Florida Panthers: Evaluating Their 2019 Draft

The Florida Panthers went into the 2019 National Hockey League Entry Draft in Vancouver with the 13th overall pick and came out with nine new names in their depth chart. 

 

Overall, the best word to describe the Panthers’ performance in Vancouver is: okay. Just okay.  Nothing phenomenal, nothing crippling.  Just… okay.  Personally, I am a big proponent of drafting the best available talent, but General Manager Dale Tallon and co. clearly went into the draft with team needs on their minds.  A team that struggled defensively and in net invested heavily in their own end with this draft; the Panthers only used one of their first five picks on a forward but tried to stock the cabinets in the later rounds.  So how did they do with each pick?

 

Round 1, Pick 13: Spencer Knight, G (US National U18 Team)

 

Spencer Knight was not just the top goalie prospect in this year’s draft, but one of the best goalie prospects the NHL has seen in a long time.  That said, drafting goalies is a very tricky business, as goalies are much harder to evaluate and generally take longer to develop. 

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The Panthers clearly wanted a defenseman with their first-round pick, but by the time they stepped up to the podium, Victor Soderstrom, Philip Broberg, and Moritz Seider were all off the board.  Tallon allegedly had some discussions with other GMs about trading down, but they proved fruitless and the Panthers ultimately used their given pick on Knight.  With the big-three defensemen off the board, I understand and am generally okay with the Panthers reaching a little bit for Knight.  Hopefully, he turns into every bit the franchise goalie that the analysts are projecting and the Panthers don’t regret passing on the likes of Cole Caufield and Peyton Krebs.

 

Pick feel: fine, given the circumstances

I would’ve picked: Cole Caufield

 

Round 2, Pick 52: Vladislav Kolyachonok, D (Flint Firebirds, OHL)

 

Drafted by the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League and traded to the Flint Firebirds, Kolyachonok had 30 points in 54 games as a rookie defenseman in the OHL, in addition to scoring five points in five games as Belarus’ captian at the World U18 Championship.  The Panthers may have lost out on Broberg, Seider, and Soderstrom, but Kolyachonok, described as a responsible, two-way defenseman who excels at moving the puck and moving himself, immediately becomes the best defensive prospect in their system.

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Pick feel: great

I would’ve picked: Mikko Kokkonen

 

Round 3, Pick 69: John Ludvig, D (Portland Winterhawks, WHL)

 

Undrafted in 2018, John Ludvig’s second Western Hockey League season, while an improvement on his first, still left much to be desired.  The 6’1” defenseman is known more for fighting than scoring, having recorded more penalty minutes than points in each of his seasons with Portland so far.  Many mocks had him going in the seventh round, if at all, and nothing I have seen in any stat sheet or highlight reel justifies this pick to me either.  This was easily the worst pick the Panthers made in Vancouver and possibly one of the worst overall picks of the entire draft.

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Pick feel: not nice

I would’ve picked: nearly anyone else, but especially Mikko Kokkonen, who was STILL on the board.

 

Round 3, Pick 81: Cole Schwindt, W (Mississauga Steelheads, OHL)

 

The Panthers followed up their worst pick in the draft by making one of their better picks in the draft. The 17-year-old 6’2” forward Schwindt might not have lit the OHL up himself, but he is a very effective play driver at five-on-five.  In significant minutes, Schwindt had a massively positive impact on his teammates’ (including fellow Panthers prospect Owen Tippett) possession stats, which is a very good sign moving forward.

 

Pick feel: much better than the last one

I would’ve picked: STILL MIKKO KOKKONEN

 

Round 4, Pick 106: Carter Berger, D (Victoria Grizzlies, BCHL)

 

The last of the defensemen with whom Florida left Vancouver, Berger is a skilled, though over-aged, defenseman.  He notched 27 goals and 36 assists (63 points) in his second draft-eligible season and is set to move up to the NCAA and play for UCONN this coming season.

