I’ll try my best to keep a running update on some players as the tournament moves along.
Branden Troock: He took some bad penalties that hurt his team. I have been a bit underwhelmed by Troock so far in this event after watching some good games with his home club in the WHL. He will need to play physical more often and be stronger on the puck.
Brendan Gaunce: He followed up his strong game on Monday with another good game. He made some strong plays winning pucks down low and was strong on the puck which enabled him to search out his options and make some smart plays. I’m sure if you asked him, he would tell you that he wished he could have finished a couple of his chances. He had a few scoring opportunities but failed to bury. I wish Cameron would have finished a few checks in this one. He passed up a chance to bury Trouba in the 1st period.
Josh Morrissey: My first live viewing was in Windsor in December. He impressed me then and he has impressed me in Brno. Great feet to go along with a good hockey IQ. He made a few subtle plays on the PP that shows what sets him apart from other players. I love his decision making and his ability to make adjustments to the pucks location. He made some great reads that enabled him to keep some pucks in the USA end that others may not have made. He also showed some toughness and physical play for a less tha huge kid.
Seth Jones: What more can you say about Seth? He was very good once again in the game vs Canada. He moved the puck quickly and got to show off his cannon shot to the TSN audience watching in Canada. He will push the best of the best next season as the journey to the 2013 NHL Draft unfolds.
Filip Forsberg: The highly ranked 2012 prospect was really good in this game. He had a chance to show off a bit more of his underrated skills as the game wore on. Flashed a very good one-timer and showed off his ability to find the lanes where he made himself available to get passes. I have probably had conversations with at least 30 NHL scouts during my stay in the Czech Republic, Forsberg’s name was mentioned in a good chunk of those conversations.
Elias Lindholm: In the ‘beating the deadhorse’ department, Lindholm was great again. In my opinion he was the best player on the ice vs both Latvia & Russia. The combination of Elias Lindholm and Forsberg on the same line has been scary for opponents. Thinking ahead to future World Jr’s at Christmas and Sweden will have a deadly top line. Other than not being an overly big kid, Elias has no glaring weakness in his game. He is smart, skilled and has an outstanding work ethic. I chatted with many NHL scouts about him. It led to one scout talking about the 2013 draft with me. He told me he already had over 90 players on his 2013 draft list. Elias will be near the top of that list, many other scouts lists and is already a top 5 player on our 2013 list.
Jacob De La Rose: He is a kid we liked going back a year. He played very well vs Latvia and followed it up with another good game vs Russia. The huge forward plays within himself and takes full advantage of his tools. He showed off his good hands on a couple shifts, including a quick release which forced a good save buy Russian tender, Vasilevski. I can’t wait to watch De La Rose next season.
Anton Slepyshev: He is a great skater who can really find an extra gear when needed. His initial burst is high end, which allows him to jump on loose pucks all over the ice. He adjusted to puck position well in his own zone and got himself in good position as a breakout outlet. Anton needs to be more productive creating offense out of his skill.
Bogdan Yakimov: Other than his slow start off the standstill I liked this kid going into the U18. He pretty much gave me what I expected vs Sweden. He was slow off the hop again but is like a freight train once he gets those wheels rolling. He adds skill to his package as well. I’d like to see him throw around that huge frame more often though.
Ramblings: Like many scouts, I used Wednesday’s off day to travel. I’ll watch the remainder of the tourney on tape. It’s back to the OHL playoffs for me on Thursday as I’ll travel to London for game #1 vs the Kitchener Rangers. I enjoyed both U18 games I watched on Tuesday. I felt like Russia had a chance to push back harder only down 2-0 but alas, they did not. Both goalies were good in the SWE-RUSSIA game. Vasilevski was forced to make more big saves but Dansk was good as well. IMO, neither goalie hurt their draft stock in the game.
Two games in Brno on Monday in a beautiful but chilly arena. Canada met the host Czech team while Finland went up against the hard working team from Denmark.
Brendan Gaunce: A good bounce back game for Gaunce. He was involved in the play throughout the game and it paid off on the scoresheet. Gaunce scored the first two goals for Canada and added an assist later. Brendan was good in the faceoff circle and showed his hockey IQ throughout the game. My interest was peaked in pre-game when I saw that Gaunce and Reinhart were going to play together. The line dominated when they were on the ice.
Sam Reinhart: He is an outstanding player. Sam did much of the work which led to Canada taking a 2-0 lead early on. He is very aware of where everyone is on the ice and he dished off a couple of very nice passes. Just an early peek at much more hockey in Canada colours for Reinhard.
Daman Severson He struggled in this game. He had too many brain cramps and struggled just controlling he puck let alone moving it. Damon has been the subject of many conversations during our scout meetings all year long. He has some great qualities but struggles to put it all together at times. This game was not a great one for his resume.
