Welcome to our first stock watch of the season. In this article we will look at a few 2020 draft eligible names who grabbed our attention because of their play on the ice over the last few weeks. So without ado here ten who we see as rising and falling early on.
Pavel Novak, Kelowna, WHL, 5’9” 170 Lbs, DOB April 16, 2002
The spunky Czech national has jumped into a primary role and been at the top of WHL rookie scoring for most of the season so far. He brings two-way play, puck skills, a goal scores shot and a high complete night after night and despite a recent suspension for a bad hit from behind he looks like a guy the Rockets can trust to slide in any role on the team. NHL teams like the versatility and skill combination he has shown so far.
Ryan Francis, RW, Cape Breton, QMJHL, 5’9” 174 Lbs, DOB December 2, 2001
The diminutive winger jumped out of the shadows early this season and has consistently been a pivotal offensive player for the newly rebranded Eagles. This slick and elusive winger utilizes his speed and small space quickness to create opportunities for himself and his teammates, has the vision to pick up the best passing option and the fortitude to take the puck to the net when the opportunity presents itself.
Tim Stutzle, C, Adler Mannheim, DEL, 6’1” 185 Lbs, DOB January 15, 2002
Coming into the season we had the German Wiz kid penciled into the middle of the first round based off his potential as an offensive contributor, but as the season started and he was impressing our evaluators game after game playing with the men in both the CHL and DEL, we soon realized that he was likely a top ten talent. The flashy forward, who has been playing wing so far this season, utilizes his elite speed and quickness, skilled hands, and excellent decision making to pill up points and play a responsible two-way game.
Noah Delemont, LD, Acadie-Bathurst, QMJHL, 5’9” 163 Lbs, DOB February 7, 2002
After looking like a projected high-end prospect last season, his first season in North America has further exposed some weaknesses in his game. The lack of size has always been a detriment, but the high-end mobility and offensive creativity was something that caught our attention. So far this season with the Titan the Swiss national has looked not only weak in physical battles and lost in defensive zone coverage but has also been too much of a risky gambler with the puck causing his stock to drop like a rock.
Tyson Foerster, C, Barrie, OHL, 6’1” 194 Lbs, DOB January 18, 2002
The top line winger in Barrie has really been a play driver on that top line, a line that includes talented playmakers Ryan Suzuki and Metaj Pekar, not just a passenger as he has improved in so many areas from last season to this. His skating and strength being the two biggest improvements to date. He likes to fire the pucks on net, showing a quick release, whenever the opportunity is there, and it has been there plenty this year. He also plays hard, forechecking, backchecking and driving the dirty areas.
Alexander Pashin, RW, Tolpar Ufa, MHL, 5’8” 154 Lbs, DOB July 28, 2002
One of the Hlinka Gretzky Cup stars from August where he put up seven goals in just five games, Pashin has continued his impressive offensive play in the MHL. At just a buck fifty, he is neither big nor strong but is plucky in that he is not afraid to play in greasy areas. The goal scoring winger drives the net when he sees a scoring opportunity and utilizes his quickness, strong decision making, skilled hands and impressive release to produce offense.
Topi Niemela, RD, Karpat, Liiga, 5’10.5” 156 Lbs, DOB March 25, 2002
A smooth skating blueliner who moves the puck quickly and effectively or just as easily can skate it up ice starting the rush himself. His feet and hands move quickly as does his head as he makes solid decisions both with and without the puck. He plays the line well on the PP and displays a strong shot for someone his stature. After a solid Hinlka Gretzky Cup he has not looked out of place taking a regular shift in the Liiga playing against men. His play has caught the eye of NHL scouts early on.
Marat Khusnutdinov, C, SKA-1946 St. Petersburg, MHL, 5’11” 176 Lbs, DOB July 17, 2002
Has been on our radar for a few years now and really impressed last year at both the U17 and the U18 Championships. A slick puck handler and an elusive, skilled centre who can make an impact at both ends. But after being picked by Erie in the CHL Import Draft and instead deciding to say at home and play on a stacked MHL roster Khusnutdinov has been off to an unimpressive start to his draft season. He needs to bring a consistent game every night in order to turn things around.
Dawson Mercer, RW/C, Drummondville, QMJHL, 6’0” 181 Lbs, DOB October 27, 2001
The Newfoundlander impressed us with his play last season and carried that impressive play into this season as he is leading the offensive charge in Drummondville with his determined play and scoring proficiency. He hunts the puck, plays a determined game and has the finishing ability to make the most out of his chances. The winger has the speed and hockey sense to one day play a top six scoring role at the NHL level and is moving up not just our rankings but most NHL lists as well.
Joni Jurmo, LD, U20, Jr. A SM-liiga, 6’3” 190 Lbs, DOB April 19, 2002
After barely being on our futures radar last season to jumping out to a hot start this season and forcing his way into the spotlight, Jurmo has plenty of tools that have us and the NHL scouts excited for his development. He is tall and rangy, uses his stick well to disrupt the play defensively, has a very strong skating stride and quicker feet than would be expected from a guy his size. He makes a solid pass, will skate with the puck and even drive down low into the attacking zone when he sees a chance to get a shot on net.