Talent evaluation is subjective by nature.
One scout will see a sure fire top six scorer while another scout might see a AHL journeyman. One might see a can’t miss prospect while the other scout might not see anything to get excited about.
At Draft Prospects Hockey we task our group of evaluators to not only breakdown skill sets of each prospect they observe and speak on progression from view to view, which is very important to track, but also to give their best assessment of what type of future player these kids could eventually become at the highest level in an attempt to give our readers an educated idea of what upside each NHL prospect might have. That can be a daunting task as much change happens between views in a season let alone in the time between viewing a seventeen-year-old boy to when that same boy becomes a twenty-five-year-old man playing at the NHL level. But if you look close enough the clues to make those projections are there.
Below are some select reports on some of the 2022 Draft Class taken from actual game reports. We hope you enjoy these monthly reports this season as we give you, our reader, a small sample of what our evaluators see on the ice.
August 02, 2021
Hlinka Gretzky Cup
USA vs Slovakia
#7 RD Simon Nemec, Slovakia, 6’1″, 192, R, DOB 02.15.2004
A strong two way defenseman. Nemec plays a hard and fast game using both his size and speed to make or break plays. His skating stride is compact and powerful allowing him to reach top speed as quickly as possible. He uses his edges to crossover and build speed that he is able to maintain through all three zones. When a transition happens and the play comes back towards him, he again utilizes his edges and pivots like a top, takes a couple of crossovers to build his speed up and maintains his backwards momentum. He allows the opposition to close in on him but maintains his gap well by matching speed with them. He has an active stick on the backcheck and when the moment is right he strikes out like a snake and pokes the puck away. If he us unable to do that, he ties up him man and separates him from the puck that way. If he recovers the puck, his first pass is usually crisp, controllable and tape to tape. There is some work needed to make those passes consistently when in full flight as he struggles at times carrying the puck at higher speeds. At lower speeds or when setting up a play, he is very consistent at tape to tape passes. When given the chance to shoot, he will not hesitate. He selects his shots carefully and uses the appropriate shot for the situation. While it seems he prefers to use his powerful slap shop to force the puck through traffic and beat the goaltender with speed, he does still know when to choose his wrist shot and finesse it past the opposition. He has a high IQ and sense of when to jump up into the play or when to allow it to move on without him on the rush. He reads the opposition and their defense well and when the chance arises, he jumps all over it. In the offensive zone, he does have to be careful to not get too physical in the corners and take himself away from his defensive responsibility. Same in his own zone. He needs to make sure he doesn’t play too physically away from the puck and take himself out of the play. He does play with a physical edge and the only place I would like to see it more, is when clearing traffic from the front of his net. Nemec should be considered a potential top prospect for the 2022 NHL entry draft. He has developed great skills in all three zones and has a truck load of tools in his tool box that he uses like a rolodex.
August 3, 2021
Hlinka Gretzky Cup
Sweden vs USA
#4 D Jackson Dorrington, Cushing Academy USHS, 6’2”, 192, L, DOB 04.13.2004
A wise puck moving defenseman who makes the simple plays, as well as shows hints of high-octane offensive capabilities. Powerful strides and balance, along with solid footwork, allow for him to stay in position skating backwards, as well as moving the puck up the ice. He can initiate and take contact. Well positioned in battles on the boards and elsewhere. Uses his stick to his advantage, poking pucks and changing the direction the rushing forward must take. Protects the puck with his size and agility. Dumps the puck in areas for his teammates to win the race. Could work on his shooting, better accuracy as he does not always hit the open target. An accurate passer and intelligent puck placement defenseman. When there is not an option for the pass, he will hold onto the puck and wait for one, or send the puck in an area for the forwards. A play in the game occurred, where he absorbed a check and dumped the puck into the corner for one of the USA forwards to quickly get possession, ultimately leading to a cross crease goal. Smart decision making with and without the puck, when to step up or back off. Strong work ethic, with the determination to play his style. There is a consistency in his game where he does not deviate from his style. Uses his body, takes hits, gives hits, blocks passes and shots. One of the more rugged defenders when it comes to using his body. Defensively sound, boxes out, uses his reach to break up passing lanes, and is not afraid to use his frame in battles along the boards. Could work on adding more offense to his game, but must stay within his style, do not go off course. Overall, he is a defender first, with the potential to grow and contribute more towards the offensive side of the game.