Scott Laughton: He really had his motor running at a high level. He played an in your face game and worked hard down low winning pucks. He had much better jump in his step vs many of my viewings this season. He topped off a good game showing off a great shot which gave Canada a 3-0 lead.
Dominik Volek: I noticed him early and he carried good effort throughout the game. He played a smart game and understands systems and did tons of little things right. I liked some things he did in the neutral zone. Canada controlled the puck a lot in this game but Volek forced Canada Dmen to really seek out their options and make perfect plays to work the puck through the neutral zone. Volek scored off of a pretty awful pass that was 4 feet in the air, as he showed great hand eye and batted the puck out of the air to beat Murray.
Rasmus Ristolainen: He didn’t come close to matching his previous game. In short, Rasmus was not very good vs Denmark. He struggled moving the puck, especially early in the game, when it seemed like he couldn’t hit the side of a barn. Poor puck decisions followed him through this game. We will chalk this one up to taking a night off vs an opponent he felt they would easily grab a victory from.
Teuvo Teravainen: Ridiculous skill and vision. He beats opponents one on one with ease. His hockey IQ is off the charts and he does things with his stick that are unreal. He made one play switching to his backhand that leaves me struggling to describe, other than to say that he had one passing lane taken away and somehow switched to make a crazy backhand pass in his newly created passing lane. Having said that, I didn’t like him as much in this game as I did vs Canada. Teuvo is very calm and poised with the puck but he looked way too casual in this one for my liking. Think Sunday morning shinny. I felt like he was speaking to the scouts with his actions, “I don’t even need to try very hard to be good vs this team.” The truth is, he played a shinny style and still had a good day at the office. Teravainen and Connor McDavid remind me of each other at times, especially when they have the puck on their stick exploring their options at light speed.
Villa Pokka: I thought he did some really good things and showed exceptional talent at times. He did do the odd thing that left me scratching my head. He made me ask myself how can a kid who just made that amazing smart play make a complete bonehead decision minutes later. Regardless, overall he had a decent game and showed me a few spurts of mixing it up and playing physical. That was something new in my viewings of him.
Miko Vainonen: I really liked him vs Denmark. For lack of a better word, he was a prick most of the game. He showed me some nastiness and a big willingness to hit the Denmark players as hard as he could. He was successful on multiple occasions. I think what shocked me most was some of the really nifty plays he made with the puck. He had some outstanding passes out of his own zone and through the neutral zone. So what’s not to like, right? Let’s just say he is not going to win any skating awards.
Ramblings: Props to Denmark tender Sorenson. He is probably too tiny to get excited about for an NHL future but the kid made some fantastic saves. He went cross crease a couple times and I don’t know how he got those little legs there in time. He also flashed a good glove as well. It was hard not to notice one Denmark player in particular. I’m going to save my thoughts on him for our newsletter subscribers. I’ll be going to two different rinks on Tuesday. First I’ll travel to Znojmo for Sweden vs Russia (4 pm local) and after that I’ll race back to Brno for the Canada vs USA game which is at 8pm local time and on TSN in Canada. I sat with Dave Randorf for a good chunk of the Canada game last night. We had a good chat about draft eligible players on many of the teams. To no surprise to me, it was obvious to that Dave has done a good job doing his homework in preparation for the broadcasts. Lastly, I heard a missed a great weather day back home. Not a great weather day in Brno yesterday. I did make a short hike to see an old fort across the street from my hotel before the rain arrived.
No surprise that Sweden vs Latvia was where all the scouts chose to attend on Sunday. We watched as Latvia played the most passive game possible. You know a team is playing passive when they dump and change on a 2 on 1. The game was close in score but thats about it. I will say this, Latvia was hosed on some calls including the slashing call for the winning PP goal by Elias Lindholm.
Elias Lindholm: We have given him quite a bit of press via our newsletters this season. I can’t stress enough how good this kid is. Lindholm showed off why we have him so highly ranked for the 2013 draft. He showed his vision, smarts, skating ability, quick hands and shot. He is a go to guy who takes important faceoffs and is clearly a player the coaching staff trusts.
Sebastian Colberg: Stock is probably falling. He has great skills but plays his own game too often. He was very weak on the puck and was knocked on his rear end numerous times by seemingly harmless hits. All the points racked up at Christmas on the big stage did wonders for his draft stock. i was never sold based on a few things including size concerns. I didn’t like his decisions with the puck vs Latvia. Multiple times he didn’t even take so much as a quick peek at his options. One such example was when he tried a high risk saucer pass to a covered forward going to the far post when he had a wide open trailing Dman. The saucer pass went harmlessly into the corner.
Andre Burakowsky: He showed off his wheels multiple times flying down the wing. While speed was impressive I would have liked to have seen some better results as he created very little in the way of scoring on the rushes. That said, i had time for Andre as his motor was running in high gear all game long. He and Elias Lindholm out played their linemate Filip Forsberg.
