Tyler Toffoli slides into lead in Los Angeles Kings' top 20
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09-10-2012, 11:55 PM
Hockey's Future Staff
Join Date: Mar 2006
Thanks everyone for the kind words! Really appreciate it. Good to be back, both writing here and in the US.
Re: Kitsyn - I really loved his game when he first came over but as has been mentioned, his current situation is downright awful. Hoping he has a solid season in Russia but to be honest, I'm more hoping that he makes it back to North America without having his development ruined. Not sure exactly what they're thinking over there, he's definitely being mishandled.
Re: Czarnik - I'm impressed at how much he's improved at each prospect camp but I don't think I take him over anyone on this list. Do think he could have an NHL future if he keeps working on his defensive game. He's about on par with Schumacher and I tend to go for wingers in tiebreak situations.
Re: Gravel - I'm a huge fan but the unfortunate reality of this ranking system is that guys who play stay-at-home (or fourth line) roles in amateur hockey tend to end up lower than those who establish themselves offensively. I think he's being groomed as Greene's replacement and I have no doubt that he'll be successful in that role, it's just that he doesn't have the same kind of upside as most of the other prospects in the organization. Nic Dowd and Joel Lowry are two other high energy guys who I think will end up great third/fourth liners that haven't quite broken out offensively, so the same logic applies to them.
Want to note that one of the more difficult decisions I had to make with this list was leaving off Nick Ebert. Obviously there are the questions of hockey sense and motivation but I have a feeling that after being snubbed at the draft, he's going to come out guns blazing next year and within the next few seasons could make the Kings look genius for taking the risk on him. That, or he'll taper off completely and vanish. Whatever the case, it's low-risk, high-reward.
Originally Posted by
SEL yes. That is about the closest league there is skill-wise and style-wise to the NHL. The KHL is another animal entirely. Such a different game from the NHL and the main purpose is to compete with the NHL itself. Not sure about the skill level in the HCL being higher either. There may be some great high end talent in the CHL but both the SEL/KHL have higher overall skill across the board. Both those leagues have guys that have years of NHL/AHL experience and that can be huge for a young developing player. The low end guys in the CHL are often times playing the last hockey they will ever play and never move on any further. The CHL is the closest to playing actual NA pro hockey you can get but a good SEL/KHL prospect can come over and be a dominant player in the CHL. The swedish development system has in recent years really closed the gap between Canada, US, and then everyone else in the world as far as developing NHL talent. Russia will always kind of be an outlier because players aren't developed with the thought of them going to N.A. to play.
Just to emphasize this, not only is the SEL one of the top developmental leagues in the world, even the Allsvenskan (SWE-2) is turning into a legit group of teams. I lived near Rögle last year (who ended up winning promotion) and went to a lot of their games. Had the fortune of watching Hampus Lindholm blossom into a pretty decent player (still think he was a reach) as well as a bunch of other top young players when they came into town (Filip Forsberg, Jacob de la Rose, Pontus Åberg when Djurgårdens got relegated, etc). Sweden also has a well established junior system and strict rules requiring homegrown talent, and on top of that most Swedish kids do aspire to come across the pond so there isn't the same risk in selecting them, like you said. So yes, definitely a good place to grow up as a hockey player, even though young players do still have a tough time getting decent ice time.
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