Sweden is likely to produce two top-10 picks in the upcoming National Hockey League draft and their international head coach had plenty to say about them. Plus, college hockey is starting to take hits as conferences drop out of fall and winter sports. Finally, we profile one of the top college hockey recruits heading into the 2020-21 season.
Rave Reviews for Swedish Duo
Two of the top European-born prospects heading into 2020 NHL Entry Draft are Swedish forwards Alexander Holtz and Lucas Raymond. Holtz is ranked as second European skater by NHL Central Scouting, while Raymond is fourth.
Mark Masters of TSN, spoke with Tomas Monten, who was Sweden’s head coach at most recent World Junior Championship and had both players on his roster. He feels that Holtz plays the game similar to Patric Hornqvist of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
He’s competitive. He wants to shoot the puck and have the puck and make a difference. Watching him when he was younger and all the way up he’s always been a guy who makes a difference, been a guy who scores a lot of goals and the important goals. I think the competitiveness that he has around the net, that’s what makes him special.
Meanwhile, he says Raymond is a dual-threat who can beat you with either his shot or his passing.
A Mitch Marner type. He can find openings and is very smooth with the puck. He can control the puck in tight areas and make plays all over the ice. But he’s a scorer as well. He scored three goals in the under-18 final game a year ago, so he can shoot the puck as well.
While Monten is high on both players, he thinks Holtz is more ready for the NHL at this point in time because he has a size and strength advantage. There is a good chance that he will have both players on his WJC team, if the tournament takes place in Western Canada as scheduled.
College Hockey Takes a Hit
On Wednesday, the Ivy League announced the cancellation of all fall sports due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Also, all winter sports, including hockey, will be on hold until Jan. 1, 2021, at the very earliest.
This will have a drastic effect on ECAC Hockey if the NCAA does start their hockey season on time. Six Ivy League schools compete in the ECAC; Brown, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton and Yale.
This could also be a serious blow to some of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft prospects if they are missing games while other schools are playing. If this is the case, you could see an influx of Ivy League players into the United States Hockey League (USHL) for the upcoming season.
Prospect of the Day – Ty Smilanic
Speaking of college hockey and the ECAC, our Prospect of the Day hoping to play in the conference this fall, or whenever the season begins. Smilanic is coming off a fairly productive season with the US National Development Team, where he scored seven goals and 22 points in just 34 games.
His numbers don’t jump off the page due to missing significant time during season to injuries and illness. That hasn’t stopped scouts from being high on him. He is a very good skater that plays a high-energy style of hockey with a powerful shot. Some scouts have compared his style of play to Ilya Kovalchuk and Jeff Carter.
Related: 2020 NHL Draft Guide
The shortened season and no NHL Draft Combine could hurt Smilanic, who dealt with a broken finger, high ankle sprain, and mononucleosis in 2019-20. While the ceiling is high, it is hard to fully project where he might go in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, as our own Lance Del Plato points out.
Central scouting is very bullish on Smilanic ranking him the 18th best American skater. Perhaps anticipating a successful U18 Tournament and combine, they slotted him at No. 24 overall. I think this is the earliest we’ll see his name. It’s highly likely he slides to the second round, but this could play out well for the team that selects him. He could prove to be a low-risk, high-reward selection if he falls far enough.
The Colorado native was originally committed to the University of Denver, but that changed after a coaching change was made. He will now head to Quinnipiac, where he can work on the weaknesses in his overall game, such as size, strength and shot accuracy.