Future Considerations’ Swedish-based scout Mikael Kreutz gives his thoughts on who from the 2015 NHL Draft class left him impressed, who disappointed and who his sleeper is on draft day.
Jacob Larsson showed prominence of great things to come during the 2013-14 season, despite that he exceeded all my expectations during his draft year. Taking on a leadership role on Frölunda’s J20 SuperElit defence, being the go to guy in all situations, and playing big minutes every game it didn’t take long for him to find his way on to the senior team. Where he impressed even more, his game from junior having an instant transition to senior hockey, Larsson played more assertive in the SHL than many seasoned veterans on Frölunda’s defence.
A very good puck distributor, Larsson’s precise passes and hockey sense puts his teammates in better position with the puck than most top playmakers can manage. Possessing fine offensive instincts, Larsson have no problems running a power play. Although having a decent slapshot, Larsson will mostly utilize his sneaky snapshots from the blueline. Defensively I can’t recall a single time I’ve seen him put his defensive partner in a dire spot. Not an overly physical player but uses his body well do defend and keep opponents to the outside, using his fine skating and balance opponents have a tough time getting by him of the rush or circling down low.
It is my belief that Larsson is next in line among the many fine NHL defensemen Sweden have produced lately.
Last year two defencemen for Linköping looked to be very interesting to follow for the 2014-15, Gabriel Carlsson who lived up to those expectations and Calle Krantz who unfortunately fell short in that department. The two players not being far from each other in development one year ago. I really liked what I saw from Krantz playing under 18 hockey, he had a certain level of finesse to his defensive game, but he didn’t quite manage to deliver that level of play in the J20 SuperElit.
Linköping have a very strong and impressive defensive squad in their junior teams, and the organisation does an excellent job educating them for a potential future in professional hockey. I look forward to see Krantz in the upcoming season, hopefully rising to the occasion when he’ll be relied upon more heavily with older players graduating.
It was no surprise going in to the season that Robin Kovacs was a very interesting prospect to follow for the 2015 NHL draft, but I don’t think many people expected him to take his game to these levels so quickly as he did playing against men in Allsvenskan. Despite having excellent skating and a very good and accurate shot, his strongest asset his fantastic hockey sense. He reads the play so well, and always seems to think two steps ahead of his opponents. Takes big responsibilities and is very active in the play, he has a tough attitude and seems to be most at home when he gets to carry his team on his shoulders.
Kovacs is in my opinion one of the most underrated players in the draft, he got all the raw tools and talent to be an NHL player, only thing missing is some bulk to be able to keep playing his own game in North America.