World Junior PNHLe Breakdown – Group B

by masonblack on December 25, 2018

 

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Click HERE to see Mason’s PNHLe breakdown of Group A teams

 

The World Junior Championship is the premier hockey prospect tournament and gives fans an opportunity to see their country’s, and favourite NHL team’s top prospects perform in a playoff intensity induced environment smack dab in the middle of the hockey season.

 

As the WJC fast approaches, here is a compilation and consolidated list of all of the teams’ most notable players ranked by their PNHLe statistics for the 2018-19 season. In the second part of this two-part series, I’ll take a look at the countries in Group B, and although most of the team rosters have been pared down, at the time of writing this article most countries have not submitted their final official roster.

 

PNHLe is a stat that uses historical values from current NHL players to determine an estimate of a prospect’s eventual point potential in the NHL. There are many variables that aren’t taken into consideration in the current model (i.e., time-on-ice, player usage, primary points, line-mates, etc.), so before you lambast me with why your favourite prospect should have a higher value, please understand that PNHLe is mainly used from a fantasy perspective to identify trends and infer player point potential over the course of several years – not the small sample of the start of the 2018-19 season.

 

It is a completely objective statistic where the top players usually trend upwards over an entire season, while others tend to fall off during gruelling seasons and as competition gets more difficult. That being said, players generally see a decline as rookies while they adjust to more difficult leagues. Therefore, players that make the jump from the CHL to the AHL, or the Swedish SuperElit to the SHL, generally have a drop in value and production based on situational usage, and overall time-on-ice.

 

If you’d like to read more about the PNHLe stat you can do so here. If you notice a prospect that has not been listed, it may be because PNHLe is currently only calculated for eleven different developmental leagues (AHL, WHL, OHL, QMJHL, KHL, SHL, Liiga, NCAA, USHL, Allsvenskan and NHL). Now, let’s take a look at some of the prospects to keep an eye on during this year’s tournament.

 

FINLAND

The Finnish national squad is going to be one of the more heavily scouted in the tournament as they boast a line-up with a great mix of undrafted talent alongside veteran stars and even players with NHL experience. The most recent additions have led to Henri Jokiharju being released from the Chicago Blackhawks, Boston has allowed Urho Vaakanainen to participate after a lengthy injury and the Nashville Predators are giving the Finns a huge offensive boost by assigning Eeli Tolvanen. As if those players weren’t enough to build a solid core around, Aleksi Heponiemi and Rasmus Kupari will give goalies nightmares as the formidable duo has been terrorizing netminders all year in the Liiga. The veteran snipers could open up more time and space for one of this year’s highest rated prospects, Kaapo Kakko. It wouldn’t surprise me if he comes out of this tournament in contention to go first overall in this year’s draft.

 

Pos.

No.

Player

Team

NHL Rights

PNHLe

F

 

Kaapo Kakko

Finland TPS

 

67

F

34

Rasmus Kupari

Finland Kärpät

Los Angeles Kings

60

F

32

Aleksi Heponiemi

Finland Kärpät

Florida Panthers

59

F

 

Anton Lundell

Finland HIFK

 

56

F

 

Aarne Talvitie

United States Penn State University

New Jersey Devils

47

F

 

Niklas Nordgren

Finland HIFK

Chicago Blackhawks

38

F

 

Eeli Tolvanen

United States Nashville Predators

Nashville Predators

36

F

 

Jesse Ylönen

Finland Lahti Pelicans

Montreal Canadiens

30

F

 

Sampo Ranta

United States University of Minnesota

Colorado Avalanche

27

F

 

Linus Nyman

Finland Lukko

 

20

F

 

Santeri Virtanen

Finland SaiPa

Winnipeg Jets

16

D

28

Henri Jokiharju

United States Chicago Blackhawks

Chicago Blackhawks

47

D

 

Mikko Kokkonen

Finland Jukurit

 

47

D

 

Lassi Thomson

Canada Kelowna Rockets

 

37

D

 

Anttoni Honka

Finland JYP Jyväskylä

 

30

D

 

Olli Kaskinen

Finland TPS

 

14

D

 

Toni Utunen

Finland Tappara

Vancouver Canucks

5

D

 

Urho Vaakanainen

United States Boston & Providence Bruins

Boston Bruins

N/A

 

It’s expected that Kärpät’s dynamic duo of Kupari and Heponiemi will stick together throughout the tournament as they have for much of the season. Heponiemi was the only player to score above a two-points-per-game in the entire CHL in 2017-18, he’s been one of the best players in the Liiga this season and should be a lock for rookie of the year. He still has one more year on his contract in Finland, but he may play himself on to the Panther’s line-up next fall.



