• Alex Taxman

2020 NHL Draft Rankings - Europe Edition

Updated: May 7

Welcome to Future Scope Hockey’s third and final regional breakdown of the 2020 NHL Draft, focusing on the top 30 first time draft eligible players playing in Europe. There’s a short paragraph on each player, breaking down both their game and overall season performance. Following each player’s writeup, I placed a few of my favorite highlights of theirs. The top of this list should be very familiar to most people who follow the draft, but there’s some interesting sleepers further towards the bottom. Enjoy!

1 | Tim Stutzle, C/W | Germany | Adler Mannheim | 6’0 | 187 lbs

Tim Stutzle is an absolute phenom. He combines elite speed with elite skill, and will be having NHL teams drooling come draft day. Stutzle is the best East/West skater in this draft, and one of the best in recent draft memory. He accelerates so quickly, and once he hits his top speed, it’s so tough to stop him. Along with his speed, Stutzle’s puck handling is extremely polished. He can make plays at top speed, and it looks like he’s got the puck on a string the whole time. The DEL isn’t a bad league at all, and Stutzle just dominated it as a U18 player. His 0.83 points per game ranks 1st all time among draft eligible players in the DEL. He’s got first line scoring potential for sure, but with his speed, Stutzle could develop into a fantastic two-way player one day.

2 | Alexander Holtz, RW | Sweden | Djurgardens IF | 6’0 | 183 lbs

Alexander Holtz is the best goal scorer in the draft. His shot is elite in every way, and he’s been showing it off for years. Coming into this season, I was very high on Holtz, but hadn’t seen a ton from him other than his skating, hands, and shooting ability. In the SuperElit, Holtz could score from nearly anywhere in the offensive zone, and it resulted in him not having to work very hard for most of his goals. That’s not a knock on him at all, he was simply too good and was taking advantage of it. This season, Holtz was a full time SHL player, and he’s looked incredible. His skating has improved since last season, and it looks like he’s added another gear of speed too. In addition to that, Holtz’s passing game was greatly improved. He made so many high level plays to his teammates, and really learned how to use his shot to distract goaltenders and defensemen. When it comes to his defensive play, Holtz isn’t great, but he’s very aggressive and will often take risks to get the puck back. He’s evolved into a much more dynamic and complete forward, and has true top line, 40 goal potential in the NHL.

3 | Lucas Raymond, RW | Sweden | Frolunda HC | 5’10 | 165 lbs

Lucas Raymond is a high speed, high skill winger, with the potential to evolve into a gamebreaker. For the past few years, Raymond has been heralded as one of the most skilled forwards in the 2020 crop, and he’s gotten better at every level. His overall skating ability is the best in the draft, and his edgework is beyond elite. Raymond can accelerate and change speeds so easily, and has been a transition and breakaway threat all season in the SHL. Along with his skating ability, Raymond’s hands are elite. They’re so quick and deceptive, and he can pull off some of the most impressive moves among all draft eligibles. When it comes to making plays, there’s not many players in this draft better than Raymond. He sees the ice so well, and is able to break the ice open with a pass. He’s also a very good shooter, and owns a wicked release. Defensively, he’s a pest with his speed, but doesn’t make too much of an impact. Raymond’s overall potential is high end, and he could end up being a point per game type of player in the NHL.

4 | Noel Gunler, RW | Sweden | Lulea HF | 6’1 | 176 lbs

Noel Gunler is one of my favorite players in this draft. He’s an all around winger with some elite goal scoring ability, and can impact the game in so many ways. Gunler’s skating is great, and he plays with a lot of speed. He’s a really solid puck handler too, with the ability to burn a defenseman with a deke. The premier aspect of Gunler’s game is his shot, and he’s able to score from nearly anywhere. His wrist shot and one timer are equally dangerous, and he’s also got some great net front finishing ability. He hasn’t shown a ton of playmaking potential, but there have been some flashes of high end vision this year. Defensively, Gunler is fantastic. He’s always engaged in the play, trying to break it up with his stick, and is constantly springing odd man rushes for his team. He can steal the puck in his own end, take it all the way up the ice, and put it top shelf. There’s not many players who fit that mold, and it should have an NHL team calling his name sometime before pick #15. Gunler’s got one of the higher floors among forwards in this draft, and some very intriguing scoring potential.

