EDMONTON — Here are seven prospects eligible for the 2019 NHL Draft whose stock rose at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, the annual under-18 tournament that ended Saturday night with Canada’s 6-2 victory against Sweden in the gold medal game (prospects in alphabetical order).
Philip Broberg, D, Sweden
An excellent skater, the defenseman (6-foot-3, 198 pounds) wowed the crowd with his sweeping rushes and his effective breakouts. He scored three goals, including one on the power play, in five games.
“He solidified himself as being one of the top prospects available (in 2019),” said Dan Marr, director of NHL Central Scouting. “He’ll definitely be in the conversation as far as the first few picks go.”
Maxim Cajkovic, RW, Slovakia
The speedy forward (5-foot-11, 187) showed off some solid puck possession skills. He had two goals and two assists in four games.
“I’m fast, but I need to improve my skating every day,” said Cajkovic. “There’s a lot of room for me to improve right now. I think I’m getting bigger and better, that’s important for me.”
Dylan Cozens, C, Canada
A talented playmaker with size (6-foot-3, 181) and speed, Cozens scored two goals and had three assists in five games.
“He was one of our best players,” said Canada coach Andre Tourigny. “He’s really quick on recovering loose pucks. He has a big body, he can win faceoffs. There are a lot of reasons to put him out there.”
Kirby Dach, C, Canada
The big center (6-foot-4, 185) had seven points (two goals, five assists) in five games, and appears to have all the tools necessary to play a major role in the NHL.
“I want to become a dual threat out there instead of just looking for the pass all the time,” said Dach, who scored 46 points (seven goals, 39 assists) in 52 games with Saskatoon of the Western Hockey League last season. “I tend to think pass first, but one of the areas I want to try work on is my shooting in order to become a more dangerous player all around.”
Vasili Podkolzin, RW, Russia
Podkolzin (5-foot-11, 165) scored a goal in every game for Russia (eight in total), capping off his spree with a hat trick in the third-place game to help Russia defeat the United States 5-4.
“A lot of the Russian players have upgraded their status,” said Marr. “It’s such a big country, so it can be hard to see them play a lot and in different environments. A lot of those kids still have to get sorted out, but it’s a deeper pool for Russia this year.”
Victor Soderstrom, D, Sweden
Soderstrom (5-foot-11, 176) was one of the best defensemen for his country before getting injured against Switzerland in his team’s second game, finishing the tournament with a goal and an assist.
“He has offensive skills. He’s the guy I trust on the power play on the blue line,” said Sweden coach Magnus Havelid. “He has to improve his defensive game, but compared to one year ago, he’s taken a huge step forward.”
Ryan Suzuki, C, Canada
Like his older brother Nick (Vegas Golden Knights), Ryan (6-foot, 172) displays an uncanny intelligence on the ice. He can find his teammates despite limited options and he is able to escape sticky situations. He finished second on Canada with eight points (one goal, seven assists).
“I’d say my biggest strength is my hockey sense,” said Suzuki. “I think I’m a little bit a better skater than my brother, but he has a better shot and he knows how to put the puck in the net. We’re both smart players and we see the ice really well.”