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Fallers at the top of the European skaters rankings

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Who took a step back in the final rankings for European skaters?

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Finland v Sweden - 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship Photo by Kevin Light/Getty Images

Today we wrap up our look at the risers and fallers within the top 30 for both the North American and European skaters rankings with a look at who dropped in the final Euro rankings. There are plenty of intriguing prospects at the top of the European ranks, even if they fell a few spots from their midterm positions. Among the few that fell are possibly the second-best defenseman in the class (who might be the player the Philadelphia Flyers end up taking eleventh overall), a well-rounded center who isn’t the best skater, and a rearguard that epitomizes the ‘high risk, high reward’ mantra.

Philip Broberg
Position: LHD
Team: AIK (Allsvenskan)
Height: 6’3”
Weight: 203 pounds
Mid-term ranking: 3
Final ranking: 5
Difference: -2
DraftSite Projection: 12th overall

Still regarded as one of the more promising defensemen in this year’s NHL Entry Draft, Philip Broberg did drop a little in the final rankings. To go along with his eight points in eight contests for their SuperElit squad, Broberg potted a pair of goals (with 83 of his 111 unblocked shot attempts going on net) and provided nine points, eight blocked shots, and seven hits in 41 games for AIK in the Allsvenskan averaging 14:33 of ice time per game. In the seven total games he played for AIK’s U-18, SuperElit, and Allsvenskan teams in the postseason Broberg amassed one assist. He also represented Sweden at the U-18 World Junior Championship, where he recorded six points in seven games, and the U-20 WJC, where he had a helper in four tilts.

Yesterday we talked about how Heinola may have an argument for being the second-best d-man in the class, but a lot more pundits think Broberg is likely the second-best d-man in the class behind Bowen Byram. Broberg is an amazing skater with a ton of speed and has shown his skating skills can already hang with, if not outperform, professionals. Even though his point totals won’t blow you away, his offensive instincts and athleticism are pretty incredible. What hurts Broberg’s game is the fact his puckhandling isn’t quite where it should to be for a rearguard that is always carrying and passing the puck often in the neutral and defensive zones. His skating helps him in a lot of areas of his game, but he’s still learning when and where he can’t use his mobility to erase poor defensive positioning.

Broberg will play for Skelleftea AIK in the SHL next season.

Scouting report

“Philip Broberg is a smart two-way defenceman with undeniable skill. His fluid skating ability allows him to punish over-extension immediately with how quickly he can start plays from his own end. What his impressive mobility tends to overshadow, though, is his positional play. While he doesn’t always make the high percentage play, he is very perceptive and thinks his decisions through. On the fly, he pays close attention to where the puck’s going and where it’s been. This allows him to read the play early and make the most of any time and space found. All-in-all, Broberg could be the most complete defenceman in his draft class. He’s got elite mobility and hockey sense, and he doesn’t give up his own end.” - Curtis Joe, Elite Prospects

Highlights

More on Broberg: ‘He has all the tools’: Traits that make defenceman Philip Broberg one of the draft’s top-ranked prospects

Ilya Nikolayev
Position: Center
Team: Loko Yaroslavl (MHL)
Height: 6’0”
Weight: 190 pounds
Mid-term ranking: 4
Final ranking: 9
Difference: -5
DraftSite Projection: 68th overall

Despite an impressive postseason, Ilya Nikolayev managed to drop five spots from the midterm rankings to the final rankings, as he heads into the draft as the ninth-ranked European skater. He spent the majority of the season with Loko Yaroslavl in the MHL, where he accumulated ten goals on 77 shots, 25 points, and a 52.1 faceoff percentage on 484 draws in 41 games while seeing the ice for 14:49 nightly. In the MHL playoffs Nikolayev went off for five goals in six appearances totaling eight points and ten shots on goal. Nikolayev also accrued two points in three games for Loko-Yunior Yaroslavl in the NMHL. The pivot also represented Russia at the U-18 WJC and had four points in seven games while serving as the team’s alternate captain.

Nikolayev is a two-way playmaker who is able to set up teammates with precision passing and is regarded as a very reliable penalty killer. He has good hockey sense, he’s strong, and he can provide some grit while playing in all situations. What Nikolayev struggles with the most is his skating, as he isn’t fast and lacks great acceleration. Not every player in the NHL is a speedster, but the number of skaters that do struggle in this area are limited and Nikolayev’s lack of speed and explosiveness might be a concern moving forward. If he does figure out the skating, Nikolayev should be an NHLer in the near future.

