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May 10, 2021

SCOUT SURVEY: Post-2021 World Under-18s Roundtable

Well, wasn’t that fun?

The 2021 IIHF World Under-18 Championship is in the books, with Canada coming away golden, Russia earning silver, and Sweden taking the bronze. From our perspective, it’s less about which countries came home with what hardware and more about which prospects, eligible for the 2021 NHL Draft and otherwise, left a lasting impression. Those can be positive vibes or negative thoughts, depending on how one performed.

RELATED: PRE-TOURNAMENT SCOUT SURVEY

With the tournament now in the rearview, we posed some questions to a handful of FCHockey’s scouts to get their thoughts on the exciting event.

Which prospect impressed you the most?

Fabian Lysell impressed me the most at the Under-18s tournament. Lysell has the potential to be a top prospect at the upcoming draft and he showed why with his performance for Sweden. Every night Sweden played Lysell was the most exciting player on their roster. He has the skill, the speed and the IQ to make him an offensive threat every time he’s on the ice but it was his aggressiveness on the forecheck and his willingness to engage in 50-50 battles that stood out to me. His ability to play a complete game and to never let his effort level waiver that made him the most impressive player to me.” — Video scout Austin Broad

“There are a lot of guys who are close, but I’ll say Mason McTavish here. Even though he wasn’t putting up eye-popping numbers or making any highlight-reel plays, I thought that he played at a consistently high level and was a huge difference-maker. I don’t know if Canada wins gold without all the different, good little things that McTavish did, especially at important times in key games.” — Head video scout Derek Neumeier

“Every time I was watching Brandt Clarke, I came away thinking he could be smartest player in this draft. He never looked overwhelmed and was consistently finding ways to evade pressure. He understands how to properly join the rush to contribute offensively, while still playing a responsible defensive game.” — Regional scout Dylan Krill

“There were a number of prospects that looked really good in this tournament, but Samu Tuomaala is the first player that comes to mind. The Finnish winger has shown off his shot all season and that was on full display at the Under-18s. But it wasn’t just his shot, it was when he utilized it. Tuomaala was one of the most clutch players over the past two weeks, sparking comebacks, and winning games for his team. His shot was excellent, he showed creative, high-danger passing, and in my eyes, he’s among the prospects that raised their draft stock significantly in this event. Fabian Lysell is a close second here, looking strong in every game for the Swedes despite the team struggling.” — Video scout Josh Bell

Olen Zellweger really impressed me through this tournament. Not because he was able to put up a point-per-game, but because of his skating and escapability with the puck. This is something that he has shown over a shortened WHL season, and he didn’t have to change his game against stiffer competition. His last on ice impression going into the 2021 Draft has shown his size isn’t an issue, and he is one of the best skating defenseman available.” — Regional scout James Henry

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Which prospect had you hoped to see more out of performance-wise?

Anton Olsson was a player that I would have liked to have seen more out of throughout the tournament. His production wasn’t bad at all, recording three assists, but his game wasn’t as consistent as I would have hoped for. Olsson struggled defensively at times and his inconsistency with defending the rush and maintaining his gap control were really evident when playing against the stronger teams in the tournament.” — Broad

“I found that Dylan Guenther had a quiet tournament and never really imposed his will like I thought he would. He blended into the scenery too much for my liking, instead letting his teammates step up and take games into their hands. I expected him to come into this event with momentum after his hot start in the WHL, but that didn’t happen.” — Neumeier

“Although I thought he had a strong performance for Sweden against Canada in the tournament semifinal, I wanted and expected to see an amazing tournament from Simon Edvinsson to give me the confidence in knowing he is worth a top-5 pick. After seeing some poor decision making and not enough consistency in his defensive play, I left feeling underwhelmed too many times. I do still believe in the potential, but he is a project that teams will have to keep an eye on.” — Krill

“Playing in the top league in the Czech Republic and looking strong against the older players at the World Juniors, I thought that Stanislav Svozil would be a top player in this tournament. Not only was that not the case, he wasn’t even the best defenseman on his team. Svozil is in many first-round rankings, but the lack of consistency that he shows is a flag for me. Seeing how he played at the World Juniors, I was really expecting him to step up and I came away a little disappointed.” — Bell

“Expectations were not met in this tournament for Team USA, and I think Aidan Hreschuk personally missed an opportunity to showcase some of his offensive skills. His lack of production offensively, along with some defensive issues, Hreschuk underperformed and it may have pushed him back a bit heading into the draft.” — Henry

Which prospect do you think raised his draft stock the most?

