Team USA had another great weekend of international play, finishing second in the Four Nations in Finland and winning the World Jr. A Challenge in Nova Scotia. The latter featured a star-studded lineup of United States Leaguers, while the former was an NTDP affair. With an eye on those gatherings and the rest of the prospect world, here’s a look at some of the players we’re excited to see in the NHL one day.
Linus Arnesson, D – Djurgarden (Swe.)
Hard to believe the world juniors are coming up in a month and a half, but it’s true. Sweden was a surprise silver medallist in Russia last year and the Tre Kronor will parlay the youth of 2013 into an experienced 2014 squad on home ice in Malmo. Look for Arnesson on the blueline – and for him not to shy away from physical play.
“It’s fun to play rough hockey, but maybe I’m biased,” he said. “I’m a two-way defenseman and I try to use my mobility and my rough game.”
Taken by the Bruins with their first selection (at the end of the second round) in 2013, Arnesson did not attend the draft in New Jersey.
“I thought I was going to go in the late second or beginning of the third,” he said. “Me and my agents agreed that I would stay home and get ready for training camp, that was my goal.”
Playing back home for Djurgarden in Sweden’s second-best circuit, the HockeyAllsvenskan, Arnesson is part of a rebuild, but is happy to be on a young team. His contract ends this season, so he may come over to North America next year. In the meantime, he’s happy to be a member of the Bruins organization.
“It’s an Original Six team, a real cool team,” Arnesson said. “I’ve watched them since I was a kid. They suit my personality on the ice too; a rough machine.”
Well he’s certainly done his research. Drafted 60th overall by Boston in 2013.
Nick Schmaltz, C – Green Bay Gamblers (USHL)
As expected, Team USA rolled through the World Jr. A Challenge thanks to a posse of the best players from the United States League. Schmaltz, who one scout recently told me might be the most skilled player up for the draft this year, did the most damage, leading the tourney with four goals and 12 points in just four games. He’s committed to the University of North Dakota, where older brother Jordan (St. Louis Blues) plays. Draft eligible in 2014.
Vladislav Kamenev, C – Stalnye Lisy Magnitogorsk (Rus.)
His tournament ended on a sour note, as Kamenev went a little nuts in the gold medal loss to Team USA at the World Jr. A Challenge, but the skill set is tantalizing. A big body with great elusiveness when he has the puck, Kamenev has some serious playmaking skills and ended the tourney with a goal and seven points in five games. Draft eligible in 2014.
Alex Tuch, RW – U.S. NTDP (USHL)
Talk about timing. Just the other day I had a scout tell me Tuch may be the best player on this year’s NTDP team. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Boston College commit obviously has size, but he augments it with a really good shot off the rush, meaning he has both sides of the power forward equation in his arsenal. At the Four Nations, Tuch was a force with three goals and six points in three games. Draft eligible in 2014.
Martin Reway, LW – Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL)
By his own admission, Reway got a little off track last season, but he’s rectifying that as a sophomore in the ‘Q.’ The dynamic winger has eight points in his plast two games and 26 in 18 overall. Diminuitive yet dangerous, Reway has amazing 1-on-1 skills and can make people look silly. Drafted 116th overall by Montreal in 2013.
Oscar Dansk, G – Erie Otters (OHL)
Fear the Otters! Not only is Erie 16-3-1 and battling for the top spot in the OHL, but the Otters are doing it with both offense and goaltending. Dansk is in charge of the latter and the Swedish national is piling up nice numbers with a 2.31 goals-against average and .914 save percentage. Drafted 31st overall by Columbus in 2012.
Darnell Nurse, D – Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)
Canada’s world junior team will be stacked with blueliners from out west, but Nurse will represent the Ontario League thanks to his great combination of size and skating. He’ll have to rein in his nasty side for the international game, but his 20 points through 18 games puts him third amongst all D-men in the league. Drafted seventh overall by Edmonton in 2013.
Chase De Leo, C – Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
Speaking with a scout the other day, De Leo was compared to elder teammate Nic Petan. Both players are offensive forces in smaller packages and though Petan has a quicker stick, De Leo is stronger and harder to play against. The California product has 13 goals and 23 points through 21 games. Draft eligible in 2014.
Eduard Nasybullin, D – Bars Kazan (Rus.)
Like Kamenev, Nasybullin’s World Jr. A Challenge ended a little poorly with some dirty play, but prior to that he was lightning. Despite coming in at just 5-foot-9, Nasybullin is no typical offensive defenseman. He’ll throw big hits (including hip checks) to keep opponents honest and when it’s time for goals he can contribute, earning a goal and four points in five games for Team Russia. Draft eligible in 2014.
Nic Kerdiles, LW – University of Wisconsin Badgers (Big Ten)
The Badgers missed Kerdiles for the first portion of last season due to a suspension (the infraction wasn’t nefarious; it was a mix-up involving a hotel bill and his family advisor), but he had a clean slate coming into this campaign and is making it count. The power forward and potential star for Team USA at the world juniors has four goals and eight points through six games. Drafted 36th overall by Anaheim in 2012.