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Author: The OilKnight

Born and raised in London, Ontario area. Been an Oilers fan & London Knights fan for almost 30 years.

The OilKnight Round Table – Episode 1

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By the OilKnight 08/16/19

In our first Episode, we get the introductions out of the way and get right into the two summer tournaments that have already finished up. Plenty of CHL prospect coverage and a few others we thought have stood out so far.

To comment please do so via Twitter @TheOilKnight

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The 2019 Hlinka-Gretzky Cup is now in the books and the Russians backstopped by the 17 yr old phenom Yaroslav Askarov, are the tournament Champions after defeating Team Canada 3-2 in the finals. It is their first victory in this tournament since 1995. 

#1 Yaroslav Askarov of Russia, courtesy of tsn.ca

It was a short but exciting tournament that gave many draft enthusiasts an opportunity to see how far a lot of these kids have progressed over the summer. All the prospects with late 2001 birthdates were not eligible to participate, but it was still a good preview of many of the top ranked players in their draft class.

In terms of rankings, there is still much debate among pundits whether this tournament should even really matter in the grand scheme of things. Vasili Podkolzin & Philip Broberg proved last year it certainly matters to some GM’s and scouts as both ended up Top 10 overall NHL draft picks thanks to outstanding performances at this tourney. First impressions can be lasting ones. If nothing else, this tournament should be considered a good starting point in tracking a prospect’s progression throughout the course of their draft year. A measuring stick if you will, where you can identify strengths & weaknesses of a player skill-set wise, and track their progression or regression in those specific areas. Typically, these kids develop fast at this age & many experience an offensive spike during their league play. We’ve seen glimpses of that already with a few players in particular who looked primed to explode in their draft year. This tournament was a small sample sure, but could also be a preview of big things to come. 

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The Top Performers

courtesy of TSN.ca

Yaroslav Askarov – If there was any doubt who the best goalie in the world was for this upcoming draft, that has evaporated. Askarov was the tournament’s best player hands down after limiting a loaded Canadian squad offensively and leading his team to the Gold Medal. His combination of athleticism & positioning combined with his ability to track the puck and limit rebounds makes him very difficult to beat. If you consider what he did against a loaded U.S. team last year at the U18’s & now this tourney, Askarov seems like a virtual Top 10 lock regardless of what happens the rest of the way. He posted a .960 SV% in 4 games started.

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courtesy of TSN.ca

Cole Perfetti – The leading goal scorer and point getter of the tournament, Perfetti was simply outstanding for Team Canada. He had 3 multiple goal games including a shootout thriller where he scored 3 times. He displayed tremendous hands & a variety of highly skilled moves in tight. Terrific offensive instincts, excellent vision and poise. His speed also looked like it improved a step from last year. He was however, held off the stat sheet in the Gold Medal game where he was just unable to beat Askarov despite multiple chances.  

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courtesy of TSN.ca

Hendrix Lapierre – You could argue, no one helped improve their draft stock and overall ranking more after this tourney than Lapierre. Paired with Perfetti the entire tournament, Lapierre showed off his tremendous hockey IQ and terrific 200 foot game by creating several turnovers with his smart positioning and great anticipation. He made several beautiful passes to setup his teammates, and his speed and puck control also looked much improved since last season. A real force the entire tournament, his game looks so reminiscent of a young Jonathan Toews

 

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courtesy of utv.ru

Alexander Pashin – Despite being only listed as 5’8″, 154lbs, Pashin proved to be a beast for his Russian squad by scoring 7 goals in 5 games including the game winner in the Gold Medal game. In fact, his whole line was terrific all tournament. Pashin has tremendous speed as he blew by defenders routinely this whole tourney. He also showed off his quick hands and deceptive shot and release. Ranked 89th overall by Future Considerations going into last week, you’ve got to think his stock has shot up dramatically. An explosive player with a little bite to his game, Pashin was the biggest surprise at this year’s Hlinka-Gretzky Cup. 

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Other Promising Prospects

Since we are quickly becoming your #1 trusted source for all CHL prospects, we’d be reminisced to not talk about some other European players who stood out & will be playing next season in the OHL, WHL or QMJHL.