August 4, 2021
Hlinka Gretzky Cup
Russia vs Czech Republic
#10 RW, Ivan Miroshnichenko, Russia (U18), 6’1, 185, RW, 04-02-1004
Ivan is a big right shot winger that loves to play his off wing to generate scoring chances from his forehand. The kid can flat out score, point blank period. All he does is put the puck in the net and he does it in a multitude of ways. He can score from distance with a wicked wrist shot and quick release. He can also score inside playing net front. But his calling card is the one timer on his off-wing power play. He can stand there and fire shots all day long or take it to the net. I love his puck possession for a star player. He is just all over the puck and you couldn’t help but notice him in this one. Ivan was on the top line left wing and is wearing a letter showing the coaches have some faith in him as a leader. He was playing a very strong and physical game from start to finish in this one and laid some big hits without the puck. Yet the way he controls it with his body under pressure is super impressive for a solid young man. He is hard to knock off stride and once he winds up, he can really get going. His foot speed has gotten better, and skating is a real strength. Defensively is where I see the biggest difference in his game. He seems to a certain grit in his defensive awareness that wasn’t there before. He still has room to grow in systems and staying in his position. But one on one man on man he can dominate in either end. He has a high IQ and thinks the game at a really high level. He explodes when put with high end players, but also drives play alone as well. Ivan has real soft hands and can make nice passes and I would consider it an under rated part of his game because of his pure goal scoring ability. I would look for Ivan to push for that top 3 of the draft as he is a dynamic player and high-end goal scorer. I have him at number 3 right now and he certainly stood out in this game as a player that belongs there. He projects as a top line left winger that can play with elite playmakers.
August 4, 2021
Hlinka Gretzky Cup
USA vs Germany
#18 C/LW Julian Lutz, Germany (Hlinka Gretzky Cup), 6’2”, 179, L, DOB 2.29.2004
First viewing. Dynamic offensive forward. Plays a high energy game looking to catch opponents off guard. Great footspeed, powerful stride. Flies down the left side of the ice with speed and looks to carry into the offensive zone. Generates a lot of chances, drives the play for his team. Some added leg strength could help top end, breakaway speed. Has solid puck control, can make plays at top speed. Not the most skilled guy, stickhandling can definitely improve, was dispossessed a few times this game in the neutral zone. Has a good, not great, shot. Not the strongest, but picks shots wisely and fires. Very creative with his shots, shooting from all angles. Versatile forward, playing both in the center and down the wing. Good vision and creativity. Loves to throw puck in front and create havoc. Sometimes forces it and gives the puck away, giving the opposition an odd-man rush. Hunts down loose pucks and continuously puts pressure on opposition to move it quickly. A real competitor, never gives up on a play. Chased down an opponent on a breakaway and created a disruption this game. Needs to work on positioning and awareness on defense. Was caught puck watching as an opposition defenseman glided behind him and tapped in a cross-ice pass. Tries to intercept passes aggressively and counter-attack with speed. Needs to pick his moments as this can be an effective play, but often caught looking silly. Nothing to marvel over on the draw but can hold his own. He will probably convert to a winger at the next level. Will need to gain strength to be more of a physical presence and start winning more puck battles. Often relies on his speed to generate chances; will need to become more dimensional as he moves through his development. He should be a mid-to-late round pick in the 2022 NHL entry draft. Want to see how he develops in his draft year.
August 5th, 2021
Hlinka Gretzky Cup
Slovakia vs Finland
#13 RW Joakim Kemell (Finland U18) 5’11, 176, R, DOB 04.27.2004
Kemell withholds some of the most pure offensive instincts in this draft class, bar none. Seamless acceleration with the puck on his tape and will burn you with an even more impressive top speed heading down the wing. Has a frightening shot that he could let go from almost anywhere with it still qualifying as a high-end scoring chance, scored a one-t goal in the latter end of the third that would’ve sent Elias to the ER if he got a piece of it. In reality, only has shooting on his mind, comes off a little self-centred at times as other options are open and tends to sometimes just brush off his linemates and try to do everything himself. Surprisingly has some ferocity to his game too, has no fear in bulldozing unsuspecting puck carriers at high speeds as he pursuits the puck, a real animal at times. Not a tragic defensive winger either but is always a lot more engaged with the puck on his stick. Tantalizing stickhandler that some would pay a fortune to see. Kemell is a mile ahead of most in this draft when it comes to offensive IQ, but his willingness to share the spotlight and be a true team player in the o-zone is what may have killed his team today in the early stages. Truly an electrifying winger that can shoot at will but needs to tone down the efforts to get himself on the SportsCenter Top 10.
August 26th, 2021
Champions Hockey League
Rogle BK vs EV Zug
#24 LW, Marco Kasper, Rogle BK (Champions Hockey League), 6’1”, 183, L, DOB 4.8.2004
Kasper’s stellar play over the past few years has earned him a spot on Rogle’s CHL squad, and so far, he’s making the most of his opportunity. He was given very limited ice time on the fourth line in this match, and was also moved to the wing, not his natural center position. Regardless, Kasper found a way to thrive, showing off his ability to shield the puck from much more mature players along the wing. He was also solid in transition, carrying the puck over the line with speed and decisiveness. From watching him in the J20, I know that tons of Kasper’s value come from his shutdown abilities, but he wasn’t used in this role on the men’s team. He was used as a support winger, to carry the puck through the neutral zone and keep possession along the walls once in the offensive zone. However, that didn’t stop him from relying on his instincts when he saw a mess happening in front of the opposing net. Kasper sprinted in, and knocked the puck off the goaltender’s pad, directly to a teammate for an open net goal. He’s one of the more intriguing prospects coming out of Sweden this year and has some serious pro upside. I’d currently peg him as an early round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft.