2017 World Jr. “A” Challenge
Notable draft prospects improved their stock at annual tournament
Steve Kournianos | 12/17/2017 | New York |
|10 DEC 17||CZE||CAN-W||CZE, 5-2||PRE|
|10 DEC 17||CAN-E||RUS||RUS, 5-1||PRE|
|11 DEC 17||USA||CZE||CZE, 4-2||PRE|
|11 DEC 17||SUI||CAN-E||CAN-E, 4-3||PRE|
|12 DEC 17||RUS||SUI||RUS, 3-2||PRE|
|12 DEC 17||CAN-W||USA||USA, 2-1||PRE|
|13 DEC 17||USA||SUI||USA, 3-1||QF|
|13 DEC 17||CAN-E||CAN-W||CAN-W, 4-3 OT||QF|
|14 DEC 17||RUS||USA||USA, 5-0||SF|
|14 DEC 17||CZE||CAN-W||CAN-W||SF|
|15 DEC 17||CAN-E||SUI||CAN-E. 3-2 OT||5TH/6TH|
|16 DEC 17||USA||CAN-W||CAN-W, 5-1||1ST|
|16 DEC 17||RUS||CZE||CZE, 4-2||3RD|
RW Dylan Holloway (2020 NHL Draft): Silky-smooth forward with an array of puck skills that compliment his speed and quickness. The last thing you realize when watching this kid play is how young he is — Holloway turned 16 in September. He was one of Canada-West’s top performers both on the stat sheet and on the ice, playing top-six minutes and controlling the flow of a given shift.
LHD Jonathon Tychonik (Penticton Vees, BCHL): Top-flight puck mover with excellent speed and acceleration who was Canada-West’s best defender and played in all the big situations, especially as the games and situations became more important. Nimble, agile and poised with the puck, Tychonik can neutralize pressure with both his wheels and his passing, and watching over-extended forwards helplessly racing up ice in an attempt to catch him is something you see quite frequently. Once inside the offensive zone, Tychonik is the go-to option and keeps his feet moving in order to get open and give himself the time and space necessary to create chances. He has a very hard shot and will walk the line with several fakes in order to open up lanes. Tychonik is definitely a gambler who takes a lot of risks and will jump into an opening regardless of whether point coverage is swapped. He finishes his checks but isn’t all that physical, and as fast as he is, he gets caught up ice quite frequently and looks gassed by the time he gets back to the slot. Tychonik, who is committed to North Dakota, has strong hockey sense and surveys the ice like a veteran. He plays with passion, communicates well and provides direction, in addition to having a strong off-ice work ethic.
RHD Jacob Bernard-Docker (Okotoks, AJHL): Solid two-way defender with a hard shot and mobility who helped anchor Team Canada-West’s top pairing alongside speedy puck mover Jonathon Tychonik, who will be his teammate at the University of North Dakota. Bernard-Docker is a fluid skater with quickness and a smooth stride who looks poised and calm with the puck. It wasn’t an easy scenario sharing the same blueline with a partner with a similar skill set, but Bernard-Docker understood his role and acquiesced most of the attacking responsibilities while ensuring he managed the puck properly. From an offensive standpoint, Bernard-Docker is one of Junior A’s better power play quarterbacks, and his ability to whip the puck around the horn with accuracy and authority was evident in Truro. He still gets caught out of position, especially up high when he roams too far from his slot duties. Compounding this problem is that he doesn’t seem strong enough to out-muscle forwards of various sizes who beat him to the ever-important spot near the crease. Nonetheless, he has unlimited potential as a puck distributor and should be expected to compile points.
LW/C Angus Crookshank (Langley, BCHL) Sturdy, fearless forward with good hands and a nose for the net who can finish in a variety of ways. Crookshank, who is committed to the University of New Hampshire, played top-line minutes and saw significant time on the power play. He is a strong skater with good speed and is difficult to knock off the puck. Once in full flight, Crookshank maintains control of himself and doesn’t look like an erratic player who will make low-percentage plays — he will stop on a dime with his head up to look for cutters or make a quick directional change towards the cage. Once he’s inside the circles, Crookshank can unload a lethal shot with an incredibly quick release, but also has a high success rate when he takes the puck strong to the net, especially when he goes to his backhand. As good a goal scorer as he is, Crookshank has excellent vision and is capable of executing passes that lead to quality scoring chances.
