2019 NHL Draft: Potential Gems Part 2 – Metropolitan Division

Welcome back to my “Gems of the Draft” series.

Last time, we went over the Atlantic Division teams and took a look at one player from each team that could turn out to be a gem from the 2019 NHL Draft class. Here’s a little recap.
Boston Bruins – Matias Mantyviki (D)
Buffalo Sabres – Filip Cederqvist (LW)
Detroit Red Wings – Albin Grewe (LW)
Florida Panthers – Cole Schwindt (C)
Montreal Canadiens – Arsen Khisamutdinov (LW)
Ottawa Senators – Mads Sogaard (G)
Tampa Bay Lightning – Max Crozier (D)
Toronto Maple Leafs – Mikko Kokkonen (D)
This time, we’re going to take a look at the Metropolitan Division and see who could surprise among the Metro teams. They dominated the first round of the draft namely in the top three, with first overall pick Jack Hughes joining the New Jersey Devils and second overall pick Kaapo Kakko joining the New York Rangers. Without further ado, let’s take a look at some of these under-the-radar players.

Carolina Hurricanes – Blake Murray (C, 6th Round, 183rd Overall)

The Hurricanes had a Cinderella season of sorts this past season. After entering the regular season with intentions of MAYBE qualifying for a first round appearance, they ended up advancing to the conference finals before getting swept at the hands of the Boston Bruins. With that being said, the Hurricanes still had an incredible successful season and still ended up with a solid first round pick, taking centre Ryan Suzuki at 28th overall. The Hurricanes had a very busy draft weekend, drafting 12 new prospects, and I think their gem in disguise is Blake Murray.
Murray had just finished off his second season with the Sudbury Wolves of the OHL, and after a strong debut season that saw him put up 44 points in 57 games, he followed up with an equally successful season where he ended up with 50 points in 66 games. He’s one of the younger players in the draft, turning 18 in early July, and he has good size at 6’2 and 187lbs. The way I see it, the Hurricanes are laughing by picking up an offensively talented centre with good size in the 6th round.

Columbus Blue Jackets – Tyler Angle (C, 7th Round, 212th Overall)

I wish I could go off on a tangent about the Blue Jackets having a busy draft weekend and selecting a plethora of fresh young talent, but the reality is they did the exact opposite. They drafted a whopping three players over the weekend, with two of them coming in the fourth round and one of them coming in the seventh. To make my decision, I went with the latter and chose Tyler Angle as my potential gem.
After missing the cutoff date for the 2018 draft by 15 days, the 2000 born Angle stormed back with a strong draft season, good enough for the Jackets to take a flier on him in the seventh round. He spent this season with the Windsor Spitfires of the OHL and was a key part of their offense, putting up 44 points in 58 games. This was good enough for fifth on the team in scoring. Angle will likely spend another year or two in the juniors, but he could turn out to be something for the Jackets.

New Jersey Devils – Patrick Moynihan (C, 6th Round, 158th Overall)

Any Devils player from the 2019 draft class likely won’t receive too much media attention for the sole purpose that all eyes will be on Jack Hughes, who was drafted first overall by the Devils. New Jersey is now looking at a one-two punch down the middle of Hughes and Nico Hischier, which will without a doubt become a force in the Metro over the next few seasons. Granted, the lack of pressure could benefit some of the players drafted in the later rounds, and Patrick Moynihan is one of them.
The USNTDP produced lots of talent this year, with the Americans making up a large portion of the 2019 draft class. While Moynihan didn’t light up the USHL like some drafted higher, his totals were still impressive with a combined 68 points over 92 games with the program. The 5’10 centre is committed to Providence College of the NCAA for the forseeable future, so it will be interesting to monitor his development and see if he becomes something for the Devils.

New York Islanders – Reece Newkirk (C, 5th Round, 147th Overall)

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In a successful first season without John Tavares leading the charge, the Islanders advanced to the second round before being swept by the Carolina Hurricanes. Slotted to pick at 23rd overall, they went slightly off the board and selected Swedish forward Simon Holmstrom. Aside from that, the Isles had a quiet draft weekend with only five picks, and out of the crop I think their gem is going to be Reece Newkirk.
Newkirk spent this season with the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL and took a huge step in his draft season, going from 11 points in 58 games to 59 points in 68 games. He isn’t the biggest player on the ice, standing at 5’11 and 172lbs, but he’s a talented offensive player and was good enough to finish fourth on the team in scoring on the team. With the Islanders already having a plethora of offensive talent lined up in the form of Mat Barzal, Oliver Wahlstrom, and Anthony Beauvillier, Newkirk’s name could join this list in the future.

