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.
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.
The Top Performers
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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