Hey there, it’s me again! I’ve been quite busy lately and haven’t had time to write any prospect ramblings but managed to find a little bit of time this week, so I hope you enjoy my notes from a few European leagues I’ve been watching lately.
Aleksi Heponiemi (FLA) has had a great start to his professional career in Europe. He’s scored three goals and nine points in ten Liiga games, and he’s also added four points in five games at the Champions Hockey League. He’s found great chemistry with Rasmus Kupari (LAK) who plays center while Heponiemi gets to roam freely at right wing. I wouldn’t be surprised if they played together at the World Juniors as well. This is from yesterday’s game.
Another player having a hot start to his Liiga season is Kaapo Kakko (2019) who has scored eight points in ten games. Aleksander Barkov holds the U18 scoring record in the Liiga with 48 points in 53 games. I’m not expecting Kakko to get that far but he could definitely challenge Patrik Laine who is third on the list with 33 points in 46 games.
Anttoni Honka is the top defense prospect out of Finland for the 2019 NHL Entry Draft but he’s had a slow start to his season with just three points in ten games. Mikko Kokkonen won’t overtake Honka in the draft rankings but he’s leading him in points right now since Kokkonen has five points.
In the Finnish junior league, one player worth noticing is forward Patrik Puistola (2019) who has started his season with 13 points in 13 games. His teammate, defenseman Iivari Räsänen (2019) has also had a good start with 10 points in 11 games. Iivari is the younger brother of Oilers’ prospect Aapeli. But the most impressive player from their team has been Kasper Simontaival (2020) who had nine points in nine games, then went off to the Liiga where he scored two points in five games, and now he’s playing in the Mestis where he has two points in two games so far. Pretty impressive stuff from a 16-year-old. Simontaival and Anton Lundell are the two Finns to watch for the 2020 NHL Entry Draft as they both look like potential top ten picks right now.
In the Swedish junior ranks, Albin Grewe (2019) is making some noise with 14 points in 10 games so far. Grewe has the pleasure of playing with one of the top prospects for the 2020 draft in Alexander Holtz but Grewe is playing very well regardless.
One of my personal favorites for the 2019 draft, Nils Höglander, is still looking for his first point in the SHL. He’s played six games so far. If you like Jonatan Berggren, you’ll probably like Höglander as well.
Lucas Raymond deserves top three consideration for the 2020 draft. Such a great player already at age 16. He made his SHL debut but played just six minutes in that game. Six goals and 12 points in 10 games in the SuperElit, though.
One prospect flying a bit under the radar is Russian forward Pavel Dorofeyev (2019). He’s scored six goals and ten points in seven games in the MHL which is the top junior league in Russia. He’s also played three games in the KHL. In one game I watched about a week ago, Dorofeyev was playing on the top line for Metallurg Magnitogorsk which is an encouraging sign because KHL teams don’t usually put their youngsters in a position to succeed.
For those of you looking for the next big free agent to come out of Europe, you may want to keep an eye on Ilya Mikheyev who plays in the KHL. He’s a 24-year-old right wing with NHL ready 6-foot-2 frame. He’s leading his Avangard Omsk team with 14 points in 15 games. He also led the team in points last season. He’s an offensive winger who is also capable of killing penalties. His KHL contract expires next spring, and he should draw significant NHL interest if that’s something he wants to pursue.
Last Sunday, we saw this great goal from Kirill Kaprizov (MIN). Minnesota fans are hoping to see these soft hands in the NHL sooner rather than later.
Not to be outdone, Vitali Kravtsov (NYR) scored a really nice goal as well. His shot is not bad.
And that’s all for now, thanks for reading. Feel free to add comments below. Remember to follow me on Twitter @JokkeNevalainen.
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