New York Rangers – Adam Edstrom (C, 6th Round, 161st Overall)

Like the Devils, the Rangers’ 2019 draft class likely won’t have to worry about too much time in the spotlight as most of the focus will be shifted to second overall pick Kaapo Kakko. The Rangers had a solid draft day that saw eight new prospects don the red white and blue, and somebody worth keeping an eye on is forward Adam Edstrom.
The first thing you’ll notice about Edstrom is that he’s an absolute truck on the ice, standing at 6’6 and 207lbs. He doesn’t shy away from physicality and he combines this with a knack for scoring goals, which is an impressive combination that can make coaches drool. He primarily played for Mora IK’s J20 team, putting up 16 points in 20 games, and also spent time with Mora IK of the SHL where he put up one point in 15 games. He’s under contract with Rogle BK of the SHL next season and will look to secure a full time role with the team.

Philadelphia Flyers – Egor Serdyuk (RW, 6th Round, 165th Overall)

The Philadelphia Flyers have arguably the best crop of young talent on the back end, with a pool consisting of Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim, Samuel Morin, and Philippe Myers. They added to this crop in the first round this year, selecting defenseman Cam York at 14th overall, meaning the Flyers could arguably have the best defensive core in the NHL over the next few years. They selected seven players on draft weekend, and I have their potential gem in the person of a forward this time in Egor Serdyuk.
Serdyuk spent his entire career playing in his native Russia, but made the move to North America last season and spent his draft season playing for the Victoriaville Tigres of the QMJHL where he put up 65 points in 63 games. When you get the chance to draft a player who scores at a pace above a point per game in a round as late as the sixth, you take it. The Flyers could really have something going here.

Pittsburgh Penguins – Nathan Legare (RW, 3rd Round, 74th Overall)

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After a disappointing end to the season in 2018-19 that saw them get swept in the first round by the New York Islanders, the Penguins saw themselves at 21st overall on the draft board and used it to select forward Samuel Poulin. Like the Islanders, they only selected five players on day two but could have found themselves a gem in the third round. He goes by the name of Nathan Legare.
Legare could be deemed as both a gem and a steal, given that he very well could have gone earlier in the draft. But regardless, the fact that the Penguins were able to pounce on a player of Legare’s type in the third round counts as a gem of a pick for me. In his second season with the Baie-Comeau Drakkar of the QMJHL, he absolutely exploded offensively and put up a 45 goal, 87 point campaign over 68 games. He’s a gifted offensive forward and could end up being a steal for the Penguins so late in the draft.

Washington Capitals – Martin Hugo Has (D, 3rd Round, 91st Overall)

After a historic cup run in the 2017-18 season, the Washington Capitals fell victim to a first round elimination at the hands of the Carolina Hurricanes. They ended up with a pick at 25th overall and used it to select forward Connor McMichael, and then used their second round pick to select first-round talent Brett Leason. This left the Capitals with two more picks over the weekend, and for their potential gem I decided to go with Martin Hugo Has.
Has is a 6’4 right handed Czech defenseman who spent this season playing for Tappara U20 of Finland’s junior leagues. He impressed here, putting up 16 points over 37 games. The defensive combination of size and right-handedness automatically makes you more valuable as a player, and I’m sure the Capitals had this in mind when they selected him. He’s geared up to play for Tappara’s pro team for the SM-Liiga next season, and could turn into an impressive pick for the Capitals.
Thanks for reading. Tune in next time where we’ll dive into the Central division and check out all of their potential gems.
stats from eliteprospects.com

2019 NHL Draft: Potential Gems Part 1 – Atlantic Division

Welcome to a new series I’m starting here on Puck77. Hidden gems in the NHL Draft.

If you couldn’t tell already, I’m an absolute draft nut. And I was starting to get antsy with me not having done a prospect series of some sort in a while. One of my favourite weekends of the year just wrapped up, and as a result, all 31 NHL teams have a new crop of young talent in the pipelines. Some of them could be hall of famers, some of them could be NHL mainstays, some of them might not even see a game of professional hockey. But that’s the beauty of the draft. And to give you all a little more information on who to look out for, I’m going to start a series going over one potential hidden gem from each team’s 2019 draft class. Without further ado, let’s kick things off with the Atlantic Division.

