Notebook: O’Brien, Rosen, Tuomaala & 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.
Cole Huckins, C, Acadie-Bathurst Titan (QMJHL)
Halifax 6 – Acadie-Bathurst 7 – November 13, 2020
Scouting report by Theo Lambert
Cole Huckins is a big, physical forward that can play on the wing or as a center. During this game, he played some shifts at both positions. He competes very hard, whether he is in the defensive zone, the neutral zone or in the offensive zone. He backchecks very hard and uses his physical attributes to recover pucks in his own zone, and he positions himself well most of the time; although he did overcommit on hits that resulted in him being late to cover his point. Huckins is not a player that tries very complicated passes, but during the game, he was quite effective in his passing, especially on the breakout. In the offensive zone, he was also very successful in moving the puck around, notably on the power play. On the forecheck, he is very good. All game long, Huckins recovered pucks in the offensive zone by using his body, and then, he finds a way to take the puck in a dangerous position and go to the net. When his team was in control of the puck in the offensive zone, the pucks seemed to find Huckins in a dangerous position to score a lot. He missed some very good scoring chances. His shot looks powerful and quick. Huckins’ hands do need some work, as his puckhandling did not seem so fluid. At this level, it does not stop him from excelling, but at the highest level, it might hold him back if it does not get better. As for his skating, he is a pretty good skater, with good speed to him, but he might want to work on his agility and edge work, which could help him become an even better puck protector.
Wyatt Johnston, C, Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
London 4 – Windsor 2 – February 21, 2020
Scouting report by Joseph Aleong
Wyatt Johnston had a decent rookie season, with plenty of inconsistency in his role but some periods of outstanding play later in the year before the OHL shutdown. Johnston’s skating stands out immediately, as he gets up to top speed relatively quickly and loves to carry the puck through the neutral zone. He has solid foot speed and his acceleration and agility help him win puck races in the offensive zone. He could get better extension and power in his strides to raise his top-end speed, but that could come with increased lower-body endurance and strength. Shows decent puck control when moving at high speed, but his handling in tight spaces and under physical pressure is lacking at times. Shows good patience and vision with the puck, using his feet to get to open ice and finding tough passing lanes without much trouble. His shot is still relatively weak, as his first option is usually to look pass and he doesn’t get great power on his release without setting his feet under him. He gets to good spots for his teammates to find him on offense, but he could be more aggressive penetrating the high-danger areas of the zone rather than deferring to the perimeter. Shows good awareness away from the puck despite bouncing from center to wing at times, supporting his defenders low in his own end for a passing outlet and making good coverage reads on the back check. Johnston doesn’t shy from physical play but gets moved in puck battles a little too easily at times, an issue that could impact his ability to remain a center long-term.
Viljami Marjala, LW, Quebec Remparts (QMJHL)
Drummondville 7 – Quebec 5 – November 20, 2020
Scouting report by Andy Lehoux
Viljami Marjala is a cerebral two-way forward who possesses a complete skillset to impact the game on both ends. What first stands out for the Finnish attacker is how easy and smooth the game comes to him. Marjala makes decisions on the fly with incredible poise and composure on a consistent basis. The left winger, who played center tonight, showcased a tremendous instinct and touch on his passes, opening the play through transition fluidly without needing to overthink. He loved using drop passes on zone entries, which opened the shooting lane for the trailing attacker. Despite his ability as a passer, Marjala is willing to take matters into his own, creating zone exits and entries with stick-handling. The Finnish prospect stayed low on breakouts and put his stick in open lanes to be a constant outlet option. He then flashed high-end puck skills at times, deking pressure or protecting his puck around defensemans. His acceleration, top speed and stride have all rooms for improvement, sitting around average at the moment. Although not the quickest athlete, he can use brisk cuts and turns to escape pressure thanks to his excellent mobility and decent agility. Another aspect that jumps to the eye when watching Marjala, is his defensive pride. He often covered for a pinching defensemen and made a couple of neat defensive plays tonight, cutting passes to the slot with a nice active stick. He works very well through 1v1 battles with superb positioning, a physical presence and splendid stick-work. As a first look at playing at the center spot, it looks promising for Marjala, both through his positioning and at the face-off dot. I think he could become a versatile winger/center with more experience. Overall, the Finnish attacker possesses an all-around skillset that will certainly look interesting for multiple NHL teams.
