Scouting Report: Dylan Guenther

Photo Credit – Andy Devlin/Edmonton Oil Kings

Dylan Guenther is a 2021 NHL Draft eligible left winger from Edmonton, Alberta. Prior to his time with the Edmonton Oil Kings, he played for North West Zone MHA, Knights of Columbus Squires U15, Northern Alberta U15 Prep, Northern Alberta Elite 15s and Northern Alberta X-Treme Prep. During his time with Northern Alberta, he played with New Jersey Devils prospect Ethan Edwards and 2022 NHL Draft prospect Matthew Savoie.

His 2019-2020 season was his first full season in the WHL. In 58 games played, Guenther tallied 26 goals and 33 assists. He was not the point leader for 2021 NHL Draft eligibles playing in the WHL as fellow 2021 prospect Ryder Korczak had recorded eight more points than Guenther, but he was still one of the best 2021 NHL Draft performers in the WHL. Cole Sillinger of the Medicine Hat Tigers and Logan Stankoven of the Kamloops Blazers were not far behind.

This season, Guenther has seen limited ice time due to COVID-19. With the WHL unable to return to play, the Edmonton Oil Kings loaned Guenther to the AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders, where Guenther teamed up with former teammate Matthew Savoie. Guenther had appeared in 4 games for the Crusaders in which he recorded three goals and two assists. The loan expired in December of 2020.

In recent weeks, we have seen quite a few players from the WHL including Savoie, Sillinger and Detroit Red Wings prospect Cross Hanas being loaned out to USHL clubs. Perhaps, it won’t be long before Guenther is loaned out to a USHL team.

Player Profile

D.O.B – April 10, 2003
Nationality – Canada
Draft Eligibility – 2021
Height –6’1
Weight –170 lbs
Position – Left Wing
Handedness – Right

Guenther’s Style Of Play

If you select Guenther at the 2021 NHL Draft, you are acquiring an outstanding playmaking winger, who possesses the ability to read defensive formations with ease and adjust on the fly. In one of his few games with the Sherwood Park Crusaders, I noticed Guenther implementing a pick and roll like strategy at the blue-line, which allowed his teammate and puck carrier Savoie to skate to the right of Guenther. Guenther used the pick and roll to distract the attackers. He pulled the attackers to him and opened up wide lanes on the right side for Savoie to exploit. He will also draw attackers towards him and flip a pass behind his back to a teammate.

Not only does Guenther come up with strategies on the fly to open up lanes, but his ability to deliver passes from range has come in handy at both the WHL and AJHL levels. Guenther can fire crisp cross ice seam passes, long range passes from the point to the corners and backhand cross ice feeds from half-wall to half-wall. He moves the puck with ease.

Speaking of moving the puck with ease, Guenther is a strong transitional winger. From a skating perspective, he normally needs three lengthy leg extensions to get to top speed. Occasionally, he will start his acceleration with a few crossovers to get his feet truly moving, but he seems to pick up the most speed on those leg extensions. Once he has generated solid speed, he shortens up on his extensions, which allows him to be more mobile in the offensive zone. When he is not completing a controlled transition, he will constantly look to feed passes towards the middle of the ice and loves to drop saucer passes down the middle for his teammates to pick up.

Sometimes, he will struggle with ill-advised passes at his own blue-line. He will have difficulty reading his teammates routes and attempt a pass before his teammate gets to the spot. It’s similar to a quarterback overthrowing his wide receiver. I have also noticed similar tendencies in the offensive zone when Guenther is in Gretzky’s office and throws an ill-advised pass towards the doorstep without a teammate in sight.

Once Guenther has rushed into the offensive zone, he will draw the opposing defenseman towards him. Unfortunately, I’ve noticed that Guenther will struggle at getting past that last defender. It’s not that he swings the puck too late. But, it has more to do with how he uses his frame. Guenther is not the biggest guy out there on the ice and that will hurt him especially when facing slightly bigger defenders. I’m always careful when I say that players need to gain muscle as that can be over-stated, but Guenther needs to build up strength to swing by the last defender otherwise a decent percentage of his rushes will be silenced way before he gets a high-danger chance. With that being said, sometimes he will manage to get around that last defenseman but fail to grab possession of the puck immediately after swinging the puck around.

Aside from beating the last defender, there is a lot to like about Guenther’s play in the offensive zone. He is puck hungry and it shows on the forecheck. Guenther uses solid inside and outside edges to turn on a dime when he is puck hunting. While he is not the most physical player on the ice, he can become aggressive and look to execute checks along the half-wall to eliminate the opportunity for the opposition to create a breakout pass and get the puck out of the zone.

From a shooting perspective, Guenther enjoys one-timers. He will find open ice in the offensive zone, call for the puck and drill one-timers in the back of the net with good precision and accuracy. But, he is not a one-dimensional shooter, he will get in down low and has shown that he can elevate backhand shots at the doorstep. So, he can draw the goaltender closer and lower, but at a drop of a dime, he will use his backhand to burn the goaltender on the top right of the net. When advancing towards the net, if it seems like he is over-skating the puck, he has shown that he will utilize his skate to kick the puck to his stick to preserve the opportunity.

During his short stint in the AJHL, I noticed that his defensive play was a bit slow at times. Sometimes, he came into the zone too late or was slightly late to put pressure on an attacker. But, in the WHL, he has displayed good defensive positioning as he shifts back and forth from defending the point to defending down low. Guenther will also use his frame and push the attack towards the boards to limit access to the net. He will also stick lift and try to catch an attacker by surprise at the blue-line in an attempt to stop a controlled zone entry. The only area for improvement for Guenther in the defensive zone is to try to match the physical play that he implements in the offensive zone but in his own zone.

Comparison

Kyle Connor, Left Wing, Winnipeg Jets

Like Connor, both wingers know how to read defenses well and adjust on the fly. They both possess strong power skating and the ability to thread the needle and score goals from all over the offensive zone. Connor similarly to Guenther did struggle at times with his physicality during his junior hockey days.

Projection

Top Six Winger (NHL).


stats from InStat and EliteProspects

Prospect report written by Josh Tessler. If you would like to follow Josh on Twitter, his handle is @JoshTessler_.

Looking for other scouting reports? Check out the Prospects tab for our other scouting reports.

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Scouting Report: Chaz Lucius

Photo Credit – Rena Laverty

Chaz Lucius not only boasts one of the most amazing names in the 2021 NHL Draft class, but also one of the most talented and intriguing offensive skill sets. Lucius is a 17 year-old prospect currently playing for the United States National Team Development Program’s U-18 squad. Lucius was born in Grant, Minnesota, and was a relatively late bloomer to the game of hockey, beginning to play at eight years old.

He played at Gentry Academy, a middle school academy which his parents Chuck and Tami founded to help develop Chaz, as well as his 2022 NHL Draft-eligible brother, Cruz. When the opportunity came knocking to join the USNTDP, Lucius jumped at the chance and certainly did not disappoint. In his first season playing for the U-17 team in 2019/20, Lucius tallied 31 goals and 19 assists for 50 points in 46 games. He also added eight goals and 14 assists for 22 points in 32 games during U-17 USHL play.

The 2020/21 season has been somewhat of a loss thus far for Lucius, as he’s missed the entirety of it due to a lower body injury. Hopefully he can make a full recovery and be back on the ice for the U-18’s as soon as possible.

