A top prospect for the 2020 NHL Entry Draft gets off to a hot start, two Edmonton Oilers prospects have opposite starts to their season openers in Sweden, and the New Jersey Devils loaned out a former second-round pick to Finland.
Raymond, Broberg Start Hot in SHL Opener
Saturday marked the start of the 2020-21 Swedish Hockey League season. With the NHL draft closing in on Oct. 6, draft-eligible prospects such as Lucas Raymond have some extra time to prove their worth before being selected. That’s exactly what Raymond did in Frölunda HC’s 3-0 win over HV71 – he bagged Frölunda’s third goal of the game on the power play with a snipe into the top corner.
Raymond saw more ice time in this game than he’s been used to, playing a total of 12:48. During the 2019-20 season, he was used sparingly, as is customary for younger players in the SHL, playing 9:48 on average. Also, as evidenced by his power-play goal, Raymond was a fixture on Frölunda’s top power-play unit.
It’s a nice start for the talented youngster, especially if he wants to work his name into the top three of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. He’ll be looking to improve on the four goals and six assists he amassed in 33 games during the 2019-20 SHL campaign.
Related: Our Free NHL Draft Guide
Meanwhile, Edmonton Oilers prospect Philip Broberg continued his form from preseason in Skellefteå AIK’s season opener. He started on the top pairing with Jacob Andersson and played a total of 21:38 during the game; the third-most minutes on the entire team. That’s significantly more ice time than the 13:59 he averaged during the 2019-20 season. Broberg managed one goal and two assists in Skellefteå’s 5-4 win over Leksand. His goal was a powerful one-timer from the point on the power play.
Oiler’s fans will be happy with the increased role Broberg has been given to start the season. Used primarily in a defensive role in 2019-20, he looks set for a breakthrough year with more ice time and a regular spot on the power play. He finished the 2019-20 season with one goal and seven assists in 45 games played.
Lavoie Leaves Rögle Before Opener
We go from one Edmonton Oilers prospect to another here as it looks like Raphaël Lavoie has parted ways with Rögle BK before the start of their SHL opener. According to SportExpressen, Lavoie thought he would be getting a leading role with the team, but now will be looking to play elsewhere after the termination of his contract.
Lavoie and Rögle had until puck drop to finalize a decision so today was the very last day possible to terminate the contract. It’s not clear which side initiated the discussions for Lavoie to leave the team, but he will now likely be aiming to play in the American Hockey League this season once play resumes.
Originally drafted 38th overall in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, Lavoie amassed 38 goals and 82 points in 55 games played during the 2019-20 Quebec Major Junior Hockey League season. He split time between the Halifax Mooseheads and Chicoutimi Saguenéens, playing 30 and 25 games for them respectively.
Devils Loan Kuokkanen to Finland
The New Jersey Devils have loaned Finnish prospect Janne Kuokkanen to Oulun Karpat Oy in the Finnish Liiga. Originally drafted 43rd overall in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, he spent the 2019-20 season playing in the American Hockey League. He amassed 15 goals and 48 points in 56 games played. He played 52 of those games with the Charlotte Checkers before being acquired by the Devils in a trade that sent Sami Vatanen to the Carolina Hurricanes. He played one game in the NHL last season, suiting up for the Devils on March 10 against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
It’s a familiar location for Kuokkanen after playing in the U16, U18 and U20 teams for Kärpät. It’s a smart move for the 22-year-old forward, as he’ll gain some valuable playing time before the start of the 2020-21 NHL season. He is expected to return to the team when training camps open.
Prospect of the Day – Kasper Simontaival
For today’s prospect, we stick in Finland with Tappara U20 right-winger Kasper Simontaival. NHL Central Scouting has Simontaivel ranked 21st among European skaters. In his final rankings, THW’s Larry Fisher ranked him 37th among all players.
Simontaival spent the majority of his 2019-20 season playing in the Jr. A SM-liiga for Tappara U20. He amassed 25 goals and 32 assists in 48 games played. He finished tied for the team lead in scoring with Aku Kinnari, however, he played three fewer games. Among his competition in the Jr. A SM-liiga, he finished fifth in league scoring. Simontaival would also play four games for Tappara in the Finnish Liiga, but failed to record a point.
Simontaival’s hallmark is his excellent offensive abilities. He’s an exceptional playmaker who can execute a wide variety of passes to find open teammates. He possesses high-end vision with a hockey IQ that just might be first-round quality. Add in a powerful and accurate wrist shot/release and you’ve got all the makings for a quality point producer at the NHL level.
THW’s own Josh Bell feels that despite an impressive set of skills on offense, Simontaival might surprise you away from the puck.
Where Simontaival might surprise you is his play off the puck. This season, he was used on the penalty kill and defending leads, on top of his regular offensive shifts. He competes hard for the puck, never giving up and often battling along the boards. All of this is not exactly what you’d expect from a skilled forward.
Simontaival could be one of those players who sneak their way into the first round. He’s got the talent to be selected there, but the league he plays in might be a detriment to his draft status. Yes, he dominated, but there are others above him who spent a full season in the Finnish Liiga. He will likely be an early-to-mid second-round pick, and with some time to develop will be a potential top-six winger in the NHL.