Raymond, Stützle, Holtz, and 42 other European prospects eligible for the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.
Here is DobberProspects’ third ranking of European prospects for the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. This ranking was put together on January 31st because from February 4th onwards, there will be a U18 Five Nations tournament and a U20 Four Nations tournament, and big international events like those could cause unwanted recency bias.
Players considered for this ranking were those who are eligible for the 2020 NHL Entry Draft and playing in Europe for the 2019-2020 season. Three prospects started the season in Europe but crossed the pond midway through the season in January – we decided to include them in this ranking but they will be excluded from upcoming rankings in April and June.
This is not my personal ranking as I received contributions from the following people:
We ended up creating a top 45 ranking with seven honorable mentions included as well. The ranking was expanded a little bit from our previous ranking in November, and the plan is to expand slightly in upcoming rankings as well. Out of those 45 prospects, we believe 29 are clearly top 100 prospects, and additional 10 prospects are possibilities in that range as well.
At the end of the day, it would be surprising if about one third of the top 100 picks were drafted out of Europe because European prospects tend to fall on draft day for one reason or another – just look at Patrik Puistola, Pavel Dorofeyev and Anttoni Honka last year – but maybe that shouldn’t be the case. Maybe more European prospects should be drafted within the top 100. That is the reasoning behind this whole ranking.
Now that we’ve gone through those basic details, let’s get to the actual ranking. We have short summaries for each prospect, and at the end of this page we have a table showing the full ranking, everyone’s projected draft range, and how those have changed from November. Enjoy!
- Lucas Raymond, W – SHL (Frölunda) – 5-10, 161 lbs – Draft Range: 3-10
Jokke Nevalainen: Raymond continues to hold the top spot among Europeans because of his high-end potential. His ability to generate speed through the neutral zone is hard to miss but he’s also capable of dancing around opposing players by using his edges very well. His hands are elite and the best among this group of prospects, and it’s difficult to find anyone as creative as him. He hasn’t been given much of a chance with the SHL team but that is mostly because Frölunda has a stacked team and they’d rather use their veterans. Raymond also had a very positive showing at the World Juniors as a double-underager. Raymond may not jump straight to the NHL from the draft but his upside is arguably the highest among this group of Europeans which is why he continues to hold the top spot.
>> Shift Work: Lucas Raymond <<
- Tim Stützle, C/W – DEL (Mannheim) – 6-0, 187 lbs – Draft Range: 3-10
Jokke Nevalainen: Stützle was ranked fifth in August, then moved up to third in November, and now he’s moved up to second with a legitimate chance to overtake Raymond in future rankings. Stützle’s game revolves around his ability to do everything extremely quickly. His hands and feet are both very quick but his brain might be even quicker because he seems to be able to make great decisions no matter the situation and how much pressure he’s getting from opposing players. His hands are very close to Raymond’s level, and one could argue his skating is the best among this group. Stützle is exciting and flashy, and he’ll be a fan favorite wherever he goes. Even though he’s been used at wing in DEL and for the most part at the World Juniors as well, he has the tools to move back to center at some point in the future but it’s not a sure thing by any means.
>> Shift Work: Tim Stützle <<
- Alexander Holtz, W – SHL (Djurgården) – 6-0, 181 lbs – Draft Range: 3-10
Jokke Nevalainen: Holtz moves down one spot but it isn’t because he has played poorly. He is still the best goal-scorer among this group. He has an elite level shot and he’s excellent at making himself available for a shooting opportunity. He doesn’t need much time or space to get the shot off his stick, and his shots are always hard and accurate. But he’s not a one-dimensional goal-scorer either because he’s also an excellent playmaker who creates scoring chances for his linemates all the time. He has great awareness – he always knows where he should be and where his linemates will be. Holtz has been getting good usage in the SHL all season long, although his even strength ice time has been declining lately.
- Anton Lundell, C – Liiga (HIFK) – 6-1, 183 lbs – Draft Range: 3-10
Jokke Nevalainen: Lundell is the most complete player among this group, and he’s been getting better as the season has progressed. He has 16 points in his last 18 games. Lundell is an excellent two-way center who excels in reading plays and supporting his teammates in every situation, no matter if they’re trying to make an offensive or a defensive play. Lundell is a coach’s dream because he can be thrown to any situation without any worry of him hurting his team – he can kill penalties, run a power play, and play the last minutes of a game regardless if his team is leading or chasing. His offensive upside is not as good as the three players above him but his defensive game is much more developed. He’s a true team player with great effort level on the ice. He is a playmaker who can control the pace of the game but he also owns a dangerous wrist shot. Skating is his one weakness but even that has been getting better. I believe Lundell is ready to play in the NHL next season.
