2019 NHL Draft

Prospect News and Notes: November Tournaments

Steve Kournianos  |  12/10/2018 |  Nashville  |  [hupso]

U20 Four Nations in Hodonin, Czech Republic (Nov. 9-12)– This competition simply was the Vitaly Kravtsov (NYR) & Grigori Denisenko (FLA) show, as the duo consistently caused opposing defenders to give them time and space for their shots, only to expose passing lanes when they challenged them. This conundrum is something other teams needs to pay attention to when the duo likely plays together on one of Russia’s top two lines at the under-20 world junior hockey championship later this month.

There were several first-year draft eligible to like from this tournament, beginning with the Czech Republic’s Martin Hugo Has, who is a big mobile defenseman with shutdown abilities and a very hard shot. The lad can play on both special teams and looks quite graceful for defender with his 6’4 frame, which probably is why he was invited to the Czech Republic’s world junior camp. Additionally, Michal Teply showed that he can be a fast two-winger who hustles and can wire it with accuracy. Teply is a serious candidate to go in the first round of this year’s draft, and possibly as high as the teens.

Speedy overage forward Karel Plasek had yet another strong showing and there’s a good chance he gets drafted after getting snubbed last year in Dallas…The Swedes showed up to Hodonin without a legitimate go-threat up front or on the back end, so it was sort of an attack by committee when it came to generating offense. High-energy RW Nils Hoglander likely is the first Swedish forward selected in June, but he was quieter in Hodonin than he was at the August Four Nations. Nonetheless, he still remains in high regard and his league play with Rogle has helped him maintain his candidacy for the late first round. And of course, Samuel Fagemo– Frolunda’s young winger who went undrafted last year — should be on the draft radar regardless of how he played internationally. Fagemo, a 2000-born goal scorer, is tearing it up in the SHL and is a top-six candidate for Sweden’s WJC team….Finland’s Linus Nymam has been passed over in two straight drafts despite a solid pair of seasons in the OHL as a finesse player. Now he’s back in Finland and making a strong case to become a double-overage draftee. And 2019 top draft prospect Kaapo Kakko was quiet from a scoring standing, but I tweeted out some video of the good stuff he was doing from a physical and playmaking standpoint.

Lastly, RHD Anttoni Honka was their best puck rusher and playmaker from the blue line and made several highlight-reel plays.


U18 Five Nations in Kravare, Czech Republic (Nov. 7-11), otherwise known as The Jack Hughes Show. What else is there to say about the neophyte’s production in one of the most visible tournaments in a pre-draft season. The kid scored six goals and added 10 assists in only four games, including three games of four points or more. I’m pretty sure it set the record for the tournament, or at least came close to it.

Sweden C Arvid Costmar (Ranked No. 118) was their best player but really liked the hustle from Albin Grewe..who’s a gritty, in-your-face player with skill…Defensemen Philip Broberg and Tobias Bjornfot were decent overall but they were exposed as timid from the speed of Hughes and several other Americans…Hughes’s explosiveness clearly was intimidating and made the best of the tournament’s one-on-one defenders extend their gaps and basically give them carte blanche on zone entries…The Finns displayed the usually exciting stuff…I really like center Antti Saarelawho is fast, skilled and physical as he played on the top line…wingers Patrik Puistola– so creative and dangerous with the puck — and Leevi Aaltonen–one of the fastest skaters among 2019 draft hopefuls – were excellent. There were periods earlier in the season where Aaltonen looked comfortable on the outside and lacked intensity beyond having the puck in open ice. Well, somebody must have spoken to him about it, because his play in the last month has been more than inspiring. Although seeing limited minutes for Tappara in Finland’s elite Liiga, Aaltonen is starting to dig deep in trench battles and fight for positioning. Sure, he’s not the biggest kid on the block (5’9, 177), but his compete level has increased, and you see him spending more time below his own circles in support of his defensemen. The stats don’t always tell the whole story, so it’s important to identify a youngster with the reputation as a finesse player fine-tune his game in other important areas….Switzerland – LHD Noah Delemont is a 2002-born puck mover and PPQB, so we’ll have to wait another year for him to be draft eligible.  Courage under fire is the best way to describe the young rearguard’s tournament, and it reminded me of Libor Hajek’s one-man show with the Czechs at the 2016 under-18’s – the man on the island who did everything he could to stop chances and create some of his own…The host Czechs got a lot from 2020 draft prospects RW Adam Raska and C Jaromir Pytlik– but it was 2019 draft prospect C Radek Muzik – a two-way center — and fast RW Martin Beranek that stood out the most…Muzik was the team captain, ran the top power-play unit from the hall wall but also showed versatility by playing the point