Boston Bruins – Matias Mantykivi (D, 6th Round, 185th Overall)

The Bruins went slightly off the board with their first round pick and drafted forward John Beecher, a dynamic centre who has good size and great offensive tendencies to make it a good selection overall. Because they didn’t have a second or a fourth round pick, they ended up picking four more players on day two, with one of them being Matias Mantykivi.
Mantykivi is a small Finnish defenseman who spent the majority of this season palying for SaiPa U20 of the Jr. A SM-Liiga, which is essentially Finland’s junior league. He was very good offensively this season, putting up 36 points over 34 games for the team while also seeing some ice time with Kettera of the Mestis league (Finland’s version of the AHL) and Saipa of the SM-Liiga, their top league. It’s unknown where he will be playing next season, but the most likely scenario is that he remains in Finland to further develop his game until the Bruins believe he’s ready to come to North America.

Buffalo Sabres – Filip Cederqvist (LW, 5th Round, 143rd Overall)

Without a doubt, the Sabres’ most hyped up pick was forward Dylan Cozens, taken at seventh overall. The big centre from the WHL could look to provide a really solid one-two punch with Jack Eichel eventually. They also selected a solid two way defenseman at 31st overall in Ryan Johnson. After these two were selected, the Sabres went on to make four more picks, three of them being forwards and one of them being a goaltender. If I have to pick one of these guys to be a potential hidden gem, I’m going with Filip Cederqvist.
After getting passed over last year in his first year of eligibility, the Sabres took a flier on Cederqvist in the fifth round and it looks like a pick that could pay off for them. The Skara, Sweden native is a 6’1 winger who spent most of this season playing for the Vaxjo Lakers of the SHL and had a pretty solid campaign, putting up eight points in 33 games. He also spent time with the Lakers’ J20 team where he put up 32 points in 26 games. As of now, it seems like Cederqvist will spend most of his development in Sweden, but he could turn out to be something for the Sabres.

Detroit Red Wings – Albin Grewe (LW, 3rd Round, 66th Overall)

The Red Wings had one of the busiest days at the draft of any team, leaving Rogers Arena with 11 new prospects under their belts. Their first pick was off the board, but not surprising to me at all, taking German defenseman Moritz Seider at sixth overall. I firmly believe Seider could turn out to be a gem for the Wings, seeing that he wasn’t getting much coverage playing in Germany. But that’s a post for another time.
Instead, I’m going with Albin Grewe as the Wings’ hidden gem (his last name is pronounced Gree-vay. Don’t make the same mistake I did). He’s said to be a gritty winger who can also put the puck in the back of the net. Through 25 games with Djurgardens IF J20 of the SHL’s junior league, he put up 34 points. He’s under contract with Djurgardens IF of the SHL, and will more than likely start next season on the main squad rather than in the minors. I personally had Grewe going mid-second round, so the fact that they took him in the third round strikes me as a potential steal for the Red Wings.

Florida Panthers – Cole Schwindt (C, 3rd Round, 81st Overall)

With Roberto Luongo on the brink of retirement and James Reimer entertaining the possibility of getting bought out, it’s not at all surprising that the Panthers went with the top goaltending prospect in Spencer Knight as their first round pick. They had a busy day on day two, leaving with eight more draft picks. Out of all of the Panthers’ mid-to-late rounders, Cole Schwindt was the one that stood out to me.
The 6’2 Kitchener native spent this season with the Mississauga Steelheads of the OHL, and finished a solid campaign with 49 points in 68 games. He has good size and he’s only 18 years old, so another year or two in the OHL could do wonders for him until the Panthers are ready to bring him to the pros. There’s a great chance we could see Schwindt turn into something.

Montreal Canadiens – Arsen Khisamutdinov (LW, 6th Round, 170th Overall)

The Habs got one of the first presumed steals of the draft in the first round, selecting forward Cole Caufield at 15th overall when he was projected to go as high as seventh overall. Like the Red Wings, the Canadiens had a busy day at the draft and left with ten new prospects. One of these ones was Arsen Khisamutdinov.
Khisamutdinov (I feel bad for the announcer who has to say that name) is an overage forward who was born in 1998 and spent this season playing back home in Russia. The 6’3 winger spent the majority of this season playing for Reaktor Nizhnekamsk of the MHL (Russia’s version of the CHL) and also impressed in a small sample size with Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk of the KHL, putting up five points over nine games. There always seems to be a number of overage Russians that go in the mid rounds of drafts, and Khisamutdinov looks like he could become a solid pickup for the Habs.