Scouting report

“Blessed with acute vision and creativity, Nikolayev is a tape-to-tape passer and does so with authority. He executes odd-man rushes with precision while not always choosing the expected passing option. He is poised on zone entries and will delay to allow puck support to appear until he sees the open lane he likes. Nikolayev is not an explosive skater nor does he possess a quick first step, but he is agile in every direction and generates a lot of power behind his wide stride. He also is effective in separating from back pressuring and weaving defensive pairs into a state of confusion. He was named the top forward in the MHL playoffs before he was summoned to play for Russia at the U18 worlds.” - Steve Kournianos, The Draft Analyst

Highlights

More on Nikolayev: Scouching Report #9: Ilya Nikolayev

Anttoni Honka
Position: RHD
Team: Jukurit (Liiga)
Height: 5’10”
Weight: 176 pounds
Mid-term ranking: 19
Final ranking: 22
Difference: -3
DraftSite Projection: 74th overall

Perhaps the most polarizing player in this year’s draft, Anttoni Honka played for four different clubs this season. He’s part of JYP’s system, who he had four points and a 53.5 corsi for percentage with in 16 games with their Liiga team and nine points in six games with their U-20 club in the Jr. A SM-liiga. Julius’ brother was also loaned to Jukurit in the Liiga, where he potted two goals with two apples and a 53.0 Corsi-For percentage in 11 games. He also saw time in the Mestis (Finland’s second-highest league) this season, as he collected seven points in 11 regular season appearances and 11 points in 17 postseason games for runner-up KeuPa HT. Honka also appeared in six games for Finland at the WJC this season, but he failed to produce a point.

Honka might be the most polarizing player in this year’s draft. No really, he might be. Whether scouts or writers like or dislike Honka as a prospect, almost everyone agrees he’s an extremely talented d-man with exceptional offensive upside, a fantastic skater, owns great hands, and has no issues eluding opponents to create chances in the offensive zone or move the puck down ice. What worries some analysts is the defensive side of his game, all of which seemed to show up at various points this season while playing for several different teams in a handful of leagues. The desirable aspects of what he can bring offensively don’t seem to outweigh his defensive flaws, which lines up with what many were saying about Anthony DeAngelo and Ryan Merkley (two players who were probably the most polarizing players in their draft classes). As of right now it doesn’t look like Honka has baggage that’s equivalent to DeAngelo’s use of slurs/overall demeanor or Merkley’s attitude issues. Thankfully all of the divisiveness on Honka is just for his on-ice skill.

After spending most of this season in the Liiga, Honka is expected to remain with JYP for the entirety of the 2019-20 campaign.

Scouting report

“The first thing everyone should know about Anttoni is that he’s an amazing skater. As an undersized defenseman (he’s 5-foot-10), you need to be a good skater. But he’s not just good, he’s great. And I’m not just talking about his speed either. He has great acceleration, amazing ability to change pace, and unbelievable agility as he can twist and turn like most people can’t. That skating ability allows him to join the rush, and that’s something he loves to do. He will also happily lead a rush if needed.

Honka also has high-end puck-skills. He can make tape-to-tape breakout passes. He can make plays at high speed. He can slow down the game and create space with his puck-handling. He can make opposing players look foolish with his tricks and fakes in one-on-one situations. You want to give him the puck because he knows what to do with it. He’s a creative and dynamic player with great offensive vision.” - Jokke Nevalainen, Dobber Prospects

Highlights

More on Honka: Prospect Deep Dive: The Curious Case of Anttoni Honka

Fallers in the 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
Alexander Daryin Right Wing Loko Yaroslavl (MHL) 47 35 16 26 -10
Daniil Gutik Left Wing Loko Yaroslavl (MHL) 36 13 12 19 -7
Ilya Nikolayev Center Loko Yaroslavl (MHL) 41 25 4 9 -5
Simon Lundmark RHD Linkoping HC J20 (SuperElit) 25 17 17 21 -4
Anttoni Honka RHD Jukurit (Liiga) 11 7 19 22 -3
Yegor Chinakhov Right Wing Omskie Yastreby (MHL) 37 16 27 30 -3
Philip Broberg LHD AIK (Allsvenskan) 41 9 3 5 -2
Mikko Kokkonen LHD Jukurit (Liiga) 56 19 9 10 -1
Nils Hoglander Left Wing Rogle BK (SHL) 50 14 10 11 -1
Antti Saarela LW/RW Lukko (Liiga) 24 10 23 24 -1
Simon Holmstrom Right Wing HV71 J20 (SuperElit) 21 20 26 27 -1

*Stats courtesy of Elite Prospects, Hockeyallsvenskan.se, Junior Hockey League (MHL) and Liiga.fi

2019 NHL Draft Coverage