5 | Anton Lundell, C | Finland | Helsinki IFK | 6’1 | 183 lbs

Anton Lundell is a hockey coach’s dream. He’s a true all situations centerman, with top shutdown potential. He’s already on the larger side at 6’1, but Lundell plays with a massive presence, like he’s 6’4. He can do absolutely everything, and do it very well. Some people say Lundell lacks high end skill, and I’d disagree. When I watch Lundell (in one of the top 5 pro leagues in the world), he’s nearly always one of the more skilled players on the ice. I think the reason there’s so many mixed opinions on Lundell is that he has all the skill, he just doesn’t use it as often as some of the other top prospects this year. Lundell would rather get the puck from point A to point B as effectively as possible vs as stylishly as possible. However, when someone interrupts his rush, he’ll hit them with a quick between the legs move and leave them in the dust. Lundell also has an elite shooting toolkit, with one of the better backhands in the draft. He’s never going to be the fastest player on the ice, but he’s got a powerful stride and with some work, should be able to keep up with the NHL game just fine.

6 | Yaroslav Askarov, G | Russia | SKA-Neva St. Petersburg | 6’3 | 176 lbs

Yaroslav Askarov is the best goalie available this year, and one of the best in recent draft memory. He also happens to be one of the most interesting and unconventional goalies I’ve ever watched. His feet are always moving, no matter what. It looks like he’s twitching in the net, from what I’ve read it’s a style that he feels works best for him. On top of that, he’s ridiculously athletic and can move between the pipes with crazy agility. Because he’s not unconventional enough already, he also catches with his right hand. Askarov is one interesting dude, and a heck of a goalie.

credit to TPE Hockey for putting together this great highlight reel of Askarov:


7 | Rodion Amirov, LW | Russia | Salavat Yulaev | 6’0 | 168 lbs

Rodion Amirov is yet another tantalizing Russian prospect. He’s got some of the best puck protection and play driving skills of any player in this draft. Amirov can hold onto the puck forever, weaving his way along the boards in the offensive zone waiting for an opening. To go along with that, he’s got a pair of really quick hands and can burn defensemen with his skill. He didn’t look out of place whatsoever in the KHL, and flat out dominated the MHL. Amirov’s shot is also dangerous, as he’s shown that he can score consistently, and from distance. Although he’s listed at only 168 pounds, checkers just seem to bounce off of him. He’s an absolute bull already, and will only get better as he gets stronger.

8 | Marat Khusnutdinov, C | Russia | SKA-1946 St. Petersburg | 5’9 |

165 lbs

Marat Khustnutdinov is flat out the most fun player to watch in this draft. He’s got some of the quickest feet I’ve ever seen, and a seemingly limitless compete level. Khusnutdinov plays with so much speed in all three zones, and plays an elite two-way game. He’s one of the best forecheckers in the entire draft, and consistently knocks down passes with his hand-eye. While maintaining a consistent defensive presence, Khusnutdinov oozes skill on offense. He’s so quick when he gets the puck, and has a sick pair of hands. I think his shooting ability is a bit underrated, he doesn’t have the quickest release in the world but he picks his spots like a true sniper. He thinks the game at such a high level at both ends of the ice, and I think if he was 6’1, he’d be a surefire top 5 pick. I honestly believe he deserved to play in the KHL or at least the VHL this year, as he was just too good for the MHL (and his linemates) most of the time. He’s also a July birthday, which means he could be primed for a huge D+1 season.

