Prospect Ramblings: U20 Four Nations Tournament in Sweden

Jokke Nevalainen

2018-08-26

 

Sweden, Finland, Russia and the Czechs got together in Sweden this weekend to play a friendly U20 tournament against each other. These teams often play against each other throughout the season to prepare for the World Juniors. None of the teams brought their top squad into the tournament as this one is meant more to see how certain players can handle certain roles and to give some bubble players a chance to impress the coaching staff.

 

All teams played against each other once which means there was a total of six games played. I watched all six games, so I’ll go through each team and let you know how some of the more interesting names played. These European tournaments don’t get the kind of media coverage North American tournaments do, so I figured this might interest you readers. Let me know if I was wrong!

 

Team Russia

 

The best player in the tournament was Vitali Kravtsov. The Rangers shocked some people when they drafted him ninth overall but Kravtsov is a great prospect. I know a lot of people haven’t seen much of him but he was pretty good in the KHL already last season. I think he’ll have a big season in the KHL and then make the jump to the NHL after that. In this tournament, Kravtsov was the team Captain, and he dominated every game. Whenever he was on the ice, his team had the puck in the offensive zone, and he was constantly creating something offensively. He’s always moving and looking for openings. He finished the tournament with one goal and three assists – but he could have had more points if he played with better linemates. Honestly saying, he was too good for this tournament, and he’ll be one of the top players at the World Juniors. Kravtsov’s tournament highlights courtesy of @aj_ranger:

 

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Bulat Shafigullin, who was drafted in the third round by the Kings, had a glorious chance to play on the same line with Kravtsov but he didn’t really manage to do much with that opportunity. He has a good nose for the net and he’s capable of powering through to get there but he doesn’t seem to be very dynamic or multi-dimensional. He’s a 1999-born player which means this will be his last opportunity to play at the World Juniors. He has a good chance to play there but it remains to be seen what type of role is available for him.

 

Kirill Marchenko, who was drafted in the second round by the Blue Jackets, played in the first two games but wasn’t all that good. He was scratched from the final game, and although I’m not sure what the reason was, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was just based on his performance. He was never given a great chance to begin with, though, as he played on the fourth line. He had a few scoring chances but just couldn’t convert. Perhaps it was just a lack of confidence type of thing but this tournament wasn’t very good for him. He may not make the World Juniors team but since he’s a 2000-born player, he’s eligible to play next year as well.

 

One player who caught my eye in this tournament was 19-year-old undrafted forward Yegor Filin. He’s really small (5-8, 152) but a great skater with great puck-skills and creativity – especially on the power play. Looks