With the World Junior Championship tournament only a month away, this week’s column heads overseas to Europe with reports from Jimmy Hamrin in Sweden and Marco Bombino from Finland. Jimmy has already covered two highly ranked Swedish prospects in earlier Rotoworld articles with a profile of Lucas Raymond found here and Alexander Holtz here Ranked second and fourth in our recent 2020 NHL Draft Ranking found here. Marco has profiled number nine ranked Anton Lundell in this prior column.
We will be publishing our annual World Junior Guide the week prior to this pivotal tournament on the prospect calendar. Jimmy recently covered the U18 5-Nation Tournament in Sundsvall, Sweden (https://www.mckeenshockey.com/nhl-blog/2020-nhl-draft-u18-5-nation-tournament/) and Marco was in attendance at the U20 Four Nations Tournament in Helsinki, Finland (https://www.mckeenshockey.com/nhl-blog/u20-nations-tournament-helsinki-finland-prospect-notes-observations/) and will be providing analysis and player profiles along with the rest of the McKeen’s team for our digital magazine.
For the NBC Tuesday night game between Chicago and Dallas, Tom Dorsa provides an update on two prospects of interest from both teams.
Enjoy. The McKeen’s team are scouting and writing about prospects all season long and provide in-depth reports on our website: www.mckeenshockey.com
Watch Dallas take on Chicago Tuesday at 7:00 PM ET. You can stream it here!
2020 NHL Draft prospect
Emil Andrae, D, 5’ 9”, 185 lbs
2019 Stats: Seven goals, 13 assists in 22 games for HV71 J20 (SuperElit)
Emil Andrae is an intriguing, but also a risky prospect for the NHL draft. The risk is in his physical measurements and his lack of elite speed. He is not slow, but not elite fast either. The intriguing part comes from his tremendous smarts and puck skills. So far this season, Andrae has played junior hockey exclusively and has been scoring at a point per game pace, both with his club and the national U18 team. In his U16 year he appeared in some games at the senior level in Allsvenskan, which is unheard of that early in a career, but has since played in the junior system with HV71. I can´t really see that being a problem for his long-term development. He gets to play many minutes in a big role as the go-to-guy on the defense. However, for draft evaluation purposes, which has a shorter time span; it would be interesting to see how he handles the senior game. Not that scouts should focus too much on this particular season and it surely is on the scouts to project how his assets can translate to the senior game, but it is always nice to get some more evidence for your assessments.
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Andrae is a very smart defenseman. He reads both the defensive and offensive side of the game very well. He can break up plays with strong positioning and strong stick work defensively. His instincts and compete level are impressive, and he plays with poise. With the puck, he delivers precise long breakout passes, nice dekes on the blue line and a hard shot. He is also strong defensively, using his stick to take the puck away from opponents. Although he is not elite fast on his skates, he can play fast. Andrae processes the game fast and has the smarts to control the pace at which it is played. He can slow the game down when he on the defensive side of a 2-on-1 or 3-on-2 by being in the smartest position. He can push the pace with strong breakout passing and on the blue line he seems to get the time he needs to create.
For me, the upside beats the risk with Andrae. He is a two-way defenseman with smarts, skill and poise. He competes hard and often gets a letter on his chest on the teams he plays for. He is strong for his age, but not likely to grow much further. At the junior level, his strong lower-body balance allows him to hold off opponents. He will need to continue to work on his physical strength, as he does not own the top speed to skate away with the puck. At higher levels that is hard to do when you´re 5´9 - 5’10.
It is always tough to find a perfect comparable for prospects but if we look at the young stars on the Colorado defense, Andrae is more Samuel Girard than he is Cale Makar. With that, I mean to say that in reaching his full potential he will not become the electric top defenseman on an NHL team but a smart, skilled, effective top four defenseman. – Jimmy Hamrin, Sweden
Prospects in the News
Matias Maccelli (Arizona), LW, 5’11”, 170 lbs
2019 Stats: five goals, 12 assists in 20 games for Ilves (Liiga)
Arizona Coyotes prospect Matias Maccelli is off to a hot start in his first pro season in the Finnish Liiga. The Ilves forward leads all U20 players with 17 points in 20 games. Ilves currently boasts the best power play in the league and Maccelli has been a big part of that output with ten power play points.
However, the highly skilled winger also generates plenty of offense at even strength. Maccelli's stickhandling and passing are excellent and his soft first touch enables him to get pucks under control quickly. As mentioned, he excels on the man advantage. He has the vision to execute a quick passing game, frequently feeding his teammates with crisp cross-seam passes. He moves the puck through traffic and creates space.
Even though the 5'11” winger boasts plenty of skill, he plays a rather mature game and uses his teammates properly for passing options. He can be slick with the puck, dangle in 1-on-1's and beat defensemen that way, yet he doesn't attempt overly complicated plays very often and seems to put the team first in that sense. He consistently makes smart decisions in all three zones and plays with his head up to survey the ice. Along with puck skills, I think hockey sense is his best attribute.
