Our Top 10 draft prospects begins with a little guy out of Switzerland named Kevin Fiala, whose name has risen in draft circles since the midterm. He leapt from 11th to 3rd among European skaters in the Central Scouting rankings, and ESPN prospects guru Corey Pronman had Fiala ranked 6th overall, which is usually enough for the average Canucks Army pundit to do a little bit of digging on the guy.
And it appears at least four of us really liked what we saw.
KEVIN FIALA – HV71 Jr. (Sweden)
Weight: 181 lbs
Birthdate: July 22 1996
I guess the first thing to like about Fiala is that he has very good offensive numbers despite a relatively late birthday. Had he been born two months later, Fiala would be a prospect in the 2015 Entry Draft. In 17 games in the Swedish Elite League, Fiala scored 11 points. In 27 junior games, he had 25 points. Fiala suited up for Switzerland at the U-18, U-20, and World Championships all in the same season.
Everything sort of checks out, even though Fiala isn’t a player that realistically any of us have seen. You don’t need to have watched him, though, to appreciate his 17-year-old season. Pronman notes that Fiala had the highest points-per-game of any U-18 player in the top Swedish league since Peter Forsberg. Scouts seem to like both his playmaking and his skating, which are two important components of any NHL top six player’s game.
Not known for his defensive play, as he still needs to learn what it means to stick to a game-plan or doing exactly what the coach has told him.
To me, Fiala seems to fit the mould of a “swing for the fences” kind of prospect so he’d be a very interesting pick at six, destined for a top forward role within two years of being drafted or a career in Sweden after bumming it around in the minors in North America for a few seasons. Those players intrigue me, since the last thing the Canucks need is another “safe” prospect. Anybody can play defence. You can go into free agency every summer and find five or six guys who are defensively-responsible forwards, and they’ve evolved as such because without any offensive talent, that’s the only way they’re going to stick around in pro hockey. The rarities are the players who just put up numbers like Fiala does, in pro hockey, at such a young age.
Here is a four-minute video of people speaking Swedish: