Notebook: Chibrikov, Eklund, Voit & More
Every season, FCHockey’s scouts are scouring the globe to get eyes on prospects eligible for the 2021 NHL Draft and beyond.
They spend countless hours watching both live games and game tape to get the best possible analysis on the prospects entering the NHL Draft. Our Unpacking the Notebook series takes a look at some of the reports that FCHockey’s scouts have filed over the past week.
Here’s a glimpse at our scout’s analysis.
Sean Behrens, D, USA U18 National Team (USHL)
USA U18 2 – Youngstown 5 – January 30, 2021
Scouting report by Dylan Krill
I’m becoming more and more comfortable with saying that Sean Behrens is the most mature and defensively responsible player for the NTDP. His decision-making and approach are very consistent, suppressing high danger chances for his team while minimizing turnovers and taking fewer risks that are avoidable. He does not have a high-end top speed, but has quick feet and is agile enough to navigate his way through traffic in the neutral zone on breakouts. He has strong edges and was able to change direction and adapt to plays well, showing he has full control of his skating. He was able to adjust quickly and handle a one-timer well, with good power and accuracy. His wrist shot did not have much power though and will need improvement. He displayed good hands and puckhandling throughout the game. Being most noticeable along the boards, being able to win the majority of puck battles while controlling and protecting the puck well, not showing any difficulty. He displayed nice deception on a solo breakout, starting from his defensive zone and being able to beat three defenders to create an offensive zone entry with control. Reading the ice and understanding where to go, using his quick hands and head fakes efficiently and being able to set up a play in the zone for his team. He was able to find small passing lanes in-tight areas consistently, not having any difficulty completing accurate passes. He made many defensive zone exit passes, finding open teammates consistently and being able to complete quick stretch passes to teammates at the opposing blue line. He read’s and anticipates play well, understanding where he needs to help support teammates by identifying open space in the offensive zone and getting there for a scoring chance. He’s very efficient at closing space and taking away time from opponents, constantly looking to steal and take the puck away, while also being physical and being able to use his body appropriately to make an impactful hit. One thing that sticks out to me is the way Behrens approaches his opponent while defending one on one. Reading their body language and never getting over-aggressive, using excellent stick positioning to try and make contact with the puck, then taking the body to shut down any other chances. He does this very effectively and consistent. He makes smart decisions on when to be more aggressive and pinch to shutdown a play, and does so very effectively, rarely ever found with the play behind him.
Nikita Chibrikov, RW, SKA St. Petersburg (KHL)
Bars Kazan 0 – SKA St. Petersburg 3 – January 11, 2021
Scouting report by Derek Neumeier
In terms of pure pull-you-out-of-your-seat skill, Nikita Chibrikov is among the elite of this draft class. With lightning acceleration and sublime hands, he is a real threat in transition. Give him a little too much time and space to work with in open ice and you’ve got a huge problem on your hands. Has the wheels to beat opponents wide and gain that all-important separation. He is also quite an elusive player, as he is able to slow the pace down, shift his weight seamlessly from side to side, and deceive defenders with his hands, feet or head movement. Shows poise with the puck on his stick and calmness under pressure. Finds his teammates with passes in motion and can maneuver the puck into better shooting lanes. Does a good job of spotting opportunities on offense. My problem in this viewing is that I didn’t see a lot of everything I just mentioned. There were flashes of brilliance, but they were few and far between. His effort level and intensity cut in and out, as there were some shifts where he wanted to dominate the play, but the ones where he blended into the scenery were the most common. Could be something that is chalked up to playing at a professional level. Got physical on the forecheck on one shift and threw a big hit, so it’s nice to see that he has at least a little sandpaper to his game. Looks a little lost without the puck in his coverage and his gaps, and he needs to put in more work to get it back. Chibrikov possesses a lot of very translatable talent, he’ll just need some developmental time and attention on his play without the puck.
William Eklund, LW, Djurgardens (SHL)
Malmo 3 – Djugardens 4 – February 9, 2021
Scouting report by James Henry
Using his strong edges and some subtle misdirection, William Eklund has the ability to create scoring chances with his skating alone. Great speed and quickness, with and without the puck. He plays a similar game to Nikolaj Ehlers. Offensively he attacks with speed, drives the puck to the net, or changes his shooting angle on shot attempts. His release is quick and doesn’t need a lot of room to get the puck on net. Also shows good offensive habits by remaining around the net for second opportunities, and works to find open space. On the power play, he generally plays on the goal line. Either making quick plays to the net himself or moving the puck to open options in scoring areas. He recovers pucks well and shows a good understanding of his responsibilities on the man advantage. Without the puck, he is relentless on the forecheck, has a great work ethic, and solid defensive positioning. In puck battles, Eklund is competitive and has a strong stick. Breaking the puck out of the defensive zone, he is aware of his options and is responsible with the puck. The one area of concern I have for Eklund would be his pass receiving skills. At times wide passes would bounce or bobble off of his stick, especially firm passes to his backhand. Without many holes in his game, I see Eklund being selected in between picks 3 through 7. From what he has shown thus far in the SHL, Eklund likely has the most transferable skills for the jump to the NHL, when it comes to forwards in the 2021 draft class.