“I think Zellweger raised his draft status the most. He performed like a No. 1 defenseman throughout the entire tournament and succeeded in every role that Canada put him in. He was great at running the power play, he was solid at both ends of the ice at 5-on-5 and he had the production to back his play up with eight points in seven games. Before the tournament started I never would have guessed Zellweger would be the top producing defenseman for Canada but he finished tied for the team lead in points by a defender.” — Broad

“I have to give a shout out to Isak Rosen for this one. I absolutely loved him in this tournament, he was generating so many chances and driving so much play, usually with little support. He even killed penalties effectively. I viewed him as a fringe first rounder before the event began, but now I think he’s closer to the top-15 and I’ve circled him as a guy to go back and get lots more views of.” — Neumeier

“For me personally, it was Rosen. Since I don’t have many views on European prospects, the Under-18s we’re perfect for me, and Rosen really stood out to me in each of Sweden’s games. I was impressed with how consistent he is at getting into perfect space for the best shooting opportunity and with how effective his shot is.” — Krill

“Finnish defender Aleksi Heimosalmi really raised his draft stock in this tournament. The smooth-skating defender was the No. 1 rearguard for the Finns, led all defensemen in the tournament in points, and was named the Best Defenseman in the tournament. I think Heimosalmi solidified his spot in the top three rounds thanks to his ability to pull out highlight-reel plays, impressive creativity, and consistent reliability in his own end. For me, he was the best defender in the tournament and is the biggest riser in this tournament.” — Bell

“Lysell may have raised his draft status the most during this tournament. Showing off some incredible skill during the round robin, Lysell was always creating offense when he had the puck on his stick. With the importance of puck possession in today’s NHL, look for Lysell to have his name called a bit earlier than most expect.” — Henry

Which under-the-radar prospect put himself on the map in this tournament?

Danila Klimovich from Belarus was the one prospect who put himself on the map at this tournament. Klimovich averaged more than a goal-per-game and was a threat to score in every game producing at least four shots on goal in every contest he played in. Obviously, Belarus isn’t a powerhouse so seeing the success that Klimovich was able to have against the best competition in the world at his age showed the hockey world he is for real.” — Broad

“I guess that depends on what you consider ‘under-the-radar.’ Zellweger and Heimosalmi were already firmly on my radar coming in, but they weren’t on everyone’s. For someone who was way off my radar, I’ll say Finnish goalie Aku Koskenvuo. He was so, so much better than his stats would suggest. He has enough tools to become a starting goalie in the NHL if the team that drafts him can help him master how to use them all.” — Neumeier

“Klimovich was not a name I had heard of before this tournament, but I will definitely not forget it now after the performance he had. Finishing tied for sixth in goals, with six in five games, he now will be a name to remember at the draft.” — Krill

“It has to be Klimovich here. After not being on the NHL Draft radar, the Belarus forward exploded in this tournament, potting six goals in his first three games. His ability to sneak behind and around defenders, getting open for a pass, and his wicked shot were big surprises in the tournament, and shot him into the draft conversation. He likely won’t be a high pick, but his performance is more than enough to garner some attention in the back half of the draft.” — Bell

“I think McTavish made the most of this tournament, and really showed that he can be a complimentary player, on a top line. In the offensive zone he is constantly around the net, battling for pucks, and shows great timing to create scoring chances. His play recently has shown how he can contribute alongside top-end skill, which isn’t always easy to come by. He may not have been under the radar, but he really has risen over the last two weeks.” — Henry

Which non-2021 NHL Draft eligible was the most impressive in this tournament?

“All three of Connor Bedard, Shane Wright and Matvei Michkov lived up to their lofty expectations from before the tournaments, but 2022 eligible defenseman Lian Bichsel was really impressive for Switzerland. The 6-foot-5, 212-pound 16-year-old played a big role for the Swiss and he was crucial in their lone win against Latvia. While he isn’t the biggest name for the 2022 draft, Bichsel put himself on the map with his performance this year.” — Broad

“Tough choice here, but I have to go with Bedard. He left more of an impact in the tournament’s biggest moments, including the gold medal game, of course. His ridiculous backhand goal really jolted the championship game in Canada’s favor.” — Neumeier

“For not playing a game in over a year, it looked like Wright hadn’t lost any step and didn’t appear to play with any rust from the start. He reminded everyone how good is he and that he has continued to develop and grow into a future star.” — Krill

“No question it’s Michkov. The young Russian absolutely oozes skill and it was on full display in this event. His puckhandling is elite, his shot is remarkable, and his ability to create separation with defenders is jaw-dropping. On top of all this, it’s the speed at which he processes the game. He can react in a split-second, pulling off an impressive deke to get around his man.” — Bell

“Even though he isn’t draft eligible until 2023, Bedard was the most impressive non-2021 draft prospect in this tournament. He showed that his regular season in the WHL wasn’t a fluke, and kept up his insane production levels. His ability to score off the rush, or in zone, makes him a legitimate threat whenever he is on the ice. Bedard continues to live up to expectations.” — Henry

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