Holmes’ 10 Takes: McTavish, Kidney, Fantilli & 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.
From one international event to another with a healthy dose of junior playoff hockey mixed in, we’re truly into the home stretch of the draft season with the 2021 Draft Lottery just around the corner. These last few weeks of hockey will be this class’s final opportunity to make an impression on scouts, which should make for plenty of exciting hockey to accompany our nightly diet of NHL playoff hockey.
Here are my 10 Takes for the end of May:
Peart’s Playoff Run
With the USHL playoffs recently being wrapped up, I couldn’t help but take note of the play of Jack Peart during Fargo’s run to the Clark Cup Final. During Fargo nine games throughout the playoffs, Peart tied for the playoff lead in points among defensemen with seven (two goals, five assists) and was a key cog in the Force’s push to the final. In our recent check-in with Peart, he described himself as a two-way defenseman in the same vein as a perennial NHL all-star:
“I kind of model my game after Duncan Keith, I’ve watched him ever since I was little and he’s always been one of my favorite players. I like how he pretty much does everything on the ice; he gets in the corners, he’s gritty, he rushes the puck, he’s offensive, he’s defensive, he’s everything.”
If a two-way defenseman that can rush the puck, jump into the attack and chip in offensively while also being able to take care of coverage in his own zone didn’t describe Peart to a tee during Fargo’s playoff run, then I don’t know what would. Committed to St. Cloud State for next season, Peart was this year’s recipient of Minnesota’s Mr. Hockey award and was named a co-recipient of the Fargo Force’s Rookie of the Year award, and in the lead up to the draft it will be interesting to see if Peart gains traction as a potential first round pick come July.
Steel Crowned Champs
Opposite the Fargo Force in the Clark Cup Final was the Chicago Steel, who capped off a season of dominance with a four-game victory over the Force to become the 2021 Clark Cup Champions. En route to the club’s second USHL title, the usual suspects were on display throughout the team’s run. Matthew Coronato, the regular season’s goal-scoring champion, led the playoffs in both goals and points with nine goals and 13 points in Chicago’s eight playoff games. Fellow draft eligible Matthew Samoskevich was also a force to be reckoned with on offense for the Steel, displaying offensive creativity while putting up nine assists and ten points of his own, while Ryan Ufko tied Peart for the playoff lead in points among defensemen. This Steel team was flush with high-end USHL talent, including both talented overage players as well as potential high-round draft picks for the 2021 NHL Draft, but the playoff MVP came in the form of the team’s youngest player.
Fantilli Named MVP
As the second-youngest player skating in the USHL playoffs this season, Adam Fantilli was spectacular from start to finish during Chicago’s run to their Clark Cup championship. Not yet eligible until the 2023 NHL Draft, the 16-year-old finished the USHL playoffs at a goal-per-game pace with eight goals in as many games played, including two in Game 4 to clinch the series for the Steel. Throughout the course of the season and into the playoffs, Fantilli managed to play himself into the team’s top six, skating as the first line left wing in the Steel’s final game alongside Sean Farrell and Josh Doan. It will be interesting to see where Fantilli decides to play moving forward, whether that be in the OHL, USHL, or elsewhere, but one thing is certain: Adam Fantilli will push Connor Bedard and Matvei Michkov at the top of the draft in 2023. Fantilli’s blend of smarts and scoring ability was a treat to watch this year in the USHL, and it will be exciting to see just how far he can come before he hears his name called in 2023.
SEE ALSO: FANTILLI NAMED CLARK CUP PLAYOFFS MVP
Kidney’s Playoff Performance
Another prospect generating some buzz from his performance in the playoffs is Riley Kidney, a playmaking center skating for Acadie-Bathurst in the QMJHL. Despite his team’s season coming to an end in the middle of May, Kidney still sits tied for second in scoring in the QMJHL playoffs with 17 points in nine games played, tied with NHL draft picks Dawson Mercer and Alex Beaucage. Despite scoring just two goals himself in the playoffs, Kidney’s contribution to his team’s overall offense was off the charts, as the young center contributed on 53 percent of his team’s total goals in the playoffs. Though not among the most dynamic players in this draft, Kidney became a key contributor for Acadie-Bathurst this season due to his high-end on-puck intelligence and playmaking vision, which could make him a very worthwhile bet for an NHL club in the first three rounds of the 2021 Draft.
