By DraftPro Staff

The IIHF World U18 Hockey Championships just wrapped up last week in Espoo and Vantaa Finland, and was a scouting hotspot as a last big event for NHL staffs who are charged with evaluating the next wave of NHL talent.

There were some bright spots for the upcoming 2024 NHL draft that stood out and some future draft eligibles that really grabbed the spotlight. In this ten-part series we will look at each team entry and provide some review of prospects, how they performed and how their performance might have affected their draft stock. We will start with the last place team, Kazakhstan, and work our way through to the gold medal winning Canadian squad.

Norway, being one of the weaker teams in the tournament, was not expected to make a major impact as a team in this tournament. However, the team still had memorable moments with the best one being the team’s win against Kazakhstan in a shootout which saved the Norway U18 team from relegation next season. Throughout the tournament there were some prospects who impressed and those who did not fulfill expectations.

Here are some player reports from our John Peters on the Norwegian U18 players that stood out.

#22 F, Elias Vatne, Norway (Färjestad BK J20, J20 Nationell), 5’9”, 165, L, DOB 04.21.2006

An undersized playmaker that played a pivotal role in Norway’s win against Kazakhstan which saved Norway U18 from relegation. The game against Kazakhstan was by far his most impressive outing. In the game he led the way with a goal and three points in regulation, which was then followed up by his clutch performance in the shootout where he would score not one but two shootout goals to win his team the game. He was an impact player for Norway throughout the tournament and led the team in assists with 6 in 5 games. His offensive creativity stood out on the team with the way he would skate with the puck in the offensive zone using his speed and quick cuts to create time and space for passing lanes to open. He also demonstrated the willingness to drive to the front of the net and create scoring chances in tight. He was arguably Norway’s top player in the tournament. Due to his size, lack of high-end speed, and weak shot, he will likely go undrafted. Even if his name is not called on draft day, this event will be one he will never forget for his outstanding performance.

#17 F, Mathias Dehli, Norway (Mora IK, HockeyAllsvenskan), 6’2”, 187, R, DOB 01.13.2006

A big center that plays a power forward type game. On more than one occasion he drove to the front of the net by lowering his shoulder and using his weight to create separation from the defender leading to a scoring chance for himself. In the tournament, he relied heavily on his size and strength to hold onto the puck and create scoring chances for his team. His skating ability is one of his biggest weaknesses. He has a slow first step and his top speed is below average for his age group. Additionally, he struggles to make crisp passes to teammates in tight windows and does not see the ice as well as one would like. His shot and size are the greatest gifts he has at this stage. Additionally, he has some pretty good hands which was demonstrated on one of his goals against Kazakhstan where he made a powerful move to the net. Overall, he is a serious project and at best will be a fourth line guy in the NHL. He did impress enough to at least earn consideration for the 2024 NHL draft.

#16 F, Mikkel Eriksen, Norway (Valerenga U20, Norway U20), 5’11”, 181, L, DOB 09.13.2007

Eriksen led the team in goals for the tournament with 4 goals in 5 games played. The centerman played a strong two-way game with little flashes of skill here and there. At times, he was physically outmatched and easily knocked off the puck. With another year of physical development, he should fare much better at the tournament next season. All his goals scored in the tournament were scored within 5-10 feet of the crease. He showed a willingness to skate hard to the front of the net and open up for one-timers and to put home rebounds. He played a simple and smart game and was a huge reason why Norway won their game against Kazakhstan, scoring 2 goals and 3 points. Overall, he had an impressive tournament for a D-1 season and has a promising future with the potential of being a mid-round pick in next year’s NHL draft.   

#15 F, Jorgen Myhre, Norway (Färjestad BK J20, J20 Nationell), 6’0”, 203, L, DOB 09.22.2006

A playmaking forward who is eligible for the 2025 NHL draft. In the tournament he showed flashes of his playmaking ability and improved his game as the tournament went on. He is a hard-working forward that plays a strong 2-way game, but he lacks the puck handling skills, speed, and shot to someday become a top-9 contributor at the NHL level. Major improvements are needed for him to ever make the NHL, and even if he does the ceiling is low. His continued improvement in play throughout the tournament is what stuck out most.

#5 D, Ludvig Lafton, Norway (Frisk Asker U20, Norway U20), 6’2”, 187, L, DOB 01.11.2006

The big left-shot defensive defenseman was playing in this tournament to earn a spot in the 2024 NHL draft. Struggled against speed and skill. He has slow feet and is a very upright skater which limits his ability to generate speed and explosiveness in his skating. His physical play and smarts compensated for a lot of this. He was especially strong along the boards in the defensive zone at eliminating opponents from play. Was called upon to play in all situations even though he is not an offensively gifted player. A very low ceiling and has a lot of work to do to someday crack a lineup in the NHL. He impressed defensively and was far and away Norway’s most reliable defender throughout the tournament.


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