10. Semyon Afonasyevsky – LW – 6’1 187 lbs - Belye Medvedi Chelyabinsk (MHL) – CS Ranking: 62
Afonasyevsky has put up decent numbers this year including 23 goals and 13 assists.
9. Veeti Vainio – LD – 6’0 163 lbs – Blues U20 (Jr.A SM Liiga) – CS Ranking: 48
An agile Finish defenceman who has recorded 44 points in 42 games in the Blues U20 team this season.
8. Lukas Vejdemo – C – 6’2 194 lbs – Djurgarden J20 (SuperElit) –CS Ranking: 49
Vejdemo has put up good numbers in his first full year playing for Djurgarden in the SuperElit league. He posted 27 points in 24 games, and as I was informed, took on a large leadership role on the squad.
7. Christian Jaros – RD – 6’3 205 lbs – Luela (SHL) – CS Rank: 50
A large 6’3 right handed defenceman who spent most of the season playing for Lulea in the SHL. Though he only recorded 1 point on the season, Jaros is a player who takes pride in his defensive zone play. He could rise in this draft based upon the fact he is a right handed defenceman, which has become a hot commodity as of late.
6. Antti Kalapudas – C – 6’0 161 lbs – Hokki (Mestis) – CS Ranking: 54
A Finnish center who I considered putting number one on the list. In his first year of eligibility, Kalapudas put up 59 points in 44 games for Karpat. At 6’0 and 161lbs, he is a tad underweight however; his play doesn’t suffer because of it. Out of all the players on the list, he is the one I would like to see come over to North America for one year of junior.
5. Daniil Vovchenko – LW – 5’7 148 lbs – Almaz Cherepovets (MHL) – CS Ranking: Unranked
Vovchenko is quite undersized; however, the rate he is producing at is intriguing considering his stature. Through 50 games the speedy Russian winger has amounted 29 goals, however the more intriguing aspect to his game comes in the form of penalty minutes. The tenacious forward has 102 penalty minutes this season and even dropped the gloves with 6’3 Rodrigo Abols (1).
4. David Kampf – RW - 6’2, 192 lbs – KLH Chomutov (Czech2) – CS Ranking: 41
Kampf is one that a few scouts hold in high regard. He put up 2 assists in 5 WJC games and looked comfortable playing against other highly touted prospects. He is a smart player who is strong in the defensive zone.
3. Vyacheslav Leshchenko- RW – 5’11 163 lbs - Atlant Mytishchi (KHL) – CS Ranking: 47
Leshchenko is a name that resonates with many who viewed the 2015 WJC. Many marveled at his speed and creativity throughout the tournament. He recorded 5 points in 7 games for Team Russia.
2. Kevin Stenlund – C – 6’3 205 lbs – HV71 (SHL) –CS Ranking: 57
Stenlund earned his high ranking both because he is another player I fell in love with at the beginning of the season, as well as his body of work. The captain of the HV71 J20 team tallied 30 points in 27 games before earning a call up to the big club. What sets Stenlund apart is his ability to think the game. His hockey IQ is through the roof and when a player has that kind of hockey sense to go along with an incredible pair of hands, he becomes quite the threat. Look for him to go anywhere from the 3rd to the 5th round, and if he does go later, it will be quite the steal.
1. Rodrigo Abols – C – 6’3 179 lbs - HK Riga (MHL) - CS Ranking: Unranked
Abols is a player who I fell in love with from the beginning of the season. He has a raw frame to build into, and already contains the offensive tools to make a difference for whatever team he is on. The Latvian forward went unranked by Central Scouting, however he could be taken anywhere from round 3 through 7.
With this list containing four players currently playing in Russia, I believe it is fair to say that the MHL is producing their fair share of prospects.
Like I said earlier, a Datsyuk in the 6th is an extremely rare case, however I believe with the right development, all players listed have the ability to make a difference on an NHL club in the coming years. Thanks for reading, and make sure to check me out at @NHLDraftTalk on Twitter.