The Anaheim Ducks now have both of their 2020 first-round draft picks under contract. Meanwhile, we had a very busy weekend in European hockey. Two other first-round picks from the 2020 NHL Entry Draft had big performances to lead their country to an international tournament victory. Finally, a former first-round pick of the Detroit Red Wings is getting back into the groove back in his home country.
Ducks Sign Top Pick
The Ducks have wasted very little time in signing members of their 2020 draft class. Just two days after signing Jacob Perrault, who they drafted with the 27th overall pick, they announced they’ve signed defenseman Jamie Drysdale on Saturday.
Drysdale signed a three-year entry-level contract after the Ducks used the sixth pick of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft to add him to the organization. He has yet to play a game in 2020-21 as he and the Erie Otters await the beginning of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) season.
He had a big draft season that included being a part of Team Canada’s gold medal win at the World Junior Championship. He scored nine goals and 47 points in 49 OHL games while averaging 22:36 of ice time per game. He was the quarterback of the team’s top power-play unit while also contributing to the penalty kill. He finished the season with a plus-351 Corsi rating, 165 takeaways and 150 successful breakouts.
Amirov & Askarov Shine in Karjala Cup
If you have been following prospects playing in Europe, then you know this past weekend’s Karjala Cup tournament was a rather big deal. The annual international tournament played in Helsinki, Finland featured a round-round between the Czech Republic, Russia, Sweden and the hosting Fins.
Russia beat the Czech Republic 3-0, on Sunday, to sweep all three of their games and take home the tournament championship. Heading into the tournament, Russia had been heavily criticized for taking, essentially, a U20 team to the tournament. Things are certainly looking up for them heading into the World Junior Championship at the end of the year.
Rodion Amirov (Toronto Maple Leafs), Yegor Chinakhov (Columbus Blue Jackets) and Yegor Afanasyev (Nashville Predators) all scored in the final game while Yaroslav Askarov (Predators) earned the shutout.
Amirov had a goal in all three games for Russia, including this one in today’s finale
The Maple Leafs used the 15th overall pick of last month’s NHL Entry Draft to select Amirov. The 19-year-old forward has three goals and six points in 19 games for HC Salavat Yulaev Ufa in the Kontinental Hockey League. As is the case for most young players in European leagues, you have to take the point totals with a grain of salt as it is harder for them to get big minutes. He has been averaging 14:54 minutes of ice time, which is 10th among all forwards.
Askarov was the top goaltending prospect of the 2020 NHL draft class. He has quickly shown why the Predators selected him the 11th overall pick. The young netminder started in all three tournament games, giving up three total goals on 81 shots for a .962 save percentage (SV%).
The 18-year-old netminder has started four KHL games for SKA St. Petersburg and has excelled in his native country’s top professional league. He has stopped 90 of the 94 shots he’s faced for a .960 SV% and a 1.10 goals-against average.
Zadina Nets First Goal of the Season
The Karjala Cup was far from the only hockey action being played in Europe. Red Wings prospect Filip Zadina returned to the ice with HC Ocelari Trinec, on Saturday, after the COVID-19 pandemic postponed Czech Extraliga games for the past few weeks. He made a great first impression as he scored a goal and picked up an assist in Saturday’s 4-3 overtime win over HC Kometa Brno.
The Red Wings originally drafted Zadina with the sixth pick of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. His first season in North America was a bit of a disappointment. In 59 American Hockey League (AHL) games for the Grand Rapids Griffins, he scored 16 goals and 35 points. He also played in the first nine games of his NHL career, scoring a goal and adding two assists.
Things picked up for Zadina during the 2019-20 season as he found the consistency in his game he lacked during his rookie season. He scored nine goals and 16 points, with four of his seven assists being primary. He played in 28 games for the Red Wings, scoring eight goals and 15 points. If it were up to both Zadina and the Red Wings, he won’t be making any more trips to Grand Rapids, but time will tell.
Stats provided by InStat Hockey.
Greg Boysen has been writing about the Chicago Blackhawks since 2010 and has been a site manager for both FanSided and SB Nation. He has been published in The Hockey News and was fully credentialed for the 2013 Stanley Cup Final. Among his various roles with The Hockey Writers are covering the Blackhawks, the AHL, writing the daily “Today in Hockey History” column, serving as a copy editor, and appearing and hosting multiple YouTube shows, including Blackhawks Banter. He is credentialed with the Chicago Wolves, Rockford IceHogs, and Milwaukee Admirals, while also being a regional scout for the NAHL. And, just because his plate isn’t full enough, Greg hosts trivia in the Chicago area two nights a week. For interview requests or to provide topic suggestions, follow Greg on Twitter and reach out.