Brad Lambert - Center/Winger - The Most Canadian Finn Ever
Ah yes, Finland’s premiere prospect of 2022 with the single least Finnish name of any Finnish prospect. But don’t be fooled, Lambert is a menace.
Lambert’s skating is some of the best in this draft, and combine that with some almost precognitive ability to read the ice and find plays to make, he could end up being a real crown jewel in a top half of the draft that already looks pretty shiny.
And yes, Lambert is yet another 17 year old playing against grown-ass men in a men’s league, this time in Jyväskylä playing for JYP. He had 15 points last year, and it looks like he’s well on his way towards topping that this year. He’s unquestionably a name worth keeping tabs on!
Ivan Miroshnichenko - Left Winger - From Russia, with goal scoring
There are a few players from Mother Russia that have garnered a lot of praise over the last couple of years; Matvei Michkov and Ivan Miroshnickenko have been major parts of that upcoming new generation of Russians, but for our purposes we’ll focus down on Miroshnichenko. Miroschnichenko’s 2020 was kind of a nightmare as he was bouncing from the USA to Russia thanks to some visa issues and wasn’t keen on playing for his original rights holders in HC Vityaz thanks to some heavy encouragement from his father, but finally found a home for himself with Avanguard Omsk system in the Russian Junior League.
Miroschnichenko’s biggest positives come from that bullet of a shot and his ability to do some crazy stickhandling even while being hounded by defenders that can make him a wild danger to any team facing him. With a more consistent home, he looks like he’s developing wonderfully, but there’s always a risk with Russians, as they’re often locked down by their KHL teams for awhile and the teams are jealous with their time; some kids have even had to buy themselves out of their contracts.
There are also other risks as many Canadians over a certain age will profess but most of those have been otherwise disproven or were bad xenophobic garbage to begin with so we’ll just go with “you might have to kick him a few bucks to leave Siberia.”
Juraj Slafkovsky - Left Winger - No need to teach size
I do not know what they feed kids in Kosice, but if they turn out like Juraj Slafkovsky then I’m deeply impressed.
Juraj Slafkovsky took his talents to icy Finland’s Liiga, one of the top European leagues, to hone his craft, and has acquitted himself well against real grown-ass men. Partly because at 17...he already looks the part of a grown-ass man at 6’4, 225. A lot of prospects typically have a bit of work in the weight room to do in order to survive an NHL game, but guys like Slafkovsky make trainers/GMs salivate because half the work is already done for them. But that can also be a bit of a pain because being huge can hide issues!
Thankfully, Slafkovsky makes being huge the other team’s problem. A quick skater with a dependable, aggressive need to control the puck on his frame has made him one of the most exciting prospects in an already very exciting draft for Slovakia.
Joakim Kemell - Right Wing - Dynamiitti
Joakim Kemell is quickly becoming the kind of player that turns heads even in a league that often biases offense thanks to it’s ruleset.
Kemell causes trouble less through sheer physicality but through sheer speed and relentlessness: it seems like in most shifts he is a nightmare to try and defend, and with playmaking instincts like his, getting him to come to the NHL will make him a very exciting and very dynamic player. I can particularly see him excelling on power plays!
Kemell’s season with JYP is far from over, so we could see him rise with time...but given that the Kraken will probably remain in position to draft him, we should cheer for him to keep terrorizing Liiga like he has
Conor Geekie - Center - Family Ties
Meet Morgan’s brother, Conor. Like a shocking number of little brothers, Morgan is shorter than Connor. Regardless of how you feel of the idea, it would be very cool to have the Geekies on one team.
Thankfully, it wouldn’t be just nepotism; Connor plays with a confidence that only comes from being able to find opportunities with impunity thanks to his 6’4 frame. His control of the puck is also quite impressive, and given that the Winnipeg ICE are loaded to the brim with quality talent this year, they’ve given Conor an impressive amount of weapons of which to make plays with, and it’s paid off.
While analysts disagree on whether or not he’s a top 5 or top 10 talent, the fact that we could be close to more Geekie in the league is something we should treasure.
Next time, we’ll talk a little more about draft strategy, specifically about goaltending and the draft.