LW/C Brendan Budy (Langley, BCHL) Speedy playmaker who can play either center or wing and will play for the University of Denver. Budy didn’t get the top-line minutes with Canada-West like he receives with Langley, but he made the most of his shifts in terms of creating plays and managing the puck properly. Budy is neither big nor physical, but his vision is excellent and he seems quite comfortable dictating play in the offensive zone. He can make plays off his backhand, especially during board battles, and the timing and accuracy of his saucer passes are impressive. Budy doesn’t shoot the puck often, but when he does, he reveals a quick, accurate shot and can pick the corners with regularity. More of a finesse player than anything else, Budy is a power-play specialist and one of the BCHL’s top draft-eligible players.
RW Grigori Denisenko (Loko Yaroslavl, MHL): One of the top wingers eligible for the 2018 NHL Draft, Denisenko’s elite puck skills were on display at varying levels of consistency during the short tournament. He clearly was Russia’s go-to option at both even strength and the power play, and his ability to hang onto the puck inside the opposing zone for extended periods of time was reminiscent of a young William Nylander. Denisenko is an absolute joy to watch in open ice thanks to the way he combines speed and puck control, and he was creating his own shot quite frequently. He was held in check the last three games, recording one goal after netting a hat trick and an assist in the opener against eventual-champion Canada-West.
LHD Alexander Romanov (Krasnaya Armia, MHL): Romanov is a powerful skater who combines size and speed into one strong package. Ever the opportunist, the teenage defender consistently looks to either join a rush or create one himself with either his legs or with deadly accurate stretch passes. You have to keep an eye on him during dump-ins, as Romanov pivots quickly with his head up and can catch opponents in a line change. He was used in every situation (Power play, penalty kill, late/close draws) and displayed reliability in all three zones. Romanov was able to find openings once inside the opposing blue line thanks to keeping his feet moving and showing a strong desire to gain control of the puck. He has a devastating shot — wrist or slap — and can score from distances well above the circles. From a physical standpoint, Romanov looks to make jarring hits in open ice but without needing to travel across a big patch of ice to deliver hit. His upper body is very strong, and in close-quarter puck battles he was able to outmuscle opponents of all sizes. Play during one-on-one was relative solid, as he showed a proclivity for staying tight with his man near the blue line and closing with speed and an active stick.
RW Nikita Rtischev (Krasnaya Armiya, MHL): Effective three-zone winger with size, smarts and a deadly shot who uses his length and reach to his advantage. Play during cycles and board battles turns laborious for opponents, who have a difficult time knocking him off the puck and end up retreating in failure to the slot. What separates Rtischev from your average draft prospect is his ability to identify and connect with the teammate who has the better look on goal — he has very good vision and times his drop or lead passes extremely well. A confident puck carrier, Rtischev is a fluid skater with quickness who can stutter-step his way past defenders or cut it back to kill time off the penalty he’s killing or wait for his mates to change. He has an excellent shot with a quick release, but you’d like to see him use it more. The good thing is that when he doesn’t have the puck, Rtischev will go to the net and battle for positioning. He’s not the most physical player, but he didn’t back down from challenges or look averse to taking a hit to complete a play.
C/RW Ivan Morozov (Mamonty Yugry, MHL): Cerebral two-way forward with a high compete level and excellent balance as he carries the puck with speed through the neutral zone. Morozov is a jack-of-all-trades pivot — his vision and playmaking make him a sound option to play along the wall on the power play; attack aggressively on the penalty kill; and take (and win) critical draws. Morozov has an excellent shot, a soft set of hands and can finish from in close. He will hang on to the puck as long as he needs to, and his agility and quickness allows him to buy the critical extra second or two he needs to complete a high-percentage play. It’s no coincidence that he’s consistently visible on every shift — Morozov is a battler with strong anticipation who uses his lower-body strength to gain inside positioning before making taking a quick first step towards the goal.