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Pick feel: no strong feelings one way or the other

I would’ve picked: Antti Saarela

 

Round 5, Pick 136: Henrik Rybinski, W (Seattle Thunderbirds, WHL)

 

If any of the Panthers’ draft picks is eventually described as a diamond in the rough, it will be Hank Rybinski.  Rybinski began this season very slowly with the Medicine Hat Tigers, but exploded onto the scene after a trade to the Seattle Thunderbirds.  The 17-year-old finished his WHL season with 40 points in 47 games, but was a point-per-game player for Seattle.  Rybinski is strong on the puck, but is certainly more of a playmaker than a goal-scorer himself.  If Seattle continues to use him in more significant ice time, his development could be a pleasant surprise.

 

Pick feel: unreasonably excited for a fifth-rounder

I would’ve picked: Henrik Rybinski too.  Good job, team.

 

Round 5, Pick 137: Owen Lindmark, C (US National U18 Team)

 

The second American-born player that the Panthers drafted over the weekend will follow up a 14-point USHL and 25-point USDP campaign by playing at the University of Wisconsin this coming season. A reasonably sound winger, Lindmark did not particularly wow anybody in any facet of the game, but he didn’t cause much disruption either.

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Pick feel: good enough, he just seems happy to be involved

I would’ve picked: Mason Primeau if you really twisted my arm about it.

 

Round 6, Pick 168: Greg Meireles, C (Kitchener Rangers, OHL)/Round 7, Pick 199: Matthew Wedman, C (Seattle Thunderbirds, WHL)

 

I am going to lump Meireles and Wedman in with each other because the things I have to say about both are strikingly similar.  Both Meireles and Wedman are 20 years old and just completed their third season of draft eligibility.  Both outperformed their previous career highs by significant margins.  Meireles finished 10th in points in the OHL and Wedman 20th in the WHL, but that should be expected, given their age, development, and experience.  I certainly don’t hate taking a flyer on a pair of potential late-bloomers in the sixth/seventh round.

 

Pick feel: *shrug emoji*

I would’ve picked: Michael Gildon both times

Statistics provided by hockey-reference

Featured Image Photo Credit: Nikos Michals

 

Puck 77 NHL Draft Scouting Reports

We’ve compiled all of the scouting reports done by the various members of the Puck77 team for the NHL Draft here in one easy location so you can jump right to the player you want!

Our Top-12

1. 🇺🇸 Jack Hughes, C, USNTDP: Deep Dive Scouting Report on Jack Hughes by Tony Ferrari

2. 🇫🇮 Kaapo Kakko, RW, TPS (Liiga): Deep Dive Scouting Report of Kaapo Kakko by Tony Ferrari

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3. 🇺🇸 Alex Turcotte, C, USNTDP: Deep Dive Scouting Report on Alex Turcotte by Tony Ferrari

4. 🇨🇦 Bowen Byram, LHD, Vancouver Giants (WHL): Deep Dive Scouting Report on Bowen Byram by Tony Ferrari

5. 🇺🇸 Trevor Zegras, C/LW, USNTDP: Deep Dive Scouting Report on Trevor Zegras by Tony Ferrari

6. 🇨🇦 Dylan Cozens, C, Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL): Deep Dive Scouting Report on Dylan Cozens by Tony Ferrari

7. 🇺🇸 Cole Caufield, LW, USNTDP: Deep Dive Scouting Report on Cole Caufield by Tony Ferrari

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8. 🇨🇦 Kirby Dach, C, Saskatoon Blades (WHL): Deep Dive Scouting Report on Kirby Dach by Tony Ferrari

9. 🇨🇦 Alex Newhook, C, Vancouver Grizzlies (BCHL): Deep Dive Scouting Report on Alex Newhook by Tony Ferrari

10. 🇨🇦 Peyton Krebs, C, Kootenay/Winnipeg Ice (WHL): Deep Dive Scouting Report on Peyton Krebs by Tony Ferrari

11. 🇺🇸 Matthew Boldy, RW, USNTDP: Deep Dive Scouting Report on Matthew Boldy by Tony Ferrari

