Holmes’ 10 Takes: Mailloux, Poltapov, Zellweger & More
Holmes’ 10 Takes is a monthly column from Brandon Holmes, one of FCHockey’s Video Scouts. This column will highlight Holmes’ analysis of 2021 NHL Draft-eligible prospects and reaction news in the prospect world.
The 2021 IIHF World Under-18 Hockey Championships are here and international tournaments always bring tons of excitement for scouts and draft enthusiasts alike.
With the strange landscape for scouting in this year, this year’s tournament will likely carry more significance in regards to draft position than in years past, and you know me and the rest of the team here at FCHockey will have our eyes firmly fixed on the tournament. I, for one, have been looking forward to this tournament all year as it was sorely missed a year ago.
Here are my 10 Takes for the end of April:
Cossa solidifying first round status
In last month’s column, I mentioned Sebastian Cossa as a player that teams in need of goaltending should be looking at with a first-round pick this year, and the Canadian netminder has done nothing but solidify that position in the past month. Checking back in on his results on the season, Cossa is still yet to lose a game in regulation this year for the Edmonton Oil Kings with an overall record of 14-0-1, a sparkling 1.46 goals against average, and .945 save percentage to accompany three shutouts. Dating back to last season, Cossa has only lost six regulation games in his WHL career, which demonstrates his current dominance over the junior level through the past couple of seasons. Ranked No. 23 on FCHockey’s newly-minted draft rankings, we’ll monitor just how high the six-foot-six goaltender can climb throughout the rest of his draft-eligible season.
Coronato caps off USHL Season
Ranked just behind Cossa in FCHockey’s draft rankings is Matthew Coronato, who finished his regular season on Saturday night with the USHL’s top-seeded team the Chicago Steel. With goals number 47 and 48 on the season in the Steel’s season finale, Coronato formally solidified himself as the USHL’s goal-scoring champion, finishing 16 goals ahead of teammate Erik Middendorf for the league lead. I’ve raised my own concerns with Coronato in the past, but make no mistake, this kid knows how to score goals. Coronato’s awareness in the offensive zone is top-notch and his ability to work to find pucks in dirty areas for scoring chances has paid off in a major way this season, and he will be a strong candidate to hear his name called on the first night of the draft in July.
The Kids Are Alright at the U18’s
Due to the nature of this year with limited playing time across the globe, this year’s World U18s figures to carry more weight for draft position for draft-eligible skaters skating in the tournament. However, through the first couple days of the tournament, youngsters who are not eligible for the draft until 2022 or even 2023 have been stealing the show, particularly in Monday night’s matchup between Russia and the United States. Lane Hutson, a five-foot-six 2022 eligible defenseman who was one FCHockey’s 3 Stars on Monday, was superb for the Americans with three assists thanks in large part to fantastic poise and awareness on the powerplay. The Russian trio of Danila Yurov, Ivan Miroshnichenko, and Matvei Michkov have also been among the most dangerous players in the tournament.
Yurov, 2022 eligible, is currently tied for the tournament lead in points with four (one goal, three assists) in Russia’s first two games played, and has dazzled thus far with spectacular skill and one-on-one finesse. Miroshnichenko, also 2022 eligible, has a pair of goals to go along with one assist and displayed a bomb of a one-timer on his first goal of the tournament. Finally, Michkov, the second-youngest player in the tournament and a 2023-eligible skater, shares the same stat line as Miroshnichenko and has come exactly as advertised through Russia’s first two games. One thing’s for certain, if Russia continues to ride the talent of these young kids, they have the potential to go far in this year’s tournament.
Svechkov and Chibrikov Leading the Way
Fyodor Svechkov, ranked No. 18 on FCHockey’s draft rankings, and Nikita Chibrikov, ranked No. 21, have both come as advertised and been key cogs in Russia’s first two games at the World U18s. Each with a pair of goals and assists, they’re tied for the tournament lead in points with teammate Yurov and Belarus forward Danila Klimovich, and each of them played a key role in Russia’s comeback against the United States on Monday night. Svechkov, the team’s top-line center, showed incredible poise and patience to find Miroshnichenko to tie the game in the third period, while Chibrikov, the team’s captain, went coast-to-coast in overtime to secure the victory for Russia. To be certain, Svechkov and Chibrikov have both played like first-round talents to this point in the tournament.
Poltapov Worth Early Consideration
Despite being held pointless in Russia’s first two games at the U18 World Championships, Prokhor Poltapov is a player that has impressed me in recent viewings. Poltapov can be guilty of turning pucks over while attempting to beat defenders one-on-one, which has been an issue present in Russia’s first two games, but what the winger brings in dynamic skill and mobility just can’t be ignored. While watching Krasnaya Armiya in the playoffs, Poltapov was consistently creating offense by filtering pucks to high-danger areas and had the ability to make offensive plays happen out of thin air and looked like a player worthy of first-round consideration come July. From my recent report on Poltapov:
“He possesses a ton of upside as a quick-strike attacker, his ability to attack defenders one-on-one with speed, elusiveness, and smooth puck skills resulted in one breakaway (which drew a penalty) and a plethora of controlled zone entries.”
