January 29, 2018

Seven prospects to keep track of during the Olympics

Ilya Sorokin, Troy Terry, Dominik Kubalik and Pär Lindholm are prospects to watch during the Olympics. Photo: Bildbyrån

We get it, you pretty much know all about Rasmus Dahlin, Miro Heiskanen and Eeli Tolvanen by now. Hence, we will not bore you with another edition of “look at these brilliant prospects that will participate in the Olympics”. No, instead we will be looking at another set of Olympic players that we think might have a future in the NHL.

But let’s not kid ourselves. After the NHL’s decision to put the pin in their tradition of sending players to the winter games, this tournament just turned into a veteran-laden event with a lot of journey-men and former NHL:ers. The average age among the players in the tournament will be around 29 with Russia being the only team with an average age under 28.

The prospects we will be looking at here are all drafted and under 23, with one glaring exception.

Ilya Sorokin, G, Russia
CSKA Moscow (KHL)
Drafted by the New York Islanders, 78th overall 2014
Igor Shestyorkin, G, Russia
SKA Sankt Petersburg (KHL)
Drafted by the New York Rangers, 118th overall 2014
Ilya Samsonov is considered to be the biggest goalie prospect out of Russia since Andrei Vasilevskiy, but he didn’t even make the Olympic team. Instead we have two other intriguing goalie prospects that will fight for playing time with veteran Vasili Koshechkin. Both Sorokin and Shestyorkin have followed the same path during their careers, curiously enough playing for KHL powerhouses CSKA and SKA while also being drafted by New York rivals Islanders and Rangers. They both have a save percentage around .930 this season, which makes it even tougher to tell them apart. The only notable difference is when they might be due to play in the NHL. Sorokin is signed by CSKA until 2020 while Shestyorkin, a possible successor to Henrik Lundqvist one day, is under obligation to play for SKA next season as well.

Domnik Kubalik, LW, Czech Republic
Ambri-Piotta (NLA)
Drafted by the Los Angeles Kings, 191st overall 2013
Kubalik was an afterthought when he was picked in the seventh and last round of the 2013 draft. After setting the Czech league on fire last year and averaging a point-per-game in both his native country and the Swiss league this season, his stock is on the rise. Since the Los Angeles Kings didn’t sign Kubalik last summer, they lost their rights to the winger, which makes him an unrestricted free agent in the NHL. A good showing at the Olympics should present the sniper with a opportunity to play in the NHL next season.

Jordan Greenway, LW, USA
Boston University (NCAA)
Drafted by the Minnesota Wild, 50th overall 2015
The Americans have the most interesting team in the Olympics, prospects wise. This thanks to the inclusion of several really intriguing college players. Jordan Greenway, a hulking winger from Boston University, played a key role when the Americans captured gold at the World Juniors in Montréal last year and also got the chance to play in the World Championships in Cologne in May last year. The 20 year-old is a power forward who has been compared to Todd Bertuzzi.

Troy Terry, C, USA
University of Denver (NCAA)
Drafted by the Anaheim Ducks, 148th overall 2015
If the Americans ever wind up in a shootout in Pyeongchang, they’ll be heavy favorites to win thanks to this guy. Terry was the big hero when the US won gold at the World Juniors in Montréal last year. He scored the game-winning shootout goal in the semifinal against Russia and repeated the feat in the gold medal game against Canada. Terry is having a terrific season at the University of Denver with 30 points in 26 games.

Ryan Donato, C, USA
Harvard University (NCAA)
Drafted by the Boston Bruins, 56th overall 2014
If the last name sounds familiar, it’s because it is. Ryan Donato’s father Ted played almost 800 NHL games before becoming a coach at Harvard, where he’s actually coaching his son right now. And just like his dad, Ryan has been drafted by the Boston Bruins. This season, he is averaging close to a goal-per-game at Harvard, leading the NCAA in goals. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he signs an NHL contract with the Bruins before the start of the summer. As of now, he doesn’t have anything more to prove in college hockey other than finishing his degree.

Pär Lindholm, C, Sweden
Skellefteå AIK (SHL)
Undrafted
If there’s one guy that sticks out on this list, it’s certainly Lindholm. The 26 year-old is a typical late-bloomer that has taken the long road to stardom in the Swedish circuit. Lindholm is a two-way center that has been one of the more prominent players in the SHL this season, where he has 42 points in 40 games, playing on Skellefteå’s top line with former NHL:ers Oscar Möller and Joakim Lindström, which has been the most offensively dangerous unit in the SHL this season. The trio will likely play together in Pyeongchang as well. Lindholm has been scouted by NHL teams this season and if he’s interested in playing in North America next season, he’ll get his chance. But don’t rule out the KHL either. The money in Russia is often better than what you’ll be offered as a newcomer in the NHL.

@UffeBodin

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