U20 Canada-Russia Super Series

A lot of like about this one – the Russians had a clear strategy in mind and they smothered the top prospects from all three junior leagues. This is a tournament that the CHL not only wins every year, but does so in dominating style…Well, they met their match in 2018, and a lot had to do with guys like forwards Stepan Starkov – a Yegor Korshkov clone — and slippery Kirll Slepts from Loko Yaroslavl. Slepets keeps getting passed over at the draft but has developed into a very good-two-way threat.

A sleeper from an overager draft standpoint was center Artyom Galimov – a fast playmaking pivot who also owns a deadly shot. Galimov is one of the top 1999-born players in the VHL for Barz Kazan and his early-September birthdate might be enough to convince an NHL club to take a late-round gamble on him…In terms of puck management, I thought former CHL defensemen Mark Rubinchik and Dmitri Samorukov (Edmonton Oilers) had their high-wire moments, but both are physical and were delivering big hits…Alexander Romanov – Montreal’s 2ndrounder from last year – was incredibly active from the blue line and used his speed a bunch, while Stalnye Lisy’s LHD Saveliy Olshansky – another 1999 — is a strong, stocky defender who plays on both special teams because he’s physical in front of the net and in the corners; plus he can skate the puck to safety, make great stretch passes and hammer it from the point.

As far as CHL prospects go, most of the bigger names were kept quiet. Vegas 2017 top pick Cody Glass was outstanding for Team WHL, and draft overager RW Brett Leason displayed his typical vision and quick thinking to show why he’s an MVP candidate for Prince Albert.

Team OHL’s C Ryan Suzuki and LHD Thomas Harley likely will be top-62 draft picks in June, but both were held in check in their respective games…Peterborough goalie Hunter Jones has been outstanding this year and could be one of the first netminders taken at the draft, but the Russians touched him for four goals on 28 shots in a 4-0 loss on Nov. 12…Team WHL power forward Dylan Cozens scored the first goal of the series with a quick snap shot from the slot and was very assertive during his time in a top-six role…The best CHL entry in the tournament collectively, however, were the kids form the Quebec League, who even in defeat kept the ice tilted for long stretches of either game….Big power winger Samuel Poulin was all over the place (in a good way) and showed his outstanding work ethic and soft hands….Left wing Jakob Pelletier, whom people keep begging me to rank in the top 20 – was very good — he’s a quick little playmaker and competes hard but also has an excellent shot, especially off the pass….The QMJHL’s additional draft-eligible big wingers – Nathan Lagare and Raphael Lavoie – played well and had identifiable moments. They’re kind of polar opposites stylistically – Lagare is a North-South physical type who causes problems in the crease, whereas Lavoie is the skilled big man that can play the dual role of playmaker-sniper. Overall, you have to wonder if Team Canada goes for a mix of brawn and skill again for its final WJC roster, because it clearly didn’t work at the CHL Super Series.


Alexandrov rebounding Charlottetown

It’s always good to see kids rebound from slow starts to their draft season, so a stick tap is in order for Charlottetown center Nikita Alexandrov, a Russian-German import who in November has been one of the QMJHL’s top scorers among draft prospects. Known for being a high-volume shooter, Alexandrov has been far more generous with his passing lately, and he has found success in expanded his role as the Islanders’ second-line pivot. The late 2000-born scorer has registered 11 points (3g, 8a) in a recent six-game point streak and had a stretch where he recorded 23 points in his last 17 games after just three in his first nine.