12. 🇷🇺 Vasili Podkolzin, RW, SKA St. Petersburg (KHL): Deep Dive Scouting Report on Vasili Podkolzin by Tony Ferrari

Other Intriguing Prospects

2019 NHL Draft: What makes Philip Tomasino such an intriguing prospect? by Spencer Loane

2019 NHL Draft Deep Dive: Arthur Kaliyev by Spencer Teixeira

NHL Draft Profile: Nolan Foote by Spencer Teixeira

Come back for more profiles as they are updated and added! Thanks for stopping by!

NHL Draft Profile Jack Hughes

The likely top overall pick in this years NHL draft doesn’t have as tight a grip on the top selection as he did at the start of the season. While Kappo Kakko has closed on Hughes position, the American center has solidified his spot as the next great player to come out of the US National Team Development Program. 

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Name: Jack Hughes

Date of Birth: May 14th, 2001

Nationality (Place of Birth): American (Orlando, FL, USA)

Hieght: 5’10”

Weight: 170lbs

Shoots: Left

Position: Center

Rankings

Ranked #1 by TSN/McKenzie

Scouting Report

The above spider graph, courtesy of Kyle Pereira of Puck77, displays the available data from Will Scouch. As shown, Jack Hughes was a dominant force in many ways. He was exceptional at driving play at 5-on-5 and he is a powerplay wizard. Finishing no worse than third among the 11 prospects on the graph, Hughes clearly stands out. As a player who is able to attack the game in a variety of ways, Hughes will immediately step into and NHL locker room and be a contributor right away. 

At just 5’10” you would prefer Hughes to have more size but the way he plays the game, it’s not an issue. The diminutive center isn’t a perimeter player as many would assume due to his size, rather he lives in the middle of the ice. Hughes ability to get to the middle of the ice unabated is impressive. In the video below, Hughes begins the play by picking the puck up behind the net and then picks up some speed with the puck. At that point he makes an excellent breakout pass and then uses his speed to accelerate through the neutral zone before receiving a return pass. Hughes makes a few cuts and changes direction, cutting to the net. A pass back against the flow of direction which results in a goal. 

Tweet courtesy of @StarsStripesHKY

Hughes skating ability is otherworldly. His skating will be elite in the NHL already and he doesn’t have just straight line speed. His edge work is phenomenal as he is able to cut in either direction on a dime. He skates like a speedy NFL running back in the sense that he can make a move in any direction without notice. This skill is key in making Hughes transition game elite entering the NHL. His ability to create space with subtle changes in his skating whether it be changing direction or changing speeds is unmatched in this draft class.

With an electric offence game, Hughes has taken over games in a scorer and a playmaker role. His calling card is the ability to make the ice feel spacious for his teammates while controlling the puck and pushing the ice of play. His tape-to-rape passing ability is a thing of beauty. Whether backhand or forehand, the American is an extremely high-end passer who can break a game open by drawing defenders to him before threading a pass through traffic onto the stick of his teammates. Below you can see that Hughes displays excellent vision. After entering the offensive zone he drops a pass to the oncoming Cam York and then continues to the slot. Receiving the return pass from York, Hughes makes no mistake by putting the puck in the back of the net.

Tweet courtesy of @TSN_Sports

Defensively Hughes has all the tools to compete and excel in his own end. He may not be overly physical and won’t muscle an opponent off of the puck but he didn’t refrain from battling in the corners. More adept at using his good stick to pull the puck out of a scrum. His positioning in the defensive zone is good and he is skilled at recognizing a play and getting in the passing lanes braking up plays before they become dangerous.

Preseason Outlook

Coming into the 2018-19 season, Jack Hughes was touted as the clear number one prospect for this draft. His star had been on the rise for years. His play for the USNTDP team as well as both the U17 squads and U18 squads were absolutely outstanding. He was a force to be reckoned with regardless if he was playing with his age group or a year ahead.

