Detroit Red Wings

Detroit Red Wings Draft Analysis

The Detroit Red Wings turned the draft on its head with the sixth pick. Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman provided the first “Hold my Beer” moment of the draft by taking the high rising, high-upside, right-handed defender Mortiz Seider from the DEL. The “Yzerplan” was fully underway.

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The Picks

Moritz Seider, RHD, Alder Mannheim (DEL), Round 1, 6th overall

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The big right-handed blue liner has been rising on draft boards over the last three months. Seider was often ranked as the second or third best defender in the draft come June, usually in the top-15. Taking the German born and trained Seider at sixth overall may have been a bit of reach at the draft time but in a few years we may realize Wings general manager Steve Yzerman’s genius. He’s a mobile, 6’4″ right shot defender who excelled in latter half of the year playing against men in the DEL (top German league). Seider possesses the ability to defend with efficiency. He uses his long reach and stick to disrupt plays and isn’t afraid to close out and engage physically. Offensively, he showed promise at the junior level and on the international stage, including during his men’s World Championship with the German national team. Although this may seem like a reach at the time of the draft, even Moritz Seider looked surprised to hear his name so early, but could end up being looked back upon in a much more positive light. Grade C+

Antti Tuomisto, RHD, Ässät U20 (Jr A SM-Liiga), Round 2, 35th overall

Another big, right-handed rearguard for Detroit. Another pick that may have been slightly higher than anticipated but a good player nonetheless. An interesting fact about Antti Tuomisto is that he was set to be promoted to the Liiga but declined the promotion because he wanted to preserve his NCAA eligibility. This led to his stock not being as high as it could have been. He has a big shot from the blue line and makes a good first pass in transition. More of a passer to transport the puck than a puck carrier but he’s a strong skater at 6’5″, 198lbs. Defensively he is solid and creates separation with his large frame. He doesn’t seek out big hits, rather he engages physically with purpose. He does have a bit of an edge to his game, being suspended for crossing the line at the U18s with a knee-on-knee. With the likelihood that he fills his large frame out and his advanced hockey IQ, his defensive positioning is likely to improve over time. Grade B-

Robert Mastrosimone, LW, Chicago Steel (USHL), Round 2, 54th overall

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The first forward taken by the Red Wings was a smaller winger (5’10”, 170lbs) who was a goal scorer at the USHL. He is a decent skater but not could work on it. Robert Mastrosimone has a good first step but his top speed isn’t anything to ride home about. He has a good shot and excellent hands. He will need to learn when and when not to use his go-to move, the toe drag, to get around players. He uses the toe drag on shots as well which is an excellent skill to have as it changes the angle on the shot and deceives goalies with the shot. He will need to get stronger but the skill is there. Defensively, he’s inconsistent but shows a good ability to get his stick on passing lanes. He isn’t going to be a physical presence in the defensive zone but his stick work helps make up for it. Grade B+

Albert Johansson, LHD, Färjestad BK (SHL), Round 2, 60th Overall

A 6’0″ defender who skates well, see the ice and makes good crisp passes. Albert Johansson has a good first step, accelerates quickly and has good top-speed. He carries the puck well and has good hands as a blue liner. He has a good hard shot thats accurate from the point. Seems to get the puck through traffic more often than not. He isn’t afraid to shoot the puck and may need to hone in when to shoot it and when to pass it off. He’s very poised in his own end and does a decent job defending but could definitely work on his positioning when the opposition gains the zone and sustains pressure. He has very high hockey sense and the poise allows him to make good passes under pressure. He has a strong overall game but doesn’t “wow” anyone. Grade B

Albin Grewe, RW, Djurgårdens IF (SHL), Round 3, 66th Overall

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Graded by most as a late-first/early-second round pick, Detroit getting Albin Grewe (pronounces Gre-vah) in the third round is a steal. The Swedish winger plays like a bulldog. He is built like a truck at just 6’0″ tall, 195lbs. He is a combination of grit and skill. Grewe has the ability to turn the momentum of a game on its head. He can get a big hit on he defensive end, get the puck through the neutral zone before dangling a defender and putting the puck top shelf. He’s often been compared to Brad Marchand and Tyler Bertuzzi stylistically and if he falls anywhere on that spectrum this third round pick will be a steal. Grade A

The Lottery Tickets: Round 4 and Beyond

Ethan Phillips, C, Sioux Falls (USHL), Round 4, 97th Overall

Good two-way center who is quite undersized. At just 5’9″ and 146lbs, Phillips will be a project. He excels defensively and could be a good penalty kill player at the next level. He was a big factor in the Sioux Falls’ USHL title this past year. He will be attending Boston University in the fall.

