Continuing the 2020 NHL Entry Draft preview series, Reed Duthie checks in with his look at players from Europe who could be Boston draft options from the late ’01/’02 (up to Sep. 15) birth year class.- KL
As the Amigos go through a look at the 2020 NHL Draft and who may be on the board when the Bruins make their picks, we’re going to take a look at potential Bruins from across Europe.
Pick 58 – Zion Nybeck, RW/LW (HV71 / SHL)
In an era where Bruins fans are screaming for offensive creativity and high-end offensive talent, Zion Nybeck is would be the prototype that fans have wanted. One of the most exciting pure talents the Swedish junior system in many years, Nybeck as adept at making plays as he is finishing them. Playing in the J20 level at just 16 years old, Nybeck would dazzle in the 2018-19 season recording 17 goals & 26 assists for 43 points in 35 games against competition up to 4 years his elder. The 2019-20 season would see another rise as the 17-year old would dominate the J20 level recording an astounding 27 goals & 39 assists for 66 points in 42 games as well as making his SHL debut at just 17 years old recording a goal in 15 games playing limited minutes. On track to spend the 2020-21 season in the SHL, Nybeck will climb prospect rankings quickly with his combination of speed and puck handling ability. The only downside to Nybeck’s game comes from his size, 5’8” 176 lbs, but at a similar size to Alex DeBrincat and a better skater, it won’t be at all surprising to see Nybeck in the NHL within just a couple of seasons.
HM: Roni Hirvoinen, C (Assat / SM-Liiga), Kasper Simontaival, RW (Tapparra / SM-Liiga), Emil Andrae, D (HV71 / J20), Theodor Niederbach, C (Frolunda, J20)
Pick 89 – Samuel Knazko, D (TPS / U20 SM-sarja)
Born in Trencin, Slovakia, the same hometown and Bruins captain and future Hall of Famer Zdeno Chara, Samuel Knazko may not have the same size as the Bruins leader but he sure has his attitude. Leaving home and the Dukla Trencin U20 program at the age of 16, Knazko arrived in Finland looking to up the competition level and make his name for NHL scouts. At 6’1’’ 190lbs, the left shot defender already has ideal NHL size and projects as a real powerhouse on the backend while bringing strong skating ability and next level vision on the rink, able to fit the puck through the eye of a needle to find teammates. Knazko is yet to make his SM-Liiga debut and may be a couple seasons off arriving in North America but if his development stays on its current track, Knazko would be a player well worth waiting for.
HM: Alexander Pashin, RW (Toplar / MHL), Oliver Tarnstrom, C (AIK / J20), Alexander Nikishin, D (Spartak / KHL)
Pick 151 – Ilya Ovchinnikov, C (Avtomoblist Yekaterinburg / KHL)
Born on October 31, 2001 Ovchinnikov only missed the cut off for the 2019 NHL Draft by a few weeks and it may have been for the best for him moving forward. The talented center who captained the Spartakovets Yekaterinburg U18 squad until he was called up as a 17-year old to the Avto Yekaterinburg MHL squad where he would post 4 goals & 13 assists for 17 points in 48 games. 2019-20 would be an even better season for Ovchinnikov as he posted 6 goals & 9 assists for 15 points in 31 games in addition to seeing 19 games, albeit scoreless, in the KHL. Ovchinnikov would open the 2020-21 season with 2 points in 2 games in the MHL before heading to the KHL once again and has since posted a goal & an assist in 8 games for Avtomoblist. An adept playmaker having racked up assists at the junior level playing against competition his own age, Ovchinnikov is a strong skater and at 5’11” 175lbs has decent size to go with it. Although there is always concern with Russian players making the jump to North America without a transfer agreement between the leagues, Ovchinnikov may just be worth be the risk as he’s already shown he can play in the professional ranks as an underage player.
HM: Florian Ellis, C (Jungadler Mannheim / DNL), Lucas Ramberg, D (Lulea / J20)
Pick 182 – Erik Noren, D (Orebro, SHL)
A potential late steal, Erik Noren has gone far under the radar but brings both leadership qualities and tremendous skills. Another late-2001 birthdate (October 11, 2001) Noren has been a leader at every level on his way up the ranks in Sweden, serving as captain at the U16, J18 and an assistant captain at the J20 level to open this season. Noren would see his break to the SHL in the 2019-20 season 9 games at the professional level while seeing 6 games off the start of the 2020-21 season and appears to have made his claim to a spot on the Orebro blueline moving forward. Fleet of foot, the 6’0” 183lbs left shot rearguard is a defense first player who will make sure the puck is moved crisp and clean out of his own end and has tremendous instincts behind his own blueline. Noren will need time in the SHL and there is hope he could continue to develop his offensive game but he already appears to be a player who could play in the North American pros.
HM: William Hallen, C (Frolunda / J20), Simon Andersson, C (MODO / J20)
Pick 213 – Isak Garfve, C/LW (Mora, Allsvenskan)
A late (REALLY LATE) riser, Mora’s creative centerman Isak Garfve represented Sweden at the 2019 Hlinka-Gretzky Cup scoring a pair of goals in 5 games but never seemed to pick up much traction in rankings despite his size, skills and leadership. Standing 6’3” 195lbs, Garfve represented Mora J18 as captain, for parts of 2 seasons before being called up to the J20 level where he posted 33 points in 36 games as a 17-year old in the 2019-20 season. Garfve would go onto play 7 games for Mora in Allsvenskan but a tremendous camp to start the 2020-21 season where he showed his skill & will combination to earn a regular place with Mora may go a long way in seeing the talented Swede jump into the end of the NHL Draft.
HM: Matias Rajaniemi, D (Pelicans / U20 SM-sarja), Calle Spaberg Olsen, RW (Rogle / J20)