>> Prospect Deep Dive: Anton Lundell <<
- Yaroslav Askarov, G – VHL (SKA-Neva) – 6-3, 176 lbs – Draft Range: 5-15
Jokke Nevalainen: Regardless of what happened at the World Juniors, Askarov has shown enough in the Russian leagues and in other international tournaments that he deserves a top 10 selection. He has potential to be a franchise goalie and a Vezina Trophy winner somewhere in the future, and he may not need more than a couple of years before he’s playing in the NHL.
Russian Prospects: Askarov’s shaky WJC performance removed a bit of that invincibility gloss he had before the tournament, yet it doesn’t mean he is not an elite goalie talent.
Sergei Kuzin: Let’s be clear – Askarov was bad at WJC-20. Really bad. Does it hurt his draft stock? Maybe just a bit. Is he worse than we thought before World Juniors? No way. Goalie’s game at big short-term tournaments is all about mentality, so I would bet that Askarov just wasn’t ready for this tournament. He wasn’t ready to be clear No. 1 at this age. But he is still 17 years old and all his tools are there.
- Noel Gunler, W – SHL (Luleå) – 6-1, 176 lbs – Draft Range: 5-15
Jokke Nevalainen: Gunler’s biggest strengths are related to his ability to score goals. He has an elite release, excellent ability to shoot the puck at different ways, and high-end scoring instincts. He’s also a great playmaker who can regularly create scoring chances for his linemates. At times, he’s too passive on the ice which could make it seem like he’s lazy or disinterested. But at other times, his play without the puck has looked much better. Once he starts to find more consistency in that area, he will earn more trust from his coaches and that will allow his offensive abilities to shine even brighter. Gunler has top-line upside but inconsistency is keeping him outside the top five European prospects for now.
- Jan Mysak, C/W – CZE Extraliga* (Litvinov) – 6-0, 176 lbs – Draft Range: 15-30
* Mysak moved to the Hamilton Bulldogs and played his first OHL game on January 18th.
Czech Prospects: Can play both center and wing, though he was mostly used as a wing this season. He has good vision, puck handling skills, hockey sense and shot. He improved his skating over the last couple of seasons, but he needs to work on his consistency. He had a slower start to the season but he has found the game and started to produce some points even if he was playing on a bad team in the Extraliga. He had five goals and four assists in 26 games this season before leaving for the OHL. He showed his potential at the World Juniors where he was one of the best players of the Czech Republic, though he had only two points in five games.
Samuel Tirpák: Myšák is extremely interesting prospect. He has a great shot and great playmaking abilities. He is also very good puck-handler. He uses these offensive abilities to create as many offensive chances as possible and to execute them as effective as possible within his limited ice-time. He needs to work on his skating a bit, but he has improved a lot in that area. He is very versatile player that can play center and wing as well as all situations. There is a room for improvement in few areas though. He will finish the season with Hamilton Bulldogs of OHL, which should improve his draft stock in a big way.
>> Shift Work: Jan Myšák <<
- Rodion Amirov, W – KHL/MHL (Ufa) – 6-0, 168 lbs – Draft Range: 15-30
Jokke Nevalainen: Amirov showed his hands and feet are definitely good enough for the KHL level but he wasn’t yet capable of generating offense consistently at that level. At the junior level, he is a very dangerous scoring threat in every situation but he also plays a good two-way game. Amirov has legitimate top-six upside and he should be a full-time KHL player next season.
Russian Prospects: Amirov’s demotion from the KHL wasn’t exactly a bad thing after all — it allowed him to get the scoring taste back.
Sergei Kuzin: Amirov didn’t make the Team Russia WJC roster and he hasn’t played in the KHL since December. He’s stuck in MHL, and while he’s logging big minutes there and producing a lot of points, I don’t think this is the best way for his development. He might fall outside of top 20 at draft day due to lack of any standout showings this season, but he continues to be a high-ceiling offensive winger that is worth attention – maybe for lottery pick even.