Cooper Moore, LHD, Brunswick High School (USHS-Prep), Round 5, 128th Overall

High school players are hard to project because the level of competition is generally low. This is a home run swing late in the draft. In a game where his team was down 6-3 with three minutes left in the third period, he put the team on his back and scored three goals, as a defenceman, to tie the game. He almost scored again in overtime which would have been his SIXTH goal of the game. This was a late round flyer that could pay off big time later. Moore is going to play in the BCHL next year and then at the University of North Dakota in 2020-21.

Elmer Söderblom, RW/LW, Frölunda HC J20 (SuperElit), Round 6, 159th Overall

The massive winger is an excellent stick handler. Although intimidating at 6’7″ and 220lbs, there seems to be more skill than grit in his game. Plays on the perimeter for the most part but likes to take the puck to the net with his stick handling prowess. Taking a flyer on a forward of this size and skill set is the perfect 6th round pick.

Gustav Berglund, RHD, Frölunda HC J20 (SuperElit), Round 6, 177th Overall

A right-handed defender who progressed through the junior ranks in Sweden through the year. Good size and talent but had a rough start to the year. He was living on his own and had a hard time adjusting initially but once he was sorted out by his team and coaches in Sweden he began to excel.

Kirill Tyutyayev, RW/LW, Avto Yekaterinburg (MHL), Round 7, 190th Overall

Tyutyayev dominated the MHL, the Russian junior league, this year. He was his teams leading scoring in the regular season and playoffs. A long-term project, he possesses good puck skills, a decent offensive game and potential to get better with time. A good 7th round swing for the fences.

Carter Gylander, G, Sherwood Park Crusaders (AJHL), Round 7, 191st Overall

A goalie in the seventh round. He’s big, 6’5″, but needs to fill out his frame as he sits at 172lbs. Good numbers in a second tier Canadian junior league. He will return to Sherwood Park next season before he attends Colgate University in 2020-21.

Draft Summary

The Detroit Red Wings draft was a bit controversial. Taking Seider with players such as Trevor Zegras and Dylan Cozens still available. Seider is a good blue liner who could be a solid 2/3 defenceman who could be a strong defender and underrated offensive contributor. Based on public lists and rankings, it was a bit of a reach with the sixth overall pick.

The value that the Red Wings got in round two and three was good. Tuomisto, much like Seider, is a good player and excellent addition to the defensive pipeline for the Wings but may have been take slightly ahead of where he should have been. Mastrosimone and Johansson were high-upside picks who need to work on areas of their game but if they can harness the obvious skills they have and build on their weaknesses, they could be solid contributors with some time. Grewe may have been the steal of the draft. With many rankings and talent evaluators putting a late first round grade on him, getting the high-motor Swedish pinball could pay huge dividends within a few seasons.

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Overall, Steve Yzerman began the “Yzerplan” with a high-risk, high-reward 2019 NHL Entry Draft. He took the guys that he, along with his scouting team in Detroit, seems the best player available in Seider and then continued to stock pile defenders who play a good two-way game and highly competitive forwards who have never ending motors. Yzerman had a directive of the type of players that he felt the Detroit organization needed and he did an excellent job sticking to his guns and filling them when he say fit.

 

For more the draft, prospects and the NHL in general you can follow me here at @TheTonyFerrari

All statistics and information courtesy of Hockey Reference, the NHL, Elite Prospects and Prospect Stats.

Featured Image Photo Credit – Nikos Michals

Puck77

2019 NHL Mock Draft: Picks 21-25

Part 5 of my 2019 NHL Mock draft is here, and this will feature picks 21-25. For a quick refresher, click here for part 1, here for part 2, here for part 3, and here for part 4.

 

 

21st Overall Pick: Pittsburgh Penguins select Moritz Seider, Right Handed Defenseman, Adler Mannheim, DEL

The 6’4, 198 pound German from Zell (Mosel), Germany, is one of the rare commodities to come out of the German elite league, DEL. Although German hockey has been on the rise, very few 17/18 year olds have been selected as early as Moritz Seider likely will. His ranking has varied from as early as 10th and as late as 21st, with his average ranking being placed at 16.2.

 

For his size, he moves fast, with a very technically sound stride. He’s not easily knocked off the puck, and doesn’t often get out-worked along the boards or in front of the net, but could still get better with more strength. His transitional game is very strong as well, thanks in part to his handling of the puck, along with his skating. He also has a very good up-ice pass. He has great shooting ability, with an accurate wrist shot, and smart slapshots (low on net for deflections or rebounds).