Coming off of a season in which he was the highest scoring U17 player in USNDTP history, expectations started extremely high for the speedy center. Last season Hughes split time between the Under-17 and Under 18-teams. Excelling at both levels, Hughes put up 68 points in 37 games with Under 18s and 48 points in 24 games with the Under 17s. Capturing a gold medal at the U17 World Hockey Challenge and a silver medal at the IIHF Under-18 World Championship. To say he had a dominant year would be an understatement.

Draft Year with USNTDP

Jack Hughes has dominated this year. He draft season almost couldn’t have gone better. His proficiency has been displayed at every level and every event he’s played in this year. A dominant performance with the USNTDP where he put up 112 points (34 G/74 A) in just 50 games was the prime destination to see him play. The skilled center was a force in every game he played. His skill was evident at all times, with and without the puck.

Video courtesy of Hockey Prospect Center Youtube channel

With 74 assists, he proved that his playmaking ability is exceptional beyond belief. He was a constant threat to put the puck on the tape of a player in position to score. Passing from behind the net, across the ice or into the slot from the half wall, Hughes can make any pass. He was unwavering in his ability to make the smart and efficient pass from the defensive zone and then opening himself up for a return pass. An underrated part in Hughes game, much like many superstars, is the small passes that he makes to alleviate pressure from opposing players. This skill is both underrated and integral to a players capacity to play in all three zones.

His game is consistently rose to an even higher level at international tournaments. Whether it was his record setting performance in the U18 World Championships in April or the point-per-game pace he established at the World Juniors (U20) Championships just after Christmas, Hughes has proven to be a difference maker on every occasion.

Video courtesy of Puck Prodigy Youtube channel

U18’s and IIHF World Championships

The captain of an absolutely stacked American U18 team, Hughes shone like the star he is. The team ran into a hot goalie in Russia’s Yaroslav Askarov, a 2020 draft eligible goalie, in the semi-finals led to a disappointing bronze medal finish. Although the teams goals and expectation of a gold medal were not met, Hughes had an outstanding tournament. Hughes dominated in every facet of the game. His skating was on full display and his offensive precision was mouth-watering. Able to set players around him up or take control and score a goal at will, Hughes U18 tournament was absolutely dominate. 

The chemistry with Cole Caufield that was established throughout the season with the USNTDP was a major factor for both players record setting tournaments. While much was made of Caufield tying Alexander Ovechkin’s tournament record for goals (14 goals in seven games), Hughes was setting records of his own. After collecting 12 points at last year’s tournament, the 20 points he scored this year were good enough to eclipse Ovechkin’s all-time tournament record of 31 points with 32. Hughes’ nearly unprecedented run at the World U18 tournament helped earn him a spot on the Men’s IIHF World Hockey Championship.

Video courtesy of Hockey Prospect Center Youtube channel

Despite making the World Championship roster, Hughes was not able to make a difference for the American team. He wasn’t afforded the same opportunity as Kakko at the men’s tournament but it was a good eye-opening experience. Hughes had played a lot of hockey to this point and seemed a little bit gassed. In comparison, Kakko skipped the U18s in order to prepare for this tournament and ended up closing the gap on Hughes and even passed him in some evaluator’s eyes. Hughes struggled at times with the strength of the players from various men’s leagues around the world including the NHL. His best game may have come in his last game in which he had two assists. He finished with just three assists n the tournament. The young American played good for stretches but also clearly had his struggles when it came to competing physically. 

What the Detractors Say

There is no perfect player. Even some of the best in the world have their weaknesses. Many of Hughes is skills are impressive to say the least and will likely translate well to the NHL. The biggest knock on Hughes is the fact that he is a diminutive forward who isn’t a physical force on the ice. Hughes is also looked at as someone who can be seen floating in the defensive zone. This is often because he is almost always in position in his own end and floats in and out of passing lanes. Overall his biggest weakness is his size which is something that can’t be changed which means that it’s something a team will have to live with but the immense skill more than makes up for it.

