FCHockey
Staff
August 8, 2023

NHL Draft Notebook: 2023 Hlinka Gretzky Cup review

The 2024 scouting season is officially underway with the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, and we highlight performances in our latest NHL Draft Notebook.

The showcase featured our first glimpse at many of the top prospects for the 2024 draft, as well as some talent that could elevate into first-round consideration.

Here’s an extended look at some of their analysis in our latest scouting reports from the Hlinka Gretzky Cup:

LEO SAHLIN WALLENIUS | D | SWEDEN | August 2, 2023

PRELIMINARY RANKING: NA

Scouting report by Erik Sjolund

Leo Sahlin Wallenius is a two-way defenseman who can play on both sides. In this game, he played on the right side. He appears larger than he is on the ice. This is likely due to his competitiveness and physical presence, but also his long legs and powerful stride. As with most parts of his game, his skating is good and efficient but comes off as unpolished. His feet are constantly moving, which helps him to change direction without losing momentum. However, he can struggle with balance and weight distribution at times, which affects his puck handling, but it is not a concern as much as an opportunity for improvement. Defensively, he is good at scanning the ice and making sure no opposing forward is left open. He frequently uses his stick to cut off angles and pokecheck the puck carrier. I like his ability to recognize the moving patterns of attackers and quickly change who to cover with good timing. He is a constant nuisance in his own zone. I would like to see some work on his gap control and pinching. There were some situations where he could have stepped up a bit sooner to stop the attack further up the ice. For being a solid defender, he does not shy away from joining the rush. He is a good puck mover who had a few successful offensive transitions with the puck on his stick. My favorite part of his game is his playmaking. Both his breakout passes and his shorter feeds are accurate and hard, and he is also good at finding open lanes to avoid turnovers. Sweden’s second goal came from him breaking up play, carrying the puck into the offensive zone, and threading the assist between the legs of the defender for an easy finish. He was used on both special teams in this game, and he likes to use his wrist shot from the blue line on the powerplay. The puck usually gets on net, which is useful to create opportunities for tips and rebounds, but he could benefit from improving the power and quickness of his release to be even more of a threat from the blue line. This was my second time watching Sahlin Wallenius, and I see a raw prospect with many different tools that can be improved and refined. He has intriguing potential, and it will be very interesting to follow his development during this season. For now, he looks like a second-round pick in the upcoming 2024 draft.

Full scouting report

EMIL HEMMING | C | Finland | July 31, 2023

PRELIMINARY RANKING: NA

Scouting report by Arttu Myllymaki

Emil Hemming is a very skilled winger who thrives with the puck on his stick. He’s definitely a shooting threat, and his versatility is what makes him the dangerous player as he is. His puckhandling is great to watch; he doesn’t handle the puck quickly but deliberately moves it into an empty space next to the defender’s stick and feet. He has the composure to hold onto the puck for just the time needed before finding his best possible option. Hemming’s release is quick and effortless, and he can shoot the puck in a short time from a small space. He is a unpredictable player when attacking without the puck, too. He suddenly appears to fill empty space on the ice to make himself an option. He is moving all the time, and with his movement he is also able to create space for the puck carrier on both rushes and sustained attacks. He gets power-play time, and his unit’s flow runs mostly through him. Skating is above average, especially the first kicks are explosive. On crossovers, the inside leg kick looks weak and short, he could get a lot more power for his skating improving that. He didn’t use his one-timer in this game and he didn’t put himself in opportunities to use it. There were situations in the defensive zone where he could have played with a better effort, but mainly he performed his role quite well. This was my first view of Hemming, but this reinforced perceptions of him being picked in the first round of the 2024 draft.

Full scouting report

SAMUEL HUZEVKA | D | Slovakia | August 2, 2023

PRELIMINARY RANKING: NA

Scouting report by Miroslav Simurka

Samuel Huzevka is a defensive defenseman with a huge frame. He has good posture and is a solid straight-line skater for his size. He flashes abilities to skate the puck up ice, protecting it, making it very hard for the forecheckers to reach the puck with their stick. Occasionally, he activates in the offensive zone at the right time and is able to skate under the defensemen. However, mostly when making a good play with the puck, he is not able to find the next play and advance the puck to his teammate. On the offensive blue line, he has a hard time looking for other options than just shooting the puck without any deception. Huzevka is not very skilled and seems to not be able to process the game at this speed at this point in his career. He made some bad defensive reads, cannot use his big body properly when defending, and most times he loses body position against much smaller opponents or is not able to match their movement because of him lacking agility. Huzevka has great size and good skating posture; he looked solid in some of my previous viewings, but he needs to improve dramatically to be considered at the 2024 draft.