 

What he isn’t exactly good at and should look to improve is his mobility at the blueline, in order to open up more passing and/or shooting lanes. When the opposing team is moving the puck up ice on his side, he looks to throw big hits, but he doesn’t quite have the awareness to know when he should/shouldn’t step up, often times drawing himself out of position. He isn’t very good in his own end either, as he is not exactly positionally sound, but he has the size to win netfront battles as well as battles in the corner, which gives him a base for defensive coaches to build on at the next level.

 

He did not produce at a high level in the DEL (two goals, four assists for six points in 29 games) but it was his first real test against competition outside of his age group. Where he did shine, however, was at the international stage. He first played on the German U20 World Junior Championship D1-A (one step below the WJC) where he put up a goal and six assists (seven points) in five games, leading the German’s to qualify for next seasons WJC.

 

After that, he cracked the German IIHF World Championship roster, where he faced off against NHL competition, as well as top prospects Kappo Kakko and Jack Hughes. He scored two goals in five games before being injured by Ladislav Nagy of the Slovakian team. It’s important to note that he has had injury problems, mainly being with his shoulder, outside of the concussion he sustained at the IIHF World’s.

 

Pittsburgh hasn’t had a great defensive core for a few years now, and the recent trade involving defenseman Olli Maatta makes their defensive needs jump off the page even more here. Right handed defensemen are hard to find as well, and Seider is a very intriguing selection for them.

 

Future Role: He is a long-term project, according to multiple evaluations on him, but I think otherwise. While his defensive coverage isn’t the most attractive, he was getting a first taste of playing against men, and I believe that next season, he will get his feet set there and stand out. I expect him to be a top-four defenseman, with the offensive abilities to play top powerplay minutes.

 

22nd Overall Pick: Los Angeles Kings select Nils Hoglander, Left Winger, Rogle BK, SHL

Hoglander is another one in the group of undersized skaters, as he stands at just 5’9, and 185 pounds. He has been ranked as early as 19th and as late as 41st, with his average ranking at 28.2.

 

Hoglander is one of my favorite prospects, and here’s why. He is a really, really good skater, burning defenseman time and time again. He also has the edgework to dart wide, and then quickly cut towards the net for a great scoring chance. Despite being undersized, he has strong balance, and can battle along the boards just as good as everyone else, which is a major plus for teams who are looking into him. He can dice up defenders too, as he has great stickhandling abilities. He can make a move while going full speed as well, making him unpredictable and difficult to defend one on one.

 

Because of all that, defenders tend to back off a bit more, as to not get burned wide, which opens passing lanes for him to exploit. And he is a good passer, too. He has a great shot, very accurate, though it does lack the necessary power to find success in the NHL. Beyond that, he is an excellent forechecker, and despite his size, does not shy away from playing physical.

Similar to Torey Krug, he can throw heavy hits at times.

 

He is a hard working player at both ends of the ice, mixing his aggressiveness with his positioning in the defensive zone to create turnovers. Transitionally, he uses his speed to blast into the offensive zone and get to work. But despite all of his great qualities, he lacks offensive production. It astonishes me how a guy who is such a fantastic skater, with a very aggressive play style, along with creative offensive instincts to pair with great passing abilities and an accurate shot, lacks production. Playing against men in the SHL last season, he managed to only put up seven goals and seven assists (14 points) in 50 games. He’s also one of the older guys eligible in the draft, due to his late December birthday.

 

Future Role: His ceiling is becoming a top-six winger at the moment, but he has all the offensive tools, and if he can turn the production up to where he should be with his talent, he could very well be a future elite winger. Why’s that? Because he plays a very complete game, and only needs to mature, fine tune the smaller details, and bulk up. Even if his production remains underwhelming, he has third line capabilities. He’s a safe pick in the late stages of the first round.

 

23rd Overall Pick: New York Islanders select Raphael Lavoie, Right Wing/Center, Halifax Mooseheads, QMJHL

While Hoglander is one of my favorite prospects, Lavoie is my favorite, outside the top-10, that is. The Chambly, Quebec native has great size (6’4, 198 pounds) with room to grow. He may not have blazing speed, but he can beat defenders wide with his very strong strides, and solid acceleration. He also has arguably the best balance in this draft, as he is very difficult to knock off the puck and beat in board battles, as well as in front of the net.

 

Lavoie is a sniper in the offensive zone. His wrist shot is fantastic, and his slapshot packs a ton of power. Going back to his ability to win positioning in front of the net, he is a master at scoring in tight in those areas, whether it’s off a deflection or he gathers the rebounds. His stickhandling also allows him to make a quick move near the goaltender to beat him and score that way. He is dangerous in the cycle, and when he sees a lane, he takes it. He can also be a playmaker, as he sees the ice well and puts the puck on the tape of a teammate.