Jack Hughes will be taken…

First overall most likely. Barring any major change or a catastrophic injury of some sort in training, there is little doubt that Hughes will be a New Jersey Devil come June’s NHL Entry Draft. While Kappo Kakko has closed the gap on the American, Hughes is still the top dog in this draft. While Kakko would likely be the top overall pick in many years, Hughes potential to be a franchise changing player has the Finn playing second fiddle.

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This year’s top-ranked prospect is going to be an NHL star in all likelihood. His speed, skill and playmaking ability will almost assuredly be flying up the ice in the black and red (and sometimes green) of the New Jersey Devils. With a one-two punch down the middle of Hughes and 2017 first overall pick Nico Hischier, the New Jersey Devils could be turning a page on the past and fully embrace the speed and skill, up-tempo offensive game of the modern NHL. Combining that with the possible re-signing of 2018 Hart Trophy winner Taylor Hall, the Devils may return to legitimacy in less time than most pundits anticipate. Jack Hughes will be the catalyst for that.

For more on the NHL, prospects and the NHL Draft, follow me here at @TheTonyFerrari on twitter!

All stats and information provided by Hockey Reference, Elite ProspectsDobber Prospects and NHL.com

NHL Draft Profile Alex Turcotte

Possibly the most complete player in the draft, Turcotte‘s two-way ability will allow him to translate to the NHL with ease. A dual-threat, do-it-all kind of player, he can provide the style of play that coaches love.

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Name: Alex Turcotte

Date of Birth: February 26, 2001

Nationality (Place of Birth): American (Island Lake, IL, USA)

Hieght: 5’11”

Weight: 185lbs

Shoots: Left

Position: C

Rankings

Ranked #11 by TSN/McKenzie

Scouting Report

The above spider graph, courtesy of Kyle Pereira of Puck77, displays the available data from Will Scouch. As shown in the graph, Alex Turcotte may be the most complete player in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. He excels in every area of the game, a rare 200-foot player with high-end offensive upside. Only being outproduced by Hughes in points -per-game, the two-way forward does an excellent job at both ends of the ice. He has one of the highest NHL eScores in the draft, likely fueled by his ability to drive the play offensively and make smart, efficient plays defensively leading to a positive goal differential. 

The American center looks as if he could be the safest pick in the draft. He combines playmaking and scoring along with a 200-foot game. He skates with an explosive stride and while his top end speed isn’t considered great, it is very good. His ability to drive past defenders wide and cut to the net is a product of his above average edge work and non-stop motor. His tenacious play style ensures that he will not be accused of floating around in any area of the ice. In the video below, Turcotte shows off his stick skills with an excellent deke before finding his teammate at the side of the net. The puck doesn’t go in on this chance but the rush and play by Turcotte was exceptional nonetheless. 

In his own zone, Turcotte excels as a defensive center. He positions himself well and never stops skating. His face-off ability was the best in a group of elite centres on the USNTDP. He consistently provides solid support for his defencemen. He comes low in the zone and battles along the boards better than most players his size. His penalty-killing ability is more advanced than most players at this stage in their development. Turcotte is adept at using his stick to disrupt the play and turn the puck over. He is controlled and doesn’t take undisciplined penalties with his active stick which is a good sign.

His ability to turn the puck over and transition up the ice towards the offensive zone is exceptional. He isn’t the neutral zone wizard that his teammate Jack Hughes, but he is a good transition player. His ability to make the short, smart pass is key to his transition play, often looking to pass to a winger on the boards and then expecting a return pass up the ice for a neutral zone give-and-go. Turcotte is efficient at exiting and entering the zone.

Video courtesy of Hockey Prospect Center Youtube channel

Offensively, the relentless nature of Turcotte’s forecheck creates turnovers in the offensive zone and his strength on the puck allows his to dominate possession. He has the ability to control the puck while entering the zone at top speed and make moves with the puck under control to allow himself to get open or draw multiple defenders to him, opening up space for teammates. If open teammates present themselves, Turcotte has both the sense and skill to put the puck on the stick of a player in a prime scoring position. The two-way center can open his toolbox for any skill needed as he possesses an above average shot from almost any position. Whether it be a wrist shot or a snap shot one-toner, he has the ability to put the puck in the net.

