Josh
Bell
February 3, 2021

Top-10 prospects of the month – January 2021

FCHockey’s scouts can be found in all corners of the globe, watching players at the professional level, right down to junior.

They see a countless number of players in action, but there are always those that shine.

Through the 2020-21 hockey season, our team will collect the names of those prospects that have caught their eyes. From standing out in their leagues to impressing at tournaments, from making history to accomplishing remarkable feats for their age, we’ll take a look at the 2021 NHL Draft-eligibles making waves in the hockey world each month.

Here are FCHockey’s top-10 draft-eligible prospects for January 2021, alphabetically listed:

Luke Hughes, D, USNTDP (USHL)

Putting this list together everyone month, Luke Hughes is a name that comes up often. The United States Under-18 National Team defender came into the season looking like a top-10 pick and in the internal conversations at FCHockey, he’s very much in the mix for first overall in this class.

Also Read: Hughes Focused on Present in Draft Year

“He is very agile and mobile in all directions and can use sharp edgework to quickly change direction or spin-off of pressure,” FCHockey’s head crossover scout Derek Neumeier said in a scouting report. “Acceleration and top speed are both good enough to create space for himself in the rush. Is a transition threat because of how quickly he can turn the play around and break the puck up ice.”

Brent Johnson, D, Sioux Falls Stampede (USHL)

Another defenseman, Brent Johnson just wrapped up a strong month in the USHL. After starting the season with five points in 14 games, he’s turned it on to start off 2021 with an impressive 11 points (six goals, five assists) in as many games. Keep an eye on the young Sioux Falls Stampede rearguard in the back half of the season.

“Johnson is a very effective transitional defenseman who is reliable at contributing offense, playing on the power play and also suppressing chances against for his team,” FCHockey’s United States scout Dylan Krill noted. “He is a skilled skater, making his movements look effortless. He’s smart at finding space and is agile enough to get to it efficiently. He is strong on his edges, allowing him to change direction quickly to adapt to plays and be most effective.”

Oliver Kapanen, C, KalPa U20 (U20 SM-sarja)

Oliver Kapanen has been winning our scouts over with each view. The Finnish centerman makes this list for the second month in a row. The KalPa forward has 20 goals, 16 assists, and 36 points through 32 games, all while playing a very smart, mistake-free game. He’s leading the league in goals and is ninth for points – he’s one to keep an eye on.

“He is an incredibly responsible player who uses his hockey sense and work ethic to leave a positive mark on most shifts, in all three zones, and in all situations,” Neumeier reported. “Keeps his head up and knows when to try something by himself or use his teammates. Plays center at this level and looks like he will have what it takes to remain a center at higher levels. Has a good motor and empties the gas tank if his team needs him to, including on the backcheck. He’s hungry for pucks.”

Ayrton Martino, LW, Omaha Lancers (USHL) – LOAN

Ayrton Martino kicked off 2021 by transferring from the BCHL’s Chilliwack Cheifs to the USHL’s Omaha Lancers to get some ice time. He didn’t waste any time settling into the league either, already racking up 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in 10 games. Granted, that does include a five-point night where he scored a hattrick in a 7-1 blowout against the Lincoln Stars. As he continues to settle in to his new environment, expect the forward to continue to turn heads.

Related: Scout Series: Ray Napientek on the USHL Draft Crop

“This is definitely the kind of player who you can describe as slippery,” FCHockey scout Joel Henderson wrote in a scouting report. “In the neutral zone he is constantly turning so as to not lose momentum. He is always aware of who has the puck and his positioning since he wants to receive a pass already moving with speed towards the Ozone. Whether that is jumping the zone or just a few strides to start him off, he wants to be dangerous immediately.”

Jack Peart, D, Fargo Force (USHL)/Grand Rapids High (USHS)

Our fourth – but not last – USHL player, Jack Peart boasts an impressive skillset that should excel at the next level. After collecting 11 assists in 16 USHL games with the Fargo Force, Peart has moved to the High School level with Grand Rapids High. We’ve seen numerous high schoolers drafted over the years, and the 2021 draft even has Scott Morrow looking like a potential first-rounder. Peart is very much a highschooler to keep an eye on from here on out.

“He shows excellent full-ice vision in his passing,” FCHockey crossover scout Josh Bell said in a recent report. “Is very good at getting the puck out of the zone, whether with his feet or a pass. ood form in his skating, shows the ability to really get going when he needs to. Really creative with the puck. The poise under pressure is really impressive. There are lots of tools here to go with an intelligent player.”

