Filed under: Europe, NHL Entry Draft, USHL | Tags: boucher, cousins, gibson, grigorenko, grimaldi, kucherov, lundstrom, miller, murphy, pedan, rask, ritchie, russo, scheifele, yakupov, zibanejad
The 2011 IIHF U18 World Hockey Championship finished up recently in Germany with Americans claiming their third consecutive gold after beating Sweden in a thrilling overtime final.
An extremely talented Russian squad finished third after defeating the scrappy Canadian squad in the bronze medal game.
There were a handful of draft eligible prospects that really stood out with game changing performances, enough to boost their draft stock for this upcoming June’s NHL Entry Draft.
G John Gibson – Team USA
The tournament’s top goaltender by a country mile, Gibson outplayed his biggest rival for top goalie in the 2011 draft Samu Perhonen by a very wide margin in Germany. His poise and ability to remain calm under fire helped keep his team on track and even rally to victories against some higher skilled teams. After this impressive performance his draft stock is soaring at just the right time and it could be enough to earn him a first round selection come June.
RW Reid Boucher – Team USA
Boucher became ‘Mr. Clutch’ for the champion American squad as his big goals at key times were the catalyst for their eventual three-peat. His ability to find open ice and wait for linemate Rocco Grimaldi or another teammate to find him with the puck was utterly stealth-like. His eight goals in six contests were good enough for scouts in attendance to see Boucher’s innate ability to raise his game when the stakes are high.
C/LW J.T. Miller – Team USA
Miller exploded offensively after having a difficult time producing numbers most of the year against college and USHL opponents. His 13 points in six games led the U.S. squad in scoring which was a surprise considering Grimaldi and even Boucher were considered the top offensive threats coming in. Scouts loved to see this kind of production from Miller as he was already a favourite in some circles. This production coupled with his hard checking, in your face power forward game should see him get a stock boost and be selected in Minnesota higher than expected.
D Ryan Murphy – Team Canada
The tournament’s top scoring defenseman and Canada’s top point getter with 13 points in seven games, Murphy showed scouts exactly what he is able to provide to a team with his ability to generate chances buy rushing the puck but at the ice into the offensive zone. Named top defenseman in the tournament due to his dominant performance though all seven games, his ability to score and even create those offensive chances from the backend will solidify the odds of a team stepping up sooner than later in Minnesota.
C Victor Rask – Team Sweden
Finally some of the old Rask showed up for an international showing as his game has been a major disappointment for most of the season until these recent games. Voted by the coaches as one of Sweden’s best players, Rask played with the most energy, intensity and offensive creativity than we have seen in his game all year and produced at almost a point per game clip in Germany. This impressive showing will at the very least make teams selecting in the tail end of the first round consider his name if not earn the skilled centre a first round selection.
RW Nikita Kucherov – Team Russia
The tournament’s leading scorer, Kucherov produced at a record setting pace for a highly talented Russian squad. His line of Kucherov, Mikhail Grigorneko and Nail Yakupov was the tournament’s most productive unit by far producing 52 points in seven games. Kucherov’s darting and slippery style, quick hands and a bullet wrist shot were big reasons for his tournament leading 11 goals scored and his being unanimously named top forward overall in Germany. His stock has gone through the roof with most NHL squads hoping to steal him before other teams get the chance, he could be a surprise first rounder for a team that fell in love with him this April.
Others like Canadian forwards Brett Ritchie, Mark Scheifele and Nick Cousins, Russia big defender Andrei Pedan, Swedish forward Mika Zibanejad and their goaltender Niklas Lundstrom as well as American captain Robbie Russo all had impressive showings that will likely push their draft stock up with some NHL Organizations.
Dan Stewart is the chief scout of Future Considerations. Follow the latest 2011 NHL Entry Draft news from FC via FC’s Official Twitter Feed at www.twitter.com/FCHockey on Facebook at www.facebook.com/fchockey and on YouTube at www.youtube.com/futureconsiderations
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