Given the success of Red Wings Swedish scout Håkan Andersson,
it’s no surprise that three of five Detroit prospects who competed in the 2006 WJC represented Sweden. Johan Ryno, Mattias Ritola, and Anton Axelsson represented Team Sweden with
Ryno who outperforming all other Red Wing prospects.
Jakub Kindl, the Wings’ top pick in 2005, returned to the WJC to represent the Czech Republic. Siarhei
Kolasau, in his second U20 tournament, joined the blue line to help Belarus champion division-I and advance to the top
pool in 2007.
Jakub Kindl D, 6’3, 205lbs Czech Republic (Kitchener Rangers, OHL)
Kindl looked to repeat the point-per-game performance he exhibited in the 2003 U18
with the Czech Republic. With only one assist in the six-game tournament, however, the second year Kitchener
Ranger showed a mediocre performance in the U20 in Vancouver. Considering Kindl’s talent and propensity for the offensive game, his lack of
offense is puzzling.
With 8 goals and 29 assists in 37 games, Kindl leads the Rangers blue line in scoring and is ninth-best in the OHL for defensemen. Though
he is primarily an offensive defenseman, Kindl has the defensive presence to protect his own zone. He registered a
+12 his debut season in North America and is +3 this season.
Kindl has the size and talent to be an elite player in the NHL and has regained the offensive flare he exhibited in Europe. His offensive skill set is
complete: excellent passing, skating, and stick handling. Kindl possesses an accurate and hard
point shot that makes him a valuable contribution on the power play. In his second year with the Kitchener Rangers, Kindl has time to develop strength and the physical presence to complete his overall game.
Mattias Ritola F, 6’0, 192lbs Sweden, (Leksands, Sweden SEL)
Ritola scored two assists and two goals with a +4 in six games for the fifth place Swedish team,
three of which came during a 10-2 rout of Latvia. One of the younger players on the team, Ritola represented Sweden in
the last U18 tournament, scoring four points in the seven games and may get another shot at next
Inconsistency and lack of intensity prompted some scouts to question Ritola’s work ethic,
though the Red Wings believe that Ritola’s newly found effort and offensive ability composed a quality late round pick and chose him in the third round last July. This season, Ritola has played 20 games with Leksands of the Sweden’s Elite
League and 10 games with Leksands’ junior league. With only three goals and an assist at the junior level, Ritola is falling short of his point-per-game average from previous years.
Ritola has the potential to develop into a two-way forward with an offensive upside. He has puck-handling and passing skills to develop into a premier playmaker. Ritola, however, must work on defense and prove he can score regularly at the elite level.
Johan Ryno F, 6’5, 204lbs, Sweden (Oskarshamn, Sweden J-20)
Scoring two goals, three assists with a +4, and chosen the top Swedish player in their final game against the Czech Republic, Ryno was one of the better Swedish players in the WJC. Collectively posting 11 points, Ryno, and linemates Jonathan Granstrom and Robin Lindqvist, were one of most productive third lines in the tournament.
Ryno’s 38 points in 29 games in Sweden’s Tier III league last season, prompted the Red Wings to draft him in the sixth round in 2005. He may be the exceptional late round
pick that the scouting staff is known for. This season, Ryno has 14 points in the first 19 games with Oskarshamn’s tier II team.
With good puck skills and above average passing ability, Ryno has talent. Yet, it is his size that makes him an exciting prospect. If Ryno is able to develop strength and a mean streak, he could develop into one of Detroit’s more significant prospects. He still needs time to develop his overall skills before jumping into the elite league and, to develop the aggressive and physical style his size will accommodate, he would greatly benefit from
time in a North American junior league.
Anton Axelsson LW, 6’0, 183lbs, Sweden (Frolunda, Sweden SEL)Axelsson was anticipated as a pivotal player for Sweden in the WJC this year. Instead, Axelsson registered one goal
in six games with only one of Sweden’s forewords registering fewer shots on goal. Despite an underproductive WJC,
Axelsson has some scouts believing he will someday join his brother, P.J.
Axelsson, in the NHL.
In 2004-05, Axelsson led Sweden’s tier II league in assist with 30, added 12 goals and a
+24 in 33 games to earn time with Vastra Frolunda’s Elite team this season.
Though limited ice time has held him to only five points in the top league, Axelsson has produced better than a point a game at the junior level.
Chosen in the fifth round of the 2004 draft, Axelsson is primarily a defensive winger but has the skill and vision to create scoring drives. He will need to add strength and contribute more offense to be effective at the next level.
Siarhei Kolasau D, 6’4, 187lbs, Belarus
Kolasau was instrumental in his Country’s success at the WJC Division I tournament in Minsk. With a 5-2 victory over Kazakhstan in the final match, undefeated Belarus will promote to the top pool in 2007.
Kolasau’s numbers suggest that he was among the best defensemen in division-I: second in defensive scoring, second in assist and penalty minutes, and the tournament’s
plus/minus leader with a +8.
Though division-I is not the challenge that scouts rely on to judge prospect development,
Kolasau’s offensive production was a pleasant surprise. Known for his punishing defensive play, and not much else,
Kolasau showed that a little offense is not beyond his reach. Kolasau has yet to realize his potential. He is a decent skater, can shoot the puck from the point, and intimidate opposing forwards, but needs to develop his skill in an elite European or North America league next season.
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