For the 2021/22 season, Lucius has committed to the University of Minnesota, where he will join the likes of Ben Meyers, Sampo Ranta, and Ryan Johnson. Lucius will certainly add to a very talented Golden Gophers team who has had an amazing start to the 2020/21 season, amassing a record of 10-1 as of January 9th.

Player Profile

D.O.B – May 2, 2003
Nationality 
– American
Draft Eligibility 
– 2021
Height 
–6’0
Weight 
–172 lbs
Position 
– Centre
Handedness 
– Right

Lucius’ Style Of Play


Lucius’ style of play reminds me a lot of his teammate on the U-18 USNTDP squad, Sasha Pastjuov. Lucius has a great set of hands, an insanely high hockey IQ, and is a natural goal scorer. He is a shoot-first forward and can score from almost anywhere in the offensive zone. Lucius is just as likely to wow you with a beautiful wrist shot goal as he is to tap in a loose puck in the crease. He’s able to disrupt play in the defensive zone quite well, thus forcing more turnovers and generating more chances for his team in transition. Lucius is a flexible forward, meaning he can play at any position up front, although his natural position is center. At the next level, he seems like he’ll be a fit on the wing to start, perhaps moving back to center later on.

Skating:
Perhaps the only knock on his all-around game, and it’s mainly just being picky, would be his explosiveness. As he’s still a 17 year old developing prospect, it’s not uncommon to see this trait at his age. That being said, Lucius does possess great edge work, and can change direction quite quickly. Teams may be a little weary to select him so high knowing he does have some work to do in this area, however I don’t anticipate it affecting his draft stock too much.

Offence:
The one aspect of Chaz Lucius’ game where there aren’t many questions to be asked is his talent in the offensive zone. Simply put, he scores goals. A lot of them. He tucked home 11 goals in seven games to start the 2019/20 season, and finished with 31 on the season. There aren’t many teams in the NHL who couldn’t use that kind of offensive production out of a first-round pick. Not only can he score, he has one impressive set of hands. His shot release is incredibly fast, and he can make the opposing teams pay from the blue-line in. As much as he’s known as a goal-scorer, he is more than capable of being a very good playmaker as well. His impressive vision on the ice helps him seek out teammates in open ice where he can deliver a pass. Lucius’ ability to create chances and capitalize on them will surely impress nearly every team.

Defence:
The one area of Lucius’ game where i was mildly surprised/impressed with was his capability in the defensive zone. He can backcheck with ease and is back to help out his defencemen quite quickly more times than not. Lucius also is great at anticipating when the puck is going to become loose in his zone, and then can quickly pick it up and execute a good breakout pass. As good as he is in his own zone for his age, Lucius’ defensive skill should only go up. Teams will love his ability to be fully capable in his own zone, as well as being the offensive juggernaut that he is.

Improvements:
Lucius has developed himself into a very respectable 200-foot player, but could still benefit from rounding his game out a little bit. His skating could use a little more burst off the hop, which will obviously help him out immensely at the next level. With some added explosiveness, he will be able to couple that with his great hockey sense and awareness to create some dangerous changes in transition and off the rush. Aside from his explosiveness, Lucius could still benefit from adding to his defensive zone play, which may show teams he can be trusted as a three-zone player at the NHL Level.

Overall Outlook:
There’s no doubt in my mind Lucius would have been skyrocketing up the mock draft rankings had he been healthy to start the season. Once he gets back to full strength, look for him to light it up for the U-18’s, barring a setback. His offensive ability will have teams picking in the middle of the first round salivating at the chance to draft someone with his skillset. Based off his U-17 season, look for Chaz Lucius to be selected anywhere between the 12th and 20th picks.

Comparison 

Elias Lindholm – Center/Right Wing, Calgary Flames

This comparison may be a bit of a reach, considering Lucius has better goal scoring ability than Lindholm, however, both players are known for being elusive in the offensive zone, having an excellent set of hands, and having some incredible vision on the ice. Also, both players are capable of slotting in at any position up front, and know where to be in the offensive zone to put the puck in the net.


stats from InStat and EliteProspects

Prospect report written by Paul Zuk. If you would like to follow Paul on Twitter, his handle is @paulzuk_81.

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Need a scouting report on a particular prospect, contact us today!

Scouting Report: Samuel Helenius

Photo Credit – Liiga/Jiri Halttunen

The Finnish Liiga is not quite the same level of league it used to be. The loss of Jokerit to the KHL as well as the league’s lack of ability to compete with the SHL and NLA from a financial perspective mean that while still a premier European league, it is not in serious contention for being the third best league on earth like it used to be.

That being said, it is still difficult for a draft eligible player to make the league. And even more difficult for them to be an above average player in Finland’s highest tier at 18. In the last 20 years there have only been a handful of players who have managed to post over 0.5 P/GP in their draft years. Almost all have gone on to be high-end NHL players.

Samuel Helenius has been right around 0.5 P/GP to start the season for JYP Jyväskylä. Five goals and eight points through 19 games is impressive. So is his 6’6, 200lb+ frame, as is his ability to play center in such a high level league.

So why is Helenius not talked about as a first rounder, and instead seen as a potential late second rounder?

Player Profile

D.O.B – November 26, 2002
Nationality 
– Finland
Draft Eligibility 
– 2021
Height 
–6’6
Weight 
–201 lbs
Position 
– Center
Handedness 
– Left

Helenius’ Style Of Play

Well, upside matters. Helenius may well be a “safe” pick. He has the size and two-way game that means he will likely play in the NHL at some point in the future. However, his offensive skill-set has never really stood out at any level. While many of his peers were scoring at over P/GP pace at the Finnish junior level, Samuel Helenius was at around 0.5 P/GP.

Now, some may well point to his impressive production this season, as well as the fact many big-bodied players develop later than their pint-sized counterparts. However, there are some indicators that this production may be inflated. Not only does Helenius only have 36.9% Corsi in Liiga this season – the worst of any regular player on the team – he also has a 17.2% shot percentage, which is unsustainable given the shot quality he has created.

But getting past the mathematics, let us examine his actual skill-set.

One of the core skills that modern NHL players require is skating. Helenius is a good skater for his size. It takes some real power to get a 6’6, 200lb frame moving. While he might not be the most agile player, after a couple of strides he can breeze past players who cannot keep up with his long, loping strides. Circling back to agility, while he naturally cannot match players half a foot smaller in regards to short area skating, Helenius has decent edge-work and can make some tight, crisp turns, as well as stop and start quickly. He might look awkward at times due to his lanky frame, but his foot-work is already effective enough that he rarely gets beaten to a puck even at the pro level.


Another real plus area of Helenius’s game, to be expected given his frame, is his puck protection. It is rare for anyone to be able to get near a puck on his stick. Not only is he strong, he understands pressure, and his long limbs mean that very few players can even touch a puck with a poke-check through his body.

Something else that really stands out is his shot. He can really fire his wrister, and has good accuracy as well. He might not be able to keep up his 17 percent shot the whole of the Liiga season. However, his quick and accurate release mean that he may well have some seasons in his career where he is up around the 15% mark.


His wrister is also helped by his ability to find space. Helenius might not have a top tier IQ, but he understands coverages and can pick gaps, and this area of his game is definitely a plus overall. This, combined with his aggressive nature, and nose for the net, means he finds himself around the crease and slot on a regular basis.

Defensively Helenius is physical and aggressive, and also has a good stick. He breaks up plays with regularity and is usually in a good position. These abilities also help him be a good penalty-killer. He is already a regular in man-down situations in Liiga, and can be a short-handed threat with his long reach and ability to read plays.


