by Steve Kournianos
With a lot of attention every year going to the first time eligible NHL Entry Draft eligible prospects at the World Junior it is easy to overlook the players competing for their countries that were passed over in the draft and will be hoping to be drafted as an overager in the coming draft.With this in mind, our NHL Draft columnist Steve Kournianos from the DraftAnalyst this month looks at the top performers from the World Junior that are eligible for the 2018 NHL Entry Draft as overage prospects.
1. G Roman Durny (Slovakia, 5/28/98): Sometimes all it takes is one game to completely change the fortunes of an underdog looking to make a statement that they belong. In the case of the Slovaks, you can point to the play of Durny, whose heroic performance in group play against a ferocious American attack resulted in the upset of the tournament. Facing an average of over 30 shots a game, the young netminder finished second with a .929% save percentage. Although it was Sweden’s Filip Gustavsson who took home the tournament’s top goaltender award, Durny clearly established himself as a puck stopper with high upside. His positioning was nothing short of textbook, and he looked both poised and confident with chaos unfolding in front of his net.
2. RW Daniel Kurovsky (Czech Republic, 3/4/98): An absolute horse of a power forward, especially along the boards, Kurovsky made a habit of requiring opponents to add two, sometimes three players to knock him off the puck. His size (6’4/198) plays a big role in his style of play, but he’s got soft hands, has a quick shot/release combo, moves extremely well and thinks the game at a high level. His quick footwork and long reach were used on the penalty kill, and his in-your-face style created problems for point men. Additionally, Kurovsky never seemed fazed by playing in traffic with or without the puck.
3. C Yegor Sharangovich (Belarus, 6/6/98): The top player for the now-relegated Belorussians teamed up with Flyers’ prospect Maxim Sushko to form one of the tournament’s top duos. A big, rangy center with very good speed and an excellent shot, Sharangovich logged the most ice time among forwards and played in every conceivable situation, to include the penalty kill. He plays with his head up, and his quick feet, specifically pivoting and edges, are obvious during lengthy cycles.
4. RW Samuel Bucek (Slovakia, 12/19/98): Buoyed by the chemistry with linemates Adam Ruzicka (CGY) and Filip Krivosik (2018 draft), Bucek and his mates used their size and reach to wear down opponents, especially the smaller puck movers. Keep in mind that the Slovaks didn't have the puck that often, but when they did, it was usually Bucek who made due in the offensive zone despite a race against the clock. His compete level throughout the last few seasons was something that fluctuated to the extremes. But Bucek, who led the Slovaks in points with seven, proved in Buffalo that he is next to impossible to stop when he’s dialed in.
5. C Kristian Reichel (Czech Republic, 6/11/98): Reichel was a kid I always kept my eye on, and felt he should have been picked in either of the last two drafts. A two-way center with deceptive speed and the ability to finish in a variety of ways, Reichel scored three noteworthy goals despite acquiescing bigger minutes to younger pivots Martin Necas and Filip Chytil. He logged close to 16 minutes a game as a third-line center, and despite the Czechs’ struggles on the penalty kill, Reichel showed quickness, sacrifice and made smart reads while centering the second PK unit. His strong play, however, did not go unnoticed by his coach, who bumped him up to the second line in the quarterfinals win over Finland, which he helped eliminate with a critical shootout goal.
6. LW Filip Krivosik (Slovakia, 3/27/99): Sometimes a big winger who plays physical takes a little longer to develop than your average forward. Krivosik has always been a hard worker who battles tooth and nail, but now his hands and timing are vastly improved since he showed up on my radar two years ago. His two-goal performance against the Americans while playing on a line with Bucek was his standout moment in Buffalo, where he played the entire tournament either looking for either something to hit or a low slot to completely occupy. His overall puck skills are average, but his size, strength and desire to overmatch his opponent makes him a worthy option to audition for a depth role.
7. LHD Jesper Sellgren (Sweden, 6/11/98): It’s good to see this steady Swedish defender get the recognition he’s deserved. Sellgren came into the tournament ninth among the 250 draft overagers I ranked two months ago, but opening more sets of eyes was going to be tough considering the firepower Sweden boasted on its blueline. Nonetheless, there was Sellgren — all 5’10 of him — finishing the WJC as his team’s most trusted and reliable puck mover. The stats aren’t gaudy — one assist in seven games — but his ability to initiate breakouts with both his quickness and his stretch passes, plus play a key role in a penalty kill that finished second overall, should bolster an already strong pre-draft resume.
8. C Georgi Ivanov (Russia, 9/25/98): A sturdy two-way center who can fill in on the wing, Ivanov, like several of his WJC teammates, was a 1998-born selection that was reared in Russia’s now-defunct under-18 program. He’s always been a smart player who has a clear understanding of the importance of body positioning, especially during board battles in his own zone. Ivanov’s shot and finishing abilities are undervalued, and it would have been nice to see head coach Valeri Bragin utilize him more in offensive-zone situations.
9. C Marek Zachar (Czech Republic, 6/11/98): Zachar is a hard-nosed player with a nonstop motor who served his role as team captain with aplomb. He’s not the biggest player on the ice, but Zachar is extremely quick and is willing to pay the price in order to initiate or finish a chance at the net. The first thing you notice about Zachar is his pure speed and explosiveness, and he seemed to understand the strengths and limitations of his linemates. When the situation called for it, he was able to slow things down in order to have puck support rather bomb his way up ice in an outnumbered scenario.
10. LW Glenn Gustafsson (Sweden, 9/4/98): A thick goal-scoring winger who plays with a lot of fire and has a strong low center of gravity, Gustafsson on paper looked like the last forward the Swedes picked for their squad. Once the games were played, however, he proved to be an invaluable chip to use in key situations. I’ve always classified him as an average-speed finisher above everything else since he’s always around the net or ends up inside it.
11. LHD Vladislav Syomin (Russia, 2/17/98): A physical defender with good instincts and a hard shot who turned out to be Russia’s most productive blueliner, Syomin is a raw prospect whose size (6’3/214) plays a key role in just about everything he does. He has a massive wingspan and uses a long stick, which when added to his high intimidation factor makes zone entries or beating him cleanly to the outside a difficult nut to crack. His skating and lateral movements are solid, and he’s able to make quick transition plays immediately upon retrieval. All that said, he’s got some work to do in the positioning department, as he roamed far from his slot duties and gets caught chasing the wrong man. Cutting down on dirty hits and undisciplined penalties also would be a plus.
12. LHD Radim Salda (Czech Republic, 2/18/99): Salda is a mobile two-way defenseman and power-play quarterback who’s had a solid first year in North America with the QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs. In Buffalo, Salda was quick with the puck and joined the rush as often as he could without being guilty of over-handling. Salda appeared to understand the puck-possession requirements of skill forwards like Necas, Filip Zadina and Filip Chytil, so he knew what holes to jump into when they had control.
13. LHD Scott Perunovich (United States, 8/18/98): An swift puck mover with sound offensive instincts, Perunovich was a mainstay on the power play and showed the ability to move the puck decisively. He is a gambler who will attack deep into the opposing zone, which at times led to some dangerous moments with him trapped up ice. He isn’t physical player but is willing to get involved and step up towards bigger attacking forwards. Perunovich’s best asset is his skating, but he needs a lot of work in his defensive zone coverage and applying game-time situations and awareness to the timing of his pinches.
Read more from Steve on his Blog The Draft Analyst