Ottawa Senators – Mads Sogaard (G, 2nd Round, 37th Overall)

The Senators could have had the fourth overall pick in this draft but sacrificed it in the deal that brought them Matt Duchene (who isn’t with the team anymore). Regardless, they ended up getting a first round pick back from the Columbus Blue Jackets in an ironic deal that sent Duchene to the Jackets. Either way, one first round pick is better than none, and they used theirs to select Lassi Thomson, a solid Finnish defenseman from the WHL. While they only selected six players this past weekend, they might have found a gem in Mads Sogaard.
It might be hard to call Sogaard a gem considering he’s a second round pick who was picked right around where he was projected to be, but he has potential to become a really good starting goalie in the league. The 6’7 Danish goalie spent this season with the Medicine Hat Tigers of the WHL and finished with a record of 19-8-2 with a GAA of 2.64 and a save percentage of .921 to go with it. He will likely head back to the WHL for at least one more season, but he could turn out to be something special for the Sens.


Tampa Bay Lightning – Max Crozier (D, 4th Round, 120th Overall)

After drafting defenseman Cal Foote in the first round a couple of years back, the Lightning went with his younger brother in 2019, drafting forward Nolan Foote. The Bolts drafted a total of seven players in 2019, and one player in particular that sticks out as a potential gem is Max Crozier.
Crozier spent this season playing for the Sioux Falls Stampede of the USHL, putting up 43 points in 60 games from the back end. Being 6’1 and right-handed, he already has an edge in terms of value over some other players. He’s committed to play for Providence College of the NCAA next year, and it will be interesting to see how he develops over a couple years of college hockey.

Toronto Maple Leafs – Mikko Kokkonen (D, 3rd Round, 84th Overall)

The Maple Leafs didn’t have a first round pick in 2019, but kicked things off in the second round by selecting skilled forward Nick Robertson at 53rd overall. They only made six picks this year, but their potential gem might have come in the third round in the form of Mikko Kokkonen.
After reading some scouting reports on his game, he was described as the type of defenseman who won’t blow you away with any one aspect of his game, but plays a steady all around game. He put up 16 points in 59 games for Jukurit of the SM-Liiga and is known to be good defensively as well. If his development goes according to plan, it’s possible he could cap out as a good top four defenseman at the NHL level.
Thanks for reading. Tune in next time when we’ll be going over a potential gem from each Central Division team.

Ottawa 67s: An Interview With Cedrick Andree

The Ottawa 67s have been the best team in the OHL this season.

So what has made them so good? An elite coaching staff, an exciting young roster and consistent and stable play between the pipes seem like the proper ingredients to the success the 67s have seen.
The OHL season is over now, and the top-seeded Ottawa 67s are set to face off against the eighth-seeded Hamilton Bulldogs in the first round.

The 67s Goalie Tandem

One of the biggest strengths for the 67s is their goaltending tandem. Their two goaltenders are Cedrick Andree and Michael DiPietro. Both goalies, have had an excellent season. In 45 games played this season, Andree has a 2.48 goals against average (GAA) and a .910 save percentage (SV%). His teammate, DiPietro was traded to the 67s prior to the OHL Trade Deadline. In 17 games with the 67s, DiPietro registered a 2.51 GAA and a .897 (SV%). These two goaltenders have been nothing but outstanding and they’l be pivotal to the club’s success in the OHL playoffs.

