Here we are. School is back in session. Euro leagues are firing up regular season and intra-divisional tournaments. Hell, even NHL Prospect Camps have opened. It’s hockey season! And while I don’t have many coherent, well-thought-out words for you today, I do have something.
Below are some of my notes from the most recent episode of Prospect Central on Sportsnet650. There’s a look at a few team’s top prospects as we count down the top pipeline’s in the league. Some thoughts on the most recent Four Nation’s tournament, and the on-going Champions Hockey League tourney.
I hope you enjoy!
Denisenko (FLA)-Morozov (VGK)-Dorofeyev (VGK) was the top story – Ran that tournament as a top line for the Russians – clearly the best line on the best team at the tourney. Created most shifts. Ran the puck possession. Denisenko is ridiculously talented. I love his vision and ability to hang onto the puck to allow lanes to open. He’s going to be a star.
Vasily Podkolzin was doing his thing. So many chances for himself and his mates, but nothing to show for it. The motor never ends with this kid. He linked up with Kirill Marchenko (CBJ) and Danil Savunov (AZ). Expect those two Russian lines to stick together for the WJC in December.
Podkolzin’s first three KHL contests this year have Canucks’ fans calling for him to tap out of the two-year deal and cross the pond (41 seconds in Gm1, 10:30 in Gm2, 40 second in Gm3). But this was always going to be a battle to earn real ice with SKA. That’s one of the deepest teams in the second-best league in the world. The VHL (Russia’s equivalent to the AHL) just opened their season. My guess is Podkolzin splits his time between the two leagues – seeing top six in the V and bottom six in the K.
And guess what? That’s ok.
Podkolzin will star on the international stage at the WJC, WJAC-U19 and any other U20 event that the Russia squad participates in.
Nils Höglander (VAN) was the best (and only) bright spot for the Swedes. They sent a weaker squad – as did the Finns.
Champions Hockey League
This is a pro tourney that pits a TON of Euro teams against each other throughout the season. They start off with a bunch in September and October then it whittles down.
Some interesting youngsters who are looking good:
Tim Stützle – After Adler Manheim incubated Moritz Seider into the top 10, they’ll look to do the same with the skilled centre in Stützle. Speed and quickness are the name of the game. Quality vision and a nice release round out the profile.
He’s been seeing second-line duty and has two goals and three points in three games thus far. This kid is no joke.
- Stützle, Seider and Dominik Bokk are going to make Germany a fun team to root for at the WJC this year.
Alexander Holtz – Djurgarden – SNIPER
An elite finisher who can bury the biscuit in any number of ways. Anticipates well and gets his body into a position to fire. Owns above-average speed and puck skills to go with the killer instinct.
Another kid seeing offensive deployment early on in the tournament. He’s popped two goals and 7 SOG in two games thus far.
Lucas Raymond (Frolunda) – Not getting the deployment that Holtz or Stutzle are
An explosive winger who is equally dangerous with his shot or pass. Moves with quickness and handles the puck at a high-level even at top speed. His puck skills are fluid, controlled and capable of embarrassing. Finishes with accuracy off of a quick release. Capable of converting from all over. Possesses that rare trait of escapability.
Was the 13th forward in game one. Scratched in game two. Elevated to the fourth line for game three and pops a couple of goals.
Raymond might be might favourite player from this group. And that’s saying something because I’m enamoured with a great deal of these players.
My 2020 Preliminary Draft Rankings came out this week. Take a peek at one of the best classes to come around in two decades.
For those still holding out hope (and I think you should) Jesse Puljujarvi has two goals and four points in three Champions Hockey League games while putting 15 shots on net. He’s been good.
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