Scout Survey: Kicking off the 2020-21 season
If you haven’t already, it’s time to gear up for the 2021 NHL Draft.
As the 2020-21 hockey season has begun for most of Europe and Quebec, the regional scouts for FCHockey have been able to get some initial viewings on the draft eligibles for the upcoming draft NHL Draft.
In the first Scout Survey of the 2020-21 season, FCHockey posed a series of questions to scouts around the globe.
With a good sample size starting to develop, who are some of the early favourites from your region after the first 1-2 months of the season?
“It’s a two-horse race for the top spot in the QMJHL at the moment, between Halifax’s left-winger Zachary L’Heureux and Rimouski’s center Zachary Bolduc. Although both had slow starts to their season in relation to the high expectations, they clearly possess the best skillsets in the region and, until others can prove otherwise, stand alone at the top.” – Andy Lehoux, Eastern Canada scout
“Daniil Chayka, who returned from Canada, can be called a unanimous favorite. In addition to him, Fyodor Svechkov from the talented Ladya Togliatti, Vladimir Sychyov from SKA-Varyagy, Matvei Averochkin from CSKA (Red Army) and Nikita Chibrikov from SKA-1946 have had strong starts.” – Dmitri Blokhin, Russian scout
“Samuel Helenius has really upped his stock in the first month of the season. He isn’t or shouldn’t be in the first round conversation (at least yet), but a huge forward with good mobility and offensive potential is always intriguing. Despite the disappointing start of the season, Aatu Raty is still the clear-cut favorite to be the best Finnish player of the draft class.” – Miika Arponen, Finnish scout
“Sweden has the potential to have a really good draft year. Simon Edvinsson, Fabian Lysell, and Jesper Wallstedt all have tremendous potential as potential top picks. Behind them, you have players like Anton Olsson, William Eklund, Simon Robertsson, Isak Rosen, and Oskar Olausson who all look like potential first-round picks. I recommend everybody to keep an eye on the Swedes this year!” – Viktor Bergman, Swedish scout
Who are you keeping a close eye on in anticipation that they rise up your ranks as the season progresses?
“I’m a big fan of Peter Reynolds so far this season. He transferred to the QMJHL (Saint John Sea Dogs) this year, so I’ve only been able to catch him a couple of times, but he has looked like a solid smart two-way center with great upside so far. If he can keep up his tremendous play throughout his draft year, he could definitely challenge for the top spot in the Q. Justin Robidas and Cole Huckins are also players who’ve had impressive starts and could rise in the upcoming months.” – Lehoux
“I was able to track two strong players from low-rated JHL teams. These are Daniil Nichukhrin from AKM Novomoskovsk, Daniil Groza from Sakhalin Sharks. Both players missed part of the season due to injuries, so they could be lost from the scout lens. I can also note Semyon Sidorov from the Amur Tigers. A talented guy, but he has discipline problems.” – Blokhin
“Ville Koivunen has already started to raise some eyebrows, but is still talked about relatively little considering his very good point totals so far. Jere Virolainen is an opposite case as his start of the season has been a bit more modest, but I fully expect him to pick up the pace as the season progresses.” – Arponen
“William Stromgren. One of my favorite players this year. He looked really good at the end of last season and has continued to look really good this season. I expect him to climb the rankings throughout the year. Some other players are Jonathan Myrenberg, Victor Sjoholm, and Victor Stjernborg.” – Bergman
How has COVID-19 affected the way you scout thus far? Are you noticing yourself seeing the game differently than if you have been forced to scout through video more so than in person?
“Scouting via video rather than in person has its ups and downs. It’s much easier to get multiple views in, as opposed to being limited to one game a day. You can also watch a specific play multiple times and at different speeds to examine certain things with more scrutiny. Analyzing a player’s stride, for example, is much easier with video for those exact reasons. That said, we miss a lot of things throughout the game that the camera simply cannot track. Analyzing a prospect’s positioning and decision-making off the puck is very tough, as the player can often be off the screen. Watching behaviors with teammates, coaches and staff is also a thing I have to pass on nowadays. Working on video only is an extra challenge, but one I’m excited to face.” – Lehoux
“In Russia now there is no ban on visiting games, there are only restrictions on the number of people in the arena. Of course, in the first weeks of the new year it was difficult to objectively assess the level of the players due to the fact that they did not have the opportunity to seriously prepare for the season. Some had a lot of rest, some were ill, some teams entered the season later because of COVID. However, it was clear to see players who trained better than others. To me, this indicates the character of the hockey player, which is the most important factor in his continued success.” – Blokhin
“I’ve been going to the rink a lot less than usual, although the games haven’t been completely shut off from spectators in Finland.” – Arponen
“I watch a lot more games on video than what I’m used to. I have noticed that I have to be more focused and pay special attention to abilities such as vision and play without the puck, as those are harder to identify on video in my opinion.” – Bergman
Have you noticed a change in the pace or intensity of games with limited to no fans in the stands?
“It’s a different atmosphere for sure. It’s a much quieter game, but the intensity stays the same. Everyone is super competitive and the energy that comes from the fans are simply an added bonus. Whenever there’s a big hit of a great individual effort, we can hear players cheer for their teammate, which I’ve come to enjoy a lot.” – Lehoux
“The pace and intensity remained unchanged for all intents and purposes. In my opinion, the attitude of players should not change because of fan attendance. First, the players know that people who are important to them follow their game, as fans in Russia can watch the MHL broadcasts for free through the app. Secondly, everyone understands the importance of each individual game and their own performance for their future career. Therefore, my answer is no, the pace has not changed.” – Blokhin
“Not really. The attendance of the junior games hasn’t really changed from normal, and in Liiga games there are still enough fans to keep up the atmosphere and intensity of the game.” – Arponen
“Not really. In Sweden, we have an attendance limit of 50. And most of the junior games are played with approximately 50-100 in the stands in non-pandemic times. So, there hasn’t been a change at junior level. There is a big difference though with no fans in the stands at the SHL games, but the pace and intensity of the games hasn’t changed much in my opinion.” – Bergman