 

KAZAKHSTAN

The Kazakhs have been promoted into the top division after nine years playing inside Division I Group A/B of the World Junior Championship. There isn’t much expectation of them to do anything except try to avoid relegation, but there are a couple of players to keep an eye on during the tournament. Artur Gatiyatov and Sayan Daniyar are both point-per-game players in the Russian MHL and have provided most of the offense for their junior team in 2017-18. All offense will be funnelled through this line.

Pos.

No.

Player

Team

NHL Rights

PNHLe

D

 

Valeri Orekhov

Kazakhstan Barys Astana

 

35

F

 

Sayan Daniyar

Kazakhstan Snezhnye Barsy

 

N/A

F

 

Artur Gatiyatov

Kazakhstan Snezhnye Barsy

 

N/A

 

Valeri Orekhov has played the better part of two seasons in the KHL and has seen his ice-time and usage increase. Although he was passed over in the NHL Entry Draft, he was a huge reason why Kazakhstan was promoted to this year’s top division and last year he posted seven points in only five games as a defenseman. It’s not unthinkable if he has a strong showing that an NHL team will use a mid- to late-round pick on him in the 2019 draft.

 

 

SLOVAKIA

Slovakia possesses a squad that is sprinkled throughout with players currently playing in the CHL and project to bottom-six type professional players with strong two-way games. Calgary Flames prospects Martin Pospisil, Adam Ruzicka and Milos Roman bring a wealth of experience to the table, and all three will be playing in their third consecutive World Junior Championship. If the Slovaks have any hope of advancing to the playoff round, they will need to rely heavily on their goaltending which is becoming a trademark of Slovakian WJC hockey and 2019 draft eligible Juraj Sklenar will have to follow in the footsteps of previous netminders Durny, Huska and Godla. Another draft eligible player to keep an eye on is the finesse winger Maxim Cajkovic.

Pos.

No.

Player

Team

NHL Rights

PNHLe

F

 

Martin Pospisil

United States Sioux City Musketeers

Calgary Flames

43

F

 

Milos Roman

Canada Vancouver Giants

Calgary Flames

37

F

 

Adam Ruzicka

Canada Sarnia Sting

Calgary Flames

37

F

 

Maxim Čajkovič

Canada Saint John Sea Dogs

 

31

F

 

Andrej Kukuca

Canada Seattle Thunderbirds

 

31

F

 

Oliver Okuliar

Canada Sherbrooke Phoenix

 

31

F

 

Patrik Hrehorcak

Canada Rouyn-Noranda Huskies

 

24

F

 

Jozef Balaz

Czech Republic HC Vítkovice Ridera

 

N/A

F

 

Milos Fafrak

Slovakia HK Orange 20

 

N/A

F

 

Andrej Kollár

Slovakia HK Orange 20

 

N/A

F

 

Adam Liška

Slovakia Slovan Bratislava

 

N/A

D

 

Michal Ivan

Canada Acadie–Bathurst Titan

 

22

D

6

Martin Fehérváry

Sweden HV71

Washington Capitals

15

D

 

Marek Korencik

Sweden Luleå HF J20

 

N/A

The monster of a forward, Adam Ruzicka, will need to lead through his previous World Junior experience and power forward style. He’s a prototypical Calgary Flames type bottom-six styled player and has the ability to find the score sheet in multiple ways. He doesn’t provide a ton of fantasy potential, but when he goes to the dirty areas he’s a lot of fun to watch.





SWEDEN

The Swedish dominance in the group stages (44-game winning streak) of the World Juniors is extremely impressive but hasn’t materialized into medals (only one silver in the last four years). This year they have another strong roster that is especially awesome on their blue-line with the likes of Erik Brannstrom, Adam Boqvist and Rasmus Sandin and it’s unfortunate that Timothy Liljegren won’t be able to play because of injury. With the strength of the Group B Division, their string of consecutive games won may be broken this year, but they have the depth throughout their line-up to make some noise in the medal round.

 

Pos.

No.