Artyom Grushnikov, D, Krasnaya Armiya (MHL)
MHK Dynamo 0 – Krasnaya 1 – March 14, 2020
Scouting report by Josh Bell
Artyom Grushnikov is a player that hasn’t had the recognition he deserves this season, as he hasn’t played a game. He shows good patience, not rushing his decisions. Does tend to cross his feet too early when defending the rush. While he didn’t get burned on it in this game, it’s something he’ll need to work on moving forward to not get beat at the next level. Battles hard in his own end, knowing when to commit and chase a puck into the corner and when to hold back in his position. There were times where you could see him thinking about when to commit and when to not, thinking that will need to speed up moving forward – you shouldn’t see the pause in processing. Tends to be the net-front presence in his own end, battles hard and ties his man up well. Definitely more of a defensively-minded defender. When attacking the puck carrier, he does well to get stick on stick, and then follow that up with his body. Not afraid to throw his body around and get in the carrier’s way. He’s very quick on his edges, with good movement in all four directions. While his straight-line speed wasn’t really on display in this game, he did show some intriguing movement. Looks to have good posture from his ankles to knees and opens his hips well in his pivots. Just based on this viewing, I question his puck-moving ability. With the puck, he tends to look to his defensive partner before looking up the ice. The two times he did look up the ice, it was just dump-ins. Obviously has the faith of the coaches, playing the last seconds of the game while on the penalty kill, up by one goal, against an extra attacker. I’m not sure how much offensive ability is there with Grushnikov, but his defensive game could be one of the more intriguing in this class. In this game alone, he had 10 takeaways and only two giveaways. The defensive ceiling could be very high. I’m extremely interested to see how far he’s come in this new season.
Brent Johnson, D, Sioux Falls Stampede (USHL)
Sioux City 2 – Sioux Falls 3 – January 14, 2021
Scouting report by Dylan Galloway
Brent Johnson was pretty quiet in this game but showed some flashes of good offensive contributions, and was a positive two-way contributor. An agile skater with really excellent edges, Johnson moves smoothly in all three zones and displays great mobility in all situations. His ability to utilize his edges to escape pressure, create time and space for himself on the offensive side of the puck really enabled him to progress the puck into lower pressure areas of the ice. His soft hands, when combined with his smooth skating were impressive in the flashes he displayed, though I would like to see it more often from him in future viewings. In addition, I felt, while he was able to pass the puck into lower pressure areas he wasn’t able to work the puck into higher danger areas. I was surprised with this due to how he handled the puck on the perimeters of the ice. I would hope to see Johnson be able to work into these areas in future viewings. On the defensive side of the puck is where Johnson’s mobility really shone through. His ability to cover a wide area laterally through excellent stick placement and quick feet really made it difficult for his opponents to move in from the perimeter. He holds his gap extremely well and closes in on opponents quickly once they hit the blue line. When he regains possession of the puck it’s impressive how quickly Johnson can turn the puck back up ice. He possesses really solid vision from the back end and can hit his targets with great accuracy. His great vision comes from having an impressively consistent eye on the play, always skating with his head up and surveying the play. His constant head movement and shoulder checks ensure he’s in a great position to be able to join the rush or hang back and cover off other rushers. Johnson has an intriguing toolset but I will need more viewings to provide a projection.
Ty Voit, LW, Sarnia Sting (OHL)
Sarnia 4 – Sault Ste. Marie 3 – March 1, 2020
Scouting report by Mat Sheridan
Ty Voit had a solid showing against the Greyhounds. Suiting up on a line with Nolan Burke and Jacob Perrault, he finished the game with a primary assist. Voit is a decent skater but his feet are always moving. He was hard in on the forecheck and was good at putting pressure on his opponents. One play that stood out came in the first period. The puck was dumped into the offensive zone and Voit was able to beat the defender in a footrace to get the puck. Those little plays go a long way into keeping offensive zone pressure and this is one of the better parts of his game. Voit was also really good at finding open ice in the offensive zone. Numerous times throughout the game, he went undetected and was able to find open space in the slot for a scoring chance. Defensively, his positioning left me wanting a bit more. There were times when the puck transitioned the other way, he hustled back to help out his defenders which was nice to see. There were also plays where he would start to transition the other way and did not provide an outlet for his defender. One positive for Voit is that he was good at playing with an active stick. He played his angles really well and kept his opponents to the outside of the defensive zone. Although he is on the small side, standing at 5-foot-8, Voit has great skills that he can work with as he continues to develop. Some teams may shy away from him due to his size but he has a lot of promise.
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