Jack O’Brien, C, Lincoln Stars (USHL) – (LOAN)
Omaha 7 – Lincoln 1 – January 16, 2021
Scouting report by Joel Henderson
Jack O’Brien is the kind of player whose line will beat you tactically. They will out think you in the details of the game and make you pay whether or not you’re controlling the play. I watched Jack play quite a bit with Portland last season and he was the ultimate compliment goal scorer on a line with others who drove play with their speed and puck control. For Lincoln, you could see Jack opening his body in the neutral zone, presenting his stick for passes, knocking down pucks, and showing decent acceleration. His hand-eye coordination is really active and makes him a dangerous player to try and pass the puck through or too. He can control that pass very quickly and allows him to use soft touch saucer passes into quiet space or one-touch passes; moving the puck quickly on the power play. It allows him to suffocate lanes offensively and may you pay offensively. He was the only goal scorer in this one for Lincoln as he jumped on a loose puck in the high slot and snapped a wrist shot before anyone could adjust. He is physical when he needs to be but would rather just move in and out of dangerous space. He seems to be a real smart, two-way C, who can facilitate the speed of wingers and play the slot on a PP for quick wrister goals. I wish his speed was more of a separator for him and that he was more aggressive once established in the offensive zone by attacking the net like a goal scorer but as I said, he would much rather just facilitate players who do that better than he.
Isak Rosen, LW, Leksands IF (SHL)
Vaxjo 4 – Leksands 3 – December 10, 2020
Scouting report by Josh Bell
A little bit of explosion in Isak Rosen‘s steps, I really like his acceleration. While not as strong as his opponents, does everything he can to make it hard on them. Nice job opening up as a passing option, quick head check to find a man, makes a really nice stretch pass from his circle to opposite blue line to spring a breakaway. Slightly mishandles the puck but recovers quickly. Active defensively, grabbing a loose puck and intercepting a pass. Shows a bit of a delay in processing on both though, losing possession. A great dynamic stance, good stride. Shows great support, helping in battles and covering for the D when needed. Impressive speed. Want to see him drop a hand off his stick to let his shoulder rotate freely at times, but otherwise nice form. Forechecks hard. Nice one-touch pass under pressure. Does very well at getting in the passing lanes, tipping passes and/or forcing the opponent to find another play. The way he utilizes change of speed shows of the intelligence in his game. Uses that explosion to separate and create a 2-on-1 out of nowhere. Needs to work on angling when trying to defend the rush. Often gets passed by opponents due to skating straight at the boards rather than trying to take away space. Definitely gets overpowered at times – understandable at his age/size in the SHL. Nice job forcing turnovers. One-times a shot, not a great choice, but a hard shot with good weight behind it. His forced turnovers/tips lead to a lot of breakouts. If he can turn his tipped passes into interceptions – watch out. Needs to improve his quick decisions. Tends to rush the puck when under pressure. Interesting to see him out in the final minutes of the game, down a goal, with an empty net. Played about two minutes of the final three in this scenario.
Samu Tuomaala, LW, Karpat U20 (U20 SM-sarja)
Karpat Jr. 6 – KalPa Jr. 0 – January 8, 2021
Scouting report by Derek Neumeier
Samu Tuomaala is almost like a shark: he can be ferocious when he smells blood in the water… but the rest of the time he’s floating around really casually. There’s no denying that the kid has talent. He’s a graceful and gifted skater, who glides around the ice quickly and gets up to his top speed almost instantly. He can receive and handle the puck in full flight, and has the skill to undress defenders or shoot from the rush. Advanced playmaker who sees lanes open up and can be deceptive with his intentions. Can make hard, accurate one-touch passes. Has his moments where he anticipates the play and causes turnovers. All that being said, Tuomaala is a frustrating player to watch because of his habits. His effort level is flat-out awful at times, as he hangs back and waits for his teammates to do all the work for him. He doesn’t dig in for puck battles, shies away from contact, is pushed around easily, is slow on the backcheck, and flies his defensive zone too early. His coaches shelter him with easy minutes, and it’s totally understandable as to see why. He also doesn’t move his feet enough to get open on the powerplay, which completely wastes his skill much of the time. There are also times where his reads are way off, almost like he’s not thinking hard enough about the play unfolding. Tuomaala will need a wake-up call at some point and have to change a lot of his habits, otherwise he could miss the NHL entirely. A very boom-or-bust type of prospect.
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