Interviewing Andree

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Yesterday, I had the chance to speak with 67s goaltender Cedrick Andree about what it means to play for the team he grew up supporting, what factors contributed to his success this season, and what the 67s will need to do to claim victory against the Bulldogs. The interview went as follows.
AH: “As a native of Orleans (suburb of Ottawa), what does it mean to you to play for the team you grew up supporting?”
CA: “It’s definitely awesome. I used to go to games as a kid and I would take my shirt off and spin it around, I was one of those kids. I remember one day I got a puck and actually kept in inside of a coffee grinder to preserve it. I ended up losing the puck, which sucked, but to be in my hometown it’s definitely awesome and kind of insane. I never thought I would reach this point when I was a kid.”
AH: “The Ottawa 67s have been the best team in the OHL this season and they’ve seen a massive improvement from previous seasons. What’s been the key to your consistent elite play as a team this year?”
CA: “We have an awesome coaching staff. They always have video ready for us every day and we’re actually one of the only teams that practices in the morning. They changed around the whole schedule from last year. It also helps a lot when you go to training camp and all of the graduates come back. In training camp you see a bunch of faces from the year before that you remember, we didn’t lose any guys, so I think just the way all of the guys clicked together this year and the bond that we had from last year really helps.”
AH: “Chemistry is obviously an important factor and it seems like you guys have a lot of that.”
CA: “Yeah, most of the guys from last year’s team came to training camp this season and right away we kind of knew it was going to be a good season. Just the way all of the guys get along really helps.”
AH: “You and Michael DiPietro recently won the Dave Pinkney Trophy for the fewest goals allowed of any tandem. What does it mean to you to win that award in just your second season?
CA: “It definitely means a lot. Last year I only had one win, my numbers were pretty awful. Going into this season I only had one goal and it was to not get cut, so to have a season like this is definitely unbelievable. I never really thought it would happen but I put the work in over the summer and I guess it paid off eventually. To win an award like that, it also helps a lot to have a team like I have in front of me so it’s definitely awesome. It was a year to remember.”
AH: “That kind of brings me to my next question. You finished statistically as one of the best goalies in the OHL this season. Your success this year compared to last year has just been astonishing. I was just wondering what’s been the difference between your rookie season and your sophomore season?”
CA: “There were a lot of reasons. One of them was definitely the fact that I was out of high school this year and I had less crammed of a schedule. I had more time to relax, I went to bed earlier, I didn’t have any homework, it’s just more stress-free. We also have a new goalie coach, Charlie MacTavish. He lives in Ottawa, so I knew him personally and he was there every day to help me out. He would show us video every day. Our old goalie coach was great, but he was from Toronto and he would only be able to fly in once every few weeks for, say, three or four days at a time. It also definitely helps that I have a solid squad in front of me this year.
AH: “So would you say that the mental aspect was the biggest factor contributing to your success?”
CA: Yeah, the mental factor was huge. Not many people know this, but I saw a sports psychologist over the summer which really helped me to relax. I also had a really good preseason, but as soon as the regular season started, I was one of the worst goalies in the league three games in and I began to think that it was going to be like last year again. The coach had a talk with me and essentially told me that in the preseason I was joking around and having fun, but as soon as the regular season started I became more uptight and started losing as a result. He told me “I know that’s not you. If you goof around and be yourself before games, I won’t care. Just go out there and have fun.”. Right after we had that conversation, I started to be myself again and it paid off. The team went on a 15 game winning streak. That talk with the coach really helped out.”
AH: “That’s awesome to hear. Everybody has a different mindset that works for them and it sounds like the change in yours really paid off for you.”
CA: “Yeah, definitely. I owe that one to my coach for sure, he saved me there. Me and Mikey (DiPietro) are a lot different in that sense and we always joke around about it. He’s more of a ‘put your head down, focus’ kind of guy and I’m more relaxed. If I’m too stressed then I’m too tight for the game and that didn’t really work for me.”
AH: “You were recently named the second most underrated player in the league in the OHL’s coaches poll. How does that make you feel?”
CA: It’s definitely fun. I never really thought about it beforehand but this kind of achievement really made me happy seeing how the coaches acknowledged me. All season long it was kind of a question in my mind, like “Am I really being noticed?”, you have all these big names like the draft coming up, and I wasn’t included in the draft rankings and all that so I was kind of like “Okay, do people just think I’m a decent goalie on a good team?”. It was always a question in my mind so to see the coaches recognize me kind of shielded that and helped me focus on other things, so it really made me happy.”
AH: “Earlier you were mentioning the fact that you have a great team in front of you, and part of what makes you guys so exciting to watch is the fact that you have a team that’s full of exciting young talent. How instrumental have the play of guys like Marco Rossi been to your team’s success?”
CA: Marco has definitely been awesome. He’s a young import and I heard he was a big name coming into this season but I really didn’t know how instrumental he was going to be to the team and now he’s possibly a shoo-in for rookie of the year. Both of our imports in Nikita (Okhotyuk) and Marco have been solid.
AH: “You’re of Dutch heritage correct?”
CA: “Yes”
AH: “How much would you say your Dutch heritage defines you as either a person or as a hockey player?”
CA: “My Dutch heritage means a lot to me. I have a lot of family out there, and this is a little bit off topic but we took a trip out there to visit them when I was 14 or 15 and we ended up contacting the U16 National Team coach and I ended up meeting him. Hockey, in terms of popularity there is comparable to say, rugby, in Canada. If you say hockey out there, they assume it’s field hockey. So I talked to the national team coach and he basically told me that if I ever wanted to play on the U16 or U18 team, to give him a shout and I would be guaranteed a spot. At this point, if I wanted to play for the national team there, I would have to play two years in a program over there. I could probably play for them if I wanted to, but the program over there isn’t too strong.”
AH: “Who were some of your biggest inspirations growing up?”
CA: “I’ve kind of bounced around a little bit. My first ever “fall-in-love” inspiration was Martin Biron, that was when I was younger. When I was a little bit more into it I really liked Cam Ward, I had a little thing for Ray Emery for a little bit. In the past couple years, I’ve become a big fan of Marc-Andre Fleury, he has the personality and mindset that I try to have when I play. And lately, I’ve started looking at Andrei Vasilevskiy as an inspiration. He’s trained in Ottawa every summer ever since he was 18, and I’ve actually gotten the chance to skate with him a couple of times. He trains at the same place that the goalie coach for the 67s does.”
AH: “I have one more question for you. The Ottawa 67s finished in the eighth seed last year and lost in five games to the top-seeded Hamilton Bulldogs in the first round. This year, the roles are swapped and the 67s are at the top facing off against the 8th place Bulldogs. How important is this series to you guys as a team and what will be the key to beating them as well as ideally advancing to the Memorial Cup?
CA: “First thing’s first, our coach always preaches not necessarily focusing on the results, but more so the process. And that’s going to be our goal for the series. Not getting too down if we lose a game, not getting too ahead of ourselves if we win a game, stuff like that. Our coach didn’t even look at the standings until near the end of the season and then out of nowhere he was like “Okay boys, I just found out that we have a chance to break the franchise record for points in a season. I know I don’t talk about points, but this time I am. Let’s go out and do this.”. He never looks at the standings and always preaches focusing on the process and what’s going on in the moment. He was great that way, and I don’t think he’s going to change anything heading into the playoffs. We’re going in with that same mental aspect, and if things work out then things will work out. I will say though, if we beat Hamilton in the first round, that will be sweet revenge. We’re going to be coming out hungry for a win.”
AH: “Perfect. Well, best of luck to you guys in the first round and thanks for taking the time to speak with me!”
CA: “Thanks a lot!”
Puck77 would like to extend a massive thank you to Cedrick Andree for taking the time to talk to us about life as an Ottawa 67s.
stats from eliteprospects.com