- Emil Andrae, LHD – SuperElit (HV71) – 5-9, 183 lbs – Draft Range: 15-30
Jokke Nevalainen: Andrae jumps up two tiers in draft range but only two spots in the ranking. To me, Andrae is the top European defenseman in this draft class. He is an extremely smart offensive defenseman. He is very creative and can create offense in different ways. He has great patience with the puck and he doesn’t get rushed to bad decisions. He also owns good understanding of the defensive side of the game. He’s not going to win a lot of puck-battles with his size but his stick-on-stick defense is very good. Andrae draws comparisons to Erik Brännström, and even though he isn’t quite as good as him, he is a player I would be happy to take in the first round of the draft.
- Zion Nybeck, W – SuperElit (HV71) – 5-8, 176 lbs – Draft Range: 20-40
Jokke Nevalainen: Nybeck has great speed and he’s excellent at creating offense from the wing. He has been incredible in J20 SuperElit, and he’s also played a few games in the SHL, although his minutes have been extremely limited there. Nybeck is a quick thinker with great hands. He might be small but he does a great job escaping from dangerous situations by the boards – often times with the puck. NHL teams might shy away from drafting him in the first round because of his size but I would be willing to take that gamble because of his sky-high potential.
- Helge Grans, RHD – SHL/SuperElit (Malmö) – 6-3, 192 lbs – Draft Range: 20-40
Jokke Nevalainen: Grans is an offensive defenseman with great size and great skating ability. He loves to join the rush but his strengths are in the offensive end of the ice, especially on the power play. Decision-making is the biggest weakness in his game and his defensive game has a lot of room for improvement as well. But Grans’ showing at the SHL level has been so good that he’s been getting more and more first round hype because of it. He has some of the best tools in this draft class but it still remains to be seen if he can put it all together.
- Kasper Simontaival, W – Jr. SM-liiga (Tappara) – 5-9, 172 lbs – Draft Range: 25-45
Jokke Nevalainen: Simontaival is one of the most naturally gifted players in this draft class but he’s faced a lot of injuries over the past two years. Even though he’s managed to stay healthy this season, it seems like those injuries have caused some issues in his development and may end up limiting his upside. He’s a great skater, and despite his small frame, he’s great at protecting the puck. He owns high-end hands which allow him to be an excellent playmaker from the wing but he also owns an excellent wrist shot and a pretty good one-timer as well. Simontaival drops a few spots on this ranking because it seems like his development has stagnated a little bit. It would be nice to see him play at the men’s level more but unfortunately it seems like he’s stuck in the junior league for now.
- Topi Niemelä, RHD – Liiga (Kärpät) – 6-0, 163 lbs – Draft Range: 25-45
Jokke Nevalainen: Niemelä surprised pretty much everyone when he cracked Kärpät’s Liiga roster to start the season, and he hasn’t given the team a chance to send him back to junior ever since. He’s a smooth skater who isn’t afraid to join the rush but his biggest strengths are reading the play and making good, smart decisions with and without the puck. Niemelä doesn’t have high-end offensive tools but he projects to become a reliable middle-pair defenseman who plays big, important minutes at even strength.
- William Wallinder, LHD – SuperElit (MODO) – 6-4, 192 lbs – Draft Range: 30-50
Jokke Nevalainen: Wallinder is a puck-rushing defenseman with great size. He loves to join the rush, and he’s often times the one leading the rush. He’s an effortless skater with great speed and good hands which allows him to dangle through opposing players. His defensive effort and understanding is questionable which is why he isn’t ranked higher. There are also some concerns about his decision-making because he sometimes tries to force plays that aren’t there. Because of all of these reasons, Wallinder draws comparisons to Philip Broberg.
- Roni Hirvonen, C/W – Liiga (Ässät) – 5-9, 163 lbs – Draft Range: 30-50
Jokke Nevalainen: Hirvonen is a natural center but has been playing at wing this season at the men’s level in the Liiga. He’s been playing middle-six minutes with time on the power play, so he’s getting great usage even though his results haven’t been all that great. He’s a skilled forward with excellent effort level. Hirvonen’s upside is very interesting but it is more likely he ends up becoming a Swiss-Army Knife Player who mostly plays middle-six minutes at wing but can be moved up and down the lineup and from wing to center whenever needed.
