Welcome to the first edition of DP Draft Reports, a brand new series that will run a couple of times a month here at DobberProspects. The DP Scouting Team has been hard at work, getting back into rinks for live viewings and watching hours of game tape on the 2022 NHL Draft class over the last few months, and we wanted to share some of that work with our readers.
In addition to our draft rankings that are released throughout the year, we will be sharing a sampling of our scouts’ individual game reports on prospects for the upcoming draft. These aren’t meant to serve as holistic scouting reports, rather they are snapshots of specific games throughout the season that are intended to provide a more detailed look at a player’s in-game performance.
This round of DP Draft Reports features three players from the top-20 of our Preliminary 2022 NHL Draft Rankings, including Russian winger Danila Yurov, towering center Conor Geekie of the Winnipeg Ice, and USNTDP forward Frank Nazar. Center Pano Fimis of the OHL’s Niagra IceDogs and Finnish winger Jani Nyman round out this edition of DP Draft Reports.
Yurov has spent most of his season in the KHL with Magnitogorsk, seeing little to no ice time at Russia’s top level, but has been dominant in the MHL with 12 points in just six games. Winnipeg has been a juggernaut in the WHL through the early part of the season and Geekie has been one of their top offensive performers, racking up six goals and 20 assists through 21 games to this point. Nazar, a versatile forward who led the USNTDP U17 team in scoring last season, has carried his play to the U18 squad this year where he currently sits one point back of Isaac Howard for the team scoring lead with 21 points in 19 games. Nyman has spent most of his season playing on loan with KOOVEE in Mestis and leads the team in scoring through the early part of the season with 15 points in 12 games while Fimis is enjoying a solid start to his draft year with 11 points in 18 games for Niagra.
Without further ado, let’s get to it.
Danila Yurov | RW | Stalnye vs. Sibirskie (MHL) | 2021-10-28
0 G, 1 A, 3 SOG, 18:26 TOI
Zack Szweras: Overall, Yurov played a decent game against poor competition. When Yurov was on the ice, his team primarily had the puck in the offensive zone where he was able to show off his elite playmaking skills. Yurov’s strong hockey IQ was on full display in this game, constantly scanning the ice for open passing lanes when he had the puck and positioning himself in open ice to receive passes from teammates.
Usually, when Yurov senses his teammate is about to shoot, he crashes towards the net looking to bury a rebound. It was noticeable that in Yurov’s transition game, he preferred to make zone-exit and zone-entry passes rather than transitioning the puck up ice by skating it himself. Since skating is one of his biggest strengths, it was not surprising that he flashed strong straight-line speed by employing good ankle flexion which he complemented with powerful, quick crossovers to accelerate. When Yurov had to make plays in the defensive zone, he would use his speed to backcheck and stop the attack using his active stick to free the puck for transition.
Yurov did have some flaws that were noticeable in this game, including his shot, which needs work. He should look to improve his shot selection and add more power behind his wrist shots, but that will come as he matures. His stickhandling was fine against low-level MHL defenders but if he wants to take his game to the next level, he needs to work on being able to stickhandle off the wall into the middle of the ice. Ultimately, Yurov is probably too good for the MHL and would benefit from facing tougher competition.
Follow @Zack_Szweras on Twitter
Frank Nazar | C | USA U18 vs Finland U18 (U18 Five Nations Tournament) | 2021-11-14
1 G, O A, 6 SOG, 18:10 TOI
Alexander Annun: Nazar played a really solid game in this one. The finals of the Five Nations tournament saw Nazar pot a goal on a great shot from the slot on the powerplay. His quick shot release and ability to open up his own shooting lanes saw him fire six shots on goal with good accuracy and power behind them.
He did pretty well in the faceoff circle and while he did not put forth the best defensive work rate, his positioning in his own end was good enough to make up for it. He didn’t engage physically very often but he had a decent success rate when he did – he isn’t the tallest but he has a solid enough frame to be able to hold his ground or run his opponents off the puck.
His puck carrying ability was on full display and he was very elusive as he slinked through defenses along the boards or sliced through them right up the gut with quick dekes. He showcased his ability to think the game at a fast pace by making quick passes when the defense was bearing down on him, but he also recognized when he had time to hold the puck and survey his options instead of forcing a pass into a heavily defended area of the ice. Most of his shots were the result of his own hard work to engineer his own space on the puck and not just relying on teammates to find him when he got open. However, Nazar did well to float in and out of pockets of space across the ice keeping the defense on their toes and momentarily grabbing their attention away from the puck carrier.
He didn’t have a constantly running motor that some of his teammates had on the forecheck but he was always there as that second support player to swoop in and reclaim possession of the puck while the opposition was focusing on the first forechecker. While only contributing to one of the nine goals for his team in this one Nazar put in a good showing and looked very comfortable with his linemates, Gavin Brindley and Isaac Howard.
Follow @Annun_Scouting on Twitter
Jani Nyman | RW | KOOVEE vs. SaPKo (Mestis) | 2021-11-18
1 G, O A, 3 SOG, 17:11 TOI
Eetu Siltanen: Nyman didn’t have the strongest of games here against SaPKo but it wasn’t a bad one either as he displayed many positive attributes. He had a big role on his team’s first line and top powerplay unit. He got hit to the head in the second period but somehow only missed a few shifts. After he came back, he managed to score a really nice goal: made a zone entry, used his skill and play reading to cut to the middle around multiple opponents, showed good patience and shot a great wrister top corner. Nyman is a balanced player as he is strong in all areas and doesn’t have many negatives in his game. However, aside from having a great wrist shot, he doesn’t really shine in any particular area either.