McTavish Rising Fast
Plenty of young draft eligible talent shined bright at the 2021 U18 World Championships, but very few shined as bright as Canadian forward Mason McTavish. Helping to lead his team to the Gold Medal, McTavish was a dominant force throughout the tournament, tying for fifth in tournament scoring with 11 points in seven games played. The Peterborough Petes and EHC Olten star has always shown himself to be a capable goal scorer and offensive contributor, but it was the expanded depth to his game at the U18’s that stood out to me and made me really take notice of just how high this kid could go come July. McTavish’s offensive intelligence is fantastic, he’s able to recognize attacking lanes to the net and manipulate defenses to open up those lanes for both himself and his teammates, and throughout the tournament his line was among the most effective lines in the tournament at even strength. After demonstrating how well he can drive his own line and play a well-rounded 200-foot game, it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest to see a team step up and take McTavish in this year’s top ten, or perhaps even sooner.
Othmann at the U18’s
Though not grabbing as many headlines as some of his other contemporaries on the Canadian U18 team, Brennan Othmann is a player that routinely impressed me during Canada’s run to gold at the U18 World Championships. A teammate of McTavish on EHC Olten and a fellow OHL forward for the Flint Firebirds, Othmann has always been a gifted goal scorer possessing strong offensive smarts and a good shot to go along with it, and throughout the tournament I thought Othmann’s play on the ice outpaced his stat line of three goals and six points in seven games. Othmann stood out throughout the tournament with what I thought was an added dimension of pace to his game; his offensive decision making was quick and decisive, while also displaying tremendous skill with the puck on his stick from time to time. In a tournament filled with jaw-dropping performances, I thought Othmann’s play went under the radar occasionally, but his play throughout the tournament only solidified his standing as a first round talent in my book.
Svechkov Changing Teams
Fyodor Svechkov was also present at the U18 World Championships and played a big role in Russia’s run to the Silver Medal, but some headlines were made regarding the young Russian center after the tournament had ended. Next season, Svechkov will be skating for SKA St. Petersburg after being acquired from Lada Togliatti for monetary compensation. Svechkov will be joining some of Russia’s top hockey prospects on SKA, including fellow draft eligibles Nikita Chibrikov and Kirill Kirsanov, NHL draft picks Yaroslav Askarov and Kirill Marchenko, and the young phenom Michkov. Svechkov will be under contract with SKA St. Petersburg through the 2022-2023 season and it will be interesting to see what role he plays within the organization during those two years. One thing is for certain: SKA St. Petersburg is among the top hockey destinations in Russia, and if given a proper role within the team, this should only be a good sign for Svechkov’s development moving forward.
Draft eligibles at the World Championships
With the 2021 Men’s World Championship underway in Riga, Latvia, there are a handful of draft eligible talents for draft enthusiasts to keep an eye on as the tournament progresses in the coming weeks. Most notable on this list are two potential contenders for the first overall pick in Owen Power and Matthew Beniers, who are skating in depth roles for Canada and the United States respectively. Though not likely to receive major ice time throughout the tournament, these last few games will be Power and Beniers’ last opportunities to fight for the number one overall spot in the 2021 NHL Draft, which will be added motivation for these two on each shift they take. Danila Klimovich, a surprise standout at the U18’s, is another draft eligible skater to make a World Championship roster, though he has not yet skated in a game for Belarus in the tournament.
Moser Deserving of Recognition
One under the radar draft eligible name to keep an eye on throughout the tournament is Switzerland’s Janis Moser, an overage defenseman skating in his second World Championship this spring. Though turning 21 in just a few short weeks, Moser will likely be a name to look out for in the middle rounds of this draft due to a terrific season in the Swiss National League for EHC Biel-Bienne. Captaining the club throughout the season, Moser put up nine goals and 30 points in 48 games, which was good for seventh in league scoring among defensemen. In years past, Moser has been a constant at international competitions for Switzerland, skating in multiple U20 World Championships while also representing the Swiss at the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup and U18 World Championship. Moser can be described as a two-way defenseman with capable ability as a puck mover, but his growth as an offensive contributor this season may lead to him finally becoming a selection in the upcoming NHL draft. Throughout the World Championships, Moser has consistently skated in a top four role on Switzerland’s blue line and will be an under the radar name to watch on a potential Gold Medal contender.
Slovakia’s Youth Movement
For draft enthusiasts looking towards future NHL draft classes, look no further than Slovakia at the 2021 World Championships, who have brought a roster flush with young talent, including two potential top 15 selections for the 2022 NHL Draft. After representing Slovakia at the U20 World Junior Championships in December, both Simon Nemec and Juraj Slafkovsky were named to the Men’s roster this spring. Nemec, a smooth-skating right-shot defenseman, has the chance to be the top defenseman in the 2022 class after a strong pro season in Slovakia for HK Nitra, and has already collected one assist in his first two games of the tournament. Slafkovsky, a skilled 6-foot-4 center, has made a name for himself while playing for TPS U20 in Finland and could bring some exciting offensive punch in a depth role for Slovakia throughout the tournament.
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.