Welcome to my weekly Wednesday ramblings! No more bi-weekly Friday thoughts, now you’ll get me mid-week, every week! Today we’re going to take a look at some of the early returns from the 2019 NHL Draft. Who’s been hot to start the year and who is already making people ask “How did he fall to that spot?”
Phillip Tomasino, RW, Niagara IceDogs (OHL)
Nashville Predators, 1st Round, 24th overall
5G – 10A – 15P in 7 Games
Second in OHL scoring, Phillip Tomasino is producing at a ridiculous clip. Coming off of a six-point game that included a hat trick, Tomasino will look to continue his torrid pace. He has taken a noticeable step in the early going of the season, playing with more assertiveness and cutting to the middle of the ice far more often. The Nashville Predators prospect has been an excellent playmaker, showing off his outstanding vision and he has been able to connect on passes more efficiently this season. Still maintaining his creativity, Tomasino is also demonstrating an understanding that sometimes simple is better.
On pace to easily surpass the 100-point plateau in the early going of the season, Tomasino seems to be putting the OHL on notice that this could be his last go-around and he wants to have some fun while he’s there. Watch for Tomasino to continue to stay in the scoring race, possibly pushing for the league-lead throughout the year.
Samuel Fagemo, LW/RW, Frölunda HC
Los Angeles Kings, 2nd Round, 50th overall
1G – 2A – 3P in 4 SHL games (Top Swedish League)
3G – 1A – 4P in 3 CHL games (Champion Hockey League)
A player that was often rated higher on public draft boards in comparison to where he was drafted, Samuel Fagemo is making some of us look very good (including myself)! Fagemo has been noticeable on virtually every shift, constantly in the middle of the offense. He’s been productive in both league play in the SHL and in Champions League play. His play in the CHL has been nothing short of impressive.
With a two-goal performance in his most recent Champions League game, the first of which can be seen above, Fagemo was dominant. His blue-collar work ethic in combination with his continuously growing skillset has been what’s driven the young Swede who could be in a Kings sweater as early as next season.
Ville Heinola, LHD, Winnipeg Jets (Tobias Bjornfot, LHD, Los Angeles Kings)
Winnipeg Jets, 1st Round, 20th Overall (Los Angeles Kings, 1st Round, 22nd overall)
1G – 2A – 3P in 3 games (0G – 0A – 0P in 2 games)
Jack Hughes. Kaapo Kakko. Ville Heinola. Tobias Bjornfot. Those are the 2019 draft picks that made their NHL team out of camp. I would have bet the sun and moon on the first two making their respective teams but you would have had to give me some insanely good odds to bet on either of Ville Heinola or Tobias Bjornfot making their respective teams.
Bjornfot has been a third-pairing, sheltered rookie as you would expect and he has been mostly invisible, which is exactly how Bjornfot would have it. He plays a quiet game and the more you notice him, the worse he’s likely playing. He hasn’t dominated possession or pushed the pace of play but he has been far from the Kings’ worst player. While he may not last the season with the club, he could have earned himself a stay in North America, possibly playing for the AHL’s Ontario Reign.
As for Heinola, the NHL might be the young Finn’s new home. His play has been impressive and he’s been asked to play top-four minutes early on thanks to injuries on the Jets depleted blueline. He is also not only the first 2019 draft pick with a goal, but he’s also the only one with a point. He has three. The impressive rookie looks to assert himself as an NHL-calibre top-four defender who the Jets can’t help but keep on the roster, regardless of the Jets’ blueline health. As of right now, the chances of him sticking in the NHL look good.
Tuukka Tieksola, RW, Kärpät
Carolina Hurricanes, 4th Round, 121st Overall
5G – 7A – 12P in 7 games in the Jr. A SM-Liiga
0G – 0A – 0P in 3 games in the Liiga
Absolutely tearing apart the Finnish junior league, Tuukka Tieksola will likely play at least half his games in the Liiga by the end of the year. He is clearly above the SM-Liiga at this point in his development, he could be a useful depth scoring threat for Kärpät as the year progresses. His speed, dynamic skating, and offensive flair have been on display each game he’s played and he’s been nearly unstoppable because of those skills.
Tieksola is another player who falls into the category of being highly rated by the majority of the public draft lists and then falling on draft day. Carolina seemed to make a boatload of high-value selections at the 2019 draft and Tieksola may be the cream of that crop.
Thank you for joining me for my latest Prospect Ramblings and be sure to join me here every Wednesday! I’ll be taking a look around the prospect world every week so if you have anything or any player that you want me to cover or take a look at, let me know in the comments below or reach out to me on Twitter @TheTonyFerrari. Until next time, enjoy the start of the NHL season and all the other hockey going on around the globe!