Preseason

The center played in the shadow of Jack Hughes for most of his USNDTP career which hid Turcotte for much of the time. Last season (2017-18) after Hughes was called up to the U18 USNTDP team, Turcotte excelled with the greater responsibility. His game is adaptable to whatever situation arises and whichever teammates he’s been slotted into a line with. Whether it was as a playmaker or triggerman, Turcotte can do whatever is needed.

This season, playing behind Hughes again, he started the year recovering from a lower body injury. This led to a late start and some concern to start the year, often leading to Turcotte being dropped in some rankings around the prospect world.

Late start with the USNTDP

After dealing with the lower-body injury to start the year, Turcotte has excelled since his return. He out-paced all players on the USNTDP outside of Jack Hughes in terms of point production. His 1.68 P/GP was second among all players, trailing only Hughes who put up an impressive 2.24 P/GP. Despite playing in just 37 games he produced an outstanding 62 points, good for sixth among all USNTDP players despite playing about 60% of the games due to the injury.

Stepping into the second line center role upon his return, he allowed Trevor Zegras to return to a more natural fit on the left wing next to Hughes. Turcotte took over all the important face-offs and defensive zone draws as he could be relied upon in any situation. His coach John Wroblewski has this to say about the young man,

Jack Hughes is our most electrifying player but Alex is right there as our most valuable player because his game just transcends so much in so many different areas. 

The Illinois native was a leader on the USNTDP both on and off the ice. His mature play style showed others how to properly play the game. He led by example, proving that regardless of how offensive you are, playing a solid two-way game is most important feature a young player can have.

World U18 Championship

Turcotte, like many of this year’s top prospects, were on the loaded USA squad who had dominated the tournament until they ran into a hot goalie. Russian goalie, and 2020 draft eligible, Yaroslav Askarov absolutely stole the game in the semi-finals against the US team.

Video courtesy of Puck Progidy Youtube channel

Despite the disappointing team finish, they defeated Canada in the bronze medal game, Turcotte had a solid tournament. With nine points in seven games, Turcotte finished tied for seventh in tournament scoring. Scoring the opening goal in the bronze medal game, Turcotte was good in all three zones playing the same complete and mature game that’s gotten him to where he is.

What the Detractors Say

Turcotte may truly be the most complete player in this draft. The young American plays a pro-style game already, reliably playing in all three zones. If there is one weakness for Turcotte, it could only be his lack of physicality. He isn’t an overly physical player and won’t lay a massive hit but he doesn’t shy away from engaging in the corners or along the boards. He could serve to build up some strength as he is on the smaller side. With maturity, strength will come for a Turcotte.

His top end speed isn’t out of this world but his high hockey-IQ more than make up for this small deficiency. His stride itself is technically sound, so it’s just working on building strength in his lower body. Again, strength may be the one true weakness.

Alex Turcotte will be taken…

Likely anywhere from three to six. He may still be classified as a player in the second tier of this draft, but he is clearly near the top of that group. As a center, his value will be high and he would be an excellent fit on any team that has a puck in that range. He could go to any team in that range and slot in as their second line center behind a skilled veteran who can teach Turcotte what it takes to be an NHL center.

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If Turcotte gets chosen third overall by the Chicago Blackhawks or the Los Angeles Kings, Turcotte could follow a Stanley Cup Chmapion, all-time NHL great in Jonathon Toews and Anze Kopitar respectively. If he gets drafted by either the Colorado Avalanche or the Detroit Red Wings, he could help form one of the most talented one-two punches down the middle of any team. A combination of Nathan MacKinnon-Turcotte or Dylan Larkin-Turcotte would endure that any team they play against will have a difficult time matching up.