 

Before his draft season, Lavoie was known to be a lesser defensive zone player, and looked at as mainly an offense-only forward. However, this season, he showed a nose for the puck, and backchecked with authority to get it on his stick. He battles hard along the boards for the puck, helping defensemen down low. He is willing to block shots, basically anything to help his team win, he’s up for the task. He is an effective transitional player as well. With Halifax, he was able to post 32 goals and 41 assists (73 points) in 62 games played. He has the versatility to play all three forward positions, but is more likely to play wing due to his still questionable defensive capabilities.

 

Future Role: If he can continue to show his improvements in the defensive zone while maintaining and improving upon his offensive skills, he could be a top 6 winger, with the ability to play both powerplay and penalty kill minutes.

 

24th Overall Pick: Nashville Predators select Philip Tomasino, Center, Niagara Ice Dogs, OHL

The 6’0, 180 pound center for the Niagara Ice Dogs, Tomasino was a former fifth overall selection in the Ontario Hockey League draft. Tomasino’s rankings vary, as do many of the late first rounders, and has been ranked as early as 18th and as late as 34th, with his average at 23.7.

 

Similar to Hoglander, Tomasino is an incredible skater, which often leads to defenders backing off and granting him space to either shoot or pass. However, he doesn’t quite have the balance that Hoglander has, and he is more easily knocked off the puck. His stickhandling is superb, and he can make quick plays with his stick and skates to open up a teammate for a pass. He has a more developed shot than Hoglander, but he still has more room to improve with his power. He isn’t afraid to push his way to the front of the net or the corners to battle for a screen or the puck. He is a very effective forechecker, forcing lots of turnovers, but doesn’t play the body too often in those scenarios. He is always moving in the offensive zone, never stopping even for a second. That energy is tangible, and lots of teams would love to have that kind of guy on the ice for their team.

 

However, with that playing style, he frustrates opponents, and if he runs into a Brad Marchand, or a Dustin Byfuglien (dirty player or big, physical player) he could be on the tail end of something awful. He must bulk up, more so than most other prospects.

 

Defensively he struggles. Because he is outmatched physically, he tends to reach for the puck often, which makes it too easy for the opponent to make a move to get by him. He also doesn’t read the play effectively enough, and isn’t always in the right position. However, he does try and support the defense down low, and with that effort, coaches can help him with everything else.

 

The reason why I continued to bring up Hoglander multiple times is because these two players play an eerily similar style, with a near identical skill set. Both are creative offensively, whether it be stickhandling, passing, or shooting. Both are hardworking, and constantly trying to get the puck on their sticks. However, where Hoglander has him beat is in his more physical and aggressive play, looking more for the body and not the puck. That’s why Hoglander is a more effective player in the defensive zone.

 

But, while Hoglander struggles to produce offensively, albeit in a tougher league, Tomasino does not. He put up 34 goals and 38 assists (72 points) in 67 games played. He produces more than Hoglander, which tells me he uses his offensive skills more effectively. But he has more holes in his game, which is why he is a couple spots lower.

 

Future Role: If he bulks up, it should fix a few of his developmental hurdles. He will have to be coached well to be a reliable player on the defensive end, but it’s mainly positioning that is the issue. All minor flaws, meaning he will likely make it, and slot in, at the worst, as a middle six center, with the chance to play first line if needed. Certainly good enough to play on the powerplay once he makes it.

 

25th Overall Selection: Washington Capitals select Thomas Harley, Left-Handed Defenseman, Mississauga Steelheads, OHL

Harley was highly thought of by several other contributors on Puck77, recently being ranked 21st overall by those writers. Overall, the 6’3, 183 pound, Syracuse, New York native Harley has been ranked as early as 18th and as late as 24th, with his average being 20.5. So, why does he drop to 25?

 

Let’s get into it. He gets to his to speed very quickly, due to his strong first steps. He is quick with his edges, allowing him to change from defense to offense with rapid pace. That also makes him effective when moving across the point area, opening up passing and shooting lanes. Harley reads the play very quickly on offense, and he’s able to find teammates with a quick and accurate pass. He keeps his shots low and on net, and has greatly improved his shooting abilities from last season, which widens his potential scoring down the road. He is great in transition, with the ability to make a great first pass. He, at times, acts like a fourth forward on the rush, which also boosts his potential offensive output down the road.

