Prospects Ramblings – U18, CHL and AHL Playoff Updates

Brayden Olafson


Brayden Olofson

The quarter-finals have been set for the U18 World Championships in Russia. A tremendous variety of talent has been showcased throughout the round-robin play, featuring top-prospects for the next three NHL entry-drafts; four if you count 15-year-old Frenchman Flavian Dair who won’t be eligible until 2021.


The 2019 class has been particularly well represented at the top-end with Jack Hughes [USNDP], Cole Caufield [USNDP], Maxim Cajkovic [Malmö Redhawks, SuperElit], and Kaapo Kakko (say that five times fast) [TPS, Liiga] leading the way for 2001 born players.


Alexis Lafreniere, remember the name, has been one of the top Canadians in the tournament. The Rimouski rookie, however, won’t be eligible until the 2020 entry-draft where he is sure to be one of the first names on the big board.


As for the more ripened players participating in the tournament, Oliver Wahlstrom may be the player to have made the most significant impact on his draft outlook thus far. Sitting as high as 5th overall on some lists, the 17-year-old forward has lead the offensive charge for the Americans but will be in tough to overtake the names ranked higher than him in this June’s draft. Looking a bit deeper into said draft, a number of European players have made a positive impact on their value as well, and as such could leapfrog a few more high profile names on the list.


66th ranked EU skater Oliver Okuliar [HK Dukla Trencin, Slovakia] who plays in the relatively low profile Slovakian U20 circuit could take a significant jump from the mid-late rounds of the draft after contributing four goals and three assists through Slovakia’s four round-robin contests. He’s an excellent skater but hasn’t proven to be an exceptional puck handler – definitely still a project.


21st ranked EU skater Niklas Nordgren [HIFK, Liiga] is also making a significant impact on his perceived value heading into the draft. There have been knocks on the small winger’s technical skating in the past, but his skill with the puck is undeniable. He doesn’t seem to be afraid to muck it out in the corners either which should help him translate offense to a smaller ice surface.


17th ranked EU skater Kirill Marchenko [Mamonty Yugry, MHL], in my opinion has been an undervalued and under-ranked player even before the success that he’s seen throughout the tournament. He handles the puck extremely well at high speeds, and strikes with a lethal shot from almost anywhere on the ice. His six points through four contests at the U18 tournament is simply confirmation of what Marchenko has never had the opportunity to prove on the international stage in the past.


20th ranked EU skater Jakub Lauko [Pirati Chomutov, Czech] was selected by the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies in the second round of the 2017 CHL import draft, however doesn’t appear to be “able” to commit to the Huskies just yet…


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