Top Ten Drafted Prospects Vol. 4 – Sweden

Welcome back to my top ten international drafted prospects series.

Last time, we went to the largest country in the world, Russia, and checked out who they have to offer in terms of future prospects. The list was headlined by Kirill Kaprizov (MIN), Denis Guryanov (DAL) and Vitali Kravtsov (NYR). Today, we’re going to making a quick stop in Scandanavia and checking out the country of Sweden. Without further ado, here are the top ten Swedish drafted prospects.

10. Lucas Elvenes (LW, Vegas Golden Knights – 5th Round, 127th Overall in 2017)

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The Vegas Golden Knights absolutely dominated their inaugaral draft in 2017, selecting the likes of Cody Glass, Erik Brannstrom, and Nick Suzuki in the first round. Despite having since traded two of those players, they also seemed to find some gems in the later rounds and Elvenes was one of them. The 6’1 left winger is currently in his second full season with Rogle BK of the SHL and has 20 points in 42 games thus far. He also represented his country at the World Juniors and impressed with four points in five games.

9. Timothy Liljegren (D, Toronto Maple Leafs – 1st Round, 17th Overall in 2017)

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Liljegren was once projected to go second overall in the 2017 draft behind Nolan Patrick, but he developed a case of mono which caused him to miss a big chunk of the season and thus, hurt his draft stock. He ended up slipping to the Maple Leafs at 17th overall where they pounced on him. He’s had a bit of a down year this season involving injuries, but he’s still doing alright with 12 points in 34 games. If he improves his game next season, we could see him in the NHL within the next two years.