9 | Veeti Miettinen, RW | Finland | Kiekko Espoo U20 | 5’9 | 159 lbs

Veeti Miettinen has been one of my favorite players to watch for the last two years. He absolutely dominated the Jr. A SM-Liiga this year, posting 42 goals and 73 points in 52 games. In the beginning of the season, I was bewildered that he hadn’t spent any time in the Liiga, but when news broke of his commitment to St. Cloud State, it made sense. Miettinen is a highly skilled winger, with an elite shooting toolkit. His wrist shot is wicked, his one timer is crazy powerful, and he can finish in front of the net as well as anyone. The puck comes off his stick with ridiculous velocity, and it finds the back of the net more often than not. Along with his elite shot, Miettinen sees the ice very well, and completes the majority of his passes. He’s got a very quick stride, and his speed can be dangerous when he gets going. I expect Miettinen to be a massive part of St. Cloud’s offense as early as next season, and I think he’ll greatly outperform his draft position.

10 | Roni Hirvonen, C | Finland | Assat | 5’9 | 163 lbs

Roni Hirvonen is really, really good. He was a full time Liiga player this season, and didn’t look out of place whatsoever. He’s a very fast and agile skater, with a nearly flawless stride. Hirvonen sees the ice at a high level, and is one of the best passers in the draft. He controls the puck really well at all speeds, and can quickly change directions in the neutral zone while carrying the puck. Defensively, Hirvonen uses his speed and stick to disrupt plays and reach loose pucks, and he made a positive defensive impact in several of the games I watched this season. In the offensive zone, Hirvonen is primarily a playmaker, and finds the most success playing behind the net. He also wins a ton of board battles for a player his size, and is strong enough to protect the puck against men. He’s the type of player who can break the ice wide open with a pass, and he makes some plays that most players wouldn’t even dream of. Hirvonen’s shot is a bit lacking, but his net front finishing ability is fantastic, as he just seems to find loose pucks at will. He could end up being a star in the NHL.

11 | Topi Niemela, RHD | Finland | Karpat | 6’0 | 163 lbs

Topi Niemela is one of the most reliable defenders in this draft, and has some really intriguing upside. He’s a fantastic skater, especially North/South, with high end transition ability for a defenseman. Niemela can be depended on to carry the puck through the neutral zone in all situations, and likes to jump up into the rush when he doesn’t have possession. In his own zone, Niemela maintains a steady presence with his mobility and stick checking ability, but he could benefit from being more physical. He’s also prone to some lapses in judgement, but his defensive play isn’t what has me excited about his potential. When he’s got the puck, Niemela can execute some really impressive plays. His aforementioned zone entry ability is among the best in the draft, and he sees the ice very well in the offensive zone. Niemela makes quick decisions from the point, and is really evasive with the puck. He’s also looking to shoot on most plays, and has a cannon when he lets it go. He doesn’t have the most polished offensive skills like some of his peers, but he’s shown some flashes and the potential is definitely there. He’s good at nearly everything, and with his skating ability, has the potential to evolve into a top four defenseman.

12 | Lukas Reichel, LW | Germany | Eisbaren Berlin | 6’0 | 172 lbs

Lukas Reichel is the third high end German player available in this draft, and had one of the better pro seasons of all draft eligibles in the world. Reichel scored 12 goals and 12 assists for 24 points in 42 DEL games, while averaging just 13 minutes per game. That’s some really impressive production on the surface, and it’s even more impressive given that he played third line minutes. Reichel’s game is all about speed. He’s a fast and shifty skater with some really great agility through the neutral zone. When he carries the puck with speed, he’s able to evade checkers and change directions easily. He’s also got a pair of dynamic hands, and his stickhandling ability is very polished. He makes little plays along the boards and in front of the net exceptionally well, and can also make touch passes with some serious accuracy. His wrist shot is also dangerous when he’s given time, but I don’t see him as much of a goal scorer at the next level. I think he’ll be a complementary top six winger who can defend and make plays, likely maxing out around 60 points.

