Philip Tomasino in his new Oshawa Generals sweater
Welcome back to my weekly Prospect Ramblings, this week will be a bit less formal as I go through my notebook and talk about some of the notable performances or players that stuck out in some recent games that I’ve watched. I’ll take a look at some of the players that are eligible for this upcoming draft and players already drafted by NHL teams who are still playing in the CHL.
Cole Perfetti and Ryan Suzuki vs. Flint Firebirds (January 10, 2020)
The 2020 draft-eligible prospect took just one period to gel with new linemate (and teammate) Ryan Suzuki who was recently acquired by the Saginaw Spirit. Despite a first period where both players looked a little bit out of sorts, the duo clicked in the second frame. It seemed as if the new teammates had a discussion in the intermission and figured out how they wanted to play together. Cole Perfetti is given a gift with the addition of the highly skilled Suzuki.
Both Suzuki and Perfetti finished the game with two assists and could have had more if a couple of small bounces went their way. The chemistry was impressive as the two players were both able to thread passes through traffic in the offensive zone. Suzuki was able to put his shot on display which looks vastly improved from last season. His shot looks harder and he seems to be more willing to take the shot when it presents itself while still being a creative playmaker who is able to spot his teammates with passes in high-danger areas.
Perfetti continued to play the role of facilitator, even with Suzuki on his line, which made for some fun passing plays between the two high-skilled forwards. The benefactor was Islanders’ prospect Cole Coskey who was the goal scorer on both of Perfetti’s assists, the second of which was the game-winning goal on a solid play by both Suzuki and Perfetti. Perfetti worked the puck down the boards to Suzuki who finds Coskey from behind the goal line, Coskey makes no mistake and the eventual game-winner was in the back of the net. Aside from his diversification in the offensive zone, an area where Perfetti has improved this season is in his skating. He seems to have a bit more power in his stride and his agility is noticeably improved, especially in tight quarters. With the growth of Perfetti and the addition of Suzuki, the Saginaw Spirit have themselves one of the most entertaining lines in the OHL.
Philip Tomasino and Ty Tullio vs. Peterborough Petes (January 12, 2020)
Speaking of fun lines to watch, the newly formed ‘TNT’ line in Oshawa will give the Saginaw top-line a run for their money. Ty Tullio, Brett Neumann and Philip Tomasino (T-N-T) have been a hit since the arrival of Tomasino last week. With 10 points in his first three games with the Gens, Tomasino has made an immediate impact. Tullio’s five points over the same span have largely come as a result of the duo’s instant chemistry. With Tomasino’s speed, playmaking and high-end puck skills to go along with Tullio’s creativity, shot and high-motor, the Generals have given themselves a line who can play in all situations, at any time during a game. Both players finished with multi-point nights but none were better than this passing play from the ‘TNT’ line!
Tullio has been impressive all year and has been steadily on the rise in most draft rankings. His production has been steady and solid as the primary offensive player on his line and the addition of Tomasino will only bolster that. Tullio blends a never-ending motor and his high IQ to get himself into good scoring spots and he has a very underrated shot that keeps goaltenders honest. His playmaking has been improved over the course of the season making him a more balanced player. His skating is above average but it plays even better than that because he never stops moving his feet and puts pressure on the opposition with his consistent effort.
Tomasino, the Nashville Predators first-round pick, has been a monster on the scoresheet this year. He is currently standing at 67 points in just 39 games, good for fourth in the OHL, and has heated up with the Oshawa Generals. Tomasino is a silky smooth skater who can move the puck up the ice with just a few strides. His transitional game is impressive and seems to be a skill that the Oshawa Generals were targeting with the acquisition. His playmaking is among the best in the OHL, creative and efficiently making his teammates better every time he steps on the ice. He may end up being the addition that the Generals needed to get into the upper echelon of the OHL’s Eastern Conference.
Lukas Svejkovsky vs. Winnipeg Ice (January 8, 2020)
Lukas Svejkovsky has been solid if nothing else this season. Against the Ice, he was noticeable on the ice (no pun intended) on every shift. He had two goals against Winnipeg, showing off his speed and hands as well as his willingness to battle along the boards. Svejkovsky’s second goal of the night came on a beautiful play on a two-on-one. After receiving the pass, he drags the puck to the middle to lose the defender and then snipes the puck across the grain for a beautiful goal as can be seen below. He has the ability to create time and space for himself, using his quick first step and raw speed to open the ice up. His shot is good, not great, but he does a good job of getting into the dangerous areas to make sure that his shot can be more effective.