8. Jonathan Davidsson (RW, Ottawa Senators – 6th Round, 170th Overall in 2017 to CBJ)

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The Blue Jackets drafted Davidsson as an overager in the 2017 NHL Draft, but he never had a chance to play within their organization as the Jackets traded him to Ottawa in a deal that brought Matt Duchene the other way. Davidsson is currently in Sweden playing for Djurgardens IF of the SHL and has found success, putting up 21 points in 37 games thus far. He’s improved every year he’s been overseas, so it’s possible the Sens could bring him to North America for next season.

7. Carl Grundstrom (LW, Los Angeles Kings – 2nd Round, 57th Overall in 2016 to TOR)

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The Maple Leafs initially drafted Grundstrom in 2016 and he was a staple on the Toronto Marlies for two seasons before they traded him to the Kings in a trade that brought defenseman Jake Muzzin back to Toronto. The gritty power foward has put up a combined 39 points in 55 AHL games between the Marlies and the Ontario Reign this year, and was recently called up to the Kings where he’s scored two goals in five games at the NHL level.

6. Isac Lundestrom (C, Anaheim Ducks – 1st Round, 23rd Overall in 2018)

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Lundestrom began this season playing within the Anaheim Ducks organization and didn’t do too bad, putting up six points in 12 AHL games. He also appeared in 15 NHL games with the Ducks but only mustered two assists in that timespan. In early January he was loaned back to his home country of Sweden and has since put up nine points in 17 games for Lulea HF. There is a strong chance we will see Lundestrom in North America full time next year.

5. Filip Hallander (C, Pittsburgh Penguins – 2nd Round, 58th Overall in 2018)

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Hallander is a good example of the fact that you don’t need to have a first round pick to get your hands on a good prospect. Taken at 58th overall, the 6’1 centre is in his first full SHL season with Timra IK and has 21 points in 45 games thus far. Very impressive when you take into account that he’s 18 playing against grown men. If he keeps up his production, you would have to wonder how long the Penguins will wait before pulling the trigger on bringing him to North America.

4. Lias Andersson (C, New York Rangers – 1st Round, 7th Overall in 2017)

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Andersson has been progressing smoothly and emerging into a solid skilled forward. He’s split this season between the Rangers and the Hartford Wolf Pack of the AHL, putting up 20 points through 36 games with the latter. With the former, he’s only been able to muster five points through 32 games, but hasn’t looked out of place. He will likely secure a full time spot on the Rangers next season.


3. Rasmus Sandin (D, Toronto Maple Leafs – 1st Round, 29th Overall in 2018)

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Rasmus Sandin has been everything the Maple Leafs have hoped for, if not more. In his first full pro season, he’s put up 23 points in 36 games from the back end on the Toronto Marlies and has easily been their best defenseman. He will more than likely receive an extra look at training camp next year if he doesn’t see any NHL time before the end of the season. It’s obviously too early to tell, but at 29th overall it’s looking like the Leafs got a steal in Sandin.

2. Erik Brannstrom (D, Ottawa Senators – 1st Round, 15th Overall in 2017 to VGK)

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Brannstrom has truly emerged as one of the league’s top prospects this season. He proved his dominance in the World Juniors and has been no slouch in the AHL either, having put up 32 points in 48 AHL games thus far. He was traded to the Ottawa Senators mid-season in the deal that sent Mark Stone to Vegas, and his presence instantly bolsters the Senators’ prospect system.

1. Adam Boqvist (D, Chicago Blackhawks – 1st Round, 8th Overall in 2018)

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Picking a top prospect in this group was incredibly challenging, but I ended up giving Boqvist the edge compared to Brannstrom just because of the fact that he’s a year younger and was drafted higher. Boqvist is playing for the London Knights this season and he’s been torching the league with 60 points in 54 games, thus far. Considering the fact that he came from Sweden, the Hawks have the option to play him in the AHL before he turns 20, so it’s very likely he could join the organization for next season.
Thanks for reading! Tune in next time where we’ll remain in Scandanavia, where we’ll check out the best that Finland has to offer in terms of prospects.
stats provided by Elite Prospects
featured image photo credit – pixabay.com

Hobson’s Guide: 5 Ways to Pick a Favourite CHL Team

If you live nowhere near a CHL team, picking a favourite team can be challenging.