However, Helenius does have his warts. First and foremost, while he has decent puck-skills, he does not seem to have the hands that the majority of players who end up top six in the NHL have. At times he has to look down at the puck to corral it, and can also lose pucks in stride.

Additionally, while his overall hockey IQ in terms of positional awareness, and seeing how a play may unfold, is good, for a pivot he does not always have an instinctive understanding of where his line-mates are in the offensive zone. He may well be a shot first player, but at times he simply does not see line-mates in a better position than he is. It is therefore hard to imagine him being an offensive zone “facilitator” at a higher level. Centers are supposed to make their line-mates more dangerous in the offensive zone. Samuel Helenius has not really done that so far in his career. You can count the amount of high-danger passes he has made in Liiga this season on your two hands.

Comparison

Brian Boyle, C/LW, UFA (who last played with Florida Panthers)

Size is not the only similarity between Samuel Helenius and the big American. The Finn is a better skater than Boyle, but apart from that is a mirror image. Both are shoot first centers who have plus IQ, but despite that struggle to utilise their team-mates in the offensive zone. They also share a love of the physical side of the game. And also have great sticks that force turnovers in all three zones. Like Boyle, Helenius is a dependable penalty-killer who can be a real short-handed threat. Helenius, if he hits, might have a similar impact as Boyle down the line.

Projection

Overall, Samuel Helenius is a solid player. He certainly has NHL upside. At very worst he will be able to be plugged into an NHL fourth line and contribute on the penalty-kill in a few years’ time. However, it is hard to imagine him garnering more than 30 points or so over a season at the highest level given his skill-set. As a result until the second half of the second round rolls around there will be higher upside players available. If he reaches the third round though? He could be a great pick.


stats from InStat and EliteProspects

Prospect report written by Alexander Appleyard. If you would like to follow Alex on Twitter, his handle is @alexappleyard.

Looking for other scouting reports? Check out the Prospects tab for our other scouting reports.

Need a scouting report on a particular prospect, contact us today!

2021 NHL Draft Goalie Dataset

Happy New Year! To kick the 2021 calendar year off on the right note, I’m releasing version one of my 2021 draft eligible goaltender data.

The 2021 dataset will be focusing on rebound control and quickness. Each will have their Tableau page/chart.

Before I continue and explain the charts, I just want to list the goaltenders that I have tracked and will be tracking. Names are subject to change.

  • Spencer Knight (Florida Panthers – draft year data)
  • Yaroslav Askarov (Nashville Predators – draft year data)
  • Jesper Wallstedt (Luleå)
  • Maxim Motorygin (Dynamo Moscow)
  • William Jupiter (HV71)
  • Viggo Andrén (Frölunda)
  • Vsevolod Skotnikov (CSKA Moscow)
  • Jacob Goobie (Charlottetown)
  • Tomas Suchanaek (HC Ocelari Trinec)
  • Kaiden Mbereko (USNTDP)
  • Noah Patenaude (Saint John)
  • Juuso Helomaa (Ässät)
  • Carl Lindbom (Djurgårdens)
  • William Rousseau (Quebec)
  • Sebastian Wraneschitz (UPC Vienna)
  • Tristan Lennox (Saginaw)
  • Benjamin Gaudreau (Sarnia)
  • Sebastian Cossa (Edmonton)
  • Joe Vrbetic (North Bay)
  • Henri Risikko (Jokerit)
  • Marcus Brännman (Örebro)
  • William Håkansson (Växjö)
  • Tucker Tynan (Niagara)
  • Pavel Kanaev (Spartak Moscow)
  • Talyn Boyko (Tri-City)
  • Braden Holt (Everett)
  • Thomas Milic (Seattle)
  • Drew Sim (Vancouver)
  • Brett Brochu (London)
  • Yegor Naumov (Loko Yaroslavl)
  • Brock Grould (Moose Jaw)
  • Platon Zadorozhny (Spartak Moscow)
  • Carter Serhyneko (Prince Albert)
  • Grant Riley (Tri-City)
  • Nikita Quapp (Ravensburg)
  • Nick Malik (Sault Ste. Marie)
  • Aku Koskenvuo (HIFK)
  • Fabio Iacobo (Victoriaville)
  • Patrik Hamrla (Karlovy Vary)
  • Noah Grannan (Sioux Falls)
  • Emerik Despatie (Gatineau)
  • Pavel Cajan (Kitchener)
  • Jed Baliotti (Green Bay)
  • Taylor Gauthier (Prince George)

Spencer Knight and Yaroslav Askarov’s data have been added to serve as a bench mark, so you can understand how these goaltenders compare to two first round goaltenders in years’ past.

For the goaltenders who are playing in the OHL/WHL, should their season not happen and those goaltenders are not loaned out, I will be tracking data from their 2019-2020 campaign. I’m waiting till mid-to-late January to see if there is any news regarding a return date.

In addition, there are a few European, American and QMJHL goaltenders that I still need to track (from the list above) and have yet to track. I will be adding those goaltenders over the coming weeks.

Quickness Data

My quickness tableau chart shows up/down time and side/side time. Up/down time is an average of how long it takes goaltenders to go from standing to down on the ice. Side/side time is how long it takes goaltenders to go from side to side in net. These times are an average and they were timed using an iPhone stopwatch. To be transparent, in order to be timed, the goaltender had to face a shot. So, I was not timing a goaltender’s side to side movement without a shot on net. Same with up/down time.

To access the quickness chart, please click here.

Rebound Data

My rebound tableau chart shows uncontrolled rebound percentage of total saves and controlled rebound percentage of total saves. Uncontrolled rebounds are shots that rebound off the goaltender and the goaltender is unable to secure the puck immediately. Controlled rebounds are shots that rebound, but the goaltender is able to scoop up quickly.

If the goaltender is towards the top right of the chart, that means that the goaltender has a low uncontrolled rebound percentage and a low controlled rebound percentage. So, in a nutshell, they don’t cough up many rebounds.

To access the rebound chart, please click here.

Raw Data/Requests

If you are interested in looking at the raw data or are interested in looking at a goaltender who is not on my list, please contact me over DM. My Twitter handle is @JoshTessler_.

Scouting Report: Bryce Montgomery

Photo Credit – Terry Wilson/OHL Images/Aaron Bell

Bryce Montgomery is a 2021 NHL Draft eligible defenseman, who hails from the state of Maryland and his hometown is Bowie, Maryland (in between Annapolis, Maryland and Washington DC). Hockey is in his DNA. His father Matthew Montgomery played division three hockey for St. Mary’s University (Winona, Minnesota) in the 1980s. Blake Montgomery, Bryce’s younger brother, currently plays for the Skipjacks Hockey Club 16U AAA in York, Pennsylvania.

Maryland hasn’t produced a lot of NHL talent over the years. The most recognizable player from the State of Maryland is Jeff Halpern, who played mostly for the Washington Capitals and is now an Assistant Coach for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Aside from Halpern, Jarred Tinordi (Mark Tinordi’s son) played youth hockey for the Washington Little Caps. In addition, Alex Nylander and William Nylander both played for Team Maryland during Michael Nylander’s stint with the Washington Capitals.

Before coming to London Knights, Montgomery played youth hockey for both the Washington Little Caps 14U AAA and Team Maryland 16U AAA. During his time with the Washington Little Caps, the Knights caught wind of Montgomery as US-based scout Billy Sullivan stumbled upon the defenseman at a tournament in Buffalo, New York.