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Vasili Ponomaryov (F)

Having just committed to Shawinigan of the QMJHL, Russian sniper Vasili Ponomaryov had an excellent tournament playing on a line with Alexander Pashin & Pavel Tyutnev. He created a ton of chances and flashed an excellent 2 way game. He finished the tournament tied for 5th in scoring with 2 goals, 3 assists, 5 points. He should immediately contribute in a Top 6 offensive role and on the PP in for Shawinigan. 


Michal Gut (F)

One of the biggest surprises of this tournament, Michal Gut flashed tremendous skill and explosiveness. He showed off some sick mitts in the shootout and scored a variety of ways throughout the tournament. He finished the tourney with 3 goals & an assist to lead the Czech Republic. He will be playing for the Everett Silvertips of the WHL this upcoming season.  

 

Kasper Puutio (RD)

The 2nd leading scorer on Finland with 4 assists in 5 games, Kasper Puutio will be taking his talents to Swift Current of the WHL after being selected 1st overall the most recent Import draft. He is an excellent skater, has a big shot from the point and good leadership qualities. 


Keanu DeRungs (LW)

Tied for the team lead in points (2), Keanu Derungs flashed some high level skill with a highlight reel goal and a terrific setup for Switzerland. He’s a hard worker who shows excellent puck control and isn’t afraid to go hard to the net despite his light frame. He will be playing for Victoria of the WHL this upcoming season. 


Simon Knak (LW)

Though it didn’t show up on the scoresheet, Simon Knak was one of the most dangerous players for the Swiss team in this tournament. He forced several turnovers and created a lot of chances he just couldn’t find the back of the net so finished with a disappointing 1 assist. He has an excellent shot & release and can play in all situations. He should be a key contributor for the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL


Noah Delemont (D)

Noah Delemont is an excellent skater but can be classified as a “riverboat gambler.” He made some real questionable decisions and got caught in this tourney. But, the athletic skill-set is there he’ll just have to work on his decision making moving forward. Loves to join the rush. Very active stick. Should be entertaining to watch either way. He will be playing for Acadie-Bathurst of the QMJHL

 

Giancarlo Chanton (LD)

Giancarlo Chanton had a nice assist for Switzerland but was relatively quiet for the most part. He did struggle defensively quite a bit but has some nice tools. He will be playing for the Niagara Ice Dogs of the OHL this season. 

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Oleksii Myklukha

The talented Slovakian Oleksii Myklukha scored a couple of goals and left a lasting impression with his speed and playmaking ability. Also displayed excellent hockey sense and a strong 200 foot game. He’s actually not draft eligible till 2021 but recently committed to Rouyn-Nouranda of the QMJHL

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Other tournament notables:

Ivan Ivan (QMJHL – Cape Breton) – 1 goal in 4 games.

Ruben Rafkin (OHL – Windsor) – 1 assist in 3 games

Oliver Suni (OHL – Oshawa) – 3 assists in 3 games

Kirill Steklov (OHL – London) – 1 assist in 5 games

 

 

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To comment please do so via Twitter, @TheOilKnight

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We’re only halfway through the summer but one of the most important tournaments for draft eligible players is just around the corner. Many including myself consider the Hlinka-Gretzky tournament the first real test for the 2020 NHL prospects. It’s a great chance to get eyes on the European players in particular who normally don’t get a lot of exposure, and form an initial opinion on their game and NHL translatable skills. The tournament is being held in the Czech Republic & Slovakia and it starts August 5th and runs through August 10th

Last year, three players in particular really stood out in the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup tournament and caught the attention of many draft enthusiasts around the world – Philip Broberg, Vasili Podkolzin & Kirby Dach. All three had outstanding tournaments for their respective countries, and quickly found themselves near the top of many “experts” 2019 NHL Mock drafts. That momentum carried them throughout their draft year as all three were selected in the Top 10 of the NHL entry draft. So needless to say, this tournament IS important. As we’ve seen (especially in the case of Podkolzin), a great first impression can make a lasting one. 