This mostly applies to those who live in the United States or those who live in one of the three territories. Each of Canada’s provinces have at least one CHL team, so if you live in one of those provinces then it may just be easier for you to pick your favourite team based on where you live. However if you support your local team but want to pick a favourite team from one or both of the other two CHL leagues, this article is for you too.

I’ll give you a little bit of backstory on how I got my favourite teams. The CHL has three leagues. (editor’s note – check out our list of CHL teams and content about those teams)

– The OHL (Ontario Hockey League) is composed of mostly Ontario teams (no surprise) as well as a couple of teams located in the United States.
– The WHL (Western Hockey League) covers the entirety of Western Canada as well as some of Western USA. They have at least one team in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia.
– The QMJHL (Quebec Major Junior Hockey League) covers all of Quebec as well as teams from the Maritime provinces (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Price Edward Island)

My favourite OHL team is the Kitchener Rangers as they’re my local team. I live a solid ten minute walk from the arena, so I frequently go to games and have watched them for my entire life. Thus, picking them as my favourite team was easy.

My favourite WHL team is the Kelowna Rockets. This is for the sole reason that I love the city of Kelowna as I’ve been there multiple times, and they also have some of my favourite jerseys in any sport.

My favourite QMJHL team is the Halifax Mooseheads, as they’re the only CHL team outside of the OHL that I’ve watched in person. I saw them play in the fall while I was visiting friends in Halifax and they had some exciting atmosphere. Along with this, one of my favourite NHL players outside of my team is Nathan MacKinnon, and he was a star for the Mooseheads before he made the jump to the NHL.

There you have it. Those are my three favourite teams. Now that I’ve explained myself here, I’m going to list a number of factors you can use to choose a favourite junior team.

1. Pick an Up-and-Coming Team

Picking a favourite junior team can be difficult because the players change so often. The minimum age you can play in the CHL is 16 (15 if you’re granted exceptional status) and the oldest is 21, so players will only be on the team for a few years at a time before they either make the jump to the pros or move on from their junior career. So with this information, do some research and find out who some of the youngest teams in the CHL are. This way, you can buy yourself some extra time to grow attached to certain players and thus follow the team closely.

2. Pick Based on the City

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Is there a favourite city of yours? Have you always wanted to go to Ottawa? Pick the Ottawa 67s. Do you have family living in Calgary? Cheer on the Calgary Hitmen. Have you always wanted to go to Quebec? Start doing research on the Quebec Remparts. Whether you’ve vacationed to this place before or just enjoy the city, it’s another easy way to pick a favourite team.

3. Pick Based on a Favourite Player

Another good way to pick a team is to research who your favourite player played for in Junior and start supporting them. For example, is Sidney Crosby your favourite player? He was a legend for the Rimouski Oceanic of the QMJHL. Are you a Lightning fan who loves Steven Stamkos? He played for the Sarnia Sting of the OHL. Are you an Islanders fan who despises John Tavares but loves Mathew Barzal? Barzal played for the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL. Maybe start paying attention to them. I used this method as well as the second method to choose the Halifax Mooseheads as my favourite QMJHL team.

4. Pick Based on Your Team’s Top Prospect

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If you follow prospects as closely as I do, this might be the option for you. You’re already following your favourite prospect, so you might as well cheer his team on right? For example. If you’re a Philadelphia Flyers fan and love how well Morgan Frost is doing, why not cheer for the Sault St. Marie Greyhounds? Or if you’re a Vegas Golden Knights fan and want to pay attention to your future #1 centre in Cody Glass, then pick the Portland Winterhawks as your team. This is an easy way to pick a team if you’re already following prospects closely.

5. Pick One of the Best Teams

If you follow an NHL team that simply refuses to provide you with any happiness like the Ottawa Senators or the Anaheim Ducks, then you might as well pick a junior team that’s doing well to give yourself something to be positive about. If you choose this method, you might get chirped for being a bandwagoner. Granted the chance of this isn’t as high considering the pace that Junior teams change at.

I could go on and on for reasons to pick a junior team as your favourite. You could even pick a team using something as simple as the fact that you like their jerseys. Heck, that’s why I picked the Kelowna Rockets as my favourite WHL team. But I figured I would leave you with five of the easiest and most popular ways to choose your favourite team. I hope this helps anybody who wants to choose a team. If you use one of these methods and it works, leave a comment below and tell me who you picked and why!

Thanks for reading.