Also, he played prep school hockey for Dematha Catholic. Dematha is not widely known for hockey, but they have been extremely successful at developing athletes especially in basketball and football. Brian Westbrook (NFL), Byron Westbrook (NFL), Anthony McFarland Jr. (NFL), Cameron Wake (NFL), Victor Oladipo (NBA) and Markelle Fultz (NBA) are all alumni from Dematha. After his 2017-2018 campaign in Maryland, Montgomery decided to pack his bags and head up to Ashburnham, Massachusetts to play prep school hockey for Cushing Academy. Like Dematha, Cushing has done an excellent job in developing athletes, but they have had more success in hockey. Keith Yandle, Zach Bogosian, Tom Poti and Connor Sheary attended Cushing.

This past season, Montgomery completed his OHL rookie campaign. He played in 33 games for the London Knights and recorded two assists. Given his age, London decided to ease him. He would often play anywhere between six to nine minutes per night.

Due to COVID, Montgomery has not played since March and is waiting for the OHL to start their 2020-2021 season. At this moment, Montgomery has not been loaned out, but if the OHL can not return to play, you have to assume that he would be loaned out.

In addition, Montgomery’s USHL rights are owned by the Waterloo Black Hawks. He was previously committed to Providence College and was likely to play in the USHL before heading to the NCAA, but playing for the London Knights was more appealing for defenseman.

Player Profile

D.O.B – November 12, 2002
Nationality – United States
Draft Eligibility – 2021
Height –6’5
Weight –220 lbs
Position – Defense
Handedness – Right

Montgomery’s Style Of Play

Montgomery is a defensive defenseman, who possesses offensive upside, but his play in the defensive zone is far more explosive than in the offensive zone.

He thrives at playing man-on-man defense in the slot. If an attacker (non puck carrier) is trying to exploit lanes in the slot, Montgomery keeps tabs on him and uses his frame to put pressure on the attacker to eliminate a potential threat. Not only does Montgomery exert a ton of pressure on non puck carriers, but he is quite strong at using his frame to limit puck movement. He has strong gap control and will play close to the vest. When an attacker is looking to shift the puck around the 6’5′ Marylander, Montgomery uses his frame to push attacker and by doing so he can control puck movement. In addition, he uses his frame well when dodging attackers on his way to loose pucks and he shown that he challenge and win puck battles with some of the best OHL prospects such as Cole Perfetti (Winnipeg Jets prospect). With his frame, he can be a handful for an attacker.

If he is battling net-front, sometimes he will look to screen the attacker who is screening his goaltender. By doing so, he doesn’t have to worry about the attacker dodging his stick and finding open ice. He just eliminates the treat completely. But, there are certainly times where Montgomery will use his stick to push attackers away from his crease.

Aside from using his frame to circumvent the attack, there are instances where the cycle will shift to the other half-wall and Montgomery will get out of position to come closer to the puck. While it doesn’t happen too often, Montgomery should work on positional awareness.

When it comes to puck movement, Montgomery is deceptive with his puck control. He will sell attackers on one lane and will take the other. He uses his reach to extend the puck out to one side, lure the attacker to that lane and immediately shift the puck to the other side to throw him off. He will also play a conservative game and will not force puck movement. If he has an attacker breathing down his neck, he will pivot and look for a pass to avoid a turnover.

In the offensive zone, there are instances in which he will pinch and jump to the perimeter, but it is not consistent. Montgomery does tend to use his slap shot quite a bit from the point. When he gets a tad closer in, he will opt to use his snap shot. With that being said, the majority of his shots end up in the goaltender’s lap. If Montgomery is set to expand his offensive game, he has to look to work on accuracy and elevating his shot more. If he can find those gaps in net and his elevation improves, he could prove to be a solid scorer or generate more rebound opportunities for his forwards. Aside from his shot, at times, London Knights head coach Dale Hunter has shifted Montgomery to right wing when he is looking to bring out a shut down line. When lining up at right wing, Montgomery tends to be aggressive with his forechecking and will show moments of grit.

From a skating perspective, Montgomery has an average extension. His leg extension isn’t too long and not too short. But, there are moments, where in the defensive zone, he will look to mimic his attacker when neutralizing the cycle. Sometimes, that means extending your legs out past the torso. Montgomery needs to be cautious of doing that. When you extend your legs too far out, you lose mobility and balance. If the attacker pivots on a dime, your feet are too wide apart and it becomes a challenge to use your edges to turn. There are instances where Montgomery struggles with shifting from a wide stride to a pivot.

All-in-all, Montgomery is a solid defensive prospect for the 2021 NHL Draft. If he can beef up his physical play and assert even more aggression from the perimeter towards the blue-line, he could be a handful for anyone trying to enter the zone.

Comparison

Brandon Carlo, Right Handed Defenseman, Boston Bruins

Given the size of Brandon Carlo and his strong gap control, Montgomery reminds me quite of Carlo. Both, Carlo and Montgomery have shown flashes where they can be effective in the offensive zone, but need more development with their shot. They both have shown to have a blistering shot, but accuracy and pin-pointing the right gap is the area for development.

Projection

Second Pairing Defenseman (NHL).


stats from InStat and EliteProspects

Prospect report written by Josh Tessler. If you would like to follow Josh on Twitter, his handle is @JoshTessler_.

Looking for other scouting reports? Check out the Prospects tab for our other scouting reports.

Need a scouting report on a particular prospect, contact us today!

Scouting Report: Noah Meier

Photo Credit – ZSC Lions

Noah Meier is a 2021 NHL Draft eligible left handed defenseman from Switzerland. This season, he has played in five games for the GCK Lions U20 (U20-Elite) and 17 games for GC Küsnacht Lions (Swiss League, B League in Switzerland). During his five games with the GCK Lions U20 squad, he tallied one goal and seven assists. As you would expect, his offensive production dropped in his 17 games with GC Küsnacht. He has managed to tally one goal and four assists.

Meier’s rights are owned by the Zürcher Schlittschuh Club Lions/ZSC Lions (Swiss National League). But, he has yet to play in a game this season for ZSC. But, he did make his National League debut last season for ZSC and suited up in three games for the Zürich based squad.

Meier is in attendance at the 2021 World Junior Championships in Edmonton, Alberta. He has been on the second defensive pairing for Switzerland and has been paired with Cédric Fiedler (Western Michigan University, Left Handed Defenseman).

In addition, there is no relation to Timo Meier of the San Jose Sharks. Meier is a very popular last name in German-speaking countries including Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

Player Profile

D.O.B – September 24, 2002
Nationality – Switzerland
Draft Eligibility – 2021
Height –5’11
Weight –170 lbs
Position – Defense
Handedness – Left

Meier’s Style Of Play

When it comes to the Swiss defenseman, the two best attributes in his game are his skating and passing.

With Meier’s skating, he has shown that he possesses a quality first step for acceleration purposes. After the initial lengthy first step, he tends to trim down the foot extension into a smaller release. His outside edges are strong, especially when button hooking, which he will do depending on how tight the forechecking pressure is. The only area from a skating perspective which needs further development is his crossovers. Meier does not often start a breakout rush with crossovers. The goal should be to work on implementing crossovers, especially when starting the breakout from behind his own net and/or if he has to move around traffic when initiating the breakout. In the clip below from Dylan Griffing (Dobber Prospects), you can take a look at a controlled zone-to-zone transition in which Meier implements good first steps that help him gain speed out of the gate.

