games this season as he spent the year taking a regular shift for one of Germany’s most tradition-filled clubs in southern Bavaria, where he collected 13 points and 132 penalty minutes in 44 games. He’s improving and learning at a very high clip.
With files from Chapin Landvogt