13 | Zion Nybeck, LW | Sweden | HV71 J20 | 5’8 | 176 lbs

Zion Nybeck is smart, skilled, and fast, the ideal combination for a winger. Any concerns about size can be erased with him, as he’s an absolute bull for a 5’8 guy. Nybeck isn’t afraid of any sort of contact, and is one of the more aggressive and physical players in this draft. He’s really strong, and is able to maintain a low center of gravity at all times, making it tough to take the puck away from him. Nybeck is also really quick, and can burn defenders with his speed. His puck handling ability is high end, and coupled with his speed, he can be a real threat on the rush. In addition, his shooting ability is great. He can pick corners from distance with his wrister, and he’s also got a really heavy and accurate one timer. Nybeck’s also not afraid to battle for position in front of the net, and finds rebounds often. He’s the kind of swiss army knife player who can play anywhere in a lineup, but he’s also got some undeniable scoring potential.

14 | Emil Andrae, LHD | Sweden | HV71 J20 | 5’9 | 183 lbs

Emil Andrae is a smooth skating, highly skilled offensive defenseman. Andrae can handle and distribute the puck as well as any defenseman in this draft, and he’s got some real scoring potential at the next level. Although undersized, Andrae is a strong defender who maintains a consistent presence in his own zone. He loses physical battles from time to time, but there’s not much he can do about that. He makes up for his vertical disadvantage by having an excellent stick, disrupting anything that passes through his domain. In the offensive zone, Andrae walks the line extremely well, and is able to see and hit open teammates at an elite level. He’s got a dangerous wrister when he steps in to use it, and his one timer is pretty great too. Andrae has top four, power play potential in the NHL, and will almost certainly go in the first round.

15 | Dmitri Ovchinnikov, RW | Russia | Sibirskie | 5’10 | 161 lbs

Dmitri Ovchinnikov was an unknown coming into this season, after posting just 7 points in 40 MHL games in his D-1 season. This year, Ovchinnikov exploded with 24 goals and 55 points in 54 MHL games, and proved to be one of the most dynamic offensive forwards coming out of Russia. Ovchinnikov’s game is pure speed. His feet are ridiculously fast, and they never stop moving. Ovchinnikov jets around the ice effortlessly, and changes directions better than most of his peers. In addition to that, he’s highly skilled. Ovchinnikov’s puck control is so polished, and he’s able to maintain control of the puck through traffic and tight spaces easily. In the offensive zone, Ovchinnikov can circle forever with the puck, without being touched. He sees the ice at a high level, and is a master at drawing defenders in, and then hitting a now wide open teammate. He’s also got a fantastic shooting toolkit, with one of the quickest releases in the draft. He’s going to get drafted much, much later than he should, and whichever team ends up with him is going to be very happy. Ovchinnikov’s probably gonna cook over in Russia for a while after he’s drafted, but he’s got legit top six scoring potential in the NHL.

16 | John-Jason Peterka, LW | Germany | EHC Munchen | 5’11 | 192 lbs

JJ Peterka has been one of my biggest risers over the course of the last two seasons. Peterka originally caught my eye with a crazy statline in the Czech U19 league, and looked great for team Germany in international showcases. I had him pegged as more of a mid round guy coming into this season, but he’s proved me very wrong. Peterka played this season in the DEL, posting 7 goals and 11 points in 42 games. He’s a really strong skater, with a great top speed, and fantastic edgework. He’s also got a pair of really slick hands, and can make plays at a high level. Peterka is engaged in all situations, and maintains a strong defensive presence for a winger. His shooting ability is very solid, and he’s got a really heavy one timer. Peterka performed a lot better than his numbers would lead someone to believe, and he’s got the potential to be a top six winger in the NHL some day.

17 | Joni Jurmo, LHD | Finland | Jokerit | 6’4 | 190 lbs

Joni Jurmo is a crazy good skater for someone who’s 6’4, and that’s not the only thing to like about his game. Jurmo is an excellent puck carrier, and a standout player in the offensive zone. He can move the puck at a high level, and he can circle the offensive zone for ages, maintaining possession with his elite skating ability. To go along with that, Jurmo’s shot is lethal. His one timer is so heavy, and it creates rebounds more often than not. Defensively, Jurmo isn’t the shutdown presence that he could be, but he’s tough to get past, and doesn’t make a ton of mistakes. He uses his reach to his advantage and is effective at clearing the front of the net, but that’s about it. Jurmo’s NHL potential lies with his skating and puck moving ability. While still raw, Jurmo has the potential to evolve into a gamebreaker on the back end.

