Center Gregory Beron became the second Frenchman taken in the draft, being selected 33rd overall today by the London Dons. He said he plans to take the Channel Tunnel from Calais to Dover later today to meet with his new bosses. General Manager Geoffrey Paul has a left wing, a right wing and a center entering the system this month. He selected Artemy Panarin with his first round selection and prospect Jason Zucker, who has 19 goals with the Minnesota Wild, will get his attributes soon. Beron could use some coaching on the defensive part of the game, and he tends to get hurt, but those blemishes aside, he looks like a quality player. Beron has a lot of teammates above him on the London depth chart, but team officials say he’ll someday be the general equivalent of second- or third-line center Tyler Bozak.
With two of the next three picks, the Stockholm Eagles added a pair of centermen. In between the picks was Lisbon’s selection of Nicolas Aube-Kubel (see below). Sakari Salminen waited a long time in the draft for his name to be called. The 19-year-old was the 18th-ranked player by Central Scouting Service, but he sat until Stockholm GM Michael Sauer called his name at spot number 34. Salminen, the other half of the Finnish Sedins, is flashy. He has good speed and skill and defense is not too big of a concern in his eyes. Connor Bleackley was taken at spot 36 and he will bring strong character and leadership potential to Stockholm after he makes the transition from Red Deer in the Western Hockey League to the NHL with Colorado. He is currently scoring at a nearly point-per-game pace with the Rebels. Stockholm has five attribute-less prospects in the system, but one of them, Curtis Lazar will graduate to the Eagles within the month. Lazar is also a center and the team also has Sean Monahan and J. T. Miller at that position, so there will be plenty of competition for ice time among the young skaters.
Nicolas Aube-Kubel was born in Alberta but calls Sorel, Quebec, home and he may someday own a home in Portugal. Lisbon took the Philadelphia Flyers prospect with the 35th pick of the draft. He is described as inconsistent but a capable offensive forward. He has 80 points and more than 200 shots in 61 games with Val d’Or. General Manager Bryan Camara said “He’s improving every year in the Q and I’m hoping he’s another one of the Flyer rookies who has a good start when they join the NHL even if he disappears in years 2 and above.” With Lisbon HC, he will be added to the right wing section of the roster which currently lists youngsters Emerson Etem and Nino Niderreitter.
Reto Suri became the brightest star on the horizon that is Madrid’s current right wing depth chart. The 20-year-old Swiss player skates very well and is balanced in all areas of the game. He won’t pile up three star awards, but once he gains experience, he won’t hurt the team either and he’ll be a reliable option to plug into the team’s second or third lines. With three prospect forwards waiting to join the Madrid club, and six outstanding youngsters at the other forward positions, Suri could see some competition for ice time, but right now, he is the only Royal at the RW position who is younger than 28.
For the second time in the draft, Bratislava dug down into the barrel to pull out a draft pick. Kristian Kuusela, 22, is the opposite kind of player from Bratislava’s first selection, Morten Madsen. There were 18 players with higher PO ratings than Kuusela, but Bratislava wanted him to fill a certain role. Kuusela won’t be a “super pest,” but he might be “somewhat pesty.” The 5-9 Finnish playmaker is seen as a little guy who flies around out there and causes problems for the opposition. Massaro sees him as a bigger Nathan Gerbe or a poor man’s Doug Gilmour. Kuusela must have a good agent because he already has a five-year contract in place that will earn him between $1.4 and $1.7 per season.
The Bern Bears went with Brandon Wheat Kings forward John Quenneville for their second round pick. Quenneville, who is a little smaller than the average player, has 47 points in 57 games and he was a first round draft pick – 30th overall – by New Jersey in last June’s NHL Draft. He won’t play in Season 5 but will someday join Kjetil Martinssen, Mika Zibanejad and Evgeny Kuznetsov as the young guns of the team.
Another prospect was taken 40th overall when the Zurich Lions claimed Jack Dougherty, a Minnesota native who is in the Nashville Predators system. He is projected to be an offensive defenseman who has good skating ability. Zurich is packed with defensemen -13 of them when prospect Nathan Beaulieu is promoted within the next couple of weeks. Dougherty will wait in the wings as a Zurich prospect along with Griffin Reinhart.