 

But what he is most known for is his defensive game. He is very rarely out of position, and knows where to be at almost all times. He shows good strength despite being just 183 pounds, and tends to win board battles as well as net-front battles. But here is why I have him being selected a bit lower than many expect him to. He struggles against faster, shiftier forwards on the rush, and with the way the game is evolving, he could be left in the dust. His worst nightmare would be facing Johnny Gaudreau, Connor McDavid, Brayden Point, Mikko Rantanen, Patrick Kane, etc., the list goes on and on. Even some lesser known guys like Carl Hagelin could make him look bad. He has to improve that area of his game to be effective at the next level.

 

As for his production last season, Harley had 11 goals and 47 assists (58 points) in 68 games for Mississauga. He also played for Team Canada at the U18 WJC, where he posted one goal and three assists (four points) in seven games.

 

Future Role: He is a safe pick in a sense that he will very likely crack an NHL roster down the road. He is a complete player, with maturity and high hockey IQ. His problem is he can’t handle what the game is becoming. At best, he will be a second pair defenseman with powerplay time, but at worst, a third pair journeyman defenseman, still with powerplay time. That being said, if he doesn’t fix that glaring hole in his game, he will really have to milk his offensive abilities to keep an NHL spot.

 

All stats via Eliteprospects

Featured Image Photo Credit: Nikos Michals

Clearing the Puck! Your Weekly Look at the World of Hockey!

Welcome back to Clearing the Puck for the week of June 1st to 7th! This week we look more at the Stanley Cup Finals and the NHL Entry Draft! I also shamelessly show my love for the Toronto Raptors again!

Incase this is your first time, here is the rundown. What we’re going to be doing at Puck77 is putting out a weekly recap. There are going to be observations, summaries and some cool things that we noticed around the web from the NHL and the world of hockey from the last week. There will be 10 points every Saturday morning. Included will be links to articles from our website as well as many others to help fill you in on some of the best hockey and NHL content from around the web. Without further ado, let’s dive into the week!

Brett Hull is Fired Up!

You have to love when teams bring back some of the legends. It’s a big thing around sports and hockey is no different. This week the St. Louis Blues brought out Brett Hull prior to game four. The Blues Executive VP was fired up when addressing the crowd and it seemed to pump up the team and the crowd. He also flipped off the Boston Bruins bench during the game.


Tweet courtesy of @NHLonNBCSports

Craig Button’s Draft Rankings

The topic of the draft world on Thursday was the release of TSN Head Scout Craig Button’s 2019 Draft Rankings. The reason for that was what some called complete lack of effort and insight outside of their Elite Prospects page. I am not going to go into the actual rankings or even the errors in the small blurbs that were attached to each prospect. What I will say is that at a bare minimum, we should respect his rankings.

Craig Button has been an NHL general manager, scout and involved in hockey in many ways that most of us could only dream of. Whether or not you agree with his rankings, many of which I personally don’t, you shouldn’t attack the man. Criticize his ranking, point out that there were errors in the stats listed and the blurbs but there are too many times where people were attacking Button and calling for his job. Let’s be honest, we would kill to be in his position and he’s worked hard. This year his rankings were bad in many eyes, but he has the pedigree and connections that could be giving him information that he used. Yes he should have double checked (or have a TSN intern do it) and it poorly reflects on him and his rankings. Attack the rankings if you must, but stop attacking the human being. Be kind to your fellow human being.

Bruins Experience Poor Officiating, Oh no…

So we all know that the Bruins have played “Bruins hockey” all playoffs long. From Brad Marchand punching guys in the back of the head to Zdeno Chara uppercutting John Tavares in a scrum, the Bruins know how to play on the line better than any other team. The officiating in the post-season has been questionable to say the least, but the Bruins have been the beneficiary more often than not this year.

Until now. As game four of the Stanley Cup finals started getting closer to the finish with the Blues holding a 1-0 lead the Bruins got their taste of the officiating. Tyler Bozak skates towards the puck carrier, Noel Acciari, and blatantly trips him. The trip disrupts the pass which St. Louis recovers and then scores to put the Blues up 2-0.


Tweet courtesy of @BradyTrett

Making this situation all the more painful for Bruins fans was the fact that Jake DeBrusk scored almost right away, which conceivably could have tied the game. Now we don’t know if that goal happens with the game playing out differently but it’s undeniable that this stings for Boston. So much so that fans were fighting each other in the stands. Again, be kind people.


Tweet courtesy of @theTonyFerrari

Officiating disasters of this post season!

Speaking of terrible officiating, Rogers Sportsnet’s Rory Boylen put out an article on Friday summarizing some of the worst calls of the playoffs. I’m not going to go into it a ton, but I will say that there are three teams that seemed to have benefitted the most. The Boston Bruins, St. Louis Blues and most of all, the San Jose Sharks. You can read Rory’s piece here.