>> Interview: Roni Hirvonen <<
- Veeti Miettinen, W – Jr. SM-liiga (K-Espoo) – 5-9, 159 lbs – Draft Range: 30-50
Jokke Nevalainen: Miettinen broke the Jr. SM-liiga U18 scoring record last season but he had no choice but to return to that league to maintain NCAA eligibility. This season, Miettinen leads the league in goals and points by a wide margin. He is a dominant player who doesn’t have much support around him on a bad team. But he’s doing everything possible to make sure he doesn’t get forgotten even though he’s forced to play in a league that’s beneath him. He has excellent goal-scoring abilities, especially his wrist shot which is deadly, but he’s also a good playmaker. His play without the puck gets often overlooked because of his offensive abilities but he’s a puck-hound who can be used in any situation, including on the penalty kill where he can be a dangerous scoring threat as well.
- Lukas Reichel, W – DEL (Berlin) – 6-0, 172 lbs – Draft Range: 40-60
Jokke Nevalainen: The nephew of long-timer NHLer Robert Reichel is a goal-scoring winger who has been much better than expected this season. Before the season started, he wasn’t even expected to play at the top level. But he’s been playing a middle-six role with power play time, and he’s produced points as well. He’s a very good skater who isn’t afraid to get to the dirty areas of the ice. He has good hands and he’s definitely capable of making plays but he’s more of a goal-scorer at heart. His shot is very good or even great already. His play without the puck is good which bodes well for his NHL future.
- Roby Järventie, W – Mestis (KOOVEE) – 6-2, 185 lbs – Draft Range: 40-60
Jokke Nevalainen: Järventie has had a great season in Mestis, the second-tier men’s league in Finland. He has been one of the top goal-scorers in the league which is impressive for a 17-year-old kid. Järventie has a great shot and he’s not afraid to use it. He can also get scoring chances by sneaking behind the defense or just going through them. Because of his size and speed with the puck, it’s difficult to stop him once he gets going. He’s a bit divisive because he has a lot of raw potential but he is a bit too one-dimensional. But then again, what he’s done at the men’s level is very impressive, and big goal-scoring wingers are valuable in the NHL.
- John-Jason Peterka, W – DEL (München) – 5-11, 192 lbs – Draft Range: 40-60
Jokke Nevalainen: The third German on this list is Peterka, a speedy winger with very good offensive tools. He’s a fluid skater with very good hands. He’s a good forechecker who gives good effort in all situations. His calling card is definitely his speed and quickness – it allows him to force turnovers which lead to scoring chances or power plays, and if he’s a step ahead of the opposing defenseman, you’re likely looking at a breakaway. Peterka also has good finishing abilities up close but his shot still needs some work. He moved up a couple of spots on this ranking but he projects to be more of a complementary offensive player at the NHL level which is why he didn’t move up more than that.
- Joel Blomqvist, G – Jr. SM-liiga (Kärpät) – 6-1, 183 lbs – Draft Range: 40-60
Jokke Nevalainen: Blomqvist has been incredible in the junior league this season but he’s also playing behind a very good team. He sometimes allows easy goals but then makes up for it by stopping some shots that should have gone in. He’s not as big as one would hope but he’s not small either. He has starter upside but like most goalie prospects, he needs a lot of time to get there. Blomqvist appears to be the second best European goalie in this draft class but his spot is definitely not set in stone because there are some quality options behind him as well.
- Alexander Pashin, W – MHL (Tolpar) – 5-7, 154 lbs – Draft Range: 50-70
Jokke Nevalainen: Pashin is a puck-hound who is absolutely relentless in his objective to get the puck back to his team. When he has the puck on his stick, he can do great things with it. Pashin is a great skater with excellent quickness and edge work. He is also not a liability defensively. If you like hard-working players, it is hard to watch him play and not fall in love with what he does.
Russian Prospects: As the season goes on, Pashin’s attacking game doesn’t show any signs of stopping producing. At the current point, it looks like his modest size is the only factor that keeps him away of the first round.
Sergei Kuzin: Great Hlinka/Gretzky performance is still playing a big role in Pashin’s ratings. He has been good in MHL this season, but nothing more than good. For his size, that is not good. He is aggressive, speedy and skilled, but not fantastically skilled for a 5-foot-7 player. There can be some problems with finding a playing role for Pashin at the NHL level.
