With a look at the risers and fallers at the top of the North American rankings out of the way, we’ll spend today and tomorrow looking at the risers and fallers near the top of the European skaters rankings. This may be a bit of a hot take, but the Philadelphia Flyers are most likely not landing the player who was ranked number one among European skaters the entire season. That said, it’s not out of the realm of possibility they could land any of the other players ranked on the European list. Among the risers in the top 30 of the European rankings is a smart blue liner, a dynamic forward, and a goal scorer who has produced at every level.
Team: Lukko (Liiga)
Weight: 181 pounds
Mid-term ranking: 7
Final ranking: 4
DraftSite Projection: 27th overall
Although it’s only three spots, a jump from seventh to fourth for left-handed defenseman Ville Heinola is pretty noteworthy. He spent most of the season with Lukko in the Liiga (Finland’s top league), where he accrued 14 points in 34 regular season games while averaging 18:54 time on ice per game (third-highest average among Lukko’s d-men) before he posted four points in seven playoff games while seeing some time on the team’s top defensive pair. During the regular season, Heinola finished with a 50.8 Corsi-For percentage at 5-on-5, as Lukko had 331 shot attempts for while he was on the ice and 321 shot attempts against. On top of these numbers Heinola also represented Finland at the U-18 World Junior Championship, where he had four points in five games, and at U-20 WJC, where he helped his country win gold with two tallies in five contests.
Most pundits are settled on the fact Bowen Byram of the WHL’s Vancouver Giants is the best blue liner in this year’s draft, but it’s not clear who could be dubbed the second-best d-man. Heinola is one of the few names many throw out there as being the runner-up and it’s due to astounding hockey IQ. Heinola is regarded as a great skater due to his edge work and acceleration, but he doesn’t own top-end speed and he doesn’t boast any distinct offensive strengths. With that in mind, the fact he was able to record 14 points in a pretty competitive league for grown men and is considered to be a pretty useful defender when play is near is own crease speaks to how well Heinola thinks the game. There are some concerns about his transition defense, but overall it’s easy to see how Heinola could one day be in an NHL team’s top four.
Heinola will remain with Lukko’s Liiga team for the 2019-20 season.
“But the team drafting him gets an excellent prospect with a bright future in the NHL as a number three defenseman or potentially even number two if his development goes perfectly. He’s excellent at moving the puck up the ice from his own zone, even when pressured. He doesn’t panic easily. He can make great breakout passes but is also very good at carrying the puck up the ice himself. He has a good amount of dangles to avoid forecheckers but he understands when he shouldn’t try that.
In the offensive zone, Heinola can walk the blue line and move around in the zone very easily. He has a good wrist shot and great passing skills. After he adds some power to his slap shot, that’s another tool he can utilize. He makes smart reads but doesn’t forget his defensive responsibilities. These qualities also make him a great option for the power play.” - Jokke Nevalainen, Dobber Prospects
More on Heinola: 2019 NHL Draft Prospect Profile: Ville Heinola
Team: Metallurg Magnitogorsk (KHL)
Weight: 163 pounds
Mid-term ranking: 18
Final ranking: 12
DraftSite Projection: 56th overall
When looking at how his season progressed, it’s no surprise Russian Pavel Dorofeyev saw a jump in the final rankings. Splitting time between two leagues Dorofeyev dominated the MHL by recording 17 goals and 31 points in 19 games for Stalnye Lisy Magnitogorsk to earn a spot in the league’s All-Star Game and also totaled two points in 23 appearances for the KHL’s Metallurg Magnitogorsk. He also played for both clubs in the playoffs, as he registered two helpers for Stalnye Lisy Magnitogorsk and went pointless in four tilts for Metallurg Magnitogorsk. Dorofeyev showed that he was too skilled to play in the MHL, but had some trouble producing in the KHL, which is expected out of an 18-year-old playing in one of the world’s most competitive leagues.
Dorofeyev is something to watch with the puck on his stick. He can slow play down and wait for things to develop, or he can kick it up a gear to lead odd-man rushes or catch an opponent out of position. Either one he chooses, Dorofeyev can create and convert on chances by using his accurate wrist shot, finding teammates with tape-to-tape passes, or by slipping through defenders to create space for himself. His shot is dangerous, but he’s also dangerous as a playmaker forcing defenses to guard him expecting any play possible. Aside from his impressive offensive prowess, Dorofeyev (like Heinola) is considered to have a strong hockey IQ and there aren’t serious concerns about his defensive play. What might concern teams at the draft is, as Corey Pronman of The Athletic points out, the fact he doesn’t have a true dynamic offensive strength and there are worries about his urgency.