18 | Alexander Pashin, C/W | Russia | Tolpar Ufa | 5’8 | 155 lbs

Alexander Pashin is another very fun player to watch out of the MHL. Similar to Khusnutdinov, Pashin is a high speed, high energy forward, with some extremely quick feet. Pashin is so skilled, and has some of the best/quickest hands in the draft. He’s dynamic with the puck on his stick, and can break games open with his speed. Pashin’s puck handling ability coupled with his speed make him a constant threat, whether it be on the rush, or in the offensive zone. In addition, he’s got a very accurate wrist shot, with a lightning quick release. For a small player, he’s not very afraid of contact, but I’ve had some really mixed viewings in that department. I’ve seen him hold his own physically against multiple KHLers at once, but I’ve also seen him get dominated physically by players of his own age. When it comes to defense, there’s not much to talk about other than his forechecking ability. He enters the zone at top speed, and can be a pest for defensemen trying to break out. Pashin’s more of a long term project, but has the potential to be a top nine scoring winger in the NHL.

19 | Helge Grans, RHD | Sweden | Malmo Redhawks J20 | 6’2 | 183 lbs

Helge Grans fits the mold for the ideal new age NHL defenseman. He’s big, he can skate extremely well, and he can move the puck quickly and efficiently. Grans’s premier tool is his mobility, he can escape cover and accelerate up the ice so well, and he’s also got some solid offensive instincts. Grans moves the puck well on offense, and he’s a steady, patient presence on the point. He’s got a strong wrist shot when he steps in to use it, and a solid slap shot as well. Defensively, Grans keeps tight gaps with his skating, and while he isn’t the most dominant player in his own zone, defense isn’t much of an issue with him. He makes the right decisions the majority of the time, and can be sent over the boards in any situation. I don’t think there’s a ton of offensive potential with him, but he could conceivably evolve into a top four, all situations defender in the NHL.

20 | William Wallinder, LHD | Sweden | MODO Hockey J20 | 6’4 | 192 lbs

William Wallinder, like Grans, is another elite skater on the back end. For someone who’s 6’4, Wallinder can absolutely fly up the ice. To go along with that, he’s got a really slick pair of hands for a defenseman, and it makes him a really great transition player. Wallinder is also effective in the offensive zone, with the ability to make plays at a consistent clip. His mobility allows him to walk the line and survey his options better than most of his peers, and he’s got a pretty good wrister as well. He’s got offensive potential, but his defensive game really needs work. I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen him get burned in situations where his skating should be able to carry him through with ease. He doesn’t have great awareness in his own zone, and could also stand to use his long reach to his advantage more. Being 6’4, he could also use his body to his advantage more. He’s not completely disengaged on defense to the point where I’d label him a “do not draft”, but it’s something that he really needs to work on. He’ll likely go somewhere in the top 50, and will be a project for whoever drafts him.

21 | Roby Jarventie, LW | Finland | Ilves | 6’2 | 185 lbs

Roby Jarventie is another one my personal favorites, and of the more NHL ready forwards that’s going to be available in rounds 2-3. He spent the majority of this season playing in the Mesits, Finland’s second tier pro league, and put up some crazy numbers. Jarventie scored 23 goals and 15 assists for 38 points in 36 games, as a U18 player. Jarventie is an excellent skater, with an elite top speed. He plays hard in every situation, and has some sneaky skill to go along with that. Jarventie buzzes around the ice when he doesn’t have possession, trying to disrupt anything that comes near him, making him one of the best 200 foot players in the draft. When he gets the puck, he’s looking to move it up the ice as fast as possible, and loves to cut to the net by himself. Jarventie thrives when he goes one on one with a defenseman, as he can more often than not burn him with his speed. When he gets an opportunity to shoot, Jarventie has a deadly wrist shot, and can get it off in the blink of an eye. His release is so quick, and it’s one of the reasons he scored 23 goals in 36 games in a professional league. It’s also worth noting that Jarventie is on the younger side for this draft, and could be primed for a massive D+1 season. While he’s not the most dynamic of players, and doesn’t make plays all that well, Jarventie has all the tools to be a very effective NHL player. I think 30 goals isn’t out of the question, and I believe he could thrive anywhere in a lineup.