Sheshin improves with bigger role

Stalnye Lisy RW Dmitri Sheshin (Ranked No. 69) has fared quite well without linemate (and fellow 2019 draft prospect) LW Pavel Dorofeyev (Ranked No. 28) in the lineup. He’s split the season between centers Yegor Spiridonov & Nikita Rozhkov, but his numbers are pretty gaudy with the highly-rated Dorofeyev playing elsewhere. Sheshin is a quick, high-energy sniper who contributes in other areas. He is currently on team Russia at the under-19 World Junior “A” Challenge in Bonnyville.

Without Dorofeyev: 13gp-8g-6a-13pts-44 shots

With Dorofeyev: 12gp-3g-5a-8pts-33 shots


Can’t talk about 2019 draft prospect without talking about that kid again Jack Hughes, who looked great in a weekend USHL tilt against Central Illinois on Nov. 23. One thing that Hughes seems to favor is handling the puck a ton inside the offensive zone, which leads to forced passes and turnovers despite open point man calling for the puck. His vision cannot be questioned – it’s elite – but trying to be too fine with passes can get the best playmakers into trouble. There’s nothing wrong with throwing the puck up to a defenseman and giving him the chance to reset or improve the possession.

Speaking of playmakers, Victoria Grizzlies center Alex Newhook currently leads the BCHL in scoring and is on pace to be the youngest scoring champion since former NHLer Scott Gomez did it as a 16-year-old center in 1996-97. Newhook is playing for Team Canada-West at the WJAC and scored the deciding shootout goal in a 2-1 upset over the U.S. The Boston College recruit is expected to be a first-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft.

Finnish forward extraordinaire Kaapo Kakko is heating up again, scoring four goals and three assists in his final five November games for TPS Turku. But the thing is he’s always a decisive factor on one of TPS’s top two lines, so I hope he does well at the WJC to limit the number of detractors who uses the tournament as a barometer for NHL success. The kid has because has done everything right this season, and when he’s not scoring, Kakko still is dictating play, setting up chances etc.


USHL Prospects to Watch

Central Illinois #7 C Trevor Janicke (2019/2000)  – A former NTDPer, Janicke is a mature on-ice leader who gives it his all on ever shift. He’s a physical, two-way center who hustles from whistle to whistle, but knows what to do with the puck off the rush or in tight spaces near the goal. He has very good straight-line speed and excellent balance, and he is tough to knock off the puck as he stickhandles through traffic. Janicke, a late-2000 birthdate who serves as team captain, creates chances off the turnovers he forces with a relentless forecheck, and he’ll hammer his man into the boards cleanly. He’s committed to Notre Dame.

Central Illinois #2 RHD Ryan Siedem (2019/2001) – a clean, no-nonsense two-way defender who plays cool as a cucumber and distributes the puck efficiently. Siedem, a Boston College recruit, also played for the NTDP and you can tell – he is highly intelligent and knows how to initiate breakouts with crisp, accurate stretch or bank passes. He plays the right side and maintains a tight gap while exhibiting quick, timely stick checks. He’s not a ferocious hitter, but Siedem does not shy away from physical play and will battle his man for positioning in the low slot. Siedem is an option for both the power play and penalty kill, but he’s more of a distributor with an occasional low, hard shot from the point. He is a fluid skater in all directions and displays quick closing speed when timing hip checks along the way.

Chicago #24 LW Robert Mastrosimone (2019/2001)– Mastrosimone is a dynamic winger with a lethal shot who excels in either open ice or in tight quarters. Always looking to bring his heavy shot to bear, Mastrosimone is a tireless forechecker and hitter who watches defenders in the neutral zone like a shark circling waters for a fresh kill. He is Chicago’s most dangerous forward and draws a lot of attention when he carries the puck with speed into the opposing zone. Mastrosimone, a Boston University commit, is a very good skater who makes sharp turns or rapid directional changes to get himself a lane to fire one on net. He’s proven to score from the circles with regularity but is quick and strong enough to dart inside and make plays near the net. Mastrosimone is one of the top goal-scoring wingers for the 2019 draft.