Prospect Impressions: Soustal pulls out the “Michigan move”, Draisaitl stays hot, North Dakota’s teamwork

By David Hahn
Leon Draisaitl and Taylor Hall - Edmonton Oilers

Photo: Edmonton Oilers forwards Leon Draisaitl (L) and Taylor Hall (R) have been working well together since Draisaitl was called up from the Bakersfield Condors in late October (courtesy of Christian Petersen/Getty Images)



Every year it seems like one or two players in the hockey world pull off a lacrosse-style goal that catches the attention of national media. Tomas Soustal joined the club this weekend, drawing the attention of hockey fans worldwide. Also in this week’s edition of Prospect Impressions, Leon Draisaitl and Teemu Pulkkinen score, plus more from junior hockey and one college play that has coaches taking notes.

If you look at the Kelowna Rockets roster and pass over Czech import Tomas Soustal, you wouldn’t be alone. The 6’3″, 200-pound forward played a complementary role for the Rockets last year as the team won the WHL championship. Soustal, one of the top scorers in the Czech junior league, didn’t quite pan out offensively last season and finished with only 18 points in 65 games. This weekend, Soustal pulled out the “Michigan move,” made famous by former University of Michigan forward Mike Legg, perhaps re-writing the script on his 2015-16 season.

Leon Draisaitl, Soustal’s teammate last year on Kelowna, is off to a hot start and making the Edmonton Oilers a little more comfortable without Connor McDavid in the lineup. After a tumultuous season where Draisaitl was kept in Edmonton for half a season, then returned to juniors where he subsequently joined a new franchise, Draisaitl can settle into Edmonton long-term. With Taylor Hall on one side of the ice, the duo is climbing up the scoring charts and linking up all over the ice.

Like Draisaitl, Teemu Pulkkinen got a little taste of the NHL last season. Splitting the season between Detroit and the team’s AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids, Pulkkinen gained confidence and showed signs of being the next late-round gem to come out of the woodwork for the Red Wings. With back-to-back 30-goal seasons in the AHL, Pulkkinen demonstrated that he can score in bunches. Goaltenders in the NHL will need to keep an eye out for him if he keeps hammering the puck like this.

Former University of Maine captain Devin Shore is off to a hot start in his first full season in the AHL. With 11 goals and six assists in 15 games, Shore is among the top 10 in scoring and has been doing it in a number of ways. Capable of scoring in many different fashions, Shore let one loose this week as a member of the Texas Stars.

Evgeny Svechnikov has been in the news lately as he is playing some of the best hockey of his career. Svechnikov is not only performing in the QMJHL for the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, but he played well during the CHL Canada Russia Series while suiting up for his home country. Joining him in Cape Breton is Maxim Lazarev, a yet-to-be-drafted talent vying for NHL attention. Lazarev was the team’s third overall pick in the 2013 CHL Import Draft who is hoping to join Svechnikov on the Russian World Junior squad. If they keep linking up for plays like this, that is certainly a possibility when the tournament kicks off next month.

The London Knights have been rolling lately, featuring another top line in the CHL. With newcomer Matt Tkachuk on board, the Knights have loaded up their first line with Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Mitch Marner and Arizona Coyotes prospect Christian Dvorak. The trio has combined for 122 points so far, and have proven to be a difficult line to contain. If they keep making spin passes like the gem Tkachuk and Dvorak pulled off, it’s going to be a long season for fellow Midwest Division rivals.

Four players, six passes, and one goal. Schmaltz-to-Boeser-to-Caggiula-to-Stecher-to-Boeser-to-Schmaltz, catch all that? Check out this play made by the University of North Dakota last week.


Last Week’s Prospect Impressions

Follow Dave Hahn on Twitter via @DHahnHockey