From a puck possession perspective, Meier seems to be more conservative with his puck control. If he is controlling the puck and facing a tough forecheck, you can expect him to alter his plan and look for a teammate to pass the puck to. Meier also has shown that he can be creative with his passing. Meier makes good use of the boards for bounce passes. Sometimes, he will play a pass off the boards in the defensive zone and it will ricochet off to a teammate in the neutral zone. But, from a more traditional tape-to-tape feed perspective, Meier has strong range. Quite often, you will see Meier elect to complete a stretch pass from the defensive zone into the neutral zone in hopes of driving the play into the offensive zone. When it comes to puck collection from a pass, it appears that Meier has challenges with capturing possession from time to time. Perhaps Meier is having difficulty reading his teammates and has challenges at identifying the precise moment when the puck will arrive at his location.

In the offensive zone, you will often see Meier stick to the blue-line. Occasionally, he will shift over to the right side, when he has control of the puck and look for a lane that he can exploit with a pass. But, more than often, Meier plants his skates at the blue-line in anticipation of his opponents securing the puck and attempting a rush. He will shift away from the blue-line if his teammates have control of the puck in the trenches. If they are cycling the puck behind the red-line, he will jump up to the perimeter and thus gives his teammates a fellow teammate to pass to, who could potentially instill a medium danger scoring chance. From a shooting perspective, don’t expect Meier to take many shots per game. Per InStat Hockey, Meier has averaged 1.2 shots on goal per game in league play. Meier prefers to find another teammate than take a shot from the blue-line.

In the defensive zone, Meier can get out of position, as he sometimes drifts too far towards the blue-line and can leave his defensive partner to fend for himself. But, the area the most development in the defensive zone is gap control and assertive play. Meier will plant himself in front of an attacker, but still give enough room to the attacker. This allows the attacker to skate around Meier or shoot/pass without fear of a deflection. Perhaps, Meier is hoping that his reach will allow him to shut down further puck movement, but it doesn’t always play out in Meier’s favor. Meier should look to be more assertive and aggressive. He should look to pin attackers against the boards and limit where his attackers can go. Aside from gap control, I have noticed that Meier is quick to a loose puck. He will not always win the battle, but he puts on the jets in an effort to grab possession.

Comparison

Mike Reilly, Left Handed Defenseman, Ottawa Senators

Like Meier, Reilly has struggled at time with his defensive play and has had to work on defensive awareness throughout his time in the NHL. Both, Reilly and Meier have proven to be effective passers and both have strong range. In addition, both defensemen are quality skaters, who can garner good speed off of their first extensions.

Projection

If Meier can become more assertive and aggressive with his defensive play, it is possible for Meier to be a bottom pairing defenseman in the NHL.


stats from InStat and EliteProspects

Prospect report written by Josh Tessler. If you would like to follow Josh on Twitter, his handle is @JoshTessler_.

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Scouting Report: Stanislav Svozil

Photo Credit – hc-kometa.cz

The Czech Republic is still a world hockey power. They might not quite have the firepower up and down their line-up as they did in the early 2000’s, but in the last five World Championship’s they have reached the semi-final’s twice, and did at the 2018 Olympics as well. You can argue whether they are still a top five team. But despite that they are still a threat to beat anyone on their day.

When you examine what, though, has hamstrung them from competing with the best teams on earth over the last 10-15 years there is one obvious answer. Defensemen. The Czech’s still have a bevy of top-tier forwards such as Pastrňák, Voráček, Krejčí and Hertl. They also have some high-end young forwards who are developing into top six players. Kubalík, Vrána, Nečas, Zadina, Zacha and Chytil will be haunting NHL defenses for the next ten years.

But when was the last time the Czechs produced a top pairing defenseman? Let alone a number one? Radko Gudas has arguably been the best Czech blue-liner in the NHL over the last decade, and Gudas is simply a solid #4. Filip Hronek is the only young Czech defenseman making his mark in the league right now, but does he have the potential to be more than a good #2-3? Debatable.

You have to go back to an aging Marek Židlický in 2013-14 to find the last time a Czech defenseman played at a true top pairing level. A few extra years back and Tomáš Kaberle was the last man from the Central European nation to be a legit NHL #1.

There is hope on the horizon though. That hope comes in the form of a 2021 draft eligible from the heart of Moravia. His name? Stanislav Svozil.

Svozil has been a stand-out since he was 15 years old and producing at point-per-game level in u-16 internationals. He made history in 2019-20 by forcing his way into the Czech Extraliga at 16 years old. No other blue-liner that young has ever managed to play a whole season in the Extraliga.

Player Profile

D.O.B – January 17, 2003
Nationality 
– Czech Republic
Draft Eligibility 
– 2021
Height 
– 6’1
Weight 
–172 lbs
Position 
– Defense
Handedness 
– Left

Svozil’s Style Of Play

So why is there not more hype? What does Stanislav Svozil do well? And where does he need to improve?

Svozil’s game is built around his fantastic passing ability and his high-end hockey IQ. In the defensive zone he uses this ability to produce mesmeric outlets that freeze neutral zone defenses and send his forwards into the offensive zone with speed. He attempts passes that others don’t even see. Offensively he utilises his vision and touch well to pick out seams in coverages and thread passes cross-ice, onto tape, regardless of how narrow the gap is. As a result he can make what appears a “nothing” situation on the cycle into a scoring chance.

When off of his game he can be prone to feeling pressure, and give-ways when heading up ice due to his predilection for attempting to hit long passes with a high degree of technical difficulty. This is not a major issue, and the positives massively outweigh the negatives, but he still needs to gain poise under pressure.


While his passing ability helps him exit his zone regularly, it is complemented by good skating ability as well. Therefore, if there are no passes available Svozil can simply skate his way up ice. Once he gets into the neutral zone his naturally aggressive nature also comes into play. He never seems happy just to make the red-line, but wants to get the puck even closer to danger. His ability to enter the offensive zone with the puck on his stick is just as impressive as his ability to exit his own zone. This is a skill that marks out so many of the best defensemen in the NHL. Svozil is already exceptionally good in this area versus men.


Breaking down his skating further, his agility, acceleration and edge-work are good, but he does have room to improve on his stride and top speed. His stride is slightly shorter than it could be, and is not overly powerful in terms of transferring his energy effectively and building speed. At times he will burst past a man going up ice, only for them to then stay with him or catch him. This may well come with maturity, as he is not quite as physically developed as many of the 2021 draft crop.

Looking more at his offensive zone play, while Stanislav Svozil is extremely dangerous and aggressive on the rush, and creates great opportunities with his passing on the cycle, he can be a bit “safe” in the offensive zone when set-up. Despite not having the biggest shot he can get a bit trigger happy near the blue-line. This is less of an issue when he plays at the junior level. In turn this may simply be due to fear of making a mistake and sending play the other way at the pro level. However, to best utilise his fantastic vision and passing going forward he will need to trust his ability and, in-turn, walk the line more, try and freeze opposition forwards, and do what he does so well on the rush in terms of getting to dangerous positions.


Coming back to positives in relation to the offensive zone, Svozil is already fantastic at protecting the puck on the cycle. He has great body position, and his plus hands mean that he can fend off players with only one hand before finding space and dishing the puck. While on the topic of hands, Stanislav Svozil has some silky mitts for a blue-liner. He can beat opponents with a deke or dangle, even at high-speed.

