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Prospects To Watch In The Draft

June 22, 2018, 1:54 PM ET [1 Comments]
Adam French
Unfourtunately unlike years past, I didn’t have enough time to invest in watching enough hockey to make a 2-3 round Mock Draft. In the end, I do these not specifically to “get it right” and match the actual draft pick by pick, it’s to talk about the players. Their strengths, their weaknesses and their achievements. Why teams would do well or do poorly to draft them.

Here are a few players that really interest me. You may or may not have heard about some of these players. Hopefully I can provide some insight because your team might end up picking them in the later rounds.

Jan Jeník – Centreman, 6’1 172lbs, 17 Years Old, HC Benatky nad Jizerou in Czech2
30gp 4g 7a 11p

Jan Jenik is the youngest player in the 2018 Entry Draft. He was born on September 15th. One day before being the oldest player in the 2019 draft. Funny how that works. People would be skeptical of him if he was in 2019 and here in 2018 he’s underrated! What insanity! At the U18 tournament I was really captivated by his play. Jenik really impressed me despite not scoring a single goal. The zero goals thing is also not really his fault. He had a lot of good scoring chances and fired a lot of rubber at the net. He was a bit unlucky and also generated two goals off of high quality rebounds. He ended the tournament with 6 assists in 7 games. He was dynamic as the Czech Republic’s first line centre and showed a lot of poise and patience with the puck. He was really good finding lanes and impressive when behind the opponents net. Very shifty and very good at identifying open players. I was also surprised at how physical he was. Especially because he was probably the lightest guy on the ice most games. He was named a Top-3 Player on his team. This is also not the first time he has excelled internationally. He was a force for the Silver Medal Czech’s at the Ivan Hlinka this year. Scoring 6 goals in 5 games.

Jenik spent the majority of the year playing in the obscure Czech2 league. Which is the Extraliga’s AHL equivalent. He was a PPG player in the Czech U20 league and had 5 points in 3 games in the playoffs.

He’s currently ranked around 50-90 by scouting agencies that list players that deeply. By Central Scouting he’s 16th for European Skaters. After this tournament and being named a Top-3 Player on his Team, I think he’s going to be pulled in the second round. People will look at his age, his talent and his undeveloped body (6’1 165lbs) and see a long term investment.

For me, this is a no brainer second round pick if he’s still there. I like the upside. Much like Alexandre Texier last year who came from an obscure league and was the youngest player in the draft.

Alexander Alexeyev, Left Defenseman, 6’4 196lbs, 18 Years Old, Red Deer Rebels in the WHL
45gp 7g 30a 37p

Alexeyez is a player who might hear his name heard in the first round this year. He had an unlucky injury and it has kept him as a bit of a mystery. The last time he played internationally was back when he was 16 at the U18’s where he put up two assists. Injury forced him to miss last year’s U18 which would have been interesting as he had a very solid rookie campaign for the Rebels.

Despite only playing 45 games, he led the Rebels defense in scoring. The offense runs through him when he’s on the blueline which can be very intimidating when this 6’4 behemoth is skating right at you. He’s a solid playmaker and has a very hard shot. He ran the Rebels PP when he was healthy and did a good job. All around he’s an interesting player with a lot of tools.

In an uncharacteristically pedestrian year from the WHL, Alexeyev finds himself as arguably the second best prospect coming out of that league this year. Which is nuts because he’s not even viewed as a guarantee in the first round. He’s a big two-way defender who made a huge impact in the playoffs.

Jakub Skarek, Goaltender, 6’3 193lbs, 18 Years Old, HC Dukla Jihlava in the Czech Extraliga
21gp 2.41GAA .913sv%

The Czech Republic has been producing a lot of quality goaltending prospects recently and it’s a welcomed change. Dan Vladar from the Bruins and Vitek Vanecek from the Capitals spring to mind. The Czechs seemed to have a lull in quality during the mid-2000’s producing few top prospects and players. The odd one emerged obviously, but they weren’t competitive internationally or anything of the sort.

Skarek enters the draft as the second ranked European Goalie by Central Scouting behind countryman Lucas Dostal. I’m guessing that’s due to Skarek being shelled at the U20’s while Dostal was fantastic for the Czechs at the U18’s. It’s certainly not due to their domestic seasons, because Skarek blows him away.

Like 90% of goalies these days, Skarek is a butterfly goalie that relies on his size and positioning over pure athleticism. It will be interesting to see if he follows Vladar and Vanecek in moving to North America extremely early. Might be a promise that will entice teams to pick him early.

I would not be shocked in the least if he is the first goalie taken in this draft. Though personally I have been very impressed with Olivier Rodrigue out of the QMJHL He had a great U18’s and has posted solid numbers as a 17 year old in the Q. Size is a bit of an issue for him, he’s only 6’1.

Filip Hållander, Centrman/Left Winger, 6’2 187lbs, 17 Years Old, Timrå IK in the Allsvenskan
40gp 9g 11a 20p

Hållander is a player all over the fringes of the first round. Scouts either see him as a late first or he could tumble down the second round rabbit hole. He had a very productive year in the Allsvenskan. 20 points is nothing to scoff at for a 17 year old. Nylander had 27p in 35gp, Pastrnak 24p in 36gp, Forsberg 17 in 43gp and Jesper Bratt had 17p in 48gp. So 20 puts him in reality good stead in terms of forwards drafted out of Sweden’s Tier-2 Men’s League. He was a solid contributor to their campaign which saw them gain entry into the Elitserien this year.

He played centre at the Ivan Hlinka Tournament this year, but domestically he has been a winger outside of the SuperElit. Unfourtunately he has not appeared in very many international competitions for Sweden, so there isn’t as much to know about his game at centre. He was very good in that tournament by the way. He had 3 goals in 5 games. Last year in the SuperElit, he played against a lot of the usual suspects for Sweden in the first round. Dahlin, Boqvist, Sandin, Berggren and Olofsson. He was the third highest PPG behind Dahlin and Boqvist.

Swedes picked in that 2nd-3rd round bubble seem to turn out to be quality players. A team with several second rounders like Montreal, Detroit or the Isles should definitely look into Hållander as an option.

Davyd Barandun, Left Defenseman, 5’11 190lbs, 18 Years Old, Davos U20 in the Elite Jr. A
19gp 4g 9a 13p

David…or Daveed? Who knows? This guy is pretty freaking obscure. This guy probably will not end up being drafted, but I liked him at the U18’s and why not waste a 7th on him? Why not? No, seriously, tell me why not. He had a good physical tournament for the Swiss. Got into some trouble with a line brawl which was fun. I liked the way he moved the puck. Has that Swiss style of game that they are known for. Very “no nonsense” and finish your checks.

Domestically he managed to play 14 games in NLA. He went scoreless and appears to have played less than 8 minutes a game. Still, making it to the pro level at 18 is an accomplishment. People forget that Roman Josi only had 8 points in 35 games in his draft year in the NLA. So obviously Barandun is a poor man’s Josi. Obviously.

Thanks for reading. A no thanks to Nigeria for defeating Cinderella early today. RIP Iceland.
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