Player

Team

NHL Rights

PNHLe

F

10

Emil Bemström

Sweden Djurgårdens IF

Columbus Blue Jackets

58

F

19

Filip Hållander

Sweden Timrå IK

Pittsburgh Penguins

48

F

13

Johan Södergran

Sweden Linköpings HC

Los Angeles Kings

41

F

20

Isac Lundeström

United States San Diego Gulls

Anaheim Ducks

41

F

23

Lucas Elvenes

Sweden Rögle BK

Vegas Golden Knights

34

F

18

Jacob Olofsson

Sweden Timrå IK

Montreal Canadiens

24

F

29

Pontus Holmberg

Sweden Växjö Lakers

Toronto Maple Leafs

24

F

27

David Gustafsson

Sweden HV71

Winnipeg Jets

20

F

28

Fabian Zetterlund

Sweden Färjestad BK

New Jersey Devils

19

D

12

Erik Brännström

United States Chicago Wolves

Vegas Golden Knights

88

D

8

Rasmus Sandin

Canada Toronto Marlies

Toronto Maple Leafs

66

D

3

Adam Boqvist

Canada London Knights

Chicago Blackhawks

61

D

9

Nils Lundkvist

Sweden Luleå HF

New York Rangers

32

D

5

Adam Ginning

Sweden Linköpings HC

Philadelphia Flyers

19

D

16

Filip Westerlund

Sweden Frölunda HC

Arizona Coyotes

8

 

The Vegas Golden Knights used their third first-round pick in the 2017 draft to select Erik Brannstrom and it’s beginning to look like a steal at 15th overall. What the diminutive puck-moving teenager has done in the AHL is exceptional and is providing the Chicago Wolves a catalyst to channel offense through. Each year certain players seem too good to be playing at the WJC and Brannstrom will look to hop into that echelon in 2019.




UNITED STATES

The Americans are comprised of a number of first-round picks that have somewhat underachieved to start the 2017-18 season. Oliver Wahlstrom, Joel Farabee and Jay O’Brien have combined for 18 points in the NCAA, and are finding the adjustment period taking slightly longer than expected. Expect the core of the USA roster to gain confidence as the tournament progresses as they typically play their best hockey when the playoff rounds begin. Watch out for secondary offense from Evan Barratt (NCAA) and Jason Robertson (OHL) who currently sit first and second place in league scoring respectively. This roster is extremely dangerous and the familiarity of many of the players that came through the USNTDP could spark chemistry from the opening face-off of the tournament.

Pos.

No.

Player

Team

NHL Rights

PNHLe

F

17

Evan Barratt

United States Penn State University

Chicago Blackhawks

85

F

15

Jason Robertson

Canada Niagara IceDogs – Kingston Frontenacs

Dallas Stars

72

F

14

Josh Norris

United States University of Michigan

Ottawa Senators

57

F

6

Jack Hughes*

United States U.S. National Development Team

 

56

F

11

Ryan Poehling

United States St. Cloud State University

Montreal Canadiens

52

F

8

Sasha Chmelevski

Canada Ottawa 67’s

San Jose Sharks

46

F

28

Joel Farabee

United States Boston University

Philadelphia Flyers

39

F

18

Oliver Wahlstrom

United States Boston College

New York Islanders

21

F

16

Jay O’Brien

United States Providence College

Philadelphia Flyers

11

D

7

Quinn Hughes

United States University of Michigan

Vancouver Canucks

85

D

20

K’Andre Miller

United States University of Wisconsin

New York Rangers

71

D

26

Mikey Anderson

United States University of Minnesota Duluth

Los Angeles Kings

30

D

4

Dylan Samberg

United States University of Minnesota Duluth

Winnipeg Jets

18

* Hughes had a PNHLe of 91 last year which was third best of all prospects.

 

The Hughes brothers will be looked at to create a ton of offense in a variety of ways and are equally adept at generating scoring chances through the use of supplementary players as they are at finding the back of the net themselves. It’s hard to imagine a player of Quinn Hughes’ talent to slide to seventh overall, but the top-end depth of the 2018 draft allowed the Canucks to land an immensely talented blue-liner that is built for the new style of the NHL. Hughes may look like he’s playing pond hockey by the end of this tournament.

 

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If you’ve made it this far, thank you for reading!

You can follow me on Twitter @NHLRankKing where I post different types of fantasy related content.

If you are interested in seeing other player profiles, a prospect’s progression and how their PNHLe stacks up against other prospects, every profile is available in a completely free iOS app that I’ve created specifically based around fantasy hockey.  If you have an iPhone or iPad you can download it here.  All player profile images above are taken directly from the app, which is a small sample of the overall content.

This article will be a monthly feature here at DobberProspects, so please let me know if there are specific players you’d like to see profiled.

 

Photo Credit: NHL.com