As can be imagined with this skill-set, Svozil is a dangerous power-play quarter-back. He is less trigger happy when he has more time and less pressure in a man-up situation. In turn he has more confidence to quickly move pucks and step-up into a play, or make an opponent bite on a move and walk round them. He is very good at making himself available in man-up situations. With his high IQ he pops up all over the ice in order to find a seam.


On the defensive side of things, Stanislav Svozil is solid for his age. One real stand-out ability here is directly related to his high IQ. He anticipates what is going to happen next extremely well. Especially in terms of pucks being turned over, or what passing options opponents will take through the neutral zone. The result of this is that he intercepts passes and gets his stick in lanes with great prevalence. This applies both when defending the rush, and when set-up defensively. The man from Přerov is also very aggressive at his own blue-line and has a good gap for his age, and breaks up a lot of entries with his extremely active stick alongside great back-wards and lateral mobility.


Once set-up in the defensive zone he does have some issues. One is simply strength related, he loses one-vs-one battles in the danger areas to opponents who are more mature than him. But Svozil is not small, and he is also naturally aggressive, so going forward this is not something that should be overly worried about. His aggression can get him into trouble in his own zone though. At times he loses his position puck-chasing, trying to “make” something happen.

Comparison

Ivan Provorov, Left Handed Defenseman, Philadelphia Flyers

Like his Russian counter-part, Svozil is exceptional both on the rush. Both also excel in terms of defending his own blue-line. The two also love to carry the puck, both out of their zone, and into the offensive zone. As with the Flyers blue-liner, Svozil does not fear getting to the slot and net-front once up ice. The Czech youngster does not quite have the speed Provorov has. But both have high-end mobility and hands that you don’t often see from a defenseman in transition. Both are a bit more conservative on the cycle, but can see passes and like to get their shots going.

Svozil arguably has better vision than Provorov once established in the offensive zone. In turn is a more instinctive and well-rounded power-play quarter-back. In the defensive zone Provorov was more developed at the same age, as well as more physical. But both are aggressive and use their stick extremely well.

Projection

Overall, there is a lot to like about Stanislav Svozil. Mobile, high-IQ, skilled blue-liners are hard to come by. If his game continues to mature the young Czech blue-liner can certainly become a top-pairing level NHLer. Additionally, it would be a surprise if Svozil – at worst – does not become a solid NHL #4 in the not so distant future.


stats from InStat and EliteProspects

Prospect report written by Alexander Appleyard. If you would like to follow Alex on Twitter, his handle is @alexappleyard.

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Scouting Report: Matthew Beniers

Photo Credit – Rena Laverty

There are quite a few NHL Draft eligible prospects who hail from New England such as Scott Morrow (CT), Mackie Samoskevich (CT) and Ryan St. Louis (CT) (Martin St. Louis’ son), but Matthew Beniers (MA) is the top prospect from the region. Beniers grew up in Hingham, Massachusetts, which is just due south of Boston. Just a quick drive down the I-93 and Rt. 3.

Beniers played for Milton Academy and the Cape Cod Whalers before joining the USNTDP. His brother, Bobby Beniers most recently played division three hockey at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts.

Beniers was set to play for Ted Donato’s Harvard Crimson this year, but unfortunately due to COVID-19 that was no longer an option. The Ivy League had cancelled fall sports and it seemed inevitable that they would cancel winter sports (which did happen in November). With Harvard Hockey not active this season, Beniers decided to commit to the University of Michigan. He joined fellow 2021 NHL Draft eligible prospects, Owen Power and Kent Johnson in Ann Arbor, Michigan for the 2021-2022 season.

So far this season, Beniers has played in eight games for Michigan and has recorded six points (three goals and three assists).

He was also named to the USA Hockey World Juniors roster and will get a decent amount of ice time at the tournament in Edmonton, Alberta.

Player Profile

D.O.B – November 5, 2002
Nationality – United States
Draft Eligibility – 2021
Height –6’1
Weight –174 lbs
Position – Center
Handedness – Left

Beniers’ Style Of Play

Matthew Beniers is a very intriguing prospect. In my views, I have failed to find a fault in his game. While a lot of scouts and analysts have claimed that Beniers doesn’t have flash to his game, I would argue that he doesn’t need flash. If you are capable of mastering the fundamentals, flash is not necessary. It’s a nice to have. Plus, I would argue that mastering the fundamentals is flash.

Beniers is a smart hockey player. That statement is overused, but he does everything that you want him to do and knows exactly what to do to draw attackers to him and open up lanes for himself. Beniers always manages to get to the net and knows exactly what it takes to do so no matter what situation he is in.

Speaking of drawing attackers to him, Beniers does this with ease. If he is rushing up the right side of the ice and the attacker is to his left, he will opt to position the puck to his left. This draws the attacker in. When the attacker is approaching Beniers, he will shift the puck to his right and skate around the attacker. This allows him to bring the attacker to him and open up a clear path to the net. In the below clip, you can check out an example where Beniers was able to draw an attacker in to create an opportunity to open up a lane to allow him to complete a zone exit pass to his winger.

Beniers has proven that he has strong hands and the strength necessary to move the puck from left to right with ease and at the right time. Not only is his strength key in drawing attackers in, but it is also vital when it comes up to Beniers’ reach. In the pre-tournament game against Finland, we saw a great example of Beniers using his reach to secure the puck. Beniers is constantly hunting for the puck in all three zones. His relentlessness and determination to capture the puck reminds me quite a bit of Lucas Raymond. Beniers uses his reach in tough puck battles. Battles in which he was not the first player to the puck. He shows quality balance and strength to reach out for the puck.

While Beniers has shown to aggressively hunt for the puck on the forecheck, he seems to get to the puck too late in most situations. Yet, Beniers does not have acceleration issues. To gather more speed on the forecheck, Beniers should look to lengthen his first steps to help push him to the puck at a faster rate. But, I just want to be clear that plenty of NHLers struggle with gathering speed on the forecheck. This is not a fault. If Beniers did not acquire the speed on the forecheck that forwards like Raymond have, it would not hurt his future.

Moving along, Beniers has also shown that he can flee tight pressure consistently. No matter if Beniers is controlling the puck in the offensive zone or defensive zone, Beniers will fight his way around pressure. He has quick feet and can pivot/make a quick turn on a dime. At open ice, if an attacker is closing in on him, he will deceptively complete a behind the back pass to his defenseman. He will also opt to use the boards as a backboard when pressure is closing in on him and that allows him to be a threat in transition.

When it comes to puck distribution, Beniers is quick with his assessment. He knows exactly what he wants to do. Beniers doesn’t sit and wait for an opportunity to arise. Often that means, that Beniers will drop back, shift from the left-to-right side and vice-versa if he knows that there is a lane that he wants to exploit. Beniers’ passing is outstanding. His wind-up isn’t too lengthy. His range is pretty extensive too as he can complete cross ice, centered, drop and quick tape-to-tape passes with precision.

Let’s shift to Beniers’ shot. Beniers tends to find the most success down low right at the crease. While most of the success is at the doorstep, Beniers can manage to elevate the puck with an open blade to score quite a few top shelf goals with a strong snap shot. But, Beniers is also capable of firing quality shots from the mid slot, which is where he spends the bulk of his time when he is not working the cycle.

Last, but not least, let’s hone in on his skating. Beniers uses strong tight crossovers for acceleration. His stride is not lengthy, but the crossovers help push down the ice. Beniers’ quick feet allow him to be creative with puck possession. If he is trying to lose an attacker, he could play the puck behind his own net and pivot quickly when an attacker is approaching him. Not only does that allow Beniers to fight off one attacker, but his quick feet and quick decision-making allow him to dodge multiple attackers in a short window of time.