22 | Emil Heineman, LW | Sweden | Leksands IF J20 | 6’0 | 179 lbs

Emil Heineman came out of nowhere and posted one of the most dominant statlines in recent SuperElit memory. Scoring 26 goals and 41 points in 29 games, Heineman’s 1.41 points per game ranked 5th among all draft eligibles playing in Sweden’s top junior circuit. When it comes to evaluating Heineman’s game, he just does everything well. He skates really well, he handles the puck really well, he sees the ice really well, and he’s a top notch finisher. Heineman is engaged in all situations, and is so dangerous with the puck on his stick. He’s able to control the puck through heavy traffic, and has the hands to undress a goaltender en route to a finish. Heineman isn’t flashy, but plays hard, and gets rewarded for it more often than not. I’m not sure there’s any high end upside to his game, but it’s easy to envision him as a complementary top nine winger in the NHL.

23 | Kasper Simontaival, C/W | Finland | Tappara | 5’9 | 172 lbs

Kasper Simontaival is pure offense. He has a dynamic scorer’s toolkit, with some of the best hands in the draft. His wrist shot is also top notch, and he’s shown the ability to pick corners from distance. Simontaival loves having the puck on his stick, and has a level of patience rarely seen in young prospects. He’s able to see lanes before they open up, and either hit teammates in them, or jump into them himself. Simontaival plays at a high pace with the puck on his stick, and is also a very effective forechecker. There’s not many players in this draft who can create instant offense like he can, but he’s got a few issues that still need to be ironed out. While the pace of his game is fast, his skating speed isn’t quite there. There’s nothing really wrong with his stride, but Simontaival’s top speed isn’t NHL level. Regardless, he’s still a fantastic offensive prospect, and should be gone before pick 60.

24 | Theodor Niederbach, C | Sweden | Frolunda J20 | 5’11 | 172 lbs

Theodor Niederbach is one of the best North/South skaters in this draft. He’s unbelievably fast, and that translated to a disproportionate amount of breakaway opportunities for him this season. Niederbach is able to break the ice wide open with his speed, and he loves to take the puck directly to the net. When he’s not flying around the ice, Niederbach has excellent puck control and vision, and can be depended on to provide offense from the half wall or behind the net. His hands are really quick, and he’s a really solid distributor. Niederbach is also excellent defensively, using his speed to disrupt breakouts consistently, and breaking up plays in his own zone. I’m not convinced that there’s a ton of offensive upside with him, but it’s easy to envision Niederbach as a high tempo, penalty killing center in the NHL.

25 | Daniel Torgersson, C/W | Sweden | Frolunda HC J20 | 6’3 | 205 lbs

Daniel Torgersson is another Swedish sniper available in this year’s draft. Torgersson’s goal scoring ability is fantastic, as he can score in a multitude of ways. He’s got a great wrist shot, a really heavy one timer, and can find loose pucks in front of the net with consistency. He’s pretty mobile for a bigger guy, but I think his skating could be improved greatly. His first few steps are great, but he’s got trouble maintaining his top speed all the way to the net. Torgersson’s hands are pretty quick as well, and he’s shown the ability to dance through cover at a relatively high level. Defensively, he breaks up a lot of plays with his stick, and rarely gets caught out of position. He’s got a ton of intriguing physical tools to go along with his A+ shot, so I’d bet a team will take him somewhere in the second round. I think there’s still a long way to go until he’s an impact NHL player, but the potential is undeniable.

