By DraftPro Staff
December 22, 2020
This week’s IIHF U20 World Junior Championships will be a welcome distraction to the global pandemic that has negatively affected so many of us. While there are gobs of NHL drafted prospects, many who are soon to be in the NHL, who will likely take the spotlight in Edmonton, below are a few names we are looking forward to seeing on the ice that are yet to become NHL property.
While there is no Alexis Lafreniere type of prospects in this group who can take over the tournament as a draft eligible performer like the New Your Ranger top pick did last Christmas, there are plenty of talented names to keep an eye on this year.
Below we provide reports on what to expect of the top ten names we are excited to see in Edmonton.
MATTHEW BENIER, C, MICHIGAN (NCAA), 6’1″, 168, L, DOB 11.05.2002
TEAM USA – 2021 NHL DRAFT ELIGIBLE
“I have watched multiple Michigan games this year, and Benier’s plays in all situations for the Wolverines and is effective in all of them as well, his skating is an asset for him as he is able to skate around guys or willing to drive hard to the net, he has really good play making ability. Matthew has exception hockey sense as well and it serves him well as the coaching staff trust him to be out on the ice late while protecting a lead. Defensively he is really responsible and often has an active stick especially on the penalty kill trying to take away passing lanes or options.” – Draft Prospects Hockey’s Willem Dezwaan
JESPER WALLSTEDT, G, LULEA (SHL), 6’2, 214, L, DOB 11.14.2002
TEAM SWEDEN – 2021 NHL DRAFT ELIGIBLE
“Jesper is a skilled goalie with a large frame that plays a calming factor between the pipes. Wallstedt has all the qualities you want in a starting goalie at the NHL level from athleticism, poise, size and even IQ. He has a solid feel for the game but is constantly calm in the net and plays with a ton of poise. He is agile side to side and never gives up on a play. He doesn’t let goals affect him and I think his demeanor in the net is a huge factor in his ability to give confidence to his team.” – Draft Prospects Hockey’s Matt Morrison
STANISLAV SVOZIL, D, HC KOMETA BRNO (EXTRALIGA), 6’1”, 172, L, DOB 1.17.2003
TEAM CZECH REPUBLIC – 2021 NHL DRAFT ELIGIBLE
“Plays a two-way game. Good speed. Reads the game well and has a very high IQ on both ends. Has no problem to playing under pressure. Plays power-plays and penalty killing. He controls the gap space very well. Physically, near the boards especially, he is strong enough to play effectively against the bigger players. He is also very fast and has no problems with carrying the puck, so he has good potential in the transition game. His reactions and decisions are right. Makes a great pass.” – Draft Prospects Hockey’s Simon Cop
OSKAR OLAUSSON, W, HV71 (SHL), 6’2”, 181, DOB 10.11.2002
TEAM SWEDEN – 2021 NHL DRAFT ELIGIBLE
“A very smooth skating forward who plays at a high pace, has very strong strides can take three strides and be at full speed, will beat a defender wide with speed. Has a nose for the net and makes the right choice to shoot, or to pass to the open teammate. Has a quick release on a wrist shot that is quite heavy. Knows the spots on the ice to be in to score. Plays a good 200-foot game, is first line penalty kill, a hard worker and forechecker.” – Draft Prospects Hockey’s Seth Jack
DANIIL CHAYKA, D, GUELPH (OHL), 6’2”, 187, L, DOB 10.22.2002
TEAM RUSSIA – 2021 NHL DRAFT ELIGIBLE
“Lengthy, fluid skating, two-way defender. Brings a sense of calm and poise when he carries the puck. Makes the correct decisions all over the ice. Moves rather well for his size, allowing him to stay involved in the play. Uses his reach to guide opponents to less dangerous areas. Not overly physical but will use his size to win puck battles. Big time point shot. A howitzer of a slapper. A solid passer as well. Impressive vision.” – Draft Prospects Hockey’s Dan Stewart
SAMUEL HELENIUS, C, JYP (LIIGA), 6’6”, 201, L, DOB 11.26.2002
TEAM FINLAND – 2021 NHL DRAFT ELIGIBLE