Turcotte is good enough to warrant the third overall pick. The complete 200-foot forward could have an impact on the NHL sooner rather than later. Likely to attend the University of Wisconsin Badgers in the fall and play a major role for the team. One year is most likely all Turcotte spends with the Badgers. It’s not out of the realm of questions that Turcotte could be top/player in this drafted outside of the big two. The near NHL ready, two-way machine is likely to go in the top half of the top five of the draft.

For more on the NHL, prospects and the NHL Draft, follow me here at @TheTonyFerrari on twitter!

All stats and information provided by Elite ProspectsDobber Prospects and NHL.com

 

Puck77

IIHF World Hockey Championship: Recapping The Quarterfinals

The quarterfinals were played today, and all four games were filled with spectacular drama

What a day at the IIHF World Hockey Championships. It had everything you could ask for and then an added upset of epic proportions near the end of it. If you ask me this is the best quarterfinals day I have seen in an international hockey tournament.

In Bratislava the results were as expected. Russia won against the USA and the Czech Republic beat Germany. However, both games were close and could have gone either way if the puck bounced differently on a few plays.

Kosice became the overtime city today. First Canada won in a heartbreaking finish for the Swiss in a game that will be talked about for years. In the other game Finland created an upset in overtime against Sweden.

 

Switzerland 2-3 Canada

Switzerland: 0.4 seconds was all that separated them from another sensational run and win. Up until that point they had played the perfect hockey game.

Yes, they were second best and they were under pressure for all of the third period. But they were leading. They had been great at creating chances on the rush and counter attack. The powerplay was working like a treat. And most importantly they had goaltender Leonardo Genoni, who once again was phenomenal. Stopping everything and all he needed to do was to stop one more shot from the point. That was it. But hockey is a strange and cruel game and the puck just squeezed by him and into the net.

In overtime they had a few good chances, but in OT all it takes is one misplayed hit. Nino Niederreiter missed a hit on Pierre-Luc Dubois and with that the game was sealed.

Massive credit to Switzerland and all my sympathy to them. They once again battled with all they had and potentially even a bit more than that. They are hard working and they would run though a titanium wall  if it meant a win. This loss will sting, but the Swiss can feel proud of their team.

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Canada: Mark Stone may have become the overtime hero, but the true hero of Team Canada is Damon Severson. Tying a game where they threw everything they got at the net without results is amazing. Doing it with 0.4 seconds left is the stuff of legends.

Revenge for last year’s semifinal loss was achieved in a game that was a near copy past from that game. Canada did everything right but score and kill penalties. One of the Swiss goals came with three seconds left after the second period. A period where Canada was outplaying the Swiss. Déjà vu was the word I was planning to use but then the biggest moment of Severson’s career happened, and the rest is history.

Canada will use tomorrow to move to Bratislava, where they have a tough game against home team Czech Republic in the semis. Not an easy game at all and one where they can not wait this long to win. They wont always be able to score with one second left on a desperate slapshot.

USA 3-4 Russia

USA: They fought hard to overcome a nightmare first period. Down two within ten minutes and you feared the worst. After that they worked their way into the game and made it close, but the last goal eluded them in the end.

To beat Russia a few bounces are needed. USA didn’t get those. The best players need to be the best and outside of a great pass in the last three minutes from Patrick Kane, the stars for USA didn’t perform. And a stellar goaltending performance is needed. While goaltender Cory Schneider was good for most of the game, his first period left the Americans in a chasing position they couldn’t recover from. Therefore, they have to leave the tournament empty handed.

And with the loss comes another reality for the USA organization: It’s going to be at least 60 years since USA last won gold in the World Championships. Forty years since they last won something with the men’s team. For a country and hockey nation of USA’s size, that’s bonkers and honestly unacceptable. The team was there this year, but they lacked goaltending and structure, and against Russia it proved costly.

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Russia: It wasn’t the dominance the first ten minutes was foreshadowing, but on the back of an amazing effort by goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, Russia got the job done. He was absolutely stunning once again and despite three goals against he was the difference today.