“On the puck, Dorofeyev is able to stay under complete control whether playing methodical or up-tempo, and there are times when he clearly stands out as the most consistent (and confident) decision-maker in the entire game. He is very strong on his skates and rarely is forced into making rash decisions from back pressure or a closing physical defender. His two-way style of play is one that tries to make the most out of every shift both on and off the puck, and he involves himself in board battles without hesitation. Dorofeyev’s ability to protect the puck and stickhandle himself into time and space ranks him on the higher end of draft-eligible wingers. He’s a quick-strike passer, one who is accurate with the cross-ice, one-touch feed in transition, plus his execution of odd-man rushes is on a veteran level. Dorofeyev’s strength in dishing the puck, however, shouldn’t hide the fact that he loves to unleash an elite shot from just about anywhere inside the offensive zone.” - Steve Kournianos, The Draft Analyst
More on Dorofeyev: Pavel Dorofeyev Scouting Report: 2019 NHL Draft #26
Team: Frolunda HC (SHL)
Weight: 194 pounds
Mid-term ranking: 25
Final ranking: 20
DraftSite Projection: 61st overall
Similar to Dorofeyev, Fagemo also split time between two leagues this season, but his experience was a little different. To go along with his 14 points in eight games for their U-20 club, Fagemo played in 42 games for Frolunda HC in the SHL compiling 14 goals on 109 shots and 25 points in 42 contests averaging 13:56 of ice time per game. In the SHL playoffs, Fagemo potted six goals on 39 shots on his way to ten points in 16 contests seeing the ice for 13:54 per game to help Frolunda win a title. He also provided an assist in five appearances for Sweden at the World Junior Championship.
An over-ager in this draft after teams overlooked his 30-point campaign in the SuperElit last season, Fagemo is a shoot-first player with a decent shot but is capable of scoring in a variety of ways. On top of that, he is around the net often and finds himself with more opportunities from in close than most due to his ability to get to the net. Teams are always looking for goal scorers and Fagemo has shown he can find the back of the net at each level, but the main reason why he may have been overlooked last summer is the fact he doesn’t possess any dynamic traits. He can score, he can take the play to the opposing team’s net, and he can shoot well, but he isn’t at the top of this class in any particular trait. That isn’t a slam on Fagemo’s game, but rather a guess as to why he went undrafted last season and may drop in this year’s draft. Reliable players are needed to win, but why use a pick on a player in the first round that has a lower ceiling and a somewhat higher floor than other available players?
Fagemo is expected to play in the SHL for a third straight season in 2019-20, but this time he’s expected to stay up with Frolunda’s big club for the entirety of the campaign.
“Improving Swedish winger who has developed through the luxury of playing with quality line mates. Under six foot, but thick, he sees time on the power play and had started to develop a strong 200 foot game. He’s have a bit of sniper in him, as his quick release is pretty accurate. Will receive a pass and let it fly on net in one motion. Deft passer who can saucer it to his teammates in flight. Good development project at wing. There is enough talent to think he will get chosen while teams try and patiently hone his hockey IQ.” - Bill Placzek, Draftsite.com
Risers in top 30 European skaters final rankings
|Player||Position||Team||Games||Points||Midterm Ranking||Final Ranking||Difference|
|Player||Position||Team||Games||Points||Midterm Ranking||Final Ranking||Difference|
|Yegor Spiridonov||C/LW||Stalnye Lisy Magnitogorsk (MHL)||43||41||44||18||26|
|Mattias Norlinder||LHD||MODO Hockey (Allsvenskan)||14||6||47||25||22|
|Semyon Chystyakov||LHD||Tolpar Ufa (MHL)||32||11||29||16||13|
|Pavel Dorofeyev||LW/RW||Metallurg Magnitogorsk (KHL)||23||2||18||12||6|
|Samuel Fagemo||LW/RW||Frolunda HC (SHL)||42||25||25||20||5|
|Ville Heinola||LHD||Lukko (Liiga)||34||14||7||4||3|
|Daniil Misyul||LHD||Loko Yaroslavl (MHL)||46||10||11||8||3|
|Kirill Slepets||Right Wing||Loko Yaroslavl (MHL)||17||18||20||17||3|
|Victor Soderstrom||RHD||Brynas IF (SHL)||44||7||5||3||2|
|Tobias Bjornfot||LHD||Djurgardens IF J20 (SuperElit)||39||22||8||7||1|
|Karl Henriksson||Center||Frolunda HC J20 (SuperElit)||45||49||24||23||1|
|Leevi Aaltonen||Left Wing||KalPa U20 (Jr. A SM-liiga)||29||36||30||29||1|
*Stats courtesy of Elite Prospects, SHL.se, and Liiga.fi
2019 NHL Draft Coverage