Maccelli has definitely become a more complete player after spending a season and half in the USHL. He plays with more urgency and faster pace and he does not hold onto the puck for overly long periods. His overall game is definitely heading in the right direction.
There are a few areas where Maccelli needs to work on and become more assertive. In the offensive zone, he occasionally looks to make a pass when taking his own shot would be the better option. If he begins to shoot the puck a tad more often in prime scoring areas, it will start to show on the scoresheet sooner rather than later. Also, he will extend his shifts from time to time, which is a habit he has to get rid of. Maccelli is a good skater with some nice agility and quick feet, but his top speed is an area for improvement.
Maccelli will be one of the key forwards for the Finnish team at the World Juniors in the Czech Republic, possibly on the first line. Moreover, he is the early front-runner for the top rookie award in the Liiga. At the moment the only prospect who I think could challenge him is Kärpät goalie Justus Annunen, a Colorado Avalanche third-round pick whose record for the longest shutout streak in Liiga history turned some heads. Much will depend on whether Annunen gets enough starts to maintain his current form. – Marco Bombino, Finland
NBC Tuesday Night NHL Game – Chicago vs. Dallas
Adam Boqvist, D (8th overall, 2018. McKeen’s team rank: 2, Last year: 1)
2019 Stats: one goal, five assists in nine games for Rockford (AHL)
One goal, zero assists in six games for Chicago (NHL)
Maybe there is something in the water in the state of Texas, because Boqvist has posted five assists in two games against the AHL’s Texas Stars and San Antonio Rampage. The 2018 first rounder has found an offensive touch in his first North American professional season after being re-assigned from the Blackhawks, whose roster he made out of training camp, early this season. Inventive and creative with the puck on his stick blade, Boqvist boasts the deceptive skating speed and beautiful hands to produce offensively from the neutral zone in, as well as the shooting prowess and positional awareness to be a sneaky high goal-scorer. With that said, his defensive game is still incomplete; most notably his tracking of developing plays and his lack of physicality against the boards and behind the goal.
Kevin Lankinen, G (Free Agent Signing: May 21, 2018. McKeen’s team rank: not ranked, last year: not ranked)
2019 Stats: 2.62 goals against average, 0.918 save percentage in six games with Rockford (AHL)
What Lankinen has done to even get himself on the radar of an NHL team is nothing short of incredible, but the highly entertaining Finnish netminder is nowhere close to done. In a crowded crease featuring Collin Delia and Matt Tomkins, the 24-year-old free agent signee has starred, leading the club with a 0.918 Sv%, which is top-20 in the AHL. A pure competitor in every way, Lankinen employs a high-energy, high-octane style of netminding that lacks mental composure but oozes athletic ability. Moves from side to side well and can catch up to anything he might not initially get, using his quick feet in a low-to-the-ice style that minimizes rebounds. Lankinen’s patience and shot tracking will need to improve for the goalie to succeed in the top-flight league.
Jason Robertson, RW (39th overall, 2017. McKeen’s team ranking: 3, Last year: 3)
2019 Stats: six goals, five assists in 19 games for Texas (AHL)
Robertson’s trouble as a skater was destined to plague the first few months of his pro career, and anyone who watched his domination of the OHL last season (115 points in 62 games) acknowledged it. The Michigan native has managed well as a scorer on his AHL Texas roster, leading the team in goals and being tied for the highest point total in the locker room. However, his skating has absolutely hindered his development into an NHL caliber player, as his sluggish foot quickness and relatively low top speed have given him some struggles. On the flip side, he is a first-year pro who boasts a physically-commanding package of power forward tools, such as supreme balance, gorgeous hands (especially in tight areas), and a blistering wrist shot that has gotten him power-play time since the outset of the season. He will need to make his simple skating stride at least respectable, and be more reliable on the defensive end, to become the surefire NHLer scorer he can be.
Riley Tufte, LW (25th overall, 2016. McKeen’s team ranking: 8, Last year: 7)
2019 Stats: zero goals, two assists in 16 games for Texas (AHL)
Since being drafted out of the USHL before attending the University of Minnesota-Duluth, Tufte has had the “bust” label thrown at him many times, and in fairness to the fact that he is a first-year pro on a struggling AHL club (last in the league in points), he is not doing much to subdue the bust talk. Still seeking his first pro goal after 16 games, the two-time NCAA men’s national champion has received mostly third-line minutes and has been unimpressive in that time with the Stars this season. A big man with some quick heels for his size, he has had some glimpses of promise, using his physical advantages to set up teammates and his maturity and discipline to play very solid defensive hockey. But overall, he has gone missing for shifts -- and games -- at a time and has not played up to his first-round hype this season at all. -Tom Dorsa, AHL