by Corey Pronman
The Ivan Hlinka is the unofficial kick off to the draft season as a fair amount of top draft prospects converge in the Czech Republic and Slovakia for a short tournament. I was not able to see much of the action, but I did talk people who were there. The following are notes on key prospects for the 2013 NHL draft who were at the event:
Max Domi, Left Wing: Domi is a great prospect. He’s arguably got high-end skating, puck skills and vision and while I heard he was forcing plays in the first few games, towards the end of the tournament his playmaking I heard was arguably the most impressive at the event.
Anthony Duclair, Right Wing: Duclair didn’t have his best tournament as he was spotted on a scoring line at the beginning, but scouts said he just wasn’t creating enough and his ice time got cut pretty quickly. His speed and work ethic were on display, but that was it.
Jonathan Drouin, Left Wing: Drouin was part of the very dangerous top line for Canada that was made of Curtis Lazar, Nathan MacKinnon and himself and I heard he was Canada’s most consistently dangerous player behind Nathan MacKinnon. Asides from his size, he has all the tools as he’s a great skater, puck handler and passer who at the tournament was forechecking and backchecking pretty hard.
Curtis Lazar, Right Wing: Lazar stood out at the tournament for his great forechecking and two-way work ethic with a scout saying despite his size he projects as a power forward. When I asked about what kind of offensive potential he showed, I had heard he showed above-average offensive tools, but not high-end with a scout saying he’s a player who does all the little things well.
Nathan MacKinnon, Center: He was MacKinnon, plain and simple. On his first shift in his first game of the tournament, he barreled down on the wing, beat a defender crisply with a nice move and generated a scoring chance, which he created a lot of. One scout said, “You saw the skating and the talent, but what was really impressive was his work ethic was one of it not the best of any player there. When you see the players he will be compared to such as Crosby and Stamkos, his work ethic is up there with those elite players.” That same scout I talked to still felt though that between him and Seth Jones it is still a very close call for the top prospect in the 2013 draft class.
Josh Morrisey, Defense: He was Canada’s best defenseman in what I had heard was an underwhelming display by the Canadian blueline as a whole. Morrisey got off to a rocky start, getting a 2 and a 10 for mouthing off at the start of the tournament and was benched afterwards. He took off though in the latter part of the event as he’s a top-end thinker with impressive four-way mobility. Canada ran four forwards on the power play and he was the sole defender.
Darnell Nurse, Defense: As stated in the Morrisey profile, most of the defenders didn’t impress but Nurse came in with notable expectations after playing quite well at the Under-18’s in April. That’s not to say he played bad, but scouts told me he was just average and that was below their expectations.
Pavel Buchnevich, Center: I had Buchnevich at 10 on my 2013 draft board prior to the draft season starting. Time will tell over the season if he can maintain that slot, but he certainly stood out to observers at the Ivan Hlinka. “He’s an outstanding player,” said one scout who praised his high-end hands and hockey sense. I heard his speed looked only average though which is contrary to what I’ve heard from reports out of Russia.
Nikita Zadorov, Defense: Zadorov really stood out at the Under-18’s in April, with one scout I talked to after saying he would be in his top ten on his 2013 draft board. He was a little up and down at the Hlinka with scouts saying he bounced between average, above average and great. He’s a big defender who skates and moves the puck well, but also has some toughness which was on display as he knocked an opponent out of the game with a big hit.
Andre Burakowsky, Right Wing: Behind MacKinnon, scouts told me Burakowsky was clearly the second best forward at the tournament and showed top-end potential. One scout said his skating is right up there with the top Swedish players that have been drafted the last few years. His speed and top-end skill showed, but what I also heard really stood out was an elite on-ice work ethic to go along with the talent. It’s still early, but from what I’ve seen and heard about Burakowsky over the last six months, he should firmly be in the top ten discussion for this coming draft.
Jacob De La Rose, Left Wing: De La Rose spotted on the top line at the Under 18’s last April with Burakowsky as underage players played along Filip Forsberg, but when Elias Lindholm came he steadily dropped down the depth chart in that tournament. He’s been used at center recently, but at this tournament he played on the wing. A scout told me he projects currently as a power forward with playmaking ability.
Robert Hagg, Defense: Hagg was one of the top three defensemen at the tournament, and arguably the top one with one scouting director telling me he looked like a top half of the first round player. Hagg didn’t show a whole lot in terms of impressive power play skill, but he’s a very smart defender who showed strong play in his own end and moves the puck well. I heard he did show signs of fatigue towards the end of the tournament though.
Adam Erne, Left Wing: Erne was clearly USA’s top player at the tournament and as one scout put it, “[The USA] was only going, when Erne was going.” He showed top-end speed and work ethic, as well as the ability to create offense.
Michael Downing, Defense: Downing impressed scouts I’ve talked to who saw him in the USHL as a 16 year old, but at the Hlinka he was average from what I heard with a source saying he thought he would bring more to the table.
Tom Vannelli, Defense: Vanelli I heard was the USA’s top defender. He’s a big player with very impressive skating for his size in terms of his mobility and mechanics. He doesn’t currently project as a power play guy, but he showed the ability to move the puck at a fine level.