RW/LW Vladislav Kotkov (Chicoutimi, QMJHL): Kotkov is no stranger to the North American style of play, as this year he is one of the QMJHL’s top imports. Blessed with puck skills, size, smarts and a deceptively-quick first step, this talented winger is useful in any situation, including on the penalty kill. He can stickhandle through traffic, make sharp cuts and pivot away from pressure and look pretty graceful while doing so. Kotkov can play the role of finisher or playmaker, and the confidence he exudes is evident the second he collects the puck. Taking it away from him is a tall order, as he has a long reach and strong lower body to maintain balance while keeping the puck safe from looting. His straight-line speed is very good and he requires only two or three strides to hit top speed. This is where his dual-threat ability comes into play — he is as good exploiting odd-man situations with his vision as he is with his hard, accurate shot.
C Jachym Kondelik (Muskegon, USHL) : Powerful two-way center with size and soft hands who played quite well in his two games before leaving the squad to join the Czech Republic’s U20 world junior team, which is holding camp in Upstate New York. Kondelik hasn’t produced as much as expected over his two years in the USHL. But he seems to step his game up when he plays for his country. Kondelik, who is committed to the University of Connecticut, can be an imposing player when he’s engaged, and he makes quick work of defenders who try to dislodge him from the crease area.
C Tyler Madden (Central Illinois, USHL): Tough, speedy pivot with NHL bloodlines who is always looking to attack but does so in a controlled and intelligent manner. Madden can stickhandle his way around just about anything and anyone — his agility and directional changes devastate slower defenders. There aren’t many draft-eligible prospects who know how to use their speed to expand the ice surface during tight-checking affairs, but Madden absolutely is one of them. He has to be an enigma to opposing coaches because he’s as dangerous taking the puck wide as he is in a direct route to the net — Madden has very good vision and his centering feeds rarely appear forced or illogical. When the game slows down, he’ll get his nose dirty in the corners and fight for real estate in front of the net — something he probably picked up from his father John, who was one of the NHL’s top defensive forwards and was a three-time Stanley Cup winner.
C/W Blake McGlaughlin (Chicago, USHL): Solid playmaking forward with sharp vision and strong overall hockey sense. McGlaughlin is a three-dimensional passer, using high-flips, saucers, bank passes and crisp cross-ice feeds to set his linemates up for quality chances. He is an excellent stickhandler, especially with his back to the boards and two or more opponents collapsing on him. The one constant is that McLaughlin consistently comes away with the puck out of these situations, and you can bet your money he’ll make the most out of his newly-found freedom. His straight-line speed is good, not great. But he makes up for it with fast feet and a deceptively quick first step. A critical piece to Grand Rapids’ Minnesota state championship last year, McGlaughlin opted to forego his senior season and is currently one of the top scorers in the USHL.
C Paul Cotter (Lincoln, USHL): Crafty playmaking forward with the ability to finish who always seems to be in the right place at the right time. Cotter, who is committed to Western Michigan University, was one of the top scorers in the NAHL before earning his way onto Lincoln’s deep lineup. He is a strong finisher around the net and develops quick chemistry with whomever his linemates are. There was an expectation that he would be more of a two-way depth player during his transition to a superior league, but Cotter has developed into a scoring threat thanks to his deadly shot/release combo and very good straight-line speed. You never have to worry about him failing to show up — he battles hard and competes from whistle to whistle, plus can create problems during the forecheck.
#WJAC: What a move by LW Jack Dugan (VGK 5th/2017) to buy just enough time to find RW Paul Cotter (Ranked No. 184) as the U.S. takes a 1-0 lead over Russia. RW Grigori Denisenko (Ranked No. 30) was just stopped on a breakaway by G Jake Kucharski (Ranked No. 156) pic.twitter.com/JUU5kN3974
— Steve Kournianos (@TheDraftAnalyst) December 14, 2017
C/LW Curtis Hall (Youngstown, USHL): Being both smart and fast will certainly get you places (literally and figuratively), so it’s no surprise that this two-way forward is committed to Yale and is one of the USHL’s top American-born draft prospects. His anticipation and understanding of play development, which is advanced for a teenager, causes a virtual roadblock for opposing puck carriers — Hall consistently picks off passes in the neutral zone and uses his quickness to exploit any open ice he’s afforded. He too uses the boards effectively and is a reliable option for his defensemen to defer to when pressure on them is mounting. Hall plays on both the power play and on the penalty kill, and in both scenarios he rarely makes the obvious play unless it is absolutely necessary. In terms of puck skills, Hall is more of a finisher than a playmaker and will uses his strength and quick feet to get as close to the net as possible. Once there, he can establish himself as a threat or pass the puck and establish positioning at the top of the crease.
