August 1, 2022

Scout Survey: What to expect from the 2022 Hlinka Gretzky Cup

It’s time to kick off the 2023 NHL Draft season. 

And what better way to do that with a, somewhat, best-on-best tournament featuring some of the most premier talent in the draft class. 

Last year’s tournament featured standout performances from the likes of Juraj Slafkovsky, Ivan Miroshnichenko, Filip Mesar, Liam Ohgren, Filip Bystedt, Simon Nemec, and Joakim Kemell, all of which went in the first round of the 2022 NHL Draft. 

This year has just as much talent participating. 

With that, we polled four FCHockey scouts — Austin Broad, Donesh Mazloum, Miroslav Simurka, and Wige Karle — on who they’re excited to watch, who can help their draft stock the most, and who will be the tournament’s MVP when it’s all said and done.

Which prospect from your own region are you most excited to see, and why?

Quentin Musty is the player I’ll be watching closely for Team USA. He has dynamic offensive potential and a big frame that should allow him to excel against U18 competition. He was great for Sudbury as an OHL rookie and I think this Hlinka can help him set the tone for an impressive sophomore campaign. I expect him to be a driving force behind USA’s offensive attack at this event.” — Broad

“I’m most excited to see how Brayden Yager performs at this tournament after a bit of a lacklustre selection camp with Canada. He is the reigning Canadian Hockey League and Western Hockey League Rookie of the Year, after all. If his best he can be a play-driving two-way force and I’m looking forward to see how his intensity ramps up against the best of his peer group.” — Mazloum

“The prospect from my region I am most excited to see is Eduard Sale. He has great hands, he is ridiculously calm with the puck and has great vision and playmaking skills. He can also score goals from anywhere in the offensive zone and I will not be surprised if he will lead Czech Republic to medal round as one of the Hlinka’s top scorer.” — Simurka

“From my own region i’m definitely most interested in seeing how Kasper Halttunen does. He’s a highly-skilled, big forward with a wonderful one-timer. There’s not much skill on this years team, sadly, for Finland but Halttunen is someone to keep an eye out for.” — Karle

Which prospect from outside your own region are you most excited to see, and why?

“Sale is the player I’m most interested to see at this event from other regions. His game and skillset should allow him to dominate U18 competition. Sale was a phenom in the Czechia U20 league and going up against U18 competition from around the world should really give him a chance to shine and show how good he really is.” — Broad

“Sale is a player I’ll have my eye on from outside my own region. He showed flashes of high end skill in some crossover viewings I had last season and I think he’ll really carry the load for the Czechs in this tournament.” — Mazloum

“Outside my region I am really interested to see how good will be at this tournament Zachary Benson as I saw couple of Winnipeg ICE games and I absolutely loved his elusiveness, skills and hockey IQ. I want to see if his size will hold him back somehow at this tournament.” — Simurka

“Outside of my own region I’d have to go with Otto Stenberg from Sweden. He’s a highly-skilled forward who plays with excellent pace. He might even try to pull off the ‘Michigan’ move a time or two during this Hlinka. I expect Stenberg to lead Sweden in scoring at the very minimum.” — Karle

Which prospect do you think has the most to gain from a strong tournament?

“I would say Musty. When people talk about the 2023 class I feel like he can sometimes slip through the cracks despite his high potential. I think with a strong showing he can remind people that he deserves to be in the conversation with the other top prospects in this class. It’s important to not make snap judgements on international events, but I think Musty can heavily benefit from a strong showing.” — Broad

“In this tournament there is often a goaltender that stands out and I think Czech goatender Michael Hrabal has a chance to be that guy this year. In another year without a clear-cut top goaltending prospect, I think Hrabal could put his name right at the top of the list with a strong Hlinka.” — Mazloum

“In my region I would go with Ondrej Molnar, as it is still questionable how much ice-time he will get if he stays in Slovakia to play pro hockey. To make good first impression and be able to take the momentum from a strong Hlinka into the league play would be huge for him.” — Simurka

“For this one I’d say any of the prospects outside of the CHL, so players like Emil Jarventie, Stenberg, Molnar are all players who play big roles in the junior leagues but might not get many minutes with the pro club this year, so they have to make a statement for themselves at the international tournaments.” — Karle

Who will be the surprise standout of the tournament?

“I don’t know if it’s a surprise to people who know but I think William Whitelaw will be a standout. He’s a dynamic offensive player with immense skill who will impress every time he touches the ice. Whitelaw will be a standout in multiple ways, I think he’s going to produce a ton but he’s also going to make dazzling moves that just resonate with people even after this event is over.” — Broad

“It may be a cop out not to pick one name but I think the top four on Canada’s defence core could all shoot up draft charts and surprise people with a strong tournament. Cameron Allen is the big name on the back but I think Jordan Tourigny, Caden Price, and Tanner Molendyk will round out a dominant group.” — Mazloum

Dominik Badinka will not be draft eligible until 2024 and I do not feel like he is a known name yet. But he made a really good impression in the pre-Hlinka games in Switzerland and I think that he will also be one of the leader on the back-end for Czech Republic.” — Simurka

Theo Lindstein. He’s one of the top defensemen in this draft class. A excellent skater, defensively sound. A typical modern-day defenseman. I think he could suprise alot of people and be named to the all star team in this tournament.” — Karle

Who will be MVP of the Hlinka Gretzky Cup?

“Yager will be the Hlinka MVP in my opinion. He has a complete skillset, and his goal scoring potential will make him a nightmare to play against. I fully expect him to fill the net and produce a ton of points for Canada, and while there are other players who have the same skill level Yager has, I think Canada’s depth will give Yager the advantage at the Hlinka.” — Broad

“I’ll go with Calum Ritchie as the tournament MVP. There is so much to like about his game and I think he’ll anchor a stacked Canadian team down the middle. When in doubt go with the most skilled forward on the expected gold medal winning team.” — Mazloum

“Hrabal may be one of the best if not the best goaltender in this draft year. The Czechs need good goaltending to have a successful Hlinka and if so, I think Hrabal will be right in the MVP conversation.” — Simurka

“I’d have to go Yager on this one. Canada has a strong team this year and certainly look like the strongest side in my opinion. Yager will be the main man on that team and will put up a lot of points because of it. Yager is highly-skilled and a great goal scorer so look for him winning the goal scoring race as well.” — Karle

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