Comparison

Mathew Barzal, Center, New York Islanders

Like Barzal, both centermen have quick feet and elite playmaking passing abilities down low. Barzal is slightly bigger than Beniers, but the size that Barzal is at is likely where we will see Beniers at in a few years or so. Barzal has also shown to have the same competitive instincts that Beniers has when forechecking. While Barzal is my comparable for Beniers, I want to caution readers that the comparable does not mean that I believe that Beniers will echo Barzal’s production at the NHL level, but he certainly has the chance to do so.

Projection

Second Line Center (NHL), but has First Line Center upside (NHL).


stats from InStat and EliteProspects

Prospect report written by Josh Tessler. If you would like to follow Josh on Twitter, his handle is @JoshTessler_.

Looking for other scouting reports? Check out the Prospects tab for our other scouting reports.

Need a scouting report on a particular prospect, contact us today!

Scouting Report: William Eklund

Photo Credit – Elvira Holmström

With almost exactly seven months until the NHL draft the race to be number one pick is completely up in the air. It could be several different players, and even when draft day is upon us it seems doubtful at this venture that there will be a clear-cut number one. What is clear-cut, however, is who is the best player in terms of level right now.

William Eklund.

Naturally, the NHL draft is not about picking the player who is the best at the moment of the draft, but instead who will be the best 5-10 years down the line. However, while other potential top picks are holding their own in the NCAA, looking good in junior leagues, or struggling to make an impact in pro leagues, the man from Stockholm’s leafy southern outskirts is excelling in the world’s third best league.

The SHL is not an easy place for teenagers to make a name for themselves. It is filled with ex-NHLers, international players, and the cream of Swedish prospects. If a player is simply holding their own in a bottom-line or bottom-pairing role that is often enough to mark them out as a first round talent. Eklund is not just holding his own. Eklund is making an argument for being one of the best forwards in the league. On a team with ex-NHLers Niclas Bergfors, Tom Wandell and Jacob Josefson, as well as top prospects such as Alexander Holtz and Dominik Bokk, it is Eklund who has arguably shone brightest after 22 games.

Lucas Raymond and Alexander Holtz were both top seven picks in the 2020 NHL draft, and are more than six months older than William Eklund. Neither have been quite as good as him this season.

But it is not just versus his peers and team-mates that Eklund has dazzled. With 0.37 G/GP and 0.74 P/GP so far this season the nimble winger is within touching distance of history. The league was founded in 1975, and in the previous 45 seasons there has only been one draft eligible player who has finished the year with better numbers than Eklund is on pace for.

That man was Daniel Sedin, with 0.84 (42 points in 50 games). The only other men to breach the 0.65 P/GP barrier as a first time draft eligible? Peter Forsberg (0.74) and Henrik Sedin (0.69). That is pretty good company to keep, nestled amongst three Hockey Hall of Famers.

Some might say that Eklund’s start to the year is a flash-in-the-pan. But he has always been good, just slept on before this season. Last year he had 1.16 P/GP in SuperElit/J20 Nationell, and played better hockey than 2020 second round picks Daniel Torgersson and Theodor Niederbach. Zion Nybeck was the only u-18 year old player in the league clearly better. He has also been a stand-out on Sweden’s u-16, u-17 and u-18 teams, despite often being one of the youngest players.

Player Profile

D.O.B – October 12, 2002
Nationality 
– Sweden
Draft Eligibility 
– 2021
Height 
– 5’10
Weight 
–172 lbs
Position 
– Left Wing/Center
Handedness 
– Left

Eklund’s Style Of Play

Now you know how well William Eklund has performed… how about his skill-set?

Skating is more important than ever in today’s NHL. One of the areas that has been criticized about Eklund by many is his ability in that area, especially given his size. It must be said that he is not the fastest skater. However, he is very strong down low, and has good edges and agility. Despite not having blazing speed you will almost never see him caught up ice, or beaten to a puck though. Why? Because he has five feet of ice on virtually everyone else between his ears.


Eklund is the highest IQ player in this draft. He already understands coverages better than most NHL top six forwards. The Stockholm native seems to know what defensemen are going to do before they themselves make a decision. As a result he manages to get completely free around the slot, near the crease, behind the net, and in the circles more often than seems plausible. With the puck on his stick he puts his brain-power to use as well. He turns players inside out regularly on the cycle, not through outrageous moves, but by cutting back on himself at the very moments his marker least expects him to, leaving them out of position and with Eklund free to walk in towards goal.


His vision is also high-end. It is not rare to see him make a pass without so much as looking at his line-mate, and it land flush on tape for a prime scoring chance. Combine this with a beautiful passing touch and he can freeze defenses before they compute what is happening to give line-mates high-end opportunities with regularity.


When it comes to his shot the young Swede relies on an extremely quick release on both his snap-shot and wrister. He does not have the heaviest or most accurate shot, but with the positions he manages to get to almost every shift it is rare that when the puck comes to him he is not in a dangerous shot location. The result this season has been that he leads his team in goals. Now, his 18.9% shooting will almost certainly come down as the year goes on, but this high percentage is also driven by his shot locations.

However, there is certainly room for improvement in his shot selection and execution. He does not always catch his wristers clean, and as a result a higher percentage than you would like either hit skates and shins. Eklund also sometimes fails to lift his shots when he wants to. If he can get stronger, and in turn add more velocity to his shot, and be more consistent when he does shoot, he could certainly be a 30+ goal-scorer at the NHL level… with two-thirds of them coming on tap-ins, deflections and uncontested shots from the slot.

Eklund’s “skill” sometimes gets denigrated. The reason for this? Probably that he is not overly flashy. If Sidney Crosby is the “King of the Grinders” then William Eklund is one of the Princes. His style of play, combined with his high IQ, means that he rarely “needs” to pull a rabbit out of the hat and make a wonder-play. He gets space almost every shift with ease. In turn there is no need to try and deke a defensemen out of their jock. Eklund does have good hand-eye coordination though, and when he needs to can throw a feint or deke to get around a defenseman. He is also very good at tipping pucks in close as well as positioning his blade perfectly for re-directions.

As has been eluded to, an apt nickname for William Eklund would be “Oscar”. Why? Because like his muppet counterpart Mr. Grouch, William loves getting his nose in to the dirty areas. If you let him he would probably set up camp and spend his down-time two feet to the right of the home end goal-post at Hovet Arena. Despite being a smaller player he really does relish mixing it up, both with and without the puck. He will take a hit to make a play as well as engage around the net and along the boards.


His father Christian was a cult hero for Djurgården as a bottom-six winger. William Eklund has inherited his Dad’s heart. He never gives up on a play, even if every-one on ice left it for dead a long time before. As would be expected, therefore, his forechecking is relentless, and he causes turnovers regularly with a very active stick.

Eklund is already a good 200-ft player. He works hard to get back to the defensive zone, and his high IQ is present there too. His skills of perception enable him to be one step ahead of the play. It is not uncommon for him to anticipate a mistake, jump up and create a 2v1 from nothing before the opposition have even lost the puck. He might not be as physical in the defensive zone as he is on the cycle at the other end, but his active stick and eagerness to engage works well for him here too. While not a penalty-killer in the SHL he has been utilised there at the u-20 and u-18 levels.

