Bell’s 10 Takes: Buium, Lambos, Under-18s & more
Bell’s 10 Takes is a monthly column from FCHockey’s crossover scout Josh Bell. This column will highlight Bell’s analysis of 2021 NHL Draft-eligible prospects and reaction news in the prospect world.
April 2021 almost feels normal in terms of the NHL Draft and the prospect world. Almost.
We had the 2021 BioSteel All-American Game and now we’re quickly approaching the 2021 IIHF World Under-18 Hockey Championship. It’s a scout’s dream month. However, the OHL season still remains in limbo and with Ontario currently in a four-week lockdown, things are looking bleak for a potential season.
But let’s try to focus on the positives, shall we? Here are my 10 Takes for April.
All-American Game standouts
The All-American Game was a must-watch for NHL Draft-enthusiasts, with the United States Under-18 Team taking on and defeating the USHL All-Stars 7-1. On top of the five players that we’ve already written about standing out in the game, I have a couple more I’d like to highlight.
First, I’ve talked him about him before in this column and I will talk about him in this one more. Jack Peart just continues to impress me. While he did have a bad giveaway that directly led to a goal, he had an impressive nine takeaways in the game, five breakouts, and four entries. Despite being handed a lopsided loss, Peart looked calm and poised in the game, showing a strong two-way ability.
Next, I was very impressed by the 2022-eligibles in this game, who helped drive up the score for the USNTDP. Jack Devine, Isaac Howard, and Rutger McGroarty showed why the 2022 class is looking strong, each scoring a goal and looking very much like some of the best players on the team at times. If you’ve missed McGroarty’s goal especially, here it is for you to watch. I’ll wait.
On defence, Ty Murchison acted as a magnet in the game, getting 11 takeaways with just one giveaway. He was solid in his own zone, breaking up plays and often leading the charge the other way. He impressed me. Here’s my full report on him in the game.
Finally, some more forwards had impressive games, including Red Savage, Ty Gallagher, and Ryan St. Louis. Likely depth players at best at the next level, they showed strong instincts at both ends in this matchup, making sure they’re on the radar for the NHL Draft.
Peart named Mr. Hockey
More on Peart, he was honoured recently as Mr. Hockey, an award given to the more outstanding high school senior in Minnesota. The 17-year-old put up 35 points (11 goals, 24 assists) in 18 games for Grand Rapids High. He’s also played in 20 USHL games this season with Fargo Force, collecting 11 assists. Ranked 98th in FCHockey’s Winter ranking, expect a rise in the Spring edition, in no small part from yours truly’s opinion of him.
Canada announces U18 Championship roster
On to the Under-18 discussion! Team Canada has announced its roster for the highly-anticipated event, highlighted by top 2021 NHL Draft eligibles Brandt Clarke, Dylan Guenther, and Mason McTavish. Also notable, the Canadian roster holds two top prospects from the next two drafts in Shane Wright and Connor Bedard.
This roster is absolutely stacked with talent, including 11 players from FCHockey’s first-round ranking. The group should very much be considered a favourite heading into the tournament. There are a couple of players that very well could have made this squad as well, Matthew Savoie (2022), Logan Mailloux (2021), and Kyle Masters come to mind, but this is a very good-looking group top to bottom.
No QMJHL prospects on Canada’s roster
What might be the biggest omission from Team Canada’s roster, however, is the QMJHL. The league decided not to send their players to the event, noting that the dates conflict with their playoffs. This is a big loss for Team Canada, that could have seen at least Zachary L’Heureux, Zach Dean, and Evan Nause added to the roster. With no Memorial Cup happening, the QMJHL playoffs will mark the end of the season for the league, but these players are definitely missing out on one of the biggest scouting events of the season.