“A really versatile forward. He’s playing in center position and has proved himself very reliable two-way. For a player of his size Helenius is a fairly good skater. There is a lot of work to put in, especially on the strength side but his stride is very impressive. Explosiveness is still the weakness. The hockey smarts are definitely impressive. He reads plays in his own end as good as anyone in Liiga and is currently seeing a lot of penalty kill time. He knows his strengths and is not afraid to use them. Long reach to cut pass lanes and is always active with forecheck. He likes to hit as often as possible. can look like a clumsy handling the puck. However, he is really strong at protecting the puck and always finds his teammates with accurate passes. He possesses a quick release with his shot as well. He is improving each game.” – Draft Prospects Hockey’s Juha Rapanen
LORENZO CANONICA, C, LUGANO U20 (U20-ELIT), 5’11, 179, L, DOB 09.03.2003
TEAM SWITZERLAND – 2021 NHL DRAFT ELIGIBLE
“Smart, quick, two-way centre with excellent positional awareness in all three zones. Canonica’s hockey IQ by far for me was his best attribute. Quick feet and will mix it in both linear and lateral crossovers to help him gallop around the ice. Quick on his edges with his turns and cuts. Gets low to the ice when being leaned on giving him solid balance and hard to knock off the puck. Solid awareness as a puck carrier. Head is up, evades pressure well using quick soft touches with the puck. Shows a quick release on his shot. While I wouldn’t classify his game as dynamic, he’s a reliable centreman with enough skill to produce offensively.” – Draft Prospects Hockey’s Jared Brown
DAVID JIRICEK, D, HC PLZEN (EXTRALIGA), 6’3”, 176, R, DOB 11.28.2003
TEAM CZECH REPUBLIC – 2022 NHL DRAFT ELIGIBLE
“A very good two-way defender. Skating isn’t the most elegant you´ll ever see, but still effective. It suffers due to his hunched posture. Defensively, he is going to be ‘a rock’. Not afraid of blocking the shots. Uses his long stick very effectively. His playmaking ability is strong even though he still has room to improve, especially when it comes to the first pass from the defensive zone and when he is under forecheck pressure. He wants to play physically, sometimes he is close to making dirty plays. The coaches use him on the power-play, penalty killing and on 5-on-5 regularly. I see a big potential in him, but honestly, he has a long journey ahead. Plays a very mature game. He can be in the first in 2022.” – Draft Prospects Hockey’s Simon Cop
BRAD LAMBERT, C, JYP (LIIGA), 5’11, 172, R, DOB 12.19.2003
TEAM FINLAND – 2022 NHL DRAFT ELIGIBLE
“Lambert has been able to produce at every level he has played at including with men this season in Liiga. Excellent using his speed to dictate play and control the pace. He shows some high-end playmaking ability dishing up some pretty assists. Has a nose for the net. Has an accurate shot he can use to score from the outside. Eligible for the 2022 NHL draft due to his late 2002 birthdate. I expect Lambert to hear his name called early on draft day.” – Draft Prospects Hockey’s Matt Morrison
JURAJ SLAFKOVSKY, RW, TPS U20 (U20 SM-SARJA), 6’4”, 219, L, DOB 3.30.2004
TEAM SLOVAKIA – 2022 NHL DRAFT ELIGIBLE
“An offense generator. Blessed with immense size, six-foot-four and over two hundred fifteen pounds, as a sixteen-year-old. Skating surprises with a fluid, powerful stride. Will want to improve his first step quickness. Slick hands and soft touch. Flashes some impressive vision and ability to hit teammates with timely passes. Drives the net with power. Big wingspan and strong build give him excellent puck protection skills. Has a very strong wrist shot, sharp release that jumps off his blade. A big, yet skilled, load to try and stop. Just a very impressive, high-upside package.” – Draft Prospects Hockey’s Dan Stewart
Other 2021 eligibles include forward Oleksii Myklukha of the Slovaks, forward Senna Peeters of Austria, forward Simon Knak of Switzerland, forwards Michal Gut and Martin Lang of the Czech Republic, defensemen Simon Kubicek and Karel Klikorka also of the Czech Republic, defenseman Brian Zanetti of Switzerland, defenseman Ruben Rafkin of Finland, defenseman Marko Stacha of the Slovaks, defenseman Maximilian Glotzl of Germany, goaltender Taylor Gauthier of Canada, goaltender Vsevolod Skotnikov of Russia, goaltender Noah Patenaude of Switzerland, and future 2022 eligibles like defender Simon Nemec of the Slovaks and forwards Filip Mesar of the Slovaks and Marco Kasper with Austria all are on our list of names to keep an eye on this Holiday season.
From the Draft Prospects Hockey family to yours Merry Christmas … Happy Holidays … and here is to a much better New Year!
For more in-depth 2021 NHL Draft coverage pick up your copy of the 2021 Draft Preview Magazine.