USA’s talented two-way defenseman Jake Sanderson continued to boost his draft stock with a dominating performance at the Under-18 5-Nations in Chomutov, Czech Republic earlier this month.

The Under-18 Five Nations tournament in Chomutov, Czech Republic was a significant scouting stop along the road to the 2020 NHL Draft as it is the second last “big” evaluating event of the season before the IIHF U18’s in late April. One of the last chances for a prospect to really boost his potential in the minds of scouts and GM’s who will look to add to their franchise’s futures in less than four months’ time.

The Finns won this round robin event going undefeated while the American entry, made up of the U18 NTDP squad, took second. An inconsistent Russia entry was third with a disappointed Sweden team finishing fourth followed by the host team Czechs.

Overall it was a solid showcase of upcoming NHL Draft talent on display and DraftPro evaluators were watching this must-see scouting event and provide this summary of a few prospects.

Jake Sanderson, D, USA U18, NTDP, 6’2, 186, DOB 7.8.2002, 2020 NHL Draft
USA: 4 GP 3 G 4 A 7 PTS 0 PIM

“Geoff’s kid is a star left shot defender for the USNDTP. Sanderson is the team’s top defenseman and brings a complete 200-foot element rarely seen from the back end. Jake has offensive upside and runs the top power play unit for the USA. Not only does he run the power play he is one of the bigger threats on it because of his ability to jump into the play and get off a heavy shot. Sanderson is mobile and can get back into the play if ever caught due to a long strong stride and quick feet. Jake is also relied upon to play shut down hockey when the team has a lead and is capable of this task as well. His ability to adapt to different roles in a hockey game is extremely impressive especially considering his age. Sanderson led the defenseman in scoring this tournament and showed he is a dual threat from the back end. His skating and hockey IQ are elite and will be a big reason Jake hears his name called early come June. Sanderson has a high motor and willingness to engage physically with anyone.” – Draft Prospects Hockey evaluator Matt Donald

Thomas Bordeleau, C, USA U18, NTDP, 5’9, 180, DOB 1.3.2002, 2020 NHL Draft
USA: 4 GP 1 G 5 A 6 PTS 2 PIM

“Plays PP and PK. Highly skilled forward, wins most of his face offs. Lethal hands, when shooting, scores a lot of goals with hard wrister, he has the strength in his wrists to whip the puck from his stick. This player is smart, creates a lot of opportunities and can make great passes on the fly. Watched him take a pass in the corner, just when you thought he was going around the net he stopped and passed the puck between his legs to a team mate, while his back was to the play, which resulted in a goal. Excellent skating, great balance and core strength to protect the puck. Drives the net with speed and is strong enough to protect the puck. Most Dmen in this tournament could not contain him. Brings to the game, IQ, vision, puck skills, quick rocket shots, grit, intensity, agility, poise, willingness to battle, plays with a team concept.” – Draft Prospects Hockey evaluator Murray Caldwell

Landon Slaggert, Right Wing, USA U18, NTDP, 6’0, 182, DOB 6.25.2002, 2020 NHL Draft
USA: 4 GP 3 G 0 A 3 PTS 2 PIM

“Slaggert is a goal-scoring machine used on the top line for the USNDTP. A skilled forward that has a high skill set to match his IQ. He is an all-situations player, including roles on the 2nd power play and top penalty-killing unit. He really made his mark producing this week as he was amongst the tournament leaders in scoring. Landon has found excellent chemistry with center Thomas Bordeleau and the two were seemingly unstoppable all tournament long. Slaggert uses a quick release to pick corners with a heavy wrist shot that he is able to get off going full speed. This caused a problem for the goalies all week as he was generating scoring chances at will. He has a high motor although it would get quiet at times. Had the ability to be a difference maker when his feet are moving as he can use his speed to generate chances for his line. Slaggert won player of the game honors against the Swedes after a two-goal performance. Landon has established himself as a skilled player for the upcoming NHL draft with a physical package that becomes intriguing.” – Donald

Roby Jarventie, LW, Ilves, SM-Liiga, 6’2, 185, DOB 8.8.2002, 2020 NHL Draft
Finland: 4 GP 2 G 1 A 3 PTS 10 PIM

“Jarventie is a big power forward who had a great tournament playing on the top line alongside Roni Hirvonen. The two seemed to combine their high hockey IQ and dominated defenders all tournament long. Jarventie is a big winger that can skate with the best of them no matter how it looks. He gets to point B in a hurry and can carry the puck with speed as well. Great on the fore check and caused lots of turnovers for his line. He is an impact player and has a rocket of a shot. Any time he gets his shot off he is an offensive threat to score. A high compete level and was willing to engage physically in both ends of the ice. His play away from the puck was reliable and a big reason he was trusted in dying minutes to make smart choices. When teams see a skill set and finishing ability in a big package down the wing it could cause him to rise on some lists by the end of the year especially after a great tournament for Finland.” – Donald

Kasper Simontaival, RW, Tappara U20, Jr. A SM-liiga, 5’9”, 172, DOB 1.11.2002, 2020 NHL Draft
Finland: 4 GP 4 G 3 A 7 PTS 0 PIM

