With so much uncertainty surrounding the 2020-21 NHL season right now, a new factor may be added to the fold in the form of European hockey. Today, we will look at two effects hockey in Europe could have on prospects, as well as one of the top European defensemen available at the draft.
Scouting Prospects in Europe
With the 2020 NHL Draft likely not happening until October or November, many prospects will have gone months without getting substantial playing time to impress scouts.
However, as brought up by Ted Kulfan of The Detroit News (‘From Red Wings could get a closer look at European prospects ahead of NHL draft’ The Detroit News, 7/4/2020), some European prospects may get more exposure if they are able to get back on the ice sooner than their North American counterparts.
With the pandemic easing in Europe, at least for now, most of those leagues should be up and running in the autumn…
The North American junior leagues likely will not be.
If European prospects are able to play for even just a month before the draft, this could end up being a big boon to their prospective draft positions. Once you get past the top 15-20 picks, things like recency-biases could play a role in where some players get selected.
Now does this mean that European prospects will get an unfair advantage if they are able to return to play? Possibly. However, what could end up happening is some European players may simply get a needed second look that could move them up from, say the fourth-round to the third.
Prospects Leaving for the KHL?
Next is a report that Tampa Bay Lightning prospect Dominik Masin may be looking to play in the KHL next season. While this would be a loss for the Lightning’s already weak defensive depth, it wouldn’t have an immediate impact on their starting roster.
However, this move could be a sign of the future for some AHL restricted-free agents. As said by JustinG of SBNation:
Some of the other Canadian or U.S. players may also choose the European option as well as long as there is doubt concerning the AHL season.
While Masin had a secure starting role in the AHL, he was a player that needed more time on the ice to show that he could take on NHL ice-time. If the AHL is unable to start on time, you could expect players in his position to look for playing time in Europe.
If this happens, many AHL franchises could be without some of their mid-tier players that are so important to building competitive rosters. This talent void may become an interesting problem as franchises look to complete their rosters for the 2020-21 season.
Prospect of the Day: Emil Andrae
While we discuss European news, let’s look at one of the best defensemen available at the 2020 NHL Draft out of Sweden, Emil Andrae.
Related: 2020 NHL Draft Guide
Despite being an undersized defenseman, Andrea has still managed to turn heads with his top-end offensive skill. As said by Matt Cosman of THW:
An offense-first defenseman, Andrae has excellent foot speed, hypnotizing puck skills, and is strong on his stick, which helps him to be effective at both ends of the ice.
Not only is Andrae a top-end offensive-defenseman, but he also has some physicality to his game, giving him a fairly complete toolkit for someone his age and size.
If he were bigger, he could easily be a first-round selection in 2020. However, assuming that he is taken in the second round, he has the toolkit to be a fantastic pick by a team that needs to find some value at the draft.