On the power-play Eklund can either run play from the right half-boards, or get down low near the goal-line and facilitate as well as get to the net-front when needed. In juniors and to start the season, as well as in 5v3 situations, Eklund plays the right side. However, he has been extremely effective this season in the SHL playing a net-front role. He adds his own caveat, where he kicks out regularly to the right goal-line. While only 5’10 this position seems to best suit his skill-set.


For my money Eklund is the best forward in this draft. He might not be a physical freak, or an athletic freak, or a speed freak… but his freak ability is maybe the most important of all. Players like Nicklas Bäckström and Joe Pavelski have been stars in the NHL for years. What makes them so good is what makes Eklund so good. It is their immense hockey IQ’s. While Eklund might “only” end up a good, two-way, 50 point forward it would be no shock if he became a star.

Comparison

Henrik Zetterberg, C/LW, Retired, Played for Detroit Red Wings

Yes. A very lofty comparison. Don’t expect William Eklund to be as good as the future Hockey Hall of Famer. But he certainly could be a stylistically similar player who is a first liner at the highest level. The similarities start with their amazing ability to get clear air in the offensive zone. Both read the play to a high level. Like Zetterberg did, Eklund loves going to the danger areas, and while not having a truly high-end shot can rack up goals due to his awareness, positioning, and ability to re-direct pucks. As with the long-time Red Wings man, Eklund is a better play-maker than goal-scorer, despite being able to light the lamp. While adept defensively, Eklund does not have the same high-end ability at either 5v5 or the penalty-kill that Zetterberg had. Neither are the fastest skater, but are strong on the puck and agile, with good edges.


stats from InStat and EliteProspects

Prospect report written by Alexander Appleyard. If you would like to follow Alex on Twitter, his handle is @alexappleyard.

Looking for other scouting reports? Check out the Prospects tab for our other scouting reports.

Need a scouting report on a particular prospect, contact us today!

Scouting Report: Daniil Chayka

Photo Credit – OHL Images/Terry Wilson/Aaron Bell

Daniil Chayka is a 2021 NHL Draft eligible defenseman, who hails from Moscow, Russia. Chayka plays for the Guelph Storm of the Ontario Hockey League, but due to COVID-19, the Storm loaned him out to CSKA Moscow. The Russian defenseman played U16 hockey for CSKA Moscow before coming over to Ontario in 2017 to play GTHL hockey for the Toronto Jr. Canadiens U16 AAA squad. So, he returned to his old stomping ground this season.

Last season, in Guelph, Chayka proved to be a valued asset in both ends of the ice. With his excellent mobility, reach and gap control, Chayka limited high danger scoring chances. In the offensive zone, he showed off his booming shot and lit the lamp 11 times in 56 games played.

Since coming back to Russia, Chayka has played 18 games. He has played in seven games in the KHL for CSKA Moscow, five games for Zvezda Moscow (VHL), three games for Krasnaya Armiya Moscow (MHL) and three games for Russia at the Karjala Cup in Helsinki, Finland. Unfortunately, he has not registered a point at the VHL nor KHL level. The only points that he has recorded this season was at the Karjala Cup (one goal and two assists) and one point at the MHL level.

Player Profile

D.O.B – October 22, 2002
Nationality – Russia
Draft Eligibility – 2021
Height –6’3
Weight –185 lbs
Position – Defense
Handedness – Left

Chayka’s Style Of Play

One of the most impressive attributes about Chayka’s play is his reach. But, his reach isn’t just good without the puck, it is good with the puck as well. With Chayka’s long frame, he uses his reach to his advantage. His reach allows him to take up more space, which gives him more room when possessing the puck. When Chayka does not have the puck and is playing in his own zone, his reach allows him to stand tall and intercept passes that are not coming to his immediate vicinity. If you have quality reach, you do not always have to hover around an attacker to shut down the play. Tight man to man defense isn’t always needed.

In the defensive zone, his play is quite similar to University of Michigan defenseman Owen Power. His defensive strategy is to play a more relaxed game until the puck crosses the perimeter. At that point, Chayka plays a bit tighter along the half-wall to eliminate lanes for the attacker to shift towards center ice. But, if the attacker is entering the zone on a quick rush and swings the puck around Chayka towards the boards, he tights up a lot earlier on. When the attack enters the zone through the middle of the ice, Chayka makes eye contact with the forward furthest along in the zone and he knows the trajectory of where that forward is headed. He quickly studies him and will find the best time to sneak in, which can lead to interceptions if the forward furthest along is waiting for one of his teammates to feed him a pass.

While he does play close to the vest, he is not a physical specimen. But, with his frame, it only behooves Chayka to develop a more physical playing style especially when looking to stop the cycle. The goal for Chayka should be to resemble the physical play that Kaiden Guhle (Montréal Canadiens prospect, Prince Albert Raiders defenseman) embodies. But, we do see some aggression, especially when net-front. When Chayka is net-front and battling against attackers who are looking to screen his goaltender, he takes an aggressive tone and pushes the attackers away from the crease.

Aside from his lack of physical play, I have enjoyed Chayka’s response to loose pucks and puck movement in general. Chayka is quick on his feet. He will quickly put on the jets to hunt down loose pucks and he will keep his foot on the gas when attackers make sudden changes in direction.

When it comes to transitional play, like most defensemen of his frame, he does not opt to go from zone-to-zone very often. Instead, he will look to make a breakout pass in the defensive zone. Unfortunately, sometimes Chayka is too quick with his breakout passing and does not complete an accurate assessment of the situation at hand. So, he will complete passes to the opposition or fail to get the puck to his teammate. On a lot of Chayka’s stretch passes, he seems to miss his target, which will sometimes lead to an icing.

In the offensive zone, I have noticed a difference between his play in the OHL versus his play in Russia. When playing in Russia, his offensive play is more laid back. He will pinch to go after loose pucks along the boards. He will distribute quality passes from the point and will take an occasional shot. But, his shots seem to go the goaltender’s pads for an easy stop. With the wider ice surface, I had wondered if he would struggle with his shot when moving back to Russia. It seems that he doesn’t have the ability to target a higher spot on the wider ice in Russia. During his play in the OHL, we have seen Chayka rip one-timer shots from the beyond perimeter and elevate a quality slap shot. In addition, Chayka was more inclined in Canada to jump into the slot and find open ice or look for a rebound to pick up and that is something that seems to be missing in his play in Russia.

Last, but not least, let’s talk about his skating. His stride reminds me a lot of Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara. For a bigger defenseman, Chayka has a quality stride. The extension is not too long. It seems to be at the perfect range. His stride allows him to pick up solid speed and he uses that speed to bolt after loose pucks. When on the blue-line, he has great length on his crossovers, which allow Chayka to move faster laterally than most because he doesn’t have to take as many crossovers to get him moving. Plus, he knows how to stutter step when completing crossovers. So, picture Tyreek Hill or Alvin Kamara stutter stepping to confuse the defender, Chayka can stutter step just like that and then fire a dart of a shot.

Comparison

Shea Weber, Right Handed Defenseman, Montréal Canadiens

Like Shea Weber, both defensemen are roughly the same size and both possess excellent reach. In terms of physicality, Weber has shown to be more aggressive along the boards and provides big hits to neutralize the attack. If Chayka develops his physical play, the goal should be to be as physical as Weber. In addition, both defensemen have shown to have the ability to fire quality shots from the point, especially when on the power-play.


stats from InStat and EliteProspects

Prospect report written by Josh Tessler. If you would like to follow Josh on Twitter, his handle is @JoshTessler_.

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