World Junior PNHLe Breakdown – Group B

Mason Black

2018-12-25

 

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Click HERE to see Mason’s PNHLe breakdown of Group A teams

 

The World Junior Championship is the premier hockey prospect tournament and gives fans an opportunity to see their country’s, and favourite NHL team’s top prospects perform in a playoff intensity induced environment smack dab in the middle of the hockey season.

 

As the WJC fast approaches, here is a compilation and consolidated list of all of the teams’ most notable players ranked by their PNHLe statistics for the 2018-19 season. In the second part of this two-part series, I’ll take a look at the countries in Group B, and although most of the team rosters have been pared down, at the time of writing this article most countries have not submitted their final official roster.

 

PNHLe is a stat that uses historical values from current NHL players to determine an estimate of a prospect’s eventual point potential in the NHL. There are many variables that aren’t taken into consideration in the current model (i.e., time-on-ice, player usage, primary points, line-mates, etc.), so before you lambast me with why your favourite prospect should have a higher value, please understand that PNHLe is mainly used from a fantasy perspective to identify trends and infer player point potential over the course of several years – not the small sample of the start of the 2018-19 season.

 

It is a completely objective statistic where the top players usually trend upwards over an entire season, while others tend to fall off during gruelling seasons and as competition gets more difficult. That being said, players generally see a decline as rookies while they adjust to more difficult leagues. Therefore, players that make the jump from the CHL to the AHL, or the Swedish SuperElit to the SHL, generally have a drop in value and production based on situational usage, and overall time-on-ice.

 

If you’d like to read more about the PNHLe stat you can do so here. If you notice a prospect that has not been listed, it may be because PNHLe is currently only calculated for eleven different developmental leagues (AHL, WHL, OHL, QMJHL, KHL, SHL, Liiga, NCAA, USHL, Allsvenskan and NHL). Now, let’s take a look at some of the prospects to keep an eye on during this year’s tournament.

 

FINLAND

The Finnish national squad is going to be one of the more heavily scouted in the tournament as they boast a line-up with a great mix of undrafted talent alongside veteran stars and even players with NHL experience. The most recent additions have led to Henri Jokiharju being released from the Chicago Blackhawks, Boston has allowed Urho Vaakanainen to participate after a lengthy injury and the Nashville Predators are giving the Finns a huge offensive boost by assigning Eeli Tolvanen. As if those players weren’t enough to build a solid core around, Aleksi Heponiemi and Rasmus Kupari will give goalies nightmares as the formidable duo has been terrorizing netminders all year in the Liiga. The veteran snipers could open up more time and space for one of this year’s highest rated prospects, Kaapo Kakko. It wouldn’t surprise me if he comes out of this tournament in contention to go first overall in this year’s draft.

 

Pos.

No.

Player

Team

NHL Rights

PNHLe

F

 

Kaapo Kakko

Finland TPS

 

67

F

34

Rasmus Kupari

Finland Kärpät

Los Angeles Kings

60

F

32

Aleksi Heponiemi

Finland Kärpät

Florida Panthers

59

F

 

Anton Lundell

Finland HIFK

 

56

F

 

Aarne Talvitie

United States Penn State University

New Jersey Devils

47

F

 

Niklas Nordgren

Finland HIFK

Chicago Blackhawks

38

F

 

Eeli Tolvanen

United States Nashville Predators

Nashville Predators

36

F

 

Jesse Ylönen

Finland Lahti Pelicans

Montreal Canadiens

30

F

 

Sampo Ranta

United States University of Minnesota

Colorado Avalanche

27

F

 

Linus Nyman

Finland Lukko

 

20

F

 

Santeri Virtanen

Finland SaiPa

Winnipeg Jets

16

D

28

Henri Jokiharju

United States Chicago Blackhawks

Chicago Blackhawks

47

D

 

Mikko Kokkonen

Finland Jukurit

 

47

D

 

