Today’s column has a European theme to it as two more NHL draftees have started their 2020-21 seasons overseas. Also, we look at two goaltending prospects heading into this October’s NHL Entry Draft with one of them making an impressive debut in a top professional league.
Kaut Starting 2020-21 at Home
The Colorado Avalanche had a disappointing end to their Stanley Cup playoff run and are already starting to look ahead. They have loaned right wing, Martin Kaut, to HC Dynamo Pardubice of the top professional league in his native Czech Republic. The club confirmed the news via its Twitter account on Saturday.
Kaut was originally drafted by the Avalanche with the 16th overall pick of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. He has spent the last two seasons in North America. He as played in a total of 97 American Hockey League (AHL) games with the Colorado Eagles where he has scored 17 goals and 44 points. He made his NHL debut with the Avalanche his past season, putting up two goals and an assist in nine games. He is expected to return to the team when training camp opens in December.
Tarasov to Play in KHL
According to a report out of Russia, goaltender Danill Tarasov will be heading to Salavat Yulaev in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). The 21-year-old goaltending prospect will play in his native Russia after spending the 2019-20 season with Ässät in Finland’s Liiga. He posted a .899 save percentage (SV%) and 2.72 goals-against average (GAA) in 41 games.
Tarasov was originally drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the third round (86th overall) of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. The Blue Jackets signed him to a three-year, entry-level contract in the spring of 2019, but he has yet to make the journey over to North America. With the emergence of both Joonas Korpisalo and Elvis Merzlikins this past season and Veini Vehvilainen in the system, Columbus can take their time bringing along Tarasov.
Skotnikov Makes KHL Debut
Vsevolod Skotnikov made his KHL debut for CSKA Moscow on Saturday and he impressed in his very first start for the Russian hockey powerhouse. The 18-year-old netminder gave up just one goal on 21 shots against in a 5-1 victor over Khabarovsk Amur.
Skotnikov is eligible for this October’s NHL Entry Draft. THW’s draft expert Larry Fisher has him ranked as the 11th goaltender in his final rankings. Before playing CSKA Moscow he appeared in two games for Zvezda Moscow in VHL, Russia’s equivalent to the AHL. He gave just four goals for a .920 SV% in his two starts.
Last season, he posted a .938 SV% and 1.42 GAA in five VHL games. He spent much of the season in the MHL, Russia’s top junior league, where he also had a .938 SV% and 1.39 GAA.
Prospect of the Day – Juho Markkanen
We will stay in the blue paint for the Prospect of the Day and look at a goaltending prospect making a name for himself in Finland. Markkanen is ranked as the sixth-best European goalie by NHL Central Scouting. Fisher has him slotted as the 33rd ranked netminder and 362nd among all players eligible for this year’s draft.
Related – THW’s 2020 Draft Guide
As with nearly all goaltenders taken in the NHL Entry Draft, patience is going to be key. At just 18 years of age, Markkanen is years away from even considering a jump to the professional level in North America. Born in Edmonton, as his father Jussi played goal for the Oilers, he has played exclusively in Finland as has started the 2020-21 season with Sai-Pa U20 in the country’s second-tier junior league.
Markkanen has the NHL frame at a young age, standing at 6-foot-2 and will eventually fill out as he matures. He is signed with the SaiPa organization for two more seasons after this one, so he has the security of developing in the same system for at least three years.
Our own Eugene Helfrick profiled Markkanen for our Draft Guide and had the following to say about his NHL potential:
If he can fill in his frame, Markkanen has the toolkit and size to be, at the very least, an AHL starter. From there, he could develop into a back-up and depending on his situation, could grow into a starting role with a franchise over the better part of the next five to eight years.
Markkanen has impressed scouts with his quick reflexes and good rebound control. He played his best hockey of the season last year with Finland’s U18 National Team, so he performed well against the stiffest competition. There is no guarantee that he will be drafted this season, but the framework is laid for him to become a legitimate NHL prospect. Where he goes from there will be up to him.