U18 World Junior Championships - Standouts and the Draft Part 2
Part Deux because there were far too many players that impressed me at the U18 tournament.
Philip Broberg – Left Defenseman, 6’3 203lbs, 7gp 2g 4a 6p for Sweden
This draft is a very forward heavy affair at the top with only Bowen Byram being the real “standout.” There is a really nice core of “secondary” defenders like Cam York, Thomas Harley, Ville Heinola and of course Philip Broberg. The rangy Broberg was a rock for Sweden and his performance has probably opened some eyes for teams looking for defensemen early in the draft. Broberg was named the Best Defenseman for the tournament and came second in scoring by a defender. It was his overall game though that really stood out. When you watch him, one name comes to mind immediate, Hampus Lindholm. He’s got that calming confidence at both ends of the ice that is rare in young defensemen. He’s really mobile for a guy his size and you can just see the type of two-way defenseman that can push the play forward and cover up for others.
He’s got a really good shot and has shown the ability to walk the line and get pucks to the net with little hesitation. He was used heavily in all situations throughout the tournament and he had a really great battle with Podkolzin in the Gold Medal Game. I like his steady approach to the game, smart decision making, great mobility and active stick work. I’m not sure if he will ever become a star in the league, but he’s quietly entering the draft as one of the most complete players.
Vladislav Kolyachonok – Left Defenseman, 6’2 181lbs, 5gp 1g 4a 5p for Belarus
This would be a good place to post that Guardians of the Galaxy “Who?” gif. Kolyachonok had the unenviable task of being Belarus’ best player and Captain. This after he had the unenviable task of playing for the Flint Firebirds in the OHL. Belarus had a surprisingly good tournament in a bracket where most probably expected them to be at the bottom. They came second behind Canada and passed the Czechs and Finns. In the game against Finland where Belarus won 4-3, they were outshot 61-19, yet Kolyachonok managed to walk away with an assist, a +1 and 34 minutes played. That’s the main theme to take away from him, he has been playing insane minutes all season and is in great shape. I wouldn’t be surprised if he does very well at the Combine.
He’s a physical defender and got in a lot of shenanigans in the Finland and Czech games where it was Penalties Galore. His speed and mobility is also really noticeable. I’d describe him as more of a roving defenseman that pushes more towards the offensive zone. He got lost and overwhelmed a few times during the three games I saw, but I think this was just an issue of playing time and the lack of talent surrounding him. He was trying to do a little too much sometimes. Overall, I liked his game and would love to see if some of those offensive instincts can bloom with better teammates.
Albin Grewe – Right Winger, 6’0 187lbs, 7gp 2g 0a 2p for Sweden
So you might be wondering what is so impressive about a guy scoring 2 goals in 7 games. Every team always seems to be clamoring for a “Power Forward,” despite the definition of one constantly changing. “Power Forwards” seem to now be defined as anybody over 6’3 regardless of whether they are punishing hitters or “soft” good skaters. Grewe is a mean bastard and I mean it in the best of ways. The Swedish Pitbull is a wrecking ball on skates and never hesitates to lay devastating hits. He’s a fantastic penalty killer and a heart and soul guy…if he’s on your team. He’s a little undisciplined and it’s something to watch out for to be sure, but you can’t teach his level of physicality, nor the fact that he can skate to boot.
He scored the game winning goal against Canada and was a pain in their rear all game. They don’t count hits in this tournament, but I counted about 10 in that game alone. He was everywhere on the forecheck and drew two retaliatory penalties by the Canadians while getting under their skin. Grewe is the type of guy I would use an early second rounder on and know safely that I have an NHL player coming down the road.
Rodion Amirov – Left Winger, 6’0 163lbs, 7gp 6g 3a 9p for Russia
Of all the 2020 Draft Eligible players this tournament, nobody made their mark and in a more dramatic fashion than Amirov. One might say Lucas Raymond’s hat trick in the Finals was more impressive…and it was, but Amirov was the lynchpin to beating the heavily favored Americans and was fantastic in the Finals himself. Amirov went from a relative unknown in the 2020 Draft to being a player to watch. He scored the 2-2 tying goal and assisted on Podkolzin’s goal that started the comeback, his speed and shot had defenders backing off him all game. He opened the scoring and ended the game with a shootout goal against the USA. He was the only player on either team to score a goal in the shootout between two fantastic star level goalie prospects (Knight and Askarov).
He has a great wrist shot (like most high touted Russian wingers) and really creative hands. His 6 goals were tied with Top 2019 Prospect Peyton Krebs for third in the tournament. I liked that the Russian Coach trusted him to play on the Penalty Kill where his speed made him a dangerous opponent. He managed to draw a shorthanded penalty shot against Slovakia where he scored. He scored an awesome shorthanded goal against the USA off a great forced turnover. Plus he had a breakaway chance in the Gold Medal Game shorthanded, but was turned aside. He’s a player to watch next season for sure.
Braden Schneider – Right Defenseman, 6’2 209lbs, 7gp 2g 1a 3p for Canada
There wasn’t really a huge star making turn from the Canadian defense core this tournament. Thomas Harley was their best defenseman overall, but that was to be expected. The unexpected turn was the impressive and mature play from 2020 Draft Eligible Braden Schneider. The first thing I noticed about Schneider was that this kid can make a stretch pass. He has his head up all the time and he can really blaze that first pass out of his zone. It was really helpful for their transition game. It left him and his partner Jamie Drysdale not having to spend too much time defending when they were on the ice. He was a good enough skater, not a standout. I thought the tandem worked really well as Drysdale is an elite skater and loves to move the puck, while Schneider prefers the crisp pass and let others enter the zone. I thought he was one of the few Canadian defenders who didn’t get danced by the Americans in the Bronze Medal Game. He got blown past by Hughes on the penalty kill, but other than that, he was solid. He’s one of the oldest players in the 2020 draft and will probably be a solid bet for being in the first two rounds.
Arturs Silovs – Goaltender, 6’4 203lbs, 5gp 3.32GAA .918SV% for Latvia
The Latvian goalie was a shocking success this tournament. A guy with no acclaim or recognition, he stood out as the best player on a very poor side. The Latvians were so averse to scoring that their highest was a defenseman named Ernests Osenieks with two points. He was really good in the MHL as well, so maybe with a performance like this, he will have a look in the Seventh Round. He surprisingly kept them in games like his heroic performance against Sweden where they lost a hard fought 5-2 game (I know it sounds weird). His most memorable performance though was his 24 save shutout against the Slovaks that sent them to the Relegation Round, securing Latvia’s place with the Top Division next year. He was also a monster against Canada in what should have been a rout. He allowed only two goals on 43 shots as the Latvians almost upset the Canadians.
He’s very big in the net and really raw. He flops around a little too much, but it seemed to work for him. He gave up a few weak goals glove side, but his team isn’t exactly giving him much to work with. I just wanted to mention a player who played his arse off and had an amazing tournament. What the future holds is pretty unclear. Maybe a CHL team drafts him? Maybe he stays in Latvia never to be heard from again? All I know is that he was great.
Thanks for reading. Disappointments up next!