Two years ago, Desjardins NHLE screamed at the top of its lungs “HERTL!” but no one listened until the middle of the first round. Desjardins’ NHLE and Corey Pronman are screaming “Fiala” this spring. Is anybody listening?
Gunnar Svensson is a hockey agent in Sweden and a pretty cool follow on twitter (plus Magnus Paajarvi’s Dad). I had a chance to talk to him this weekend about several 2014 eligibles, and his quote on Kevin Fiala was very interesting:
- Kevin Fiala: “One of my best friends going back 30 years took over his team midseason. He told me that Fiala is the most talented player he’s ever coached. He is for sure a very, very promising player. If I were an NHL team, I would go very hard for him.”
Maybe we’re discussing Nylander but should be talking Fiala? NHLE is screaming his name just like it did with Tomas Hertl in 2012. I think we need to revisit the Pronman assertion. I understand the small SHL sample size, but this is really important. Is Kevin Fiala one of the 10 best prospects? 5? WHERE does he fit?
We had a chat last night about the 2014 draft and how it compares to last year. The NHLE (Desjardins’ division) tells us about the players projected as sure top first rounders (Darnell Nurse, in photo, included) and also delivered enough offense to be considered bona fide.
DESJARDINS’ NHLE for 12-13 Forwards (35 or more pts)
- Jonathan Drouin, Halifax (QMJHL) 19-30-49
- Sasha Barkov, Tappere Tampere (SM-Liiga) 18-22-40
- Elias Lindholm, Brynas (SEL) 15-25-40
- Nathan MacKinnon, Halifax (QMJHL) 17-22-39
This group of four performed very well via the NHLE, and three of them made their NHL debuts. Drouin was held back, but was the most talented in the group. I think we can assume that a group reaching these levels (35+ points) have a chance to step into the NHL in some kind of role.
DESJARDINS NHLE for 13-14 Forwards (35 or more points)
- Sam Reinhart (WHL) 15-28-43
- Kevin Fiala (SHL) 11-30-41
- Leon Draisaitl (WHL) 15-25-40
- Sam Bennett (OHL) 16-23-39
- Nikolaj Ehlers (QMJHL) 18-20-38
- Robby Fabri (OHL) 19-18-37
- Michael Dal Colle (OHL) 14-21-35
- Nikolai Goldobin (OHL) 14-21-35
- Sonny Milano (USHL) 12-23-35
I doubt anyone thinks four forwards from this year’s draft will exceed MacKinnon’s rookie season, but as a group this year’s model does seem to have a little better depth. In looking at this group, I’d say these nine could be candidates for the NHL, and Nylander (not on this list) may also be good enough to make the leap. We also have to decide about Fiala—if that small sample size represents, then we have to find a place for him somewhere in the top group, right?
2012-13 Defensemen (15 or more points)
- Seth Jones, Portland (WHL) 6-17-23
- Darnell Nurse, Sault Ste Marie (OHL) 4-11-15
Two defensemen reached this level a year ago, Jones of course being the leader. It was a better year for defensemen overall, but among the potential first-round selections only two reached 15 NHLE.
2013-14 Defensemen (15 or more points)
- Anthong DeAngelo (OHL) 7-27-34
- Aaron Ekblad (OHL) 10-12-22
- Julius Honka (WHL) 6-16-22
- Roland McKeown (OHL) 4-13-17
- Haydn Fleury (WHL) 3-13-16
This year we have five, and it’s interesting to compare Fleury’s bio (puck moving defenseman, offensive type) with Nurse’s resume a year ago (many questioned his offensive abilities). Honka looks wildly underrated from here.
Lowdown today at 10 on TSN 1260 features Scott Burnside from TSN, former Oiler prospect Kevin Bolibruck, our own Rom from Oilers Rig (at 11) and good friend Travis Yost from Hockeybuzz. @Lowetide_ on twitter, 10-1260 on the text.