26 | Alexander Nikishin, LHD | Russia | Spartak Moskva | 6’3 | 196 lbs

Alexander Nikishin’s season was disappointing, but I’m not ready to give up on him yet. Nikishin has been one of the best defenders among his age group for the past few years, and has a unique, throwback skillset. Nikishin skates like a new age defenseman, but is one of, if not the most punishing hitters in this draft. Every single time an opponent skates in on him, Nikishin is looking to make him pay physically. He’s so strong, and has laid some of the most devastating hits I’ve seen in junior hockey. In addition to his skating ability and physicality, Nikishin has shown flashes of serious offensive potential, making high risk/reward plays from the blue line. He also has a rocket of a slap shot, and uses it quite often. While he didn’t look great in the KHL this year, he’s still young and has the potential to evolve into a legit top four defenseman.

27 | Eemil Viro, LHD | Finland | TPS | 6’0 | 168 lbs

Eemil Viro is one of the “safer” picks when it comes to defensemen in this draft. He’s a super physical defender, with no real holes in his game. Viro skates very well, defends very well, and moves the puck at a decent level on offense. There’s not much to talk about when it comes to his offensive game, but he’ll surprise with a high level play every now and then. The value in Viro’s game comes from his defensive presence, as he rarely gets beat straight up. He’s engaged in every play, and doing everything he can to get the puck back for his team. He won’t be drafted to provide offense in the NHL, and his offensive deficiencies will likely limit his upside, but I think he’s a lock to be a solid NHL defender.

28 | Anton Johannesson, LHD | Sweden | HV71 J20 | 5’9 | 154 lbs

Anton Johannesson is a pure offensive defenseman, who plays a style very similar to his teammate, Emil Andrae. Johannesson is a quick and dynamic skater in all three zones, and has some really great puck handling ability. He’s also one of the better shooters from the back end in this draft. Johanneson can run a power play from the point, and he sees the ice exceptionally well. His 8 goals and 24 points in 20 SuperElit games are further proof of his offensive prowess, and he’s got the potential to be a go to guy for offense at the next level. Johannessons’s defensive game is really lacking however, and he loses most all physical battles at 5’9 and 154 pounds. He’s another longer term project, but the potential is certainly there for him to evolve into a power play quarterback in the NHL.

29 | Samuel Knazko, LHD | Slovakia | TPS Turku | 6’0 | 185 lbs

Samuel Knazko’s got a really intriguing toolkit for a defenseman. I wrote in depth about him earlier this season, and compared his wrist shot to Adam Boqvist’s. That’s a lofty comparison, but well warranted. Knazko’s wrist shot is crazy good for a defenseman. He can pick corners from the blue line consistently, and also score from some ridiculous angles. He gets the puck off really quickly, and has that Boqvist-esque slingshot release. In addition to his shooting ability, Knazko is a really good skater. He’s light on his feet, agile, and uses tons of linear crossovers to gain speed through the neutral zone. He’s one of the better puck carriers among defensemen in this draft, and can be depended on to lead the rush. He also distributes the puck very well, and can run a power play from the point. Knazko isn’t that great of a defender, and can get beat one on one frequently. He’s not too physical either, and could benefit from using his body more. It’s not due to a lack of effort, he’s engaged when it comes to defense, but he’s just not good. It’s something he’ll continue to work on over the next few years, but the potential to be a puck moving defenseman in the NHL is definitely there. I imagine he’s gone before the start of round four.

30 | Mikael Pyyhtia, C/W | Finland | TPS | 5’11 | 174 lbs

Mikael Pyyhtia has been one of the better stories of this season. Before this year, I knew nothing of Pyyhtia other than that he existed. He’d never been a big producer at any level, but he exploded this year with 11 goals and 30 assists in 42 games. It’s tough to explain Pyyhtia’s sudden spike in production, but he’s an exceptionally smart hockey player. Pyyhtia thrives with the puck, creating top notch opportunities for himself and his teammates. He sees the ice like a chessboard, and rarely makes a mistake. His skating is technically flawless, but he doesn’t have a great top speed. He’s more of a playmaker than shooter but as you’ll see below, he’s got a wicked shot. Pyyhtia isn’t the flashiest of players, but he’ll take you out of your seat every now and then. If he can add some speed, he can be a real gamebreaker.

Thanks for reading!