Matvei Petrov, LW, MHK Krylia Sovetov Moskva (MHL)

After being drafted first overall in the 2020 CHL Import Draft by the North Bay Battalion, Matvei Petrov likely would have been playing in Ontario in a normal year. Instead, he’s been plying his trade in the MHL, collecting 17 goals, 15 assists, and 32 points in 43 games. He’s also been catching the eyes of our scouts every time he steps on the ice. It’s likely we’ll see Petrov in North America when it’s safe to do so, but in the meantime, we suggest checking out the promising young player in the MHL’s free YouTube channel.

Also See: Holmes’ 10 Takes: Clarke, Wallstedt, Petrov & More

“It’s clear Petrov is his team’s go-to offensive weapon, as more often than not the puck was put into his hands both in transition and in the offensive zone,” FCHockey crossover scout Brandon Holmes reported. “While carrying the puck, it was clear Petrov possesses overall strong mobility and can find open space on the ice with good edgework and puck skills. Petrov is still a fairly raw winger in his current state, but there are plenty of tools to like in his work ethic, mobility, and shooting ability that should be amplified once he fills out his six-foot-one frame more.”

Isak Rosén, LW, Leksands IF (SHL)

Isak Rosén is a name that has been on the 2021 NHL Draft radar for some time now, especially after playing his first SHL game in his D-1 season. This season, he’s spent 17 games in the SHL, and while he’s collected just one assist, he’s shown that he’s more than capable of playing against men. At the J20 Nationell level, Rosén has 12 games under his belt, collecting seven goals, five assists and 12 points. He’s very much in the first-round discussion.

“A little bit of explosion in his steps, I really like his acceleration,” Bell said. “While not as strong as his opponents, does everything he can to make it hard on them. A great dynamic stance, good stride. Shows great support, helping in battles and covering for the D when needed. Does very well at getting in the passing lanes, tipping passes and/or forcing the opponent to find another play. The way he utilizes change of speed shows of the intelligence in his game.”

Cole Sillinger, C, Sioux Falls Stampede (USHL) – LOAN

Cole Sillinger is our last USHL player on this list. Similar to Martino, Sillinger transferred this month to the Sioux Falls Stampede from the WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers. Also like Martino, he’s wasted no time getting comfortable in his new surroundings with seven goals, five assists, and 12 points in just eight games. Sillinger has one of the best offensive skillsets in this class and he’s been putting it on display early on.

“If Sillinger was slightly above average in his skating which allowed him to be more fleet of foot, he’d be a top-3 player in this draft,” Henderson reported. That’s how good the rest of his game is. When he did find acceleration and strength while the puck was on his stick, he was immediately so dangerous because he can dangle and create in almost zero space. His hand-eye coordination and finesse game are top notch.”

Victor Stjernborg, C/LW, Växjö HC (SHL)

Our Swedish scouts have been raving about Victor Stjernborg. The forward has been gaining more and more time in the SHL, now up to 20 games and collecting a goal and an assist. At the J20 Nationell level, he captained the team and had nine goals, eight assists, and 17 points in 19 games. He’ll be a riser on FCHockey’s next rankings and is a must-watch prospect at this point.

“He does things really well and smart overall, does not get stressed in tight situations,” FCHockey’s Swedish scout Fredrik Haak recently wrote. “Stjernborg is a true team player that wants to lead his team by doing his best every night. In a few years I am convinced he will be a leader in a team in SHL or maybe even NHL if he continues to develop in the same direction.”

Jimi Suomi, D, Jokerit U20 (U20 SM-sarja)

Finally, Finnish defender Jimi Suomi – which translates to Jimi Finland in English – has caught the eye of our scouts as a potential hidden gem in the draft. He might not go in the top couple rounds, largely due to his five-foot-10, 152-pound frame, but he could be an intriguing option in the middle rounds, thanks to his intelligence with the puck and his feet.

“Extremely fluid skating, nice first steps,” Bell wrote. “Seamless transition when changing direction. Nice puck movement on the PP, constantly adjusting on the fly depending on where his teammates are. Good use of crossovers to build speed. Always looking to jump up in the play to help offensively. Some very deceptive passing at times. Really good at moving the puck up the ice, knows how to create space for his teammates with his passing. Could be a hidden gem.”

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