NHL Draft Notebook: Reinbacher, Sandin Pellikka, Bjarnason & More
The 2023 NHL Draft is shaping up to be one of the best in recent memory, and we’re unlocking scouting reports on prospects from all over the globe with our NHL Draft Notebook.
The FCHockey scouts are scattered across the globe searching for those ‘diamonds in the rough’ in an already stacked draft class.They spend countless hours watching both live games and game video to get the best analysis on the prospects entering the upcoming NHL Draft.
Here’s a glimpse at some of their analysis in our latest NHL Draft Notebook:
DAVID REINBACHER | D | Kloten (NL) | March 9, 2023
MIDTERM RANKING: 20
Scouting report by Miroslav Simurka
David Reinbacher has had almost an unprecedented season at this high professional level by an draft eligible defenseman. He is big, strong, a good skater, and can play under pressure. He is a complete two-way defenseman with many above-average tools. He is a good skater, particularly for his size, as he moves noticeably easily on the ice and also has quick feet and four-way skating ability — which allows him to play aggressively on the offensive blue line, pinching, and keeping the possession with his long stick. Reinbacher scans in all-directions before retrieving the puck, understands the way of the pressure immediately, and makes the right play more often than not. Whether it is taking a hit, shielding the puck with his body allowing his teammate to come and collect the puck, or make a quick pass or to hold the puck and give his teammates time to adjust. He is very calm under pressure. He sees the ice well and makes very good passes. Reinbacher has a strong shot. He finds or create seams to be able to get the puck to the net. Defensively, Reinbacher has a strong gap control. On the rush, he makes it very difficult for the attacker to beat him wide or to access the triangle between his legs and stick. In the defensive zone he is tough to play against, as he defends actively with his stick and body to hold the play to the outside. I would, however, like to see him strip attackers of the puck more often. Reinbacher is strong on the puck but his puck skills are not elite in my opinion, and he mishandles the puck or executes a bad pass on occasions. He flashed great plays in the offensive zone but they do not come often at this level. Reinbacher is a big, two-way defender who competes hard at both ends of the ice. He has enough skills and smartness to play big minutes in the NHL. If a team believes he will develop into a No. 1 defenseman he may be gone as soon as in the top-10. Right now I personally see Reinbacher in top-20 of the 2023 draft.
AXEL SANDIN PELLIKKA | D | Skellefteå AIK (SHL) | March 4, 2023
MIDTERM RANKING: 12
Scouting report by Fredrik Haak
Axel Sandin-Pellikka is an extremely technically skilled defender that has a focus and an awareness that is incredible to see at such a young age. There is not a move or a situation that is too difficult for him to handle when ha transports the puck. He keeps his head up and looks for alternatives while continuously progressing forward. He can just as easily transport the puck on his own if he doesn’t find an open teammate. This presence and smartness makes Sandin-Pellikka very effective, and he handles aggressive forecheck and pressure very well. He has a fantastic first pass and makes the right and smart decision every shift. He shows patience and confidence to maneuver at the offensive blue line, and his actions often find a to release a hard and quick wrist shot or a one-timer from the point. Sandin-Pellikka, due to his balance and speed, is also effective in many situations in his own zone. There are still areas that he needs to develop in the parts without the puck, however. He plays aggressive, but can sometimes lose battles along the boards or at the net-front and he will get better in those areas when he gets bigger and stronger in the future. This was my second live viewing of Sandin-Pellikka and he had a fantastic performance in the 35 minutes he played. He continues to do his things with extremely high quality and he has developed almost every aspect in his game over the last months. At this time, I would look to pick Sandin-Pellikka around in the upper half of the first round of the 2023 draft.