Lambos taken out of U18s, Mateychuk added
The last hit for Team Canada, defenseman Carson Lambos of the Winnipeg Ice has been pulled out of the U18s due to an injury that took him out of the WHL’s East Divison Regina Hub last month. Ranked 16th overall in FCHockey’s Winter ranking, that’s a big hole to fill on Team Canada. Taking his place is 2022-eligible Denton Mateychuk of the Moose Jaw Warriors. Mateychuk has looked strong in his 16 WHL games this season, scoring twice and adding seven assists. Entering his draft year in 2021-22, he will be a must-know prospect for those looking ahead to the 2022 NHL Draft. Early on, he looks to be the top 2004-born offensive defenseman in Western Canada.
Sweden’s U18 roster looks set
Another team launching their roster is Team Sweden. While they’ve called it their preliminary roster, it only has 24 players on it, fitting within the limits of the tournament. The team looks highlighted by defenseman Simon Edvinsson and forwards Fabian Lysell and Isak Rosen. The Swedish team is the reigning gold medalist due to the 2020 tournament being cancelled. Way back in 2019 – which feels like a lifetime ago – the roster led by Karl Henriksson, Lucas Raymond, and Alexander Holtz led the way to gold.
For those already keeping an eye on the 2022 NHL Draft, you’re not going to want to miss Ludwig Persson, and Elias Salomonsson (among others). With some prospects in their draft-1 season, could we be seeing a repeat of 2019?
Russia’s preliminary U18 roster out
Another monster entering the U18s – as always – is Russia. While they have a number of cuts to make, the group is looking strong, led by 2021 prospects Nikita Chibrikov, Prokhor Poltapov, and Fyodor Svechkov. Much like Canada and Sweden, there’s also a nod to what’s to come, with 2022 prospect Ivan Miroshnichenko and 2023 phenom Matvei Michkov also looking to lead the pack. The second-place team in 2019 – granted with a completely different roster – this is an exciting roster.
Finland also has preliminary roster announced
Last of the big names so far (the USA has yet to announce their roster), Finland has their preliminary roster ready to go, headlined by 2021-eligible Samu Tuomaala, Sami Salminen, Ville Koivunen, and one of my personal favourites in this class, Oliver Kapanen. After impressing at the 2021 World Juniors, Brad Lambert will be donning the white and blue once again as well. I’d recommend keeping an eye on Kapanen in this tournament, see if you can see what Derek Neumeier and I see. I have a feeling you won’t be disappointed.
The underappreciated Russian: Dmitri Zugan
Into the prospects I’ve been watching, at the beginning of the season, I came in really liking what I saw in Russian forward Dmitri Zugan, fighting for him to be in FCHockey’s preliminary top-100 ranking. He dropped out in the Winter ranking after some input from other scouts, but after watching him progress through his season, I’ll be pushing for him again in the Spring ranking. He finished the season with 16 goals, 24 assists, and 40 points in 61 games, adding an assist in the playoffs. Here’s an excerpt from my latest report:
“The center has strong awareness thanks to his constant head checks. In the offensive zone, he has a nose for the open ice, always looking to be an option for his teammates. He shows up strong in puck battles, winning and then protecting the puck well with his body. He’s often there to support his team when they find themselves in battles. He reads the play well, jumping up the ice quickly and leaving two defenders behind to create a two-on-one, showing off his excellent speed.”
Buium yet another USHL gem
I’m really liking defensemen from the USHL this year. Luke Hughes. Jack Peart. Jack Bar. David Gucciardi. Brent Johnson. And Shai Buium. The Sioux City Musketeers defender was a standout in the All-American Game, has added 23 points (four goals, 19 assists) in 46 USHL games, and 13 points (two goals, 11 assists) in 17 games with Shattuck St. Mary’s. The six-foot-three, 214-pound American has been impressing FCHockey’s scouts, and should see a big rise in the Spring ranking. From my latest report:
“He’s a strong playmaker, really opening up the ice with his passes and creating opportunities for his team. Both from his own zone and in the cycle, he moves the puck around well. His puckhandling is surprisingly high-end, with the ability to dance along the blue line and around attackers on display in this game. His strength is his biggest asset, easily pinning players to the boards and using his body to protect the puck. He competes hard, never letting his foot off the gas.”