Notebook: Kisakov, L’Heureux, Wong & 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.
Francesco Arcuri, C, Steel Wings Linz (AlpsHL) – LOAN
EHC Linz 3 – EC KAC 2 – January 28, 2021
Scouting report by Olivia McArtur
In this game for Francesco Arcuri, there were some ups and downs to his game. He has good play reading skills and was able to see open passing lanes for potential scoring opportunities and was often able to force his opponents into making passes where he’d try and gain possession. I noticed he doesn’t have the best balance. He was falling down a lot whether it was a helpful push from his teammate or a hit from an opponent. He is good on his edges and a decent skater. When the puck is in his possession, he has okay control but he could definitely work on his puck handling skills as they weren’t great and the puck was taken from him. Towards the end of the game, he seemed to really only try for the puck when it was near him otherwise he didn’t seem interested in the play. He has a good slot area presence and when possible, he has a good shot as well.
Alexander Kisakov, LW, MHK Dynamo (MHL)
Riga 4 – MHK Dynamo 5 – Febrauary 6, 2021
Scouting report by Derek Neumeier
One of the top scorers in the MHL this season, Alexander Kisakov is incredibly dangerous in the offensive zone when he has the puck on his stick and a little bit of space to work with. His head is always up and his ability to read the offensive zone is among the best in this draft class. Has a feathery soft touch on the puck and can make one-touch passes in the blink of an eye. Is light on his feet and is slippery to contain thanks to his smooth footwork. Can effortlessly curl or change direction to ease away from pressure. His brain, hands and feet all work in conjunction to make him a tremendous playmaker, who can feed dangerous passes almost effortlessly. His shot is also pretty impressive, making him a dual threat and that much harder to defend. He’s not a slouch without the puck either, as he silently weaves through traffic looking for plays to rescue or pucks to steal, and he kills penalties a bit for his club. On the downside, there were times in this game where his focus and decisions were hit and miss, mostly passes that were forced and resulted in turnovers. He knows how to be patient and wait for holes to open up, but doesn’t seem to always apply that ability. He’s also not a physical player at all, as he shies away from contact and doesn’t cut inside as hard as I’d like to see. Would like to see him play with more jam, focus and pace. He’s a late 2002 birthday and plays on a good team that has so much offensive depth that it can outmatch and overwhelm opposing defenses, so I wonder how much those factors affect his scoring totals. Overall, Kisakov projects really well as at least a power play specialist and offensive supporter, and has enough skill that even more could possibly be unlocked long-term.
Zachary L’Heureux, C, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
Halifax 1 – Charlottetown 7 – October 30, 2020
Scouting report by Theo Lambert
Zach L’Heureux is a talented winger who can also play with a physical edge. In this game, L’Heureux failed to be consistent in his effort in both zones. In the offensive zone, he fought for pucks, finished his hits, and won a couple of races for loose pucks, but in his defensive zone, and on the backcheck, he was not involved enough to have a positive impact. He did not put much effort on his backchecking game, as he let himself glide back too many times. In his zone, I also felt like his feet completely stopped moving too often, which put him out of position a couple of times. On two goals, I think L’Heureux can be blamed, at least partially, as he was not combative enough to stop his opponent from taking a rebound or was just not positioned adequately. On the other hand, L’Heureux did show a decent compete level at times, like when his team was down a man. In this situation, he seemed more involved in the play, and he looked more intense and ready to defend his zone with good positioning and good usage of his stick to cut passing lanes. L’Heureux really needs to work on competing more consistently, because if he does, he has some nice tools that could make a nice player at the next level. With the puck on his stick, he looks very smart. I feel like he can exploit open ice very well, and he looks like he can use deception to manipulate the opposing team’s defenders, and he is an excellent puck protector. For example, L’Heureux once used quick crossovers and good body positioning to make it seem like he was going to go around the D, and along the boards, but then he quickly changed direction, and took the center of the ice. Unfortunately, he lost the puck, but I liked the idea. One other time, after pressuring the opposing team’s defender, taking away the puck, and taking a quick shot on a 2 on 1, L’Heureux won the race to the rebound, and he displayed some very good puck protection and puck placement skills, as 2 opponents tried to take the puck away from him. He even managed to get himself in a dangerous position to shoot, which he did. He can release his shot quickly, but I feel like he could add more power to it. He has some nice puckhandling skills, as he can make some nice moves, and he has the confidence to do so, but sometimes, he takes unnecessary risks, and looses pucks. He will have to fix that too. His playmaking game looked good in this game. He did make a beautiful play on the rush, as he attracted 2 defenders, which opened space for his teammate, who after receiving L’Heureux’s pass, was all alone in front of the goaltender. He also attempted a couple of other passes in the slot, that sometimes lacked just a bit of accuracy. As per his skating, it is mostly positive. He seems to have a good skating technique, and he has some nice speed, and agility. He has some good edges, but I think he could use a little bit explosiveness, which could help him separate himself from his opponents. He also needs to learn to use his good skating ability more often, because he often looks like he is not trying as hard as he could. Finally, L’Heureux’s physical game is impressive for a smaller player, as he is not scared to hit and drive the net, and by working on his shot, his consistency, his strength, his explosiveness, and his defensive game, he could become an interesting player.