- Joni Jurmo, LHD – Jr. SM-liiga (Jokerit) – 6-4, 190 lbs – Draft Range: 50-70
Jokke Nevalainen: Jurmo is a big offensive defenseman who loves to carry the puck. He has very good hands and feet which allow him to be effective playing that style of game but he still needs to learn how to pick his spots better to avoid high risk, low reward type plays. His defensive game also needs improvement, and he also needs to show more effort in that area. If that player definition sounded familiar, it is because there are a lot of similarities between Jurmo and Wallinder. They are both Broberg-type puck-carriers who excel in transition but don’t really shine at either end of the ice.
- Theodor Niederbach, C – SuperElit (Frölunda) – 5-11, 172 lbs – Draft Range: 50-70
Jokke Nevalainen: Niederbach is the biggest riser on this list, going from a draft range of 100-130 to 50-70 over the last three months. He missed the entire 2018-2019 season because of an injury, so he came into his draft season as an unknown to me. He bounced between center and wing for the first 18 games of the season, and actually played more at wing. He produced well, scoring 16 points in those 18 games, but only five of those points were scored at even strength. After the early November U18 tournament, Niederbach had a nine-game stretch in which he scored 17 points, and 11 of those points were scored at even strength. People definitely started to take notice at that point. Since then, he hasn’t had an even strength point in six games but has managed to score four power play points. Niederbach is a very smart and skilled offensive center who projects to become a middle-six player at the NHL level. He has shown some flashes of top-six upside but I’m taking a wait-and-see approach because he missed so much time and therefore it’s more difficult to project him at this point.
- Nick Malik, G – Czech2* (Frydek-Mistek) – 6-2, 174 lbs – Draft Range: 60-80
* Malik moved to the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds and played his first OHL game on January 17th.
Czech Prospects: A butterfly style goalie with a solid frame, he is quick with his pads and has great reflexes, but he needs to improve his edgework. He can steal the game with some spectacular saves and he has above average puck handling skills. Malik was great with Frydek in the Chance Liga over the last two years. This season he went 11-7-1 with a 2.46 GAA, .927 SV% and one shutout before leaving for the OHL. He also had short stints in the Extraliga and World Juniors but neither of them went well.
Samuel Tirpák: Malík is butterfly-style goaltender who has great reflexes and is very calm in net. He also possesses this special game-stealing ability where he can shut down any team whenever it is necessary. He has great puck skills as well, which helps defensemen in front of him. A transfer to Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds after World Juniors might help his value even more on top of fantastic performances for Frýdek-Mýstek in Czechia. He is just starting out in Greyhounds uniform but he had a pretty good start and hopefully he will build on that strong start.
- Marat Khusnutdinov, C – MHL (SKA-1946) – 5-9, 165 lbs – Draft Range: 60-80
Jokke Nevalainen: Khusnutdinov’s scoring rate has definitely improved lately but it’s mostly because his team played two games against ORG Junior and HC Riga, and he scored 12 points in those four rather easy games. Khusnutdinov is a smart and reliable two-way center who doesn’t play big minutes but manages to produce points regardless. His upside may not be all that high and his size might be a slight concern to some but there is definitely NHL potential in him.
Russian Prospects: After a rather slow start, Khusnutdinov finally got his attacking game going, hopefully just in time to shine at the U18 WJC.
Sergei Kuzin: After a bit of a slow start to the season in MHL, Khusnutdinov finally found his offensive stride. He’s on fire with 17 points in last 10 MHL games and he’s still a great role player – quick-thinking, diligent two-way center with good wheels. Khusnutdinov is a likeable one, who is a bit under the radar but may receive more hype closer to draft day.
- Oskar Magnusson, W – SuperElit (Malmö) – 5-10, 165 lbs – Draft Range: 60-80
Jokke Nevalainen: Magnusson has been excellent in J20 SuperElit this season. He’s a great skater with excellent edge work. He’s a very good goal-scorer but can also make plays. He can make flashy plays that get him noticed. He’s a pretty good penalty killer and a constant scoring threat even while down a man. It is pretty easy to see him playing a middle-six role at the NHL level in the future.
- Jan Bednar, G – Czech2 (Sokolov) – 6-4, 196 lbs – Draft Range: 70-90
Czech Prospects: A big, mobile goalie who uses his size, but sometimes looks lazy in the goal. He was outstanding last season when he helped his team to avoid relegation from the Extraliga. He hasn’t been great so far this season, playing most of the time for the last-place team in the Chance Liga. On the other side, his two Extraliga wins this season came against league-leading Liberec. In those two games, he made some stellar saves and showed his potential. He has solid puck handling skills, but should avoid mistakes.