Puck77 Draft Rankings

The Puck77 site rankings came out last weekend! There was a lot of movement from our previous rankings. How far did Caufield rise? Did Kakko overtake Hughes? Who slipped into the end of the top-31? You can check the rankings out below!

https://twitter.com/thepuck77/status/1134795135982682112?s=21
Tweet courtesy of @thePuck77

Chara doesn’t care about his face!

Zdeno Chara is a freak. He’s a massive man, listed at 6’9″ and 250lbs. He is a future Hall of Famer. He has won the Norris Trophy as the leagues best defenceman. He also doesn’t care about his face. During game three, Chara was attempting to disrupt a shot when the puck deflected cleanly off his stick and struck him directly in the face.


Tweet courtesy of @HockeyNight

After dealing with the blood and injury during the intermission, the Bruins captain came back to the bench to help cheer his team on with a full face shield. He didn’t play the remainder of that game despite being on the bench in the third. He did however, suit up for the Bruins in game four and played 16:42 of the game and while he wasn’t 100% he was effective at times with his long reach and strength in the defensive zone. Chara is an animal.

Puck77 NHL Draft Profiles

This week Puck77 released our NHL Draft Profile Deep Dives for the top dozen prospects on our rankings. In the profiles you can find a scouting report, some basic stats and advanced stats, video with quick analysis and a review of their season. They are arguably some of the most in-depth free profiles on these players. Enjoy reading them and prepare for the draft with Puck77! You can find them below, linked to each player.

Jack Hughes

Kaapo Kakko

Alex Turcotte

Bowen Byram

Trevor Zegras

Dylan Cozens

Cole Caufield

Kirby Dach

Alex Newhook

Peyton Krebs

Matthew Boldy

Vasili Podkolzin

Erik Karlsson finally gets his groin fixed

https://twitter.com/sanjosesharks/status/1136374623606583296?s=21
Tweet courtesy of @SanJoseSharks

Erik Karlsson is one of the best defencemen of our generation. He’s one of the all-time greats with multiple Norris trophy wins. During his playoff run with San Jose, Karlsson looked absolutely hobbled. His hamstring injury plagued him all season and in the playoffs, it was so much worse. San Jose confirmed this week that Karlsson had surgery to repair the injury. It’s a welcome sight because the all-time great is looking to sign his big-money contract. Hopefully, for the sake of hockey, Erik Karlsson recovers fully and we can start watching him make extraordinary plays again. This was mostly my excuse to watch Karlsson highlights.

Video courtesy of the Hockey Brothers Youtube channel

Podcasts to get you through the summer!

With the NHL season almost over, I figured I’d throw some podcast out here to listen to while you pass the time in the summer. Some are hockey, some aren’t, but here’s a solid list of stuff I’m listening to and stuff I want to get together.

Steve Dangle Podcast (Leafs Centric, all NHL)

Hockey PDOcast (NHL General, stats)

Staff and Graph podcast (NHL General, stats, strategy)

Winged Wheel Podcast (Red Wings centric)

Always Aggravated (Sports General, pop culture)

Andrew Berkshire Podcast (Movies/Superheroes)

Hardcore History with Dan Carlin (history, long form)

What Really Happened? (A look back at historical events)

Atlanta Monster/Monster: Zodiac (Crime, History)

Full 60 (Hockey General, Athletic subscription required)

Puck Soup (Hockey General, Athletic subscription required)

Most of these fantastic podcasts can be found on Apple Podcast, Google, Spotify or any other podcast app or pod-catcher that you may use!

Raptors go up 3-1!

This is a hockey blog but the Toronto Raptors fever that’s overtaken Canada has been a blast! I won’t go crazy into analysis but it’s a big deal for Canada! So here’s this gem from Shaw after the Raps win over the Golden State Warriors to go up 3-1 in the NBA finals and come that much closer to Canada bringing a Championship home in the four major sports for the first time since the Blue Jays in 1993!

Video courtesy of TSN YouTube channel

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. 

Embed from Getty Images

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: Kaapo Kakko

Maybe the most dominate player in the draft when going at his best, Kaapo Kakko is the only player to truly push Jack Hughes for the top spot in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. Combining speed, power and elite stick-skills, he has played against men all season long, Kakko proved that he was the most NHL ready draft prospect.