With that in mind, there is tremendous talent in this year’s draft. There are a few glaring exemptions who aren’t eligible technically being late 2001 birthdates, so they are playing in the U.S. Summer Showcase instead. But, overall this tournament it is still a loaded with several potentially high NHL draft picks. Here is a quick breakdown of who to watch for:

 

GROUP A

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Glaring omissions: Alexis Lafreniere, Justin Barron, Braden Schneider

The OHL is absolutely loaded this year and this team has a heavy dose of OHL players on it’s final roster. Last season, FOUR Canadian-born rookies had 25 goals or more in the OHL and all four were in camp. Sudbury’s Quinton Byfield and Saginaw’s Cole Perfetti were locks to make the team. Windsor teammates Will Cuylle, and Jean-Luc Foudy who had 41 assists to lead OHL rookies, also made the team. Erie’s Jamie Drysdale should be the top CHL defenceman this year and will lead the Canadian squad on defence. He is accompanied by Kitchener’s Donovan Sebrango and the Soo’s Ryan O’Rourke. Saginaw goaltender Tristan Lennox likely gets the starting gig after looking real good in camp. All in all, 8 OHL‘ers on this roster with the big three of Byfield, Perfetti & Drysdale expected to lead the way offensively. A full OHL preview of the top prospects in this year’s draft can be found here.

Two highly touted prospects from the QMJHL weren’t eligible for this tournament – Alexis Lafreniere and Justin Barron. However, Chicoutimi’s Hendrix Lapierre had a great camp and secured a spot on this talented squad. His junior teammate Theo Rochette will also join him as will Shawinigan’s Mavrik Bourque. D Lukas Cormier played his way onto the team and Jérémie Poirier also made the final. Five players total from the QMJHL in total. A full preview of the top prospects for the 2020 draft can be found here

Our number one ranked WHL‘er in Kaiden Guhle of Prince Albert, had a strong camp & really proved to be a physical presence on defence. He’ll be joined by Moose Jaw’s Daemon Hunt. Up front, Vancouver’s Justin Sourdif & Edmonton’s Jake Neighbours had excellent camps and should help provide some secondary scoring. The hard working Ridly Greig of Brandon (son of former NHL‘er Mark Greig) secured one of the final spots on the team. Prince Albert’s Ozzy Wiesblatt, Winnipeg’s Connor McClennon, and Seth Jarvis of Portland also A full WHL preview of top prospects for the 2020 draft can be found here

This is an extremely talented team who should go as far as their big guns will take them. Quinton Byfield, Cole Perfetti and Jamie Drysdale are all projected Top 10 picks in this year’s NHL draft. This is their first step towards solidifying their rankings. 

The full roster is listed here

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CZECH REPUBLIC

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The Co-host for this tournament, the Czechs don’t have a lot of highly touted prospects though Jan Mysak might be the closest to 1st round potential at this point. Drafted by the Hamilton Bulldogs in the 2019 CHL Import draft, Mysak has represented the Czech Republic internationally at the U16, U17 & U18’s so he has plenty of tournament experience. Pavel Novak is known as a goal scorer with good speed and could impress. He was drafted by Kelowna 13th overall. Ivan Ivan, who might have one of the strangest names, is also one of the youngest and skinniest prospects in this tournament but has plenty of skill and could be a guy to keep an eye on. He will be playing in Cape Breton of the QMJHL next season. 

If the Czechs are going to have a chance in this tourney, they will have to rely heavily on their goaltending. Nick Malik (son of former NHL’er Marek Malik) and Jan Bednar carry a 2nd-3rd rd grade right now. It appears they’ll have to carry this team if they want to medal. Link to rosters here

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FINLAND

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Glaring omissions: Anton Lundell, Kasper Simontaival (injured)

With Lundell and Simontaival not playing, there is no doubt everyone’s eyes will be on Aatu Räty. Projected to be a potential #1 overall pick in 2021, Räty is the next big thing coming out of Finland. An absolute wizard with the puck, he already has good size and should do well in this tournament. Samu Tuomaala is also not draft eligible till 2021 but is an excellent skater and loves to shoot the puck. Expect him to pot a few at least. Another exciting player to watch out for is Brad Lambert. The 15 yr old Canadian/Finn is actually not draft eligible till 2022 but has a terrific shot & release along with good poise and vision for his age.

Slick puckmover D Kasper Puutio was the 1st overall pick in the CHL import draft so he’s a guy to keep an eye on. He was drafted by Swift Current of the WHL. Roni Hirvonen should also make a good impression with his solid 2 way game and playmaking ability.