USA had plenty of chances and for the first time in the tournament they looked vulnerable on the backend. They allowed a lot of odd man rushes and passes to go into the slot. Another key part of the win was that they managed to stay out of the box. They were disciplined and that’s been something they lacked for most of this tournament. They now have to get ready for a very interesting game against the surprise of this year’s worlds in Finland. On paper this should be a cake walk, but as Sweden found out, it requires a good strong game for all 60 minutes to break the Finns.

Czech Republic 5-1 Germany

Czech Republic: It took some time, but the goals finally came in the third period. It was deserved after a good game on home ice in Bratislava. They were more disciplined than they have been throughout the tournament and with a solid performance from goaltender Patrik Bartosak they are hard to beat.

While the first line only connected for one goal, it was in the clutch and the eventual game winner from Jakub Voracek. The third line (especially Jan Kovar) was tonight’s hero for the Czechs with three points.

Next up is Canada for them and here they have to play at their very best to win. The crowd in Bratislava will be cheering them along all the way, but even with support, Canada is not an easy team to beat. The first line needs to click once again and Bartosak needs to stand on his head for them to have a chance.

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Germany: The Germans finally had to surrender after really good campaign. They fought valiantly and have had some stellar goaltending while being the most effective team I’ve seen. They seem to score on every chance they get in the tournament. Something that gave them five wins in eight games.

Tonight, both of those keys to the German success went missing in the last half of the game, and without those they were convincingly beat. Philipp Grubauer seemed to struggle and at least two or three of the goals were savable. His night was perfectly illustrated as a funny bounce caught him out of position to make it 4-1. A goal that essentially was the dagger for the Germans hope of advancing.

Leon Draisaitl had a chance to give them the lead on a breakaway. In the games before he has scored on those. In this one he missed. And for that reason, the fans from Czech Republic can sing “Deutschland, Deutschland alles ist vorbei” in the streets of Bratislava.

Finland 5-4 Sweden

Finland: The fairytale continues as the Finish underdogs stormed the castle and overthrew the reigning kings of the World Championship. With pure determination and a few lucky bounces, they found a way to keep the game close. A 3-1 deficit just after the second period and things looked impossible. But just like in fairytales the impossible tends to become possible. A few point shots and Finland were tied at 3. The Swedes retaliated and retook the lead, withstanding the rebelling rivals.

Finland had possession and momentum both but were unable to score it seemed. Not all fairytales have a happy ending and with two minutes left this was looking to be the case. However, the captain of the Finns, a giant named Marko Anttila wanted it otherwise. With 1:30 left he found a loss puck in the crease and got it past the King of the Swedish crease, Henrik Lundqvist, sending the game to overtime.

A counter attack with “Three Finish Musketeers” sealed the deal as Sakari Manninen fired a shot into the top corner creating Finnish jubilation and Swedish despair. Next up in the quest for gold is Russia standing in its way. A game that will be as tough, if not tougher, but we learned today that Finland is a team that should not be taken for granted.

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Sweden: The reigning champions are no more in the World Championships. That’s the case after tonight where another terrible second period was the killing blow for the Swedes.

Similar to the game against Russia, they looked flat and panicky through 18 minutes of it. The only two minutes of the second period Sweden was good was the first minute and the last. Subsequently that gave them a lead at the second intermission, but the gave up so much momentum that it ended up hurting them in the third period. They were dominated by Finland. A team with one NHL player in the lineup. For a team like Sweden with 21 NHL players, that is unacceptable. Sure, they were a little unlucky in the end, but this is nobody but Sweden’s own fault.

And to make it worse they lost to their “little” brother as they like to call Finland. This will be a thing that will sting them for a long while, since they were tipped as the team to challenge Russia and win a third championship in a row. But no kings live forever, and no reign is eternal. And like in the Lion King, this reign was ended by their own brother.

Statistics provided by Eliteprospects and TSN

Featured Image Photo Credit: Nikos Michals