Brno, Czech Republic — This time, we’re not only heading back to the top countries, but also further into the future. Let’s take a look at those players that will be drafted after the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. And we’ll start with the champions again.
It wasn’t just the defence but all members of Team USA which were led by captain, Seth Jones. Son of former NBA player Popeye Jones and native of Plano, Texas, Jones is a responsible defenceman whose potential is extremely high. He could become as good as able to challenge Jarome Iginla as the best ever black hockey player.
Jones has good size and can reach almost anywhere using his stick. When you try to overpower him, you’re not going to unless you are at least a 6-foot-3, 200-pound power forward. If he works on his shot, Jones could become a serious threat to Zdeno Chára’s record at the Superskills Competitions. It only depends on Jones how much he’ll practice. The fact is that he definitely has potential to shine in the NHL and be a franchise number-one rearguard with leadership to lead his team to a Stanley Cup. Plus, he’s just recently signed with the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League.
In the offence, Ryan Hartman will be draft-eligible next year, but he already managed to be one of the team leaders in point-scoring. He really often fires the puck so you either have an impression that he’s all over the ice or wasting a lot of opportunities. None of that is true though, he’s just a hard-working character forward. The same applies for J. T. Compher, who is rather a hard-nosed smallish winger, with the ability to center a line and put a lot of pressure on net.
Also, Anthony Louis did a great job on a penalty kill and William Butcher played strong even though getting low ice time. These two, plus Compher, will return to the team for the next year’s U-18 Championship in Sochi, Russia.
Team Sweden seemed much more about the more distant future. In the two games I saw them play, Gustav Possler impressed me the most, working really hard and putting up some good numbers. He was the one who sent Sweden to the finals, performing really well in the semis against Finland. His linemate Alexander Wennberg was much more about skill and scoring. Let’s see if these two combine for another Forsberg-Collberg tandem next year. It could absolutely happen.
There is a need to mention Jacob de la Rose who managed to score a few goals despite playing in the fourth line. With more ice time, his stats would have likely risen close to two-digits in point-scoring. Linus Arnesson is a promising offensive blueliner, but should keep his head up while carrying the puck through open ice. André Burakowsky shows a lot of willingness and hard work with the puck. Elias Lindholm took advantage of his skills and got to a couple chances, too. He, Burakowsky and de la Rose made up the Swedish fourth line and made it a big surprise.
Two of Team Canada‘s most promising 1994-born players won’t be drafted until the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. One of them is Hunter Shinkaruk who played with will, physicality and an accurate shot. Tough and versatile, he scored a hat trick and the overtime-winner in Canada’s win over Finland in the bronze-medal game. One of his teammates, Kerby Rychel, is a son of former NHL’er and current Windsor Spitfires GM, Warren Rychel. Also a native of Los Angeles, California, Kerby plays under his father in Windsor and took up a lot of talent from him. He’s much like Shinakruk – tough, hard-nosed and hard-working — not such a natural goal-scorer though.
Second-line rearguards Darnell Nurse and Josh Morrissey made up a line which you wouldn’t want to send your skillful guys against. They like to throw their weight around, especially Nurse, who also got into a lot of altercations, maybe the most of all players at the championship alongside USA’s Compher. Morrissey is much more peaceful, but Nurse seemed to be both more solid at his own end and much more of a threat in the offensive zone.
Stay tuned to catch the next installment of the series, where we’ll evaluate Finnish, Russian, German and Danish 2013-draft prospects.