All in all, the Finns are very young but are still very talented. Link to rosters here.

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SWITZERLAND

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Glaring omission: Theo Rochette

There’s not a lot to get excited about with this Swiss team especially considering Swiss born C Theo Rochette is actually in Team Canada’s camp. Simon Knak is the most highly rated player for this upcoming draft so he’s the main guy to focus on. He’s got good size, real quick hands and a big shot. He was also a Import draft selection of the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL & has signed so will be playing for them this fall. Plus, he scored a couple dynamite goals last year at the Hlinka-Gretzky so he’s experienced too. Probably one of my favourite sleepers in this tournament. 

D Noah Delemont is another familiar name. He can absolutely fly and is a terrific puck mover. He was drafted 3rd overall by Acadie-Bathurst of the QMJHL and should see plenty of ice time for an underwhelming Swiss team. 

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GROUP B

RUSSIA

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After his stellar performance in last year’s World Juniors, there’s no doubt all eyes will be on Russian netminder Yaroslav Askarov. He’s currently projected to be a Top 15 pick in this year’s NHL draft so the pressure is on early to impress. Based on how he was able to shut down a loaded American team at the WJC, he should be just fine.

Vasya Ponomaryov could be this year’s Vasili Podkolzin. He is a strong skater with terrific puck skills and a big shot & release. He also appears to be a highly energetic puck hound. He’s my pick to lead the tournament in scoring. If he doesn’t Daniil Gushchin might. Gushchin is a speedy playmaker and scorer who seems to always be around the puck. He had an excellent showing at Hlinka-Gretzky tourney last year & played in the USHL last season. He is currently ranked as a 1st round prospect while Ponomaryov a 2nd rd prospect. Andrei Bakanov is a huge prospect and is commited to Michigan in 2020 despite being drafted by the Guelph Storm of the OHL in this year’s Import draft. He could surprise.

Bottom line, Russia’s hopes likely rely solely on the shoulders of Askarov. They’ll go as far as he carries them. Roster listed here

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SLOVAKIA

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Like the Swiss, there’s not a lot to get excited about with this team but they do have home field advantage so maybe someone steps up. Everyone will be watching Martin Chromiak who was recently taken 2nd overall by the Kingston Frontenacs in the Import draft to likely be Shane Wright’s trigger man. He’s a smart player who has a good shot and release. 

Samuel Krajc is a player flying under the radar. He has a good size and skill. He represented Slovakia at the WJC last year and was taken by the Calgary Hitmen of the WHL in the import Draft. 

Oleksii Myklukha is the other intriguing player on this team. Born in Poland, he is a really good skater with dynamite hands and has tore up every league he has played in last couple years. He was drafted in the 2nd round by Rouyn-Nouranda of the QMJHL

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SWEDEN

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Glaring omissions: Alexander Holtz, Lucas Raymond, Noel Gunler

With Holtz and Raymond backing out and Gunler ineligible to play in this tournament, Zion Nybeck becomes the focal point for Team Sweden. Projected to go in the 1st round of the NHL entry draft, Nybeck is a nifty playmaker and forechecking demon. He has good hands but not sure about the footspeed. Big tourney for him with some other big names absent. 

Emil Andrae and Helge Grans are two defencemen worth watching. Both are excellent skaters and puck movers. Very intrigued by Grans in particular who looks and plays like a pro already. Very smart, heady player.

Jesper Wallstedt is a big goalie who got into a couple games last year at the same tournament. He was drafted by Moose Jaw of the WHL and has talent though the pressure will be on to compete for a medal. 

Still a talented team but missing a couple of their big dogs. Link to rosters here.

U.S.A.

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Glaring omissions: Antonio Stranges, Dylan Peterson, Tyler Kleven, Ty Smilanic.

Due to the U.S. Summer Showcase going on right before this tournament, the U.S. rarely sends their top prospects to this tourney anyways. That being said, there is some nice talent on this team to keep an eye on. 

Ryan Kirwan, Blake Biondi, Jack Williams, and Alex Gaffney of Muskegon of the USHL are probably the best of the group. Jake Ratzlaff has a nice size, skill combination too. 

No idea how this team will fare as so many good players are missing. Probably a disappointing finish is in the cards. Full roster listed here

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To comment please do so via Twitter @TheOilKnight

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