Lassi Thomson

Canada Kelowna Rockets

 

37

D

 

Anttoni Honka

Finland JYP Jyväskylä

 

30

D

 

Olli Kaskinen

Finland TPS

 

14

D

 

Toni Utunen

Finland Tappara

Vancouver Canucks

5

D

 

Urho Vaakanainen

United States Boston & Providence Bruins

Boston Bruins

N/A

 

It’s expected that Kärpät’s dynamic duo of Kupari and Heponiemi will stick together throughout the tournament as they have for much of the season. Heponiemi was the only player to score above a two-points-per-game in the entire CHL in 2017-18, he’s been one of the best players in the Liiga this season and should be a lock for rookie of the year. He still has one more year on his contract in Finland, but he may play himself on to the Panther’s line-up next fall.

 

KAZAKHSTAN

The Kazakhs have been promoted into the top division after nine years playing inside Division I Group A/B of the World Junior Championship. There isn’t much expectation of them to do anything except try to avoid relegation, but there are a couple of players to keep an eye on during the tournament. Artur Gatiyatov and Sayan Daniyar are both point-per-game players in the Russian MHL and have provided most of the offense for their junior team in 2017-18. All offense will be funnelled through this line.

Pos.

No.

Player

Team

NHL Rights

PNHLe

D

 

Valeri Orekhov

Kazakhstan Barys Astana

 

35

F

 

Sayan Daniyar

Kazakhstan Snezhnye Barsy

 

N/A

F

 

Artur Gatiyatov

Kazakhstan Snezhnye Barsy

 

N/A

 

Valeri Orekhov has played the better part of two seasons in the KHL and has seen his ice-time and usage increase. Although he was passed over in the NHL Entry Draft, he was a huge reason why Kazakhstan was promoted to this year’s top division and last year he posted seven points in only five games as a defenseman. It’s not unthinkable if he has a strong showing that an NHL team will use a mid- to late-round pick on him in the 2019 draft.

 

 

SLOVAKIA

Slovakia possesses a squad that is sprinkled throughout with players currently playing in the CHL and project to bottom-six type professional players with strong two-way games. Calgary Flames prospects Martin Pospisil, Adam Ruzicka and Milos Roman bring a wealth of experience to the table, and all three will be playing in their third consecutive World Junior Championship. If the Slovaks have any hope of advancing to the playoff round, they will need to rely heavily on their goaltending which is becoming a trademark of Slovakian WJC hockey and 2019 draft eligible Juraj Sklenar will have to follow in the footsteps of previous netminders Durny, Huska and Godla. Another draft eligible player to keep an eye on is the finesse winger Maxim Cajkovic.

Pos.

No.

Player

Team

NHL Rights

PNHLe

F

 

Martin Pospisil

United States Sioux City Musketeers

Calgary Flames

43

F

 

Milos Roman

Canada Vancouver Giants

Calgary Flames

37

F

 

Adam Ruzicka

Canada Sarnia Sting

Calgary Flames

37

F

 

Maxim Čajkovič

Canada Saint John Sea Dogs

 

31

F

 

Andrej Kukuca

Canada Seattle Thunderbirds

 

31

F

 

Oliver Okuliar

Canada Sherbrooke Phoenix

 

31

F

 

Patrik Hrehorcak

Canada Rouyn-Noranda Huskies

 

24

F

 

Jozef Balaz

Czech Republic HC Vítkovice Ridera

 

N/A

F

 

Milos Fafrak

Slovakia HK Orange 20

 

N/A

F

 

Andrej Kollár

Slovakia HK Orange 20

 

N/A

F

 

Adam Liška

Slovakia Slovan Bratislava

 

N/A

D

 

Michal Ivan

Canada Acadie–Bathurst Titan

 

22

D

6

Martin Fehérváry

Sweden HV71

Washington Capitals

15

D

 

Marek Korencik

Sweden Luleå HF J20

 

N/A

The monster of a forward,