2016 NHL Draft: Big Finns Puljujarvi, Laine amongst top 2016 European prospects

By Chapin Landvogt

Vitali Abramov - Team Russia - World U17 Challenge

Photo: Chelyabinsk forward and 2016 prospect Vitali Abramov was chosen in the 2015 CHL Import Draft by the Gatineau Olympiques of the QMJHL (courtesy of Dennis Pajot/Getty Images)

 

7. Carl Grundstrom, LW, MODO (SHL)
6’0”, 185 lbs.

The good-sized forward Carl Grundstrom proved to be quite a revelation last season. Seemingly coming out of nowhere, Grundstrom’s hard work, hustle, and strong skating saw him quickly moving his way right on through SHL defenses, making life miserable for opposition defenders. Not seen as a big skill guy at this point, he keeps things simple and effective. He likes to bring the puck to the net often and from all angles. With speed and determination, he has a good shot at being a useful NHL forward at some point.

This winter, Grundstrom put up 25 goals and 42 points (along with a +15) in 31 U20 contests on top of his two-goal, five-point SHL debut which spanned the course of 24 games. This made him an obvious selection for the country’s U18 squad, for whom he put up three goals and five points in five games. All in all, one should note that Grundstrom accumulated 85 penalty minutes this winter, attesting to his hard and feisty style of play. He’ll return to MODO for the upcoming season where it is hoped that he will be able to force the team’s hand and earn himself a regular spot again out of camp.

8. Vitali Abramov, LW, Chelyabinsk (MHL)
5’9”, 159 lbs.

Just looking at that size, one has to wonder just what the buzz has been about for forward Vitali Abramov. But the youngster was lights out for Russia’s U17 team at various international events, putting up nine goals and 21 points in 13 contests. The competition just couldn’t shut him down. As a very young player for the MHL, Abramov also put up eight goals, 14 points, and a +5 in 22 total games. Drafted 13th overall in the CHL Import Draft by the Gatineau Olympiques of the QMJHL, he is expected to be suiting up in North America this winter, so fans will get to see what all the hype is about when it comes to this flashy youngster.

9. Mikhail Sergachev, D, AK Bars Kazan Jr. (MHL)
6’2”, 198 lbs.

A wonderfully sized defenseman at this point, Mikhail Sergachev is yet another of this year’s draft crop who got in some minutes for Russia’s U18 squad. With a -2 and no points in five games, it was a learning experience for a defenseman who has shown some very good offensive acumen at various times. For his MHL club, the steady defender put up two goals and eight points in 27 total games. Drafted by the Windsor Spitfires 6th overall in the CHL Import Draft, all indications are that he will be heading over to North America for the 2015-16 season.

10. German Rubtsov, C, Vityaz Chekhov (MHL)
6’1”, 174 lbs.

A good-sized forward, German Rubtsov already represented his nation at the U18 WC, where he put up a goal, two points, and a +2 rating. He also had a very good showing internationally for the nation’s U17 team and is considered a player who, although possessing good offensive instincts and a fine skill set for his age, is willing to do what is necessary to win as part of a lower line. Playing for his club’s junior program, he notched five points in 12 MHL games and another five goals and 10 points in the country’s U17 league. Fighting off the injury bug at times, the scouting community hopes he’ll be suiting up a lot more often this winter.

Ones to Watch

Lightweight Czech center Kristian Reichel has a name that should be familiar to most in the international ice hockey scene. His father is none other than long time NHL forward Robert Reichel, now a mainstay in the Czech ice hockey organization. For Kristian, he has grown up playing an offensive role for the hometown Litvinov organization, being an offensive cog every step of the way. This past season, he saw four games with the club’s U20 team, but spent most of the year in the U18 league, collecting 25 goals, 52 points, and a +26 rating. Feisty as well, he accumulated 64 penalty minutes. He should be a lock for the team’s U18 squads all winter.

Defenseman Kristians Rubins is from Latvia but plays for the Swedish team Vasteras, where he has spent the past two seasons. At 6’4” and 203 pounds, he already has an impressive frame and was a mainstay on the Latvian team at this past U18 WC in Switzerland, playing a big role in helping the team retain the class while collecting two assists in six games. He also had four assists in five WJC D1 games for his county’s U20 program. A defensive defenseman by trade to date, Rubins spent 10 regular season games with Vasteras’ men’s team in the Allsvenskan, Sweden’s second highest pro league. He played predominantly a top-four role for the club’s U20 squad, where he chipped in four goals, seven points, and 14 penalty minutes in 33 games.

Honorable mention in no particular order

F Jonathan Dahlen – Timra Jr. – U20
F Vladimir Kuznetsov – Yekaterinburg Jr. – MHL
F William Fallstrom – Djurgarden Jr. – U20
F Marek Hecl – Team Slovakia – U18
F Lee Roberts – Lausanne Jr. – U20
D Oliver Felixsson – HIFK Jr. – U20
D Libor Hajek – Brno Jr. – U20
F Jarkko Aalto – Jokerit Jr. – U20
F Matyas Kantner – Plzen Jr. – U20
F Tobias Eder – Bad Tolz – Oberliga Sud
F Juha Jaaska – HIFK Jr. – U20
F Linus Lindstrom – Skelleftea Jr. – U20
F Artyom Ivanyuzhenkov – Chekhov Jr. – MHL
D William Pethrus – Mora – Allsvenskan
G Riku Tornqvist – Espoo Jr. – U18
F Filip Suchy – Plzen Jr. – U20

Follow Chapin Landvogt on Twitter via @Csomichapin

 

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