Zellweger Impressing in the WHL
A player present at the World U18s that may be flying under the radar for some is Olen Zellweger, who was ranked No. 55 in FCHockey’s recent draft rankings. Before leaving to join Team Canada for the U18’s, Zellweger was fifth among all WHL defensemen in scoring pace with 13 points in 11 games played for the Everett Silvertips, good for a points-per-game pace of 1.18. Zellweger has impressed with his ability to move the puck with fantastic mobility on his skates, great edgework, and a reliable offensive package that’s beginning to blossom this year in Everett, and should be a strong complement to his defense partner Jack Matier at the U18’s. Keep an eye on Zellweger over the next few weeks, he’s well worth the watch.
Mailloux an Intriguing Project
Another Canadian defenseman who has stood out to me in recent weeks has been Logan Mailloux. Unlike Zellweger, Mailloux will not be joining Canada for the World U18s. Mailloux, a big right-shot defender who has been skating for SK Lejon in HockeyEttan this season, has stood out with his combination of skill and mobility for a defenseman his size. Mailloux is an impressive puck rusher who can carry the puck through the neutral zone with strong all-around mobility and on-puck vision and is no slouch in the offensive zone as well with seven goals and 15 points in 19 games in Sweden’s third-tier professional league. There is still work to do in Mailloux’s defensive zone reads and decision making, but a player with his raw ability and physical stature is likely worth a swing in the upper third of this draft. From my recent report on Mailloux:
“It’s clear Mailloux possesses a fair amount of offensive skill and flair; he’s very willing to jump deep into the offensive zone from the blue line when the opportunities present themselves, and I felt he did a good job of picking his spots to pinch and rarely left his defensive partner out to dry on odd-man rushes.”
Loaded Canadian U18 Roster
In preparation for Canada’s first game at the U18 World Championships, it’s difficult to not view this team as the clear-cut favorites of the tournament. On Team Canada, there are eight players who are currently listed by FCHockey as first-round talents for the 2021 NHL Draft – Brandt Clarke (5), Dylan Guenther (8), Corson Ceulemans (11), Mason McTavish (15), Francesco Pinelli (16), Brennan Othmann (17), Logan Stankoven (20), and Brett Harrison (29), and that number would be even greater if not for the unavailability of Cole Sillinger and Carson Lambos for the tournament. At the time of this writing, Team Canada is set to play their first game against Sweden, and it seems very likely Canada will be the clear favorites to take Group A in the World U18s and contend for a gold medal.
Youngsters Highlight Canada As Well
In addition to 2022 and 2023 talents shining brightly on other rosters in the tournament, Team Canada has their own contingent of future draft eligibles that will figure to play a big part on their roster throughout the tournament. Shane Wright, the current consensus favorite to go first overall in the 2022 NHL Draft, is the captain of the team and will be centering the top line alongside former Don Mills teammate Othmann. Among the skills that Wright brings to the ice, his shot release may be one that stands out the most on a nightly basis and we may see Wright contend for the tournament lead in goals. Fellow 2022 eligible Danny Zhilkin will start the tournament in the top six for Canada, while Denton Mateychuk was a late addition to the club after Lambos was unavailable due to injury. With his torrid start to the WHL season, there will definitely be plenty of eyes on 2023 eligible Connor Bedard, the youngest player at the World U18s.
Bedard at the U18’s
A Bedard check-in might need to become a monthly segment on these columns because it’s been so hard to not just constantly gush about this kid. Before leaving for the U18’s, Bedard was in the thick of the WHL scoring race with 12 goals and 28 points in his first 15 WHL games, which is what made it nearly impossible for Canada to leave the 15-year-old off of the tournament roster. Bedard is the youngest player at this year’s tournament and starts on the second line on one of the deepest rosters at the tournament, projected to skate alongside Zhilkin and McTavish in Canada’s first game against Sweden. Bedard has been building his case for First Overall in the 2023 Draft since the drop of the puck this season, and I know I’ll be rooting for a faceoff against his biggest competition for first overall in the form of Michkov of Russia by tournaments end.
Brandon Holmes is a current Video Scout at Future Considerations based out of Syracuse, NY. Honing his abilities in player evaluation in the public writing sphere for many years before coming to FC Hockey, Brandon also hosts a podcast of his own where he discusses and conducts interviews with draft-eligible prospects.