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Name: Kaapo Kakko

Date of Birth: February 13, 2001

Nationality (Place of Birth): Finnish (Turku, Finland)

Hieght: 6’2″

Weight: 190lbs

Shoots: Left

Position: RW

Rankings

Ranked #2 by TSN/McKenzie

Scouting Report

The above spider graph, courtesy of Kyle Pereira of Puck77, displays the available data from Will Scouch. As shown, Kakko doesn’t excel in any of the categories above but he does grade out well in his NHL eScore. The reason for the middling statistical numbers above and the high NHL eScore is that Kakko played the entire season in the Liiga. This led to slightly muted production but despite that, Kakko isn’t at the bottom of any of the areas. His produtcion for his age group was elite. He broke records and he showed that not only can he play against men, he can produce at a high level as well.  

The young Fin is an exceptional skater. He has a powerful stride that aids in accelerating to his top-speed. He uses his edge work to change direction and has the ability to stop-and-start is exceptional. He is one of the best players in this class at protecting the puck while skating through the neutral zones and offensive zone. Kakko’s balance on his skates allows him to work along the boards and in the corners with efficiency even while playing against men in the Liiga, Finland’s top level league. Kakko plays with power and physicality in all aspects of his game. In the video below, you can see Kaapo Kakko as the primary puck carrier on the powerplay utilizing his teammates to open space for himself and the zone entry. Once in the zone, he doesn’t shoot the puck around the boards, rather he turns back looking for a pass. 

Tweet courtesy of @DraftLook

One of the biggest misnomers in the evaluations of Kakko is that he is an excellent sniper. This isn’t the case however. Kaapo Kakko is a very complete player. Defensively, Kakko tracks back into the zone like a center and does a good job of staying involved in the play in his own end. Kakko’s high hockey IQ allows him to follow plays and read the play as it develops. His positioning is sound and he regularly disrupts offensive plays for the other team. When the puck goes to the boards he is able to successfully battle for the puck, recovering and transitioning to offence with ease. Using his powerful stride and excellent agility to weave his way into the offensive zone.

Once into the offensive zone, the outstanding tools that Kakko possesses are able to show their true value. When Kakko is going full bore, he can’t be stopped. His ability to protect the puck, drive to the net with power and finish with soft hands in tight. In tight on the net, Kakko is able to gain position in front of the net or in the slot and make small adjustments to change the shooting angle. Kakko’s tool set includes the ability to score from anywhere on the ice. Kakko’s shot is hard and heavy, it comes off his stick lightning quick which causes goalies to be often unprepared for the shot. He locates his shot quite well from anywhere in the offensive zone. Below is an example of his outstanding shot. This shot from the point comes as he rotates to cover the pinching defender on the blue line and the retrieves an excellent pass for a one-timer. 

Tweet courtesy of @IIHFHockey

While not necessarily known for his playmaking ability, Kakko has excellent vision and delivers passes with precision and crisp pace. He has the hockey IQ to read and recognize where and when his teammates will be in prime scoring areas. The young Finn is able to drive the net and create space and drawing extra attention. The second that Kakko realizes where his teammates are in open space, he fires a pass on their tape. Kakko does an excellent job finding space for himself or others and then making passes that many players can’t because he reads the play better than most.

Preseason Outlook

Coming into the season Kakko was ranked second or third on almost all public draft boards. The dazzling Finn knew he’d be spending his season with TPS of the Liiga, the top men’s league in Finland. Kakko opted to attend the World Junior Showcase rather than the Hlinka-Gretzky tournament. A similar decision was made by other top prospects Jack Hughes and Dylan Cozens. Kakko didn’t blow anyone away at the showcase but he played a lessor role on a U20 squad as a 17-year-old. With the beginning of the Liiga season around the corner, the Showcase was merely a warm-up for what was still to come.

Deferring to teammates, Growing in the Liiga

At just 17 years of age, Kakko was set to spend the season in the Liiga. The top men’s league in his home nation of Finland was the perfect place for a physically mature player who dominated the junior level. Playing on TPS, a team expected to have a good season, Kakko started a bit timid. While he was putting up points at a good rate, he played to role of playmaker and relied on his high IQ and vision to make plays for his teammates to mediocre results. Deferring on good shot chances to set his teammates for marginally better chances despite a stark contrast in skill level in favour of Kakko often led to empty chances.

The first couple months of the season past and the production for Kakko was solid as he had nine goals and 20 points in 29 games, he was scoring at a pace that would come close to setting some age-17 season records in the Liiga. Kakko secured a spot on the Finnish World Junior U20 squad and despite being a young player, he was expected to play a large role on offence. After a successful tournament, shining on the world stage and coming home with the gold medal, Kakko’s confidence seemed to have grown.