Full scouting report

CALEB HEIL | G | Team USA | July 31, 2023

PRELIMINARY RANKING: NA

Scouting report by Shaun Richardson

Caleb Heil is a highly athletic goaltender with a deep-seated stance and terrific speed around the crease. He tracks pucks well and can battle through crowds to fill shooting lanes and maintain sightlines. Outside the crease, he can play the puck with a level of comfort and effectiveness that immediately stands out. Heil projects a thick torso and appears a little bigger than he actually is, with an ability to challenge shooters at an aggressive depth and cut down angles. He did have a bit of trouble focusing on shooters while simultaneously dealing with mid-lane or weak-side net drives, but overall, Heil’s calm feet, consistent hand placement, and lateral mobility are intriguing qualities. I expect Heil to continue to garner plenty of attention this season in preparation for the 2024 draft.

Full scouting report

ADAM JIRICEK | D | Czechia | August 2, 2023

PRELIMINARY RANKING: NA

Scouting report by Joseph Aleong

Adam Jiricek is a smooth-skating defender who shows great awareness on both sides of the puck and has the confidence and skill with the puck to run a power play as well as get quick, accurate shots on target. Jiricek has great balance and power in his strides, showing the speed to carry the puck in transition. While his foot speed is average now, he shows good mobility in all directions and proves very tough to get past thanks to his feet. He shows some creativity and poise with the puck, particularly on the power play, moving around in the offensive end and opening up lanes to the net by using feints. He can carry the puck out of his own end around forechecking pressure as well as through the neutral zone to enter the offensive zone. Jiricek also shows patience at the point, moving along the line to find passing lanes. Jiricek isn’t as physically imposing as his older brother David, a top 2022 pick, but he controls gaps very well and uses his long reach to force rush plays to the outside of the defensive zone, consistently finishing his hits along the wall and in the corners. He contains the middle of the ice well with his frame, actively pressuring higher up in the defensive zone to create turnovers. While his offensive instincts and puckhandling abilities are very impressive, his aggressiveness with the puck and slight frame could hold him back in the Extraliga this season. If he excels there, he could be in consideration for a high first-round pick in 2024.

Full scouting report

RYDER RITCHIE | RW | Canada | August 1, 2023

PRELIMINARY RANKING: NA

Scouting report by Greysen Goudy

Ryder Ritchie is a hardworking grinder with impressive speed and goal scoring ability. He caught my eye immediately in this game and could certainly end up being one of my favorite 2024 draft prospects when all is said and done. Ritchie had an impact on every shift from puck drop until the final whistle through his tenacious work ethic and forechecking ability. He was never disengaged and never stopped moving somewhere meaningful, even when the game’s score got out of hand. I’d like to reiterate, Ritchie’s compete level isn’t that of a mindless speed merchant, cruising around the ice until he finds somewhere to be. He is always moving somewhere meaningful and useful. Ritchie is also incredibly quick and a beautiful skater. His stride is smooth and strong and he generates a lot of power from his inside edges which allowed him in this game to circle the offensive zone with ease while waiting for a shooting opportunity. Once that shooting opportunity presented itself, Ritchie released the puck quickly with speed and accuracy. There were flashes of good playmaking and vision from him, but he strikes me as more of a finisher than a set-up man. In such a dominant game for the Canadian squad there isn’t much to speak about in terms of weaknesses Ritchie displayed, but he didn’t strike me as the most creative dynamic forward, more of a straightline scoring guy who relies on their strengths a bit heavily. It will be interesting to see how he performs the rest of the tournament against stronger opponents. Ritchie is certainly a first round pick in 2024 for me at this point, and I could see him rising quite high on my board if he showcases a more dynamic offensive game. He projects to be an incredibly versatile player at the NHL level — a guy who can play power play, penalty kill, be a top-six complimentary scorer, and even in more of a third-line checking role if need be. Ritchie is a profile I will certainly be keeping a close eye on throughout the season.

Full scouting report


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