Felip Forsberg: Not a great game for the big forward. He played a decent 3rd period and unleashed the one-time that Lindholm tipped which proved to be the game winner. I’m a fan of Forsberg, but he can play much better than this.
Sweden Defense: I’m grouping them because they struggled as group containing a Latvian team whom nobody would accuse of being overly speedy. Hampus Lindholm and Calle Anderson were amongst the D burned multiple times off the rush, as Latvian forwards when around them way too easily. Jesper Petterson was the weakest of the bunch. Ludvig Bystrom had his share of struggles as well.
Latvia: I really focused on Sweden in this game so it wouldn’t be fair for me to talk about Latvian players in this one. I noticed a few players doing some good things and l like quite a bit of Blugers brings to the table. He had a few chances I’m sure he would like another go at. It was hard not to notice the Latvian goaltender. Punnenovs made an impression on a whole bunch of guys in black coats. He played confident and challenged well. He controlled rebounds and got himself square to the puck quickly. He had no chance on either goal.
Ramblings: Much like Saturday’s games in Breclav the number of scouts that attended was staggering. Obviously the majority are NHL scouts but numerous CHL teams are taking in games as well. I did post game with a few teams in a restaurant/bar and the scouts took over the place. We watched the Flyers vs Pittsburgh game on a TSN feed with Czech play by play. I’ll be staying in Brno for both games today which is walking distance from my hotel (many NHL teams in this hotel). The Brno rink is beautiful and I’m especially looking forward to seeing Canada & Finland again. Canada plays Czech and Finland is playing Denmark.
Jacob Trouba: Was fantastic vs the Czech team. He moved the puck quickly and made such good decisions on distributing it. Showed off a his cannon shot. He is night and day compared to a year ago when it comes to poise and his confidence handling the puck.
Seth Jones: Much Like Trouba, he was very good. He also moved the puck quickly and smartly. His tools are off the charts and he showed off his offence in this game. Easily included in any conversation about top players in the tournament.
Nick Kerdiles: The points are adding up for Kerdiles and he deserves them based on hard work and smart play, especially in dirty areas. Nick is not an overly skilled forward. He plays a simple effective game. For him to stand out he needs to be one of the hardest working players on the ice. He has been exactly that of late.
Matt Lane: I thought he had one really good period but needs to play 60 min not 20. This is a kid I really liked going back to minor midget.
Marek Langhammer: I really like a lot about his game but you can’t let in weak goals as often as he does and be considered among the big boys. I’ll focus on the positive. Outstanding glove hand and he moves quickly around his net. He should have made a few saves based on his quickness but the pucks got through him. Tons of upside. Injured late in game and it was a hard hit. He might be done.
Matt Dumba: The effort is there all the time but the brain is not always on par with effort. One quick example: Morrissey was lugging the puck out of his zone and drew 3 defenders to his side of the ice. Dumba supported him towards the middle of the ice (correctly) and Morrissey dished it to him. What does Dumba do? he follows up Morrissey’s rear rather than skating or moving the puck to the open weak side. Morrissey actually did a great job adjusting to this and moved towards the middle to give Dumba and option. Too many plays like this by Dumba.
Darnell Nurse: Easily one of the best games I have seen Nurse play in quite some time. I’m not always his biggest supporter but more games like this one will win me over. Was he perfect? No, but he competed very hard and that is not always the case. I’m interested to watch him more as we move towards his own draft year.
Adam Pelech: I’m a Pelech fan but he was just bad vs Finland. Nothing went his way. Bad decisions, fumbled pucks and poor coverage. Looked like a fish out of water. He will look to bounce back.
Kirby Rychel: Easy to sum up his game as he was one of Canada’s best players. Great work ethic and was constantly pressuring the puck. Night & day as compared to his play vs London in OHL playoffs.
Warren Steele: I was at a Brampton Battalion game about 6 weeks ago when I heard he would be chosen for the team. I didn’t agree then but gave benefit of the doubt and kept an open mind. His game vs Finland supported my original thoughts. Just too many better players that could have/ should have had his roster spot.
Matt Murray: Murray was really good in this game and deserved a better outcome. I think about 6 of his first 7 shots were good chances that he made great saves on.
Teuvo Teräväinen: He has grown so much since the last time I saw him. I am a big fan of this kid but that is not exactly a shocking statement. He does all the things you can’t teach well. I love watching him read the ice and make decisions. He has a ton of poise with the puck. The word ‘calm’ came to mind as I watched him vs Canada. He has no clue what the word ‘panic’ means. Was a little off on a few one-timers but blasted a few that hit the target. I told a IIHF photographer to take plenty of photos of #19 white.
Rasmus Ristolainen: A stud on the back end. He was very good vs Canada. Much like Teuvo, he is very calm and poised. Very confident puck handler who was dominant at times. A very high end pick in the 2013 NHL Draft.