2020 NHL Draft: European Players to Watch
Sweden will be well represented at the top of the 2020 NHL draft, likely having three prospects selected in the top ten. Lucas Raymond is the top-ranked European born player available. He uses his explosive skating stride and keen hockey sense to wreak havoc for the opposition. The shifty Frolunda Indians winger has elite vision and the ability to hang onto the puck, allowing teammates to find open ice. Gifted with exceptional hands and a deadly accurate wrist shot, Raymond should have little problem scoring goals at the pro-level in the not too distant future.
An amazing release, coupled with a deadly accurate shot are what make Alexander Holtz a pure sniper. Perhaps the best of the entire 2020 NHL draft class. Holtz uses his keen hockey sense and excellent vision to find open areas in the offensive zone. He has decent puck skills and a great pair of hands, which he uses to change the angle of his shots. In 38 games for Djurgardens IF J20, he counted 30 goals and added another 16 goals and 33 points in 25 games internationally at the under 17 and under 18 levels. He will likely be a top-five selection next June.
The third Swedish forward to garner top ten consideration for the 2020 NHL draft is Lulea HF right-winger Noel Gunler. Similarly, to both Raymond and Holtz, Gunler knows how to finish. In 31 games at the J20 level, last season Gunler found the back of the net 27 times. He also played 15 games in the Swedish Hockey League last season, where he produced 5 points. Gunler also is a fine playmaker due to high-end vision and terrific hockey sense.
Yet another talented Swedish forward, Zion Nybeck, is a first-round talent. He will represent Sweden this summer at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup. Nybeck may not be the prolific goal scorer that the other three are, but he offers a high compete level. He is very effective on the fore-check and distributes the puck extremely well. The right-winger had 17 goals and 43 points in 35 games, playing for HV71 in the J20 SuperElit league last season.
Finnish prospect Anton Lundell is one the top eligible European-born prospects for the 2020 NHL draft. He was a member of Finland’s gold medal winning world junior team last season. Lundell currently plays for HIFK in the Finnish Liiga men’s league, where he registered 19 points in 38 games last season. The hard-working center plays a strong 200-foot game with incredible hockey sense and is exceptional in the face-off circle.
Another European player to watch for this season is Kasper Simontaival. Ranked #22 by FUTURE CONSIDERATIONS, Simontaival possesses an elite offensive skillset. He combines phenomenal creativity with high end hockey sense and vision, to find open teammates. Simontaival is a member of the Tappara hockey club and should see action in the Liiga this season, as well as with the Finnish U18 team, for the upcoming Hlinka Gretzky Cup.
Right-winger Veeti Miettinen is ranked as a second round selection by Future Considerations for the 2020 NHL draft. At 5’9″ and only 159 lbs Miettinen is considered small, even by today’s standards. His offensive skillset however, is undeniable. His 61 points in 48 games last season for the Blues U20 team in the Jr. A SM-Liiga, are validation to that fact. Making him a definite player to watch for the 2020 NHL draft.
Ranked #36 by FUTURE CONSIDERATIONS, Roni Hirvonen spent last season as a teammate of Miettinen, but will being joining Assat for the 2019-2020 campaign. Hirvonen finished second in team scoring, behind only Miettinen, with 55 points in 50 games. Creativity, vision and playmaking ability are among the most distinctive attributes for the small, but highly skilled center-man.
Russian netminder Yarloslav Askarov is another of the top European players to watch for the 2020 NHL draft. Askarov is considered to be the top goaltender available. During the U17 World Hockey Championships he posted a 1.40 goals against average and a .948 save percentage, in his five starts for Russia. His talents will be on display at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup this summer, as he has been named to the Russian roster.
Ranked #49 by FUTURE CONSIDERATIONS, Russian left-winger Rodion Amirov certainly caught my attention at the World under 18 Championship last season. He was the leading scorer for Russia with 6 goals and 3 assists in 7 games played. Amirov was the only played to finish in the top ten in that tournament that is 2020 NHL draft eligible.
At the U17 WHC, Vasily Ponomaryov led Russia in scoring with 4 goals and 4 assists in 6 games. Ponomaryov has the rare ability to make plays at top speed. A high hockey IQ, the ability to make precise tape-to-tape passes, along with a quick release and accurate wrist shot make him a constant threat in the offensive zone. He is yet another example of the many highly skilled European players to watch for the 2020 NHL draft.
Unlike the other top Russian prospects available for the 2020 NHL draft, Daniil Gushchin plays in North America. The diminutive right-winger demonstrated a high skill level for the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the United States Hockey League, last season. Gushchin uses his formidable edge-work and explosive stride to create havoc in the offensive zone. His vision and desire to take the puck to the net are other admirable qualities that he possesses.
The Czech Republic
Versatile forward Jan Mysak, is an elite skater with an extra gear that few others are blessed with. The numbers that he has achieved throughout his junior career in the Czech leagues, are freaky, to say the least. Two seasons ago while playing in the U16 league he amassed 41 goals, which was tied for the league lead, despite only playing 12 of 36 games. He averaged 4.92 points per game, more than double that of his closest rival. After a tremendous start last season at the U19 level, Mysak was promoted to the HC Litvinov men’s team, where he appeared in 31 games.
Tim Stützle is the most prolific offensive talent to come out of Germany since Leon Draisaitl. Stutzle used his remarkable speed and dynamic offensive skills to compile 55 points in 21 games in the German junior league last season and added an aggregate total of 28 points in 15 games playing internationally at the U17, U18 and U20 levels. He will suit up for Adler Mannheim in the German DEL this season, where he will be a teammate of Moritz Seider.
The European players to watch listed above are just a small sample size of the many outstanding prospects available for the 2020 NHL draft.
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