by Corey Pronman
Today was another slow day at the World Juniors before we have 8 games in 2 days to finish off the round robin portion.
Thoughts from Latvia-Sweden (5-1 Sweden):
Sweden’s second line was clicking again, especially top 2013 draft prospect Elias Lindholm who was all over the ice. On Sweden’s first goal, he made a ridiculous no look pass to Emil Molin (DAL) while the puck was up and in a scramble. Lindholm displayed good work ethic on top of his great hands and creativity. Molin did what he’s been doing all tournament which was creating with the puck and showing good hockey sense. Sebastian Collberg (MTL) hasn’t really been a player who the play has flowed through, but he does make some plays and did score on yet another great mid distance shot, his third in three games.
There may not be a more snake bitten player in this tournament than Filip Forsberg (WSH) who has had a horde of chances but hasn’t been able to finish, although he got two assists today. He has 1 goal on 20 shots, roughly 8-10 of them I’d say were quality shots too and a few posts. He’s at times tried to do too much but he’s creating a lot of offense, it’s just not going in which will even out over time.
The Swedish defense was better today with good performances from Emil Djuse (undrafted) and Tom Nilsson (TOR). Nilsson has been solid so far, showing good ability in his own end and landing some crushing hits. He’ll occasionally try to get involved on offense but it’s not his game.
Viktor Arvidsson is another small undrafted player like Filip Sandberg from Sweden I like. Both are highly skilled players who work hard at both ends and I think would be worth a draft selection this summer.
William Karlsson’s (ANA) play lately has been average and while he likely will, he needs to pick it up more going forward as he’s had too many significant stretches where he’s not noticeable.
Teodors Blugers (PIT) was one of the few Latvian players who stood out. His goal was a nice mid distance snipe and he exhibited fine offensive instincts with the puck.
Thoughts from Germany-Russia (7-0 Russia):
Tobias Rieder (EDM) was a bit of a surprise addition to the German line up after a foot injury he suffered in OHL play. Even Canada’s coach, who is Rieder’s coach in the OHL seemed surprised Rieder was able to play. He simply hasn’t been able to get anything going and one has to wonder if the injury is playing a part.
Russia’s top line got rolling again with Daniil Zharkov (EDM) plugging in for the injured Sigarev and he alongside Alexander Khokhlachev (BOS) and Nail Yakupov (EDM) were able to generate offense. Yakupov looked like the usual Yakupov although I’m sure observers will be more satisfied if he performs at a high level again vs. Canada in two days.
Yaroslav Kosov (FLA) got a hat trick and for a player consistently penciled in on Russia’s bottom 6 if not the 4th line is an interesting player. He shone at the last World Juniors and he’s a gritty, quick player who has shown the ability to produce offense. I’m uncertain now as to whether he projects as a bottom six player or if he’s got another level.
The top pairing for Russia of Nikita Nesterov (TBL) and Albert Yarullin (undrafted) has continued to be quality. Nesterov is a tough, mobile player who can be a decent puck mover. Yarullin is a player who I had in my Top 100 Draft Prospects two seasons ago, but didn’t rank last season due to getting no notes on him during 2011-12. Here’s my write up on Yarullin from 2011 who I then ranked 37th. This is from two years ago so it’s not obviously a recent report and I would change my stance for example on his shot somewhat:
Albert Yarullin is a prospect who has flown under the radar in Russia’s Junior league, and while he doesn’t put up the counting numbers (his terrific Under-18’s not withstanding), those who have followed him know about the possession assets he brings to the table. He’s a decent skater who doesn’t bring a pro-level top speed, but is somewhat agile and his all-around mobility is at an average level. His puck skills are average but his passing is solid-average, as Yarullin makes a good first pass and can distribute well on the power play, but you won’t see him stretch the ice or try to squeeze a distribution between a tight lane. His shot is hard, but his technique is poor on his slapper as he takes a while to wind it up. His physical game is fringe, but could get to below-average as he is pretty gritty, works hard and makes forwards earn their territory if they go in the crease area. He’s listed at around 6′0″, 200 lbs., but in regards to his muscle mass he looks pretty small out there. Yarullin thinks the game at an above-average level and rarely makes a mistake on the ice, relying on a conservative game, but his calm plays and smarts translate well as a power play quarterback. His defensive game is also notably advanced and the last few years he has played beyond his age group. If he’s drafted, the team that takes him will have to wait for his body to develop and ideally the skating, but his smarts and to a degree his puck-moving skills are good enough to take him to the pro game and excel there.