Samuel Tirpák: Bednář is another quality goaltender from Czech Republic in this draft, actually really similar to Nick Malík. He has great reflexes, is very calm and has very good puck-handling abilities, which helps his defensemen a lot. But we have not seen the game-stealing ability from him yet, opposite to Malík.
- Eemil Viro, LHD – Liiga (TPS) – 6-0, 168 lbs – Draft Range: 70-90
Jokke Nevalainen: Viro has made a smooth transition to the Liiga level, and he’s done it very quickly. He has now played more games in the Liiga than in the U20 junior league during his career. He has shown his game transitions to the men’s level very nicely which gives him very good NHL certainty and moves him up a few spots on this list. The problem is that he doesn’t offer a lot of upside. He is a very good skater and he has good puck-skills, and those abilities allow him to make good breakout passes and join the rush. But he doesn’t have any standout qualities that would make me think he could be anything more than a number four defenseman at best.
>> Interview: Eemil Viro <<
- Anton Johannesson, LHD – SuperElit (HV71) – 5-9, 154 lbs – Draft Range: 70-90
Jokke Nevalainen: Johannesson missed a lot of time with injuries last season, and the same has been true this season as well. But when he has played, he’s shown he has a tremendous amount of upside. He is a very smart offensive defenseman. He makes simple plays very effectively and makes creative plays look simple. He also has a very good wrist shot. Because they play on the same team and they’re both 5-foot-9, it’s easy to draw comparisons between Johannesson and Andrae. But Andrae’s skating and defensive play are much better at this point, so that is why there is a pretty big gap between them. But at the same time, it’s difficult to say how much Johannesson can improve over the next couple of years if he can just stay healthy.
- Juuso Mäenpää, C – Jr. SM-liiga (Jokerit) – 5-7, 141 lbs – Draft Range: 80-110
Jokke Nevalainen: Mäenpää is a playmaking center who had an incredible start to his first season in the top junior league in Finland but his scoring pace has definitely been slowing down over the past couple of months. Mäenpää is a great skater with excellent edge work and very good speed. His passes are hard and accurate, and his vision and awareness are both great. Because of his size, he will likely need to move to the wing at some point when he turns pro which can be a bit difficult for a playmaker like him. But because of his skating ability, hockey sense and effort on the ice, I’m pretty confident he can do it and have success even at the NHL level.
- Samuel Knazko, LHD – Jr. SM-liiga (TPS) – 6-0, 185 lbs – Draft Range: 80-110
Samuel Tirpák: Kňažko is smart offensive defenseman with pretty good two-way game. Kňažko stands out offensively. He has great shot and is really creative in creating scoring chances for himself or his teammates. He is a flawless skater and while not perfect defensively, his skating allows him to be effective. Not a physical player. He was one of the few good Slovak defensemen at the World Juniors. Kňažko showcased excellent zone exits and entries with control and also above average defensive zone control which allowed him to be positionally sound when defending. His puck control was off the charts and that is one of the main attributes of his game. If developed properly and patiently, team can have top-4 offensive left shot defenseman who is pretty solid on defense.
- Daniel Torgersson, W – SuperElit (Frölunda) – 6-3, 205 lbs – Draft Range: 80-110
Jokke Nevalainen: Torgersson is a big goal-scoring winger. Not a true power forward but is starting to learn how to utilize his size better. He’s also a very good skater. He has a great shot but he can also make plays. He’s a quick thinker but his hands are a bit questionable. Torgersson has had a great season in J20 SuperElit, and he’s played a few SHL games now as well. His usage in the SHL is very limited but it’s impressive to get games on that stacked Frölunda team, even though it is mostly because of injuries.
- Maxim Groshev, W – KHL (Neftekhimik) – 6-2, 194 lbs – Draft Range: 80-110
Jokke Nevalainen: Groshev has spent most of the season in the KHL where he has played a very limited role, averaging less than eight minutes of ice time per game. He played a very similar role at the World Juniors as well. He has shown some offensive skill at the junior level, though. It is difficult to see him becoming an offensive player at the NHL level but because of his hard-working style, size, and decent tools, he could eventually become a very good bottom-six winger in the NHL.