Video courtesy of Hockey Prospect Center Youtube channel

Upon his return to TPS, Kakko began to exhibit his full skill set. The timidness and deferring that seemed to be evident in his game early in the season was gone. Replaced by a man possessed, Kakko began his true ascension to challenging for the top spot on the draft. The young Finn unleashed the power side of his game on his Liiga opponents, showing that although he was yet to grow into a man himself, he could play like a man amongst boys in a men’s league.

The second half tear for Kakko ended up driving him to a record breaking season. Battling against men, he showed his physical maturity compared to most 17/18-year-old players. His powerful skating and protection of the puck was key in being able to play his game in a league that rarely has effective players at Kakko’s stage of development play major roles. Kakko finished the season averaging north of 18 minutes a night, at times playing in all situations. His 22-goal campaign broke the record previously held by Alexander Barkov for draft eligible players in Liiga play. Kakko’s penchant for scoring was paying dividends during the second half of the season, which helped earn him a spot on the men’s IIHF World Championships team for his home country of Finland. Kakko continued to prove that he was not only worthy of being considered for the first overall pick, he should be taken in the if top spot.

Finland’s Finest

Video courtesy of Puck Prodigy Youtube channel

The international stage has been Kakko’s biggest stage all year. Initially he showed up huge for the Finnish World Junior U20 team as a 17-year-old. Then after his 18th birthday he was able to show his true potential and skill against men in the men’s IIHF World Championships. Showing up as a big-time player on the big stage has been the primary driving force for Kakko’s ascension to truly challenging Hughes for the top spot. 

In the World Junior Championships, Kakko played a huge role for the Finns. Despite being just 17 years of age, Kakko was able to manhandle players two years his senior. Scoring 5 points in seven games was impressive enough for a player at his age in a tournament traditionally dominated by 19-year-olds. The moment that Kakko will likely be remembered best for during his draft year may have come during this tournament. Going into the gold medal game against Jack Hughes and the United States, Kakko was the hero for his national team. The video below shows the biggest goal of Kakko’s young career. Kakko battled in front of the net, finding the loose puck after a shot from the point was lost in traffic. Kakko was able to put the Finnish team ahead with just over a minute remaining. 

Tweet courtesy of @DraftAnalyst

His follow-up international performance helped produce the same result, only this time at the men’s level. Following the elimination of his club team, TPS, from the Liiga playoffs, Kakko joined Finland’s entry into the IIHF World Hockey Championships. This was a chance to prove that the young Finn was ready for top competition. Having shown that he was able to play against men in the Liiga, this was a chance to prove that he could keep up with and compete with NHL caliber talent. To say he past this test would be an understatement. Kakko produced six goals and seven points in ten games, helping Finland to another gold medal. Despite having 0 NHL goals on the Finnish team and only two players to have played a game in the NHL this past season, Finland was not expected to be a factor at this tournament. Play began and the Liiga-player-led Finns were impressive to say the least, Kakko maybe among the most impressive. In the video below, Kakko does an excellent job finding space in the middle of the ice as he crosses the blue line to recieve the pass but then the magic happens. Kakko is tripped up by a diving Canadian defender, at which point the Finnish sensation performs a balancing act, going up on one leg and outlasting the Canadian netminder before tucking in a beautiful, highlight reel goal to open the tournament for the Finns. 

Tweet courtesy of @VinnieParise

What the Detractors Say

This may be the easiest prospect to pick out a weakness. There isn’t one really. His defensive game could improve a bit but he is already quite good in his own area. One of his weaknesses during the first half of the season was the fact that he was deferring too much to other more experienced players on TPS in Liiga. As the season wore on this became less of an issue as he was able to become more aggressive. The one thing that Kakko can do to continue to improve is to build muscle as he matures physically. Continuing to stay competitive and engaged once he arrives in the NHL will be key to any players progression and Kakko is no different. Kakko is a very complete player.

Kaapo Kakko will be taken…

Second overall, possibly first. Kaapo Kakko is clearly one of the top two prospects available for this draft. The gap between Kakko and Hughes had become smaller and smaller through the the season. Many around the scouting and prospect world feel that the talents levels of the two became razor thin, one way or the other, after the IIHF World Championships. Kakko played outstanding throughout the year, improving steadily all year long.

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The record setting year for the next great Finn was absolutely phenomenal. He deserves to be the first overall pick, and any other year he would probably be the clear cut number one. This year he headlines a draft that has two franchise talents, Hughes and himself, along with an extremely strong top half of the draft. Kakko’s complete game, offensive domination at times and his penchant for winning have all made him a can’t miss prospect that either the New Jersey Devils or New York Rangers will be able to build around for years to come.

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