Svejkovsky has his warts but he’s an intriguing offensive talent. He is a player that fans enjoy watching with the puck on his stick because he is willing to try and create opportunities for both himself and his teammates. The issues with Svejkovsky come when you watch his effort in the defensive end. He is a bit uninterested at times but he has a good stick. He shows the skill that he has with some takeaways but he’s not a defensive stalwart by any means. His creativity can lead to unique paths through the neutral zone but that can be chalked up to the fact that he is a young player trying new things. He is an intriguing prospect for the 2020 NHL Draft, to say the least.
Cole Sillinger vs. Moose Jaw Warriors (January 11, 2020)
Cole Sillinger is a stud. There is no other way to say it. The 2021 NHL Draft eligible prospect is producing at an impressive rate with 45 points in 37 games (1.21 P/GP) as a 16-year-old. Against the Warriors, Sillinger had two goals to help lead the Tigers to a 7-5 victory. Sillinger is a smart player who has outstanding awareness in the offensive zone. He showed off his big shot with one goal off the rush and a one-timer on the powerplay. Sillinger has the ability to change the angle of his shot while skating at his top speed with subtle stick handling, taking shots from between his skates or with fully extended arms. In the video below, Sillinger scores on a wicked shot that handcuffs the netminder after he changes the angle ever so slightly with a toe drag that leads right into his shot. This skill, similar to the way Auston Matthews changes the shooting angle, allows Sillinger to be a lethal shooter from anywhere on the ice.
While his top-speed is a concern for some, his instant acceleration makes up for that because he always has a step on opposing players in a race for the puck. His defensive game has been maligned at times but there have been signs of growth this season. He may not be a future Selke winner but the young forward should be able to grow into an average defender at the next level because of his advanced IQ. Sillinger understands where the puck will be around the ice and needs to improve his defensive intensity and consistency. While we are still well over a year away from the 2021 NHL Draft, Sillinger has been impressive and will likely be in the top-15 in most preseason rankings to start next season.
Adam Beckman vs. Vancouver Giants (January 11, 2020)
The WHL-leading scorer has done everything the Minnesota Wild could have hoped for and more when they drafted him in the third round of the 2019 draft. Adam Beckman had a goal and an assist against the Giants, helping retain a share of the league scoring lead. Beckman was able to score the game-tying goal on a play where his linemates forechecked in behind the net and then Beckman snuck into a soft spot on the inside left circle before firing a one-timer home for the Chiefs, as seen below.
Beckman is an offensive contributor that relies on his effort and motor to drive play and produce. Beckman uses the forecheck to create havoc and draw defenders towards him low in the zone when battling behind the net or along the boards. This allows his teammates to find open space near the net. Beckman has a good shot and he is a decent playmaker, keeping teams honest. Beckman projects as a middle-six scorer at the NHL level but his energy and tenacity will help make Beckman a useful player in all situations.
James Malatesta vs. Val-d’Or Foreurs (January 11, 2020)
A possible 30-goal scorer as a 16-year-old rookie in the QMJHL, James Malatesta has been on fire this year with 20 goals and 33 points in 37 games for the Quebec Remparts. Malatesta had a goal (video below) and an assist against Val-d’Or Foreurs, all while showing maturity in his game beyond his years. The young Quebec forward has been a shooting machine, getting 4.3 SOG/GP which is an impressive rate for a player his age. The puck seems to follow Malatesta around the ice. He is a play driver already in the QMJHL and has been one of the best rookies in the CHL period.
What makes Malatesta so special is his ability to control the play while he’s on the ice. He is a player who thrives on possession, at times leaving the offensive zone with possession when being pinched out towards the blueline. This allows him to keep the puck on his, or his teammates, stick and re-enter the offensive zone for another crack at attacking the opposition. This is the type of play that is becoming more and more prominent in the modern game as teams learn that possession in a major part of winning the game. Malatesta has an outstanding shot and good vision on the ice as well. His IQ matches his skill set, making him one of the most promising 16-year-old players in the CHL.
Thanks for joining me for some scouting notes from around the CHL! There is always a ton of great hockey to be watched so make sure you catch the action at your local CHL rink (or lower-level junior hockey)! I’ll be back next Monday with another Rambling about whatever is going on in the world of prospects. Be sure to watch out for the NHL Draft Report later this month as well as we kick off 2020 with an in-depth report on the upcoming 2020 NHL Draft! As always, you can reach out to me on Twitter at @theTonyFerrari! Which prospects have stood out to you recently? Let me know!