Prospect Ramblings: Early Returns

Cam Robinson


Eeli Tolvanen warms up with Jokerit – 2017-18

This week, we’ll dig into some early returns on some prospects plying their trade in European men’s leagues and the CHL.


Despite the NHL preseason just getting under way, the Kontinental Hockey League is already in full swing. Most clubs have played 10-13 games and we’re starting to witness a separation of the talent that holds a firm grasp on the scoring leaderboard.


Sure, the top 10 is a who’s who of former NHL stars and those who couldn’t quite cut it. But as you slide down the list, two names jump out: Eeli Tolvanen and Kirill Kaprizov.  


Kaprizov is becoming something of a known entity at this point. He broke Evegni Kuznetsov’s U20 points’ record last year when he recorded 42 points in 49 contests and then quickly broke the hearts of Minnasota Wild fans and fantasy hockey managers the world over when he decided to sign a two-year extension – on top of his last current year, that will keep him from stepping onto NHL ice until 2020. Despite that, he remains one of the most tantalizing fantasy prospects out there.


His record might be in a bit of jeopardy though…


Tolvanen has had a whirlwind past five months. The Finnish sniper was scheduled to join the Boston College Eagles this fall and navigate his way through studies and an NCAA schedule. However, a surprising realization came out just before the NHL Entry draft which prohibited him from attending that school due to his grades not being up to snuff.


Whether or not that contributed to his dropping all the way to 30th overall and into the laps of the Nashville Predators, we’ll never know, but he was a consistent top 10-15 player on many main lists – my list included, and when it comes to pure offensive upside and goal scoring ability he’s right near the top of the heap for the 2017 class.


Tolvanen has thrived thus far playing against men with Jokerit. Through 10 contests, the 18-year-old winger has four goals and nine points to go along with 40(!) shots on goal. As you can see by the graphic above, it’s wildly difficult for a teenager to produce even moderate totals in this league and Tolvanen is not only finding the scoresheet, but is creating offense on nearly every shift.


While the goal-scoring as dried up a tad – just one goal in his last nine games after recording a hat trick in his KHL debut, his four shots per contest sits as the fourth best mark in the league and should be garnering the attention of every poolie heading into their drafts over the next two weeks.


Eeli Tolvanen Hat Trick vs. Dynamo Minsk



While the season is still in its infancy, the 5’10 left-winger is pacing to surpass Kaprizov’s U20 point-per-game mark in his U19 season. He has an option to spend 2018-19 with Jokerit as well, but will be free to decide whether it’s time to head back over to North American and make a run at a roster spot with the Predators or take his lumps in the American league for a season.


No matter which way you cut it though, Tolvanen appears to be a steal from this past draft and should be jumped up many a draft board when you take you’re taking aim at prospects.



Over in Sweden, the SHL has just gotten underway with teams having a couple matches under their belts. While it’s too early to start making concrete judgements on results, there is valuable information to be gleaned.


2017 fifth overall pick, Elias Pettersson has been earning rave reviews for his play thus far for Växjö HC. The slick forward is a natural centre but has been thrust onto the team’s first line and power play unit as a right-winger. He’s centered by 35-year-old, Janne Pesonen who has witnessed loads of success across the Finnish Liiga, SHL and KHL. Together the two have looked downright dynamic.


After dazzling in the Champions League tournament and SHL preseason, Pettersson has two primary assists through two contests to go along with seven shots on goal and has been stunning fans with his creative and dangerous playmaking ability.


{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href="">#Canucks</a> prospect Elias Pettersson with the primary assist on the PP <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Ryan Biech (@ryanbiech) <a href="">September 19, 2017</a></blockquote>




He’s been tasked with quarterbacking the top unit from the right half wall and looks eerily similar to Henrik Sedin while doing so… only he’s not afraid to shoot the puck. A scary combination. 



Rasmus Asplund, the Sabres second round selection from 2016 (33rd overall) has always played an extremely well-rounded game. The 19-year-old has already accrued 122 SHL games dating back all the way to 2014-15 when he was a 16/17-year-old and has witness improved offensive totals each season.


There were rumours that the 5’11 pivot would cross over and make a push for a spot in Buffalo this year, but a final season over in Sweden where he can really set his sights on excelling on the scoresheet appears to be a wise decision. Through two early contests with Färjestad BK, Asplund has two goals and three points while centering the top line and seeing top power play minutes.


A consistently dominate player in international competitions, Asplund won’t be able to participate in this year’s World Junior Championships due to his December birthday but remains a very strong candidate to come over to North America at the conclusion of his SHL campaign and likely jump right into the Sabres lineup down the stretch – similar to what Joel Eriksson-Ek did a season ago.




Andrei Svechnikov is going to give Rasmus Dahlin one heck of a run for his money at the top of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. The Russian sniper put on a show in his OHL debut yesterday, scoring two goals – both coming via the gorgeous variety.


The 17-year-old right-winger is as creative, fast and powerful as they come and looks destined to finish his one and only season in Barrie, step into the NHL next fall and contend for the Calder trophy. Get excited about this kid for next year.



Speaking of the 2018 crop, I jumped on Sportsnet650 earlier this week to talk about Canucks’ prospects and the next year’s Entry Draft. Have a listen here.



Speaking of the Barrie Colts, this team is littered with high-impact and exciting players. Svechnikov is joined by his line mates, Tampa Bay Lightning third rounder, Alexei Lipanov and fellow 2018-eligible, Kirill Nizhnikov on the top line – which generated six points in their first game together, while Ryan Suzuki – the first overall selection in the most recent OHL Bantam Draft is wowing on line two.


{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Suzuki, Lipanov, Svechnikov, Nizhnikov.. Barrie is going to be appointment viewing this season <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; /Cam Robinson/ (@CrazyJoeDavola3) <a href="">September 22, 2017</a></blockquote>




That’s all for this week! Thanks for reading and feel free to follow me on Twitter @CrazyJoeDavola3 where I’m usually spouting off some sort of hockey-related take that I’m sure at least someone is listening to.



Name Fantasy Upside NHL Certainty
Fabian Lysell 8.5 9.0
Jakub Lauko 6.0 6.0
Matthew Poitras 7.5 7.5
Alexander Nikishin 9.0 9.3
Alexander Rykov 7.0 7.5
Justin Robidas 5.5 4.5
Zion Nybeck 8.0 3.0
David Kase 4.0 6.0
Jacob Julien 6.5 6.0
Anton Johannesson 3.0 3.0