“Plays a much bigger game then his height and weight show. Wins board battles against bigger players consistently. He was instrumental in Finland’s scoring not just finishing but doing all the work, starting off the plays as well. He has good hands and makes smart plays/passes for the most part. Great skater, nice edges allows him to steal pucks because he is so gritty. His hard work in all three zones makes him hard to play against. Very competitive but plays with a team concept. Not just a checker this guy can stick handle in the phone booth and maintain control and score. Brings to the game, mobility, acceleration/skating, puck skills, willingness to battle, determination, agility, structure and flow.” – Caldwell

Roni Hirvonen, C, Assat, SM-Liiga, 5’9, 163, DOB 1.10.2002, 2020 NHL Draft
Finland: 4 GP 2 G 4 A 6 PTS 4 PIM

“Hirvonen was excellent this tournament and really led the way offensively for a deep Finnish team. He was the top line center and was able to impact the game offensively every single game played. I was impressed with his ability to play in traffic despite only being 5’9. Hirvonen doesn’t let his size effect where he takes the play especially in the offensive end. While he will only get stronger his puck control really helps him hold off defenders. His speed is what makes him effective along with his high skill set. He has quick feet and strong edge work that he uses to counter off mistakes and produce offensive chances. He was solid in the draw due to his compete level and ability to read the play win or loss. This allowed him to be trusted in the defensive end as well taking some big draws while holding a lead. He was excellent running the power play as he has supreme vision of the ice and a great understanding of where the seams are. He is an excellent playmaker due to his patience and soft hands that allow him to feather saucer passes into the perfect area for scoring chances. His ability to not only produce amongst the top U18 players but stand out in his 200 foot play because of his motor has him rising on my draft list. High-end scoring centers are paid big money in the NHL and Roni will have the ability to develop into a top two-line center and produce at the next level. His hockey IQ and compete level will provide him the ability to deal with the physical play and contribute no matter his role.” – Donald

Topi Niemela, D, Karpat, SM-Liiga, 6”0”, 163, DOB 3.25.2002, 2020 NHL Draft
Finland: 4 GP 0 G 1 A 1 PTS 2 PIM

“Was the best D-man on the Finland team throughout the tournament. He played on top unit on both the special teams, but only managed to record one point in the four games. He did a lot of positive things, he was the go to guy to start the breakaway from the backend and was often joining the rushes and was also very aggressive in the neutral zone and managed to close the gap and space for the opponents with the stick or by using his body. What I also like with his game is how calm he is in pressure situations and how he is using his mobility and great skating to create separations and time for himself. What I want more from him is to productive in the O-zone. He had some nice shots and passes but I want him to take ownership in O-zone to be that kind two-way defenseman.” – Draft Prospects Hockey evaluator Joel Lander

Marat Khusnutdinov, C, SKA-1946 St. Petersburg, MHL, 5’9”, 165, DOB 7.17.2002, 2020 NHL Draft
Russia: 4 GP 2 G 0 A 2 PTS 0 PIM

“Captain, Plays PP, Wins Face offs with strength, and leverage against opponent. Extremely good stick handler and making opponent think he is passing when he picking his spot. He keeps pucks alive in the OZ with relentless stick work. He is not afraid to go to the hard areas in front of the net. He is a shooter with awesome vision, very deadly shot. Smooth skating stride, with speed. Takes hits to make a pass. Will come back and help the D. Always making something out of nothing, because of his drive and creativity. Brings to the game, hockey sense, skating with explosive speed, puck skills, compete, determination, intensity, core strength.” – Caldwell

Emil Andrae, D, HV71 J20, SuperElit, 5’9”, 183, DOB 2.23.2002, 2020 NHL Draft
Sweden: 4 GP 1 G 3 A 4 PTS 10 PIM

“Led the team with four points but he also took way too many minor penalties. He was Sweden’s top defenseman and played big minutes on the power play and was also used on the penalty kill. What I like from Andrae’s game is that the looks exactly so calm on the blue line and when he had the puck on his stick like he is back home and how he like to challenge the defenseman and just by going sideways and not forcing the play, always force the defenseman to make the first move.” – Lander

Jakub Konecny, C, HC Sparta Praha U20, DHL Cup, 5’10, 155, DOB 7.19.2002, 2020 NHL Draft
Czech Republic: 4 GP 0 G 2 A 2 PTS 0 PIM

“Konecny is a long lanky center from HC Sparta Praha. He was the Czech teams top line center and was a factor all tournaments. Not only was he able to chip in with the production but also played big match up minutes all tournament. He is good in the face off circle and shows a compete level not wishing to leave any battle lost. Jakub is a solid skater as he uses a long stride and good edge work to generate speed on the rush. He will need to put on some weight to fill into his frame despite having the height already. Jakub will have to focus on becoming stronger on the puck especially off the cycle. I still see Konecny as a skilled center option that can play on the power play and penalty kill. He would be more of a playmaker than a goal scorer so providing Jakub talented wingers goes a long way.” – Donald