LW Jeremi Gerber (Bern U20, Elite Jr. A): Goal-scoring winger with good size who is a mainstay on the power play due to a hard, rising shot that he hammers off the pass with accuracy. Gerber seems to end up with at least three to four quality scoring chances per game, and he maintains a low center of gravity while controlling the puck near the net. He’s very reliable on breakouts and is an accurate passer, and he is willing to take a beating deep in his own zone in order to slip the puck onto the stick of a teammate who is looking to breakout.
RHD David Aebischer (2019 NHL Draft): Two-way defenseman with good size and very soft hands that help him run the top power play unit. Aebischer is poised and calm with the puck no matter the place or time in the game, and is sure enough of himself to attempt and connect on lengthy cross-ice or stretch passes. He likes to play aggressive in the offensive zone and times his pinches well, and he owns a heavy, accurate shot with a quick release that prevents goalies from controlling the rebound. The way he handles pressure with either mobility or via the boards is impressive, albeit without the likelihood of looking flashy in the process. Aebischer is sound positionally in both the neutral and defensive zone, and he prefers to keep his man within arms reach, especially while preventing entries. His footwork and lateral mobility helps him keep this tight gap, and he understands the importance of being an integral part of Switzerland’s tight, suffocating defensive system.
C/RW Jack McBain (Toronto Jr. Canadiens, OJHL): McBain is a versatile forward with solid puck skills who plays both physical and smart at the same time. The amount of work he puts into a given shift is quite impressive, as he competes from start to finish. McBain hates giving up on plays and usually is the first person in on the forecheck. His quickness has improved and opponents collectively appear worried when they see him barreling toward them with a full head of steam. But McBain isn’t just some masher — his stick activity and positioning is exceptional, and his anticipation of puck direction leads to a lot chances created off seemingly harmless dump-ins or sloppy opposing breakouts. His overall game looks more complete and polished as a center or winger in best-on-best tournaments than as a center in the OJHL. But his hockey sense, shot accuracy and velocity and physicality creates a solid foundation for what could be a very good NHL player.
G Jett Alexander (North York, OJHL) It wasn’t the best showing for this big-bodied butterfly netminder, who surrendered four or more goals in three of the four starts for Canada-East. The good news, however, is that he revealed several qualities that he can build on. For one, Alexander displayed quick pads in protecting the lower half, specifically on cross-crease passes and on break-ins. Second, he was very active handling the puck on dump-ins in spite of the viciously-active boards in Truro, and on one occasion wristed a 150-foot breakout pass that led to a goal. He likes to challenge at times and isn’t married to the goal line, which helped him stop several deflections from near the low slot. It was hard to fault him on most of the goals he gave up, as Canada-East was guilty of blown coverages and over-committed defensemen. His ability to out-wait a handful of highly-skilled players on breakaways was what stood out the most in what was an otherwise disappointing tournament for Canada-East.
LW Derek Dicaire (Valleyfield, QJAAAHL): Dicaire was once property of the QMJHL’s Moncton Wildcats but left the program after last season. He is extremely fast and possesses explosive qualities, and his lack of size doesn’t stop him from playing a fearless and physical brand of hockey. Every aspect of skating is executed at a high level, including his balance, which is strong for a player listed under 5’8. Using his speed to the outside may seem like a common thing for smaller players, but Dicaire shifts gears and cuts laterally towards the net at the drop of a dime. He is both a shooter and playmaker, but when he does fire the puck, it’s on net and forces the goalie to make a tough save. Dicaire is very good during cycles and can power through tight spaces while keeping control of the puck. If he is trapped, he won’t panic and will slide or shift his way to open up a lane and slice through it with an accurate pass near the goal.