Russian Prospects: Groshev had a good showing at the CAN/RUS Series playing a solid 200-foot game, which earned him a place on the WJC roster, where he contributed on getting the silver medals.
Sergei Kuzin: Groshev was quite a surprising pick for Team Russia roster on WJC-20 and didn’t receive a big role as was expected. Groshev is going to be a middle-round pick as was expected at the start of the season. He doesn’t surprise but he also hasn’t disappointed this season – just developing as expected. But this is a good sign.
- Emil Heineman, W – SuperElit (Leksand) – 6-0, 179 lbs – Draft Range: 80-110
Jokke Nevalainen: Heineman is one of the oldest players for this draft class but he’s been one of the top players in J20 SuperElit this season – his points-per-game average is almost as good as Nybeck’s. Heineman is not a flashy player but very effective. He is very smart and a good skater. He also has a very good shot. He has decent size, and his effort level is good. Heineman plays a reliable all-around game but seems to lack true standout skills.
- Martin Chromiak, W – SVK Extraliga* (Trencin) – 6-0, 179 lbs – Draft Range: 90-120
* Chromiak moved to the Kingston Frontenacs and played his first OHL game on January 2nd.
Samuel Tirpák: This young standout is smooth-skating, powerful offensive dynamo. He is not that big of a player but he uses the size he has to his advantage in all three zones and in transition as well. What I like the most about him is his ability to cover the puck despite high pressure of opposition and his forechecking abilities as well. He drives the net hard, which will lead to a lot of net-front goals and chances in high-danger spots. He took his game to another level after transfer to OHL from Tipsport Liga. Chromiak has had immediate chemistry with top prospect of 2022 NHL Draft, Shane Wright. They can find each other so easily. Chromiak uses his best attributes to contribute both offensively and defensively while building up strong case for jump in draft rankings.
- Alexander Nikishin, LHD – KHL (Spartak) – 6-3, 196 lbs – Draft Range: 90-120
Jokke Nevalainen: Nikishin is a big and physical defenseman who has been given a chance to play at the KHL level because of his playing style and Spartak’s need for that type of a player. But he doesn’t have much offensive skill, his defensive game still needs a lot of work, and his skating isn’t all that great either. Nikishin was sent down to the MHL in late January but could get called back up soon. He doesn’t project to become more than a bottom-pair defenseman at the NHL level.
Russian Prospects: Despite missing time with injuries, Nikishin’s game is steadily becoming more refined which leads to getting more ice time and responsibilities in the KHL.
Sergei Kuzin: Nikishin couldn’t prove himself at KHL level and been moved down to MHL. Hasn’t shown any improvement this season – still making stupid decisions with and without the puck, so his departure makes sense. He has nothing but physicality at this point.
>> Shift Work: Alexander Nikishin <<
- Lucas Ramberg, LHD – SuperElit (Luleå) – 6-0, 176 lbs – Draft Range: 90-120
Jokke Nevalainen: Ramberg drops down a little bit because he hasn’t progressed as much as expected. Ramberg is a smooth skater and very smart with good amount of skill but he doesn’t really have any standout abilities. He plays a pretty good all-around game but he’s more developed offensively than defensively. He has managed to get a couple of SHL games but he’s not quite ready to be a full-time player at the men’s level.
- Elliot Ekmark, C – SuperElit (Linköping) – 5-9, 150 lbs – Draft Range: 90-120
Jokke Nevalainen: Ekmark rises a little after showing clear signs of progress throughout the season. He has had a great season in J20 SuperElit, and he’s even played a couple of SHL games as well. He is an undersized playmaking center but he also has a very good one-timer which he likes to use on the power play especially. He also plays a surprisingly good two-way game. Ekmark is a very good skater but not elite in that area. He might have to move to wing at the NHL level but middle-six upside is definitely possible for him.
- Shakir Mukhamadullin, LHD – KHL/MHL (Ufa) – 6-2, 170 lbs – Draft Range: 90-120
Jokke Nevalainen: Mukhamadullin is a divisive prospect who seems to be ranked all over the place. But besides his size, he doesn’t have a lot of great qualities. He seems to be still growing into his body which could be why his skating looks a bit awkward. His skills are mostly average or slightly above average and his defensive game isn’t really a strength for him either. It is a bit baffling that he’s gotten some KHL games already.
Russian Prospects: With Mukhamadullin’s raw talents, the work is still in progress in terms of polishing those.
