Future Considerations’ Swedish scout Patrik Hall gives his thoughts on who from the 2013 NHL Entry Draft class left him impressed, who disappointed and who his top sleeper is on draft day.
To go even deeper into the draft class, pick up Future Considerations’ 2013 NHL Draft Guide.
Taking in several international events and keeping a particular eye on the Swedish contingent this season, there were a number of prospects who showed me a number of things – both positive and negative.
Aside from the most obvious players – i.e. the best players, like Elias Lindholm and Alexander Wennberg – there are some guys who have been making strong cases for themselves a bit more under the radar.
While many of the most interesting players coming into the year showed approximately what one could expect or less, Sweden-based Slovak Peter Cehlarik really impressed every time he got a chance to show his skills in the Swedish league with Luleå. Just his second year away from home, the big winger was almost a point-per-game player in the top junior tier in Sweden, and put up six points in eight regular season appearances for the big club.
Cehlarik is already a very good player, a big player with good instincts around the net, excellent along the boards and works very well around the net, not only using his big frame to establish a good position, but he’s also very good at picking up the garbage. Additionally, he’s got very good vision and is very good at setting up plays in traffic or in tight around the net. He might not be the most impressive player through the neutral zone or off the rush – albeit, still good – but down low and around the net is where he can really set himself apart from most players in this group.
Size, skill and smarts will always be a lethal combination of tools and Cehlarik is well-equipped to continue his path to the National Hockey League. Not only is Cehlarik a good player right now, but he’s also a guy who certainly have a very high ceiling.
It’s quite hard to single out a player or two who really didn’t perform up to expectations.
Of course, you have a player with potential as high as André Burakovsky in this year’s draft class, who have shown from time to time that he’s a high-end player, but to say that way more was expected out of him would be unfair. There are more certain negative qualities about some of the players that you would hope they’d be able to improve as they got a year older. Burakovsky’s consistency and decision-making with the puck, Robert Hägg’s nonchalant play from time to time, Amil Krupic’s skating, for Mattias Nörstebö to magically grow a few inches, and so forth.
The best guys were the best guys to a large extent over here in Sweden, and any movement was more due to other guys exceeding expectations rather than players leaving a lot more to be wished for.
There are a few guys who deserve mention as ‘sleepers’ in this draft.
The aforementioned Nörstebö is a really good hockey player with one major flaw. He’s very small. Outside of that, he’s got so many good things going on for him.
He’s a terrific skater, he is very smart in the defensive zone, he can make a good breakout pass and is improving his overall offensive game as he gets more comfortable playing against much bigger players. Being that small is obviously always going to hold him back to some extent, but as a later-round pick I would be willing to push for this guy for sure, as he’s been showing many good signs that he’s inventing ways with his smarts and his stick work to negate some of the negative impact his lack of stature imposes on him.
Aside from the little Norwegian, another couple of names deserves to be mentioned. Very skilled forward Mattias Janmark-Nylén was a player I pushed for last year and he really started to put up some numbers in the men’s league over in Sweden this year. I don’t expect him to go through undrafted again.
His organizational teammate with AIK, Fredrik Eriksson, who plays for their U18 team, is another guy who’s been impressive this season and has a very developed body and mind despite being a late birthday for this year’s draft. His lack of exposure at higher levels might keep teams from drafting him at all, but definitely someone who should be considered as the draft is dwindling down on Sunday.
Written by Patrik Hall