CARSON BJARNASON | G | Brandon (WHL) | FEBRUARY 23, 2023
MIDTERM RANKING: 70
Scouting report by Shaun Richardson
Carson Bjarnason is a hybrid-style goalie with a compact stance and pro-ready size. His crease mobility was smooth and quick as were his up-down movements. He showed great patience by remaining on his feet as attacks developed off the rush or from in-zone play. I thought his post play looked really good, although he did get a bit sloppy in one instance and it cost him. Other than that, he went in and out of his posts well, had good vertical seal, and controlled pucks that were directed at him or bouncing their way through the blue paint. His particularly wide-legged stance has it’s advantages, like dropping to seal the ice when facing a shot, but it left him a bit more active than he otherwise needed to be when tracking pucks. Bjarnason was forced to default to searching through holes and around traffic to establish visual attachment to the puck, as he seldom looked over the top of players. His butterfly is excellent. His body is tall, and he has a slight forward lean to surround pucks and limit shot angles and, whether in motion or still, he looked completely balanced and in control. Compared to previous viewings, I felt Bjarnason looked more athletic in this outing. His ability to get to his spots early and challenge shooters really jumped out at me. His reactionary hand movements weren’t fast but he let pucks hit him and anything that didn’t stick to him was quickly found and covered. His pre-shot stance could be targeted for further development. I don’t mind a lower more dynamic tracking style once the puck is deeper in the zone, but I would prefer to see a taller stance with smaller movements when tracking the puck higher in the zone. Currently, I feel that he has strong potential to become part of a one-two tandem at the NHL level and could even be a clear-cut No. 1 if he can hit his development goals. Bjarnason should be at or near the top of several team’s goaltending draft lists and I strongly believe he will be off the board no later than the early third round in 2023.
OLIVER MOORE | C | USA U18 (NTDP) | March 3, 2023
MIDTERM RANKING: 13
Scouting report by Wige Karle
Oliver Moore is a speedy, smart center with lots of upside. The biggest asset in his toolkit is his skating. I’d go as far as to say that he’s the best skater in the draft class. The technique is wonderful in his strides, especially when accelerating. He utilizes his speed well, pushing the pace of play in moments of every single game. Zone entries, exits — you name it and Moore does it. The rest of his toolkit is very likeable too. He’s a play driving playmaker with an okay shot. He’s defensively sound as well. I wouldn’t call him a defensive dynamo but he’s smart defensively with potential to become really good in his own end with the right coaching and commitment. All in all, Moore is a very projectable safe pick with lots of offensive potential. At the very least I see him being a good bottom-six center, more likely in the top-six. He’s in the 5-10 range for me come the 2023 draft.
HUNTER BRZUSTEWICZ | D | Kitchener (OHL) | April 16, 2023
MIDTERM RANKING: 45
Scouting report by Matt O’Reilly
Hunter Brzustewicz is a mobile defenseman that controls the ice with his playmaking. He is a very good skater, and I would consider that to be his best quality. He is also very responsible when his team possesses the puck as he nearly always makes the right read and play with it. His hockey IQ is solid. When he is on the ice you rarely notice him as he blends seamlessly into the offense. He could use some work on the defensive side of the puck, however. His compete level isn’t the highest and because of this he can lack jam as a defender and doesn’t get on the offensive player quick enough. His great skating makes up for this but not enough in my estimation. His reads sometimes are a little slow as well leaving passing lanes open. His lackadaisical style also shows it self on offense. He has the skating ability to get into the tougher parts of the ice to create prime scoring opportunities but instead of jumping into them he often elects to make the safe correct read. While this is good, he has the tools to do more. His stickhandling is pretty average and if this developed perhaps he would find the confidence to impose his will on the game more. At this time, Brustewicz is not a player I would target with an early round pick due to the lack of pop in his game, however in the middle-late rounds there could be some value since the tools are there for him to make the jump to the NHL.
RASMUS KUMPULAINEN | LW | Pelicans (J20) | March 10, 2023
MIDTERM RANKING: NR
Scouting report by Rasmus Tornqvist
Rasmus Kumpulainen is a reliable center at both ends of the ice, and definitely has a scoring upside, too. He uses both his decently-sized frame and his long stick well on the forecheck, and once he steals the puck he has the vision to distribute the puck to his linemates to create scoring chances. He also utilizes his body well along the boards, where he is very hard to knock off the puck. I especially enjoyed the way he anticipated situations when playing without the puck, where he repeatedly positioned himself well. Kumpulainen shoots well, and usually is able to get his shots through traffic. His patience with the puck, at both ends of the ice, also helps him in creating chances, although he at times did seem to be a bit too comfortable with the puck which lead to some close calls and near turnovers. When it comes to his skating, his biggest weakness is his speed, which is not always enough to catch guys on the backcheck or get away from guys with the puck. His work ethic in this game left some room for improvement also, as he took quite some time to get back and find his position on defence on a few plays. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Kumpulainen have an offensive breakout season next year, and expect him to also see some time in Liiga next season. I have him slotted just inside the top-100 right now, as a late third or early fourth-round prospect in the 2023 draft. A great offensive performance at the U18 Worlds could turn some heads and possibly bump him towards the start of the third round.