Sergei Kuzin: There aren’t many differences between Nikishin and Mukhamadullin. They both have good physicality and can shoot the puck but lack smarts. Mukhamadullin is younger, so he’s got a bit more room for improvement, but most often this type of players just can’t get smarter.
- Pavel Tyutnev, W – MHL (Loko) – 5-9, 185 lbs – Draft Range: 100-130
Sergei Kuzin: Tyutnev was really good at Hlinka/Gretzky last summer, but had a slow start in MHL. However, now he is one of Loko’s leaders and his draft stock may be rising. I don’t see anything special in Tyutnev but he is a fairly good all-around player with middle-six upside. Decent pick for mid-to-late rounds.
- Calle Clang, G – SuperElit (Rögle) – 6-2, 176 lbs – Draft Range: 100-130
Jokke Nevalainen: Clang has been a workhorse for Rögle this season in J20 SuperElit, and he’s been one of the top goalies in the league. His stats don’t really do him justice because he hasn’t had a good team in front of him. Clang also doesn’t get much exposure in international events because of Jesper Wallstedt (2021) but Clang is arguably the best Swedish goalie in this draft class and one of the top goalies out of Europe. He has the size needed in today’s NHL, and he’s also shown the ability to steal some games all on his own.
- Dmitri Ovchinnikov, C – MHL (Sibirskie) – 5-10, 161 lbs – Draft Range: 110-140
Jokke Nevalainen: Ovchinnikov has had a great season in the MHL, scoring 47 points in 48 games. He leads all under-18 players in the league in points and points-per-game average. He’s been especially strong over the past 11 games in which he’s scored 20 points. Ovchinnikov is not a big guy but he’s a very smart playmaker who can make creative and flashy plays. He is also a very good skater.
Sergei Kuzin: Small, offense-minded center started raising his draft stock this season. He’s a decent skater, creative with the puck and has good hockey sense but lacks tempo and doesn’t seem too active without the puck. Can’t call his skills high-end, so he may end up as good offensive player in the KHL. But for having some NHL upside, he needs big improvement.
- Maxim Beryozkin, W – MHL (Loko) – 6-2, 201 lbs – Draft Range: 110-140
Russian Prospects: Beryozkin’s producing tempo clearly slowed down in the second half of the MHL season, but still he is able to do some “wow” type of stuff.
Sergei Kuzin: I haven’t seen a lot of Beryozkin’s games, but what I’ve seen – he really lacks speed. You could call him clumsy. Some offense is there, but his wheels demolishes his upside.
- Daniel Ljungman, C – SuperElit (Linköping) – 6-0, 161 lbs – Draft Range: 110-140
Jokke Nevalainen: Ljungman is a reliable two-way center with good size and very good skating ability. He also owns a great shot but his playmaking abilities are somewhat limited because of his hands. He doesn’t project to become more than a bottom-six center at the NHL level but there is always a need for players like him on any team.
- Amir Miftakhov, G – VHL (Bars Kazan) – 6-0, 165 lbs – Draft Range: 110-140
Jokke Nevalainen: In 2018, Miftakhov went undrafted despite a strong season in the MHL as a 17-year-old. In 2019, he went undrafted despite a strong season in the VHL as an 18-year-old. He is having another good season in the VHL now as a 19-year-old. Is his strong performance at the World Juniors finally enough to get him drafted? Quite honestly, the only thing holding him back is size. He is not small but he’s also not as big as most modern NHL goalies. But at the end of the day, the only thing that matters is that a goalie can stop pucks. He is worth the gamble somewhere around the middle of the draft.
Sergei Kuzin: Miftakhov was good enough to be drafted in 2018, still was good enough in 2019, but now he’s finally proven himself great enough at WJC-20 to see his name on draft board. He’s still a bit undersized for goalie but showing amazing reflexes, good positioning and notably improved stick. He’s got NHL upside for sure and size shouldn’t be a concern for teams no more.
Those were our 45 ranked prospects. Below is the same in table format, and it also includes seven honorable mentions. Different tiers are highlighted using a different background color. Changes in draft range are highlighted with green and red arrows – the bigger the change, the more noticeable the color. Date of birth is highlighted in red for overagers (players who have passed through a draft already).
And that’s all for now, thanks for reading. Remember to follow me on Twitter @JokkeNevalainen.
Images used on the main picture courtesy of SHL.se and DEL.org