James Malatesta, C, Quebec Remparts (QMJHL)
Blainville-Boisbriand 4 – Quebec 3 – November 19, 2020
Scouting report by Andy Lehoux
James Malatesta is an ambitious attacker who threats every puck pursuit and counterattack as a way to leave his mark on the game and put on display is exceptional compete. Despite what many would think, his humble size didn’t slow him down a bit; physical play actually attracted him more than anything. The left winger had an obvious penchant for the dump and chase style of play, often placing the puck behind the defender in rushes, and betting on his quickness and relentless combativity to establish the attack. He got on the forecheck with mean intentions, thoroughly enjoying finishing his hits, and worked through puck battles with a vicious stick. The 5 foot 9 draft-eligible owns a marvelous upper-body strength, which allowed him to fight off checks and take control of corners effortlessly. Malatesta showcased great, dynamic offensive instincts to jump on countless odd-man rushes as both the puck carrier and a passing option crashing the net. The Canadian attacker exhibited an exceptional explosion on his two-step acceleration, and followed through with an impressive foot speed all the way to his top velocity. His straight-line drive and/or crossovers allowed him to completely bypass anyone given the lane thanks to a superior speed. Malatesta possesses a very quick, threatening puck delivery on his wrist shot, which he loved to fire on the fly. He also enjoyed using his intensity as a gravitational weapon to help his teammates get open and look for easy setup. He doesn’t have the vision or touch of a first-rate playmaker, but he’s looking to create for his allies just as much. Despite holding to some high-end skills, Malatesta already plays like a role player/complementary piece at the junior level. He trades creativity and elusiveness for intensity, making quick plays to force the hand of his opponents rather than look at his complete options. This limits his potential, but offers a style of play easily compatible with any NHL team’s bottom 6.
Jeremy Wilmer, C, USNTDP (USHL)
USA U18 4 – Youngstown 3 – January 31, 2021
Scouting report by Ray Napientek
Jeremy Wilmer displays a wide skating stride. Quick feet and crossover. Wilmer can turn his hips and work his body into positions to make plays without losing his balance. His transition skating is good, as he shows quick bursts and does not lose ground when turning to defend. His edge work is very good, too. Shows like he’s using everything he has when he skates. Can stop on dime and work his feet to make plays. Shows a second burst without much energy. Wilmer likes to go to the tough areas, a surprising quality for his size. He battles for loose pucks and hows an active stick more than leaning into his opponent. Wants the puck on his stick and is sneaky with his quick hands coming out with loose pucks from battles. Wilmer could use some work on getting below his own dots in the defensive zone. Even with his size, you’d like to see him bodying up his opponent on a more consistent basis. Had a few opportunities to defend but looked to have his momentum moving for a breakout. Had a nice backdoor opportunity that he did not capitalize on but went hard to the net from center ice to gain the advantage. He then drew a penalty a shift later. Shows good vision with the puck. HIS stick handling is quick and he can bring the puck in tight to make plays. Assisted on a short breakaway finding an open linemate after freezing the goaltender and defender to open up space for his teammate. Makes a crisp pass with some strength for his size. Goes right to the net on the power play. Wilmer showed he can play behind the net and make plays in the offensive zone. He definitely displays an offensive IQ and the ability at finding open position on the ice, even willing to play behind the net. Plays an energy game with a bunch of offensive chances when he’s on the ice.
Trevor Wong, C, Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
Lethbridge 4 – Kelowna 5 – March 7, 2020
Scouting report by Joel Henderson
It is frustrating to watch a player with very good hand-eye coordination and puck control just chase the puck all night. When Trevor Wong was on the ice, it seemed like he is chasing a puck into the o-zone, putting pressure on defensemen but not having too much success causing turnovers. His skating is really a fluid stride which combined with top-notch balance allows him to adapt to moving pucks and the play developing. His edgework is tight and keep him in the play positionally. It allows him to close gaps and clog lanes effectively. That being said, he rarely used physical leverage to gain position on a player in any zone and rarely finished his checks when forechecking. He will much rather close the gaps and try to anticipate their passing around him. He looks to knock down pucks or even force his body along the boards. There was very little puck control in the ozone in this one. I found when he built up speed on the rush as a puck carrier he was good at using inside out routes to create separation on entries. He also has the ability to pull and drag the puck laterally which frankly he needs to do due to his smaller frame and stick. He has the potential to use his speed and shifting gears to put defenders off balance but maybe Kelowna’s transition style simply was more dump and chase. I find the best way he can affect the play is when there is a little bit of chaos closer to the net. His agility and hand-eye allow him to jump on pucks; whether from rebounds or squeezed loose and he can direct pucks quickly. I didn’t see him much as an offensive threat here with a one-timer or as a go-to option. I have seen in the past his ability to use a quick and accurate wrist shot off with weight on both feet but he did not use it here. He is certainly a draftable player but I’d have to have many more views where he is a dangerous option with established puck control in the ozone for me to rank him quite high.
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