Alexander Toyanik, the big Ukrainian, will be fitted for a St. Petersburg Red Star sweater. Better make it a 2XL. The 20-year-old is 6-5, 225 and he will bounce people around the Northern Conference in a couple of years. But Red Stars fans are kind of use to seeing him already. Sort of. He will be a lot like a slightly smaller version of Brian Boyle, the 31-year-old, 6-7 behemoth who posted a career year with St. Petersburg after playing three seasons in Frankfurt. Just about the time Boyle retires, Toryanik will be ready to step into his big, long shoes – or skates.
Nick Schmaltz, a first round draft pick of the Chicago Black Hawks in June, is now also a second round pick of the Minsk Hussars. The young Northern Conference team has a roster jammed with mid-20 players and can afford to wait for the 19-year-old Schmaltz to mature and earn his WSH attributes. Scouts say Schmaltz has great on-ice vision and may turn out to be an assist machine. The Wisconsin native plays college hockey for North Dakota University and he had 5 goals and 21 assists in 37 games this season.
The 43rd pick of the draft was like something out of “The Twilight Zone.” Edinburgh General Manager Marc Peninou drafted himself, but himself at a younger age. How is that even possible? My mind is blown. Peninou will like the way Peninou plays. The right wing likes to pass, can handle the puck and leans a little to the offensive side. Peninou the GM will have to be patient with himself while he learns the ropes. Not himself the GM, but himself the player. He will have to put a little more emphasis on learning how to play in the defensive zone. That’s he, the player, of course. As for playing time, he will compete with two other young RWs on the Capitals – Reilly Smith and Tom Wilson. Team officials acknowledge that Wilson and Peninou are two different animals and each will play different roles on the team. As for Smith vs. Peninou, Peninou favors Peninou. Never would have guessed.
Edinburgh picked again right away and the scouting crew was able to convince Peninou that drafting the 9-year-old version of himself was a bad idea. So Scott Conway’s name was called instead. The Brit will move north to play in Scotland. He looks to be an athletic, but raw teen forward with goal scoring potential. He is years away from suiting up with the big club and scouts worry about his defensive ability and his compete level.
The next two players picked were both prospects without WSH attibutes. Brendan Lemieux, son of Claude, was picked by the Greeks. Athens will some day be less fun to play against because Lemieux can agitate and take opponents off their game. He’s got the requisite Athens size and he can play the game very well, scoring goals at a great pace – 41 in 57 games – this season in the Ontario Hockey League. He is a member of the Winnipeg Jets organization.
The Belfast Giants, still wiping the Guinness off their lips following an extended Cup celebration, picked Vladislav Kamenev, a 6-4 Russian winger. They are in no hurry to push him into the starting lineup and they’ll patiently wait for him to imrpove his game. The Nashville Predators farmhand has good skills and skating ability but doesn’t seem to be a major scorer. He is playing on the now-famous Metallurg Magnitogorsk KHL team that produced the first three picks in this draft.
Jack Callow, a smart player from Canada who is the younger brother of Copenhagen GM Dylan, has been drafted by French powerhouse Paris. Callow will have his work cut out for him trying to break into the superior Paris lineup, but he has a chance even this year. Coaches like his skating and passing ability, and they’re deeply in love with the way he thinks the game. The right side will surely featured Corey Perry, Alex Semin and Lee Stempniak if he resigns, but that fourth spot is up for grabs. Callow will go for it against Colton Gillies, Jordan Caron and – if they resign him – veteran Ville Leino.
Moscow, the team that nipped Paris for the President’s Trophy, didn’t have a pick in the first round of the draft, nor in the first 23 picks of the second round. But with pick No. 48, Banker went to the draft list and English defenseman Sam Godfrey. Godfrey is a solid pick in more than one way. He’s a built like a truck and is already a pretty good defensive defenseman at age 24. He will push his 220 pounds around and take some penalties, but he doesn’t really have any glaring weakness, as long as you don’t stick him on your powerplay unit. Moscow has added Ryan Suter in the off season, but early indications are Godfrey will get a shot as a seventh defenseman and he’ll move up the depth chart when Markov, 36, leaves the team.
This story will be updated throughout the day. There will be no posts on Saturday until the evening, however.