Nyman’s skating was solid for his size and he keeps up with the pace of the game very well, even though you can see that he is still growing into his frame. I don’t see that as a problem though, as he has grown a lot from last season and is on the young side of this draft (late-July birthday). He flashed his above-average puck skills at times and his great wrist shot on his goal. Nyman’s very good at stealing the puck and made some very nice lifts on the forecheck a couple of times. He showed good motor, especially on forecheck, but also made a couple of very nice backchecking efforts. His defensive zone game wasn’t the greatest, but he supported defenders multiple times when they jumped into a rush. Nyman and his PP unit didn’t really succeed on the man advantage in this one, but I didn’t make a lot of conclusions about that as they’ve been very productive for much of the season.
Nyman’s transition game was decent. In the defensive zone, he struggled from time to time as allowed multiple zone entries but made a few very nice plays as well. That is definitely an area to improve for him but when his team made a zone entry and went over the neutral zone, Nyman was very good. Not only did he create multiple controlled zone entries, he was also able to make smart plays after entry off the rush. His goal was one very good example of that. He is also very good at building in a rush with passes. There was one really nice sequence where he completed a zone entry before creating a scoring chance with a cut to the middle and a slick drop pass. Like I said, this wasn’t the best game from Nyman, but he looked better and better towards the end of the game.
Follow @siltaneneetu on Twitter
Pano Fimis | C | Niagra vs. Peterborough (OHL) | 2021-10-30
0 G, 0 A, 3 SOG, 18:00 TOI
Jacob Barker: It certainly was not Fimis’ best night, with the only stat shown on the scoresheet beside his name being a big -3. That said, his overall game was not as bad as the statline may show. Fimis still generated some solid offensive chances, and even got robbed of a goal on what may be a save of the year candidate by the Petes’ goaltender in the middle of the second period. Fimis showed his ability to create scoring chances for himself and others, just not in a consistent manner.
I was impressed by Fimis’ calm presence with the puck on his stick, no matter what zone he had it in. He showed a crisp passing ability and a level of patience that is matched by few draft-eligible prospects in the OHL this year. By just watching him on the puck, you can tell that he understands the game at a very high level. He looked quick and agile on his feet, but didn’t blow anyone away with his top speed. Although inconsistent, there were times in the game when he showed a desire to create offence by himself, which he actually did quite well. I know it’s not in his nature, but his ability to move quickly in the offensive zone and rip a powerful wrist shot on goal when the opportunity presents itself is evident. The one major knock against him right now is that I find he is often too passive on the ice, getting caught in the flow of play and not showing too much desire to pressure opponents into making mistakes. If he can find a way to insert himself more from a physical perspective and show a true desire to control play, he will find more consistent success throughout his future games.
Follow @JacobMBarker12 on Twitter
Conor Geekie | C | Winnipeg vs. Swift Current (WHL) | 2021-11-19
O G, 1 A, 1 SOG, 18:12 TOI
Nick Richard: Looking at his stat line, you’d think the first thing that would jump out at you when watching Conor Geekie would be his high-end offensive skill. On this night, however, what stood out the most in Geekie’s game was his lack of mobility and quickness, especially in tight spots.
Despite his mobility concerns, he has good instincts and generally knows where to be. That helped him get off to a good start in this game as he sealed the wall to block a clearing attempt before corralling the loose puck with a couple of quick handles and finding Jakin Smallwood in the slot. Smallwood made no mistake and Geekie earned a primary assist on the first goal of the game. There were flashes of Geekie’s vision, passing ability, and puck-handling skills in this game but he and his linemates struggled to generate much sustained offensive pressure at even strength. In a couple of instances, he was unable to make a play under pressure which led to losses of possession. He has great size but didn’t really use it to position himself for puck battles and when he was pressured with the puck on his stick, his heavy feet and lack of body control didn’t allow him to adapt or escape.
Geekie is a capable handler when he gets a head of steam and has space in front of him, however, and he showed that off with a couple of strong rushes in transition. The problems generally arise in small-area or quick-change situations where he is forced to transition from attacking to defending. There were multiple occasions in this game where he was beaten in transition or an opposing player was able to easily separate from him and practically eliminate him from the play. It also felt like there were times where he was compensating for his lack of mobility by being hesitant to attack a lane or spot on the ice.
His offensive instincts and vision really showed up on a late powerplay opportunity, though. The extra time and space, combined with the fact that he could just man his spot to pick apart the defense rather than having to use his feet to maintain possession, allowed him to complete a number of quick, accurate passes through traffic and facilitate a dangerous looking powerplay shift. He was on the left half-wall after posting up on the right side on his first few powerplay shifts and had a couple of good looks skating downhill on his strong side to fire his heavy shot but was unable to hit the net.
It wasn’t his best night by any means, but there were glimpses of what has made Geekie so successful in junior hockey this season. My biggest concern is that the lack of quickness and mobility shown in this game will make it exceedingly difficult for him to utilize those tools as he climbs the ranks.
Follow @_NickRichard on Twitter