The EURO Hockey League’s Scouting Bureau is compiling a list for the Season 5 draft and three forwards, two defensemen and a goalie are jockeying for the top spot.
The Bureau released its preliminary rankings* and has defenseman Viktor Antipin narrowly ahead of forward Sergei Mozyakin at the top of the list.
That’s a surprise to most observers because the Russian Mozyakin has been the top scorer in the KHL (Kontinental Hockey League) for the last two seasons. Mozyakin isn’t too big, but he’s durable and ready to step into any EURO lineup today. See the end of this story for more on Mozyakin.
Viktor Antipin, an 18-year-old Kazakhstan-native, has some growing to do. But scouts project him to have the most raw talent in the draft. He may never have a great slapshot but he can skate like the wind and is good with the puck. Scouts seem his as an Erik Karlsson-type, not as prolific offensively, but perhaps better on the defensive end. There have been (real world) rumors that the Ottawa Senators of the NHL are eyeing him as a possible free agent pickup.
Jan Kovar, a Czech who placed second to Mozyakin in KHL scoring last season, is one of a handful of players who could conceivably get drafted before Mozyakin or Antipin. His brother Jakub is a goalie in the Edinburgh Capitals system. Kovar the forward is considered a playmaker with blazing speed who could also step into an EURO lineup in season 5.
Another forward in the top handful of draftees will be Russian Fyodor Malykhin, who was recently traded to Ak Bars Kazan from Yekaterinburg in the KHL, where he scored 40 goals once and then 47 goals in the next 97 games. He is pretty well-rounded but will take a couple of years to develop into EURO starter material.
Others near the top include defenseman Vladimir Roth, a Czech who once played for the OHL’s London Knights. More recently, Roth has been in the top Czech league, where he was the leader in points by defensemen last season.
The top goalie in the draft class is Swiss 19-year-old Sandro Zurkirchen who has had better stats recently than Benjamin Conz, his countryman who was the national team’s choice in the last two World Junior Championships. Conz is also eligible for the upcoming EURO draft.
Nardo Nagtzaam is a shifty playmaking forward from The Netherlands who plays in North America for Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pa. He heads the rest of the pack, according to the scouts.
Notes on the draft prospects:
The list currently includes roughly 31 defensemen, 20 left wings, 19 centers, 13 right wings and 8 goalies. Note that most forwards will be able to be used at several positions.
31 countries are represented, including 5 from Canada and 3 from the USA. The most represented countries are Sweden, 10; Czech Republic, 9; Finland, 9; and Russia, 7.
*You will all be e-mailed the preliminary spreadsheet soon. Please take a look at it and if anything jumps out at you, let me know.
I looked for the top players in various European leagues, looking primarily for players who are about 24 years old. I figure if we don’t know them by now, they won’t have extended stays in the NHL. If some do make it and get WSH attributes, I’ll have to remember to lock them out of our future drafts.
But we want to draft 18-22 years generally, so I turned back the clock on all of them. And I made a couple of exceptions. Like Mozyakin, who is in his 30s now. He should be more famous than he is. In the NHL lockout year, he outscored people like Malkin, Kovalchuk and Ovechkin and nobody’s heard of him. We will restart his career for him at age 22 and see how famous he becomes. The same with Par Arlbrandt in the Swedish league.
But for most everyone else on the list, they are only a few years younger than they really are. Some have never been drafted, others have been drafted and bounced around minor leagues and a couple still have a shot at the show. I was surprised to turn on the Philadelphia-Washington exhibition game yesterday and hear the announcer reference Pierre-Eduoard Bellemare, who I placed on our list a few weeks ago. If he ends up playing for the Flyers this year, I will remove him from our list.
Some GMs have talked about adding themselves to the list. I have no problem with that, I just don’t know how to guarantee you get yourself and to make if fair for other teams. For example, you shouldn’t be able to pick 20th and get a 90PO guy just because you were reserved for you. I think the best way to handle it is for you to tell me you want in, and I will estimate the kind of player you would likely receive at your draft slot and then add you in at that PO level.
Pictures: I have been able to find photos for all but 3 guys on my list so far and I’m about 50 percent through. I am confident we will have pics with all our draftees if the admins can get that work done in time. I won’t use guys whose pics I can’t find.