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Photo Credit: Johan Löf / BILDBYRÅN

2019 Draft Countdown 45-41: Patrik Puistola, Albin Grewe, Ilya Nikolayev, Isaiah Saville, and Tobias Björnfot

Welcome to Canucks Army’s 2019 Draft Countdown. Over the next four weeks leading up to the draft, we’ll be rounding up scouting reports, quotes, and videos about our Top-100 prospects available. Here are aggregated profiles on 2019 Draft Countdown: Patrik Puistola, Albin Grewe, Ilya Nikolayev, Isaiah Saville, and Tobias Bjornfot.

No.45: Patrik Puistola

Date of birth: January 11th, 2001

Nation: Finland

Position: LW

Shoots: L

Height: 6’0” / 183 cm

Weight: 174 lbs / 79 kg

Profile: One of the best puck handlers in this year’s draft, Puistola is an offensively talented winger who competes hard. His skating and defensive play may not be at the ideal level, but his creativity and pure skill makes him worth a look. 

He’s a skilled offensive player, but he’s also responsible defensively and does all the little things needed to have success against pro players. Puistola is likely to be a second-round pick in the summer. – Jokke Nevalainen, Dobber Prospects

Puistola’s biggest weaknesses are on the defensive side of things, but his compete level is pretty good and his smarts should allow him to turn into a more complete player in the future. I’m pretty high on Puistola due to his great hands, offensive instincts and shot, and could see him getting drafted early in the second round. – Lassi Alanen, Finn Prospects 

An eye-opening performance at the Ivan Hlinka Tourney, where he dominated in matches. A lean six footer, he most certainly seemed to have a high level of functional strength and blazing speed that aided him in dominating battles all over the sheet. Not the most gifted high end skill player, he nonetheless give great energy and created lots of scoring opportunities by carrying defenders on his back to the net, winning most board battles and thrown big hits, and driving hard to the net strong on the puck. His wide stance enabled his quick pivots to receive passes and loose pucks and drive hard on the attack. Pounces on turnovers and capitalizes. Saw little time with his top end teammates, which left me wondering what if he was surrounded by quality linemates. Worth a look. – Bill Placzek, Draft Site

Drafting Puistola is a bet on skill. The Finnish winger can act as a setup man, but it is probably his qualities as a finisher that attract the most attention. His goal-scoring was on full display in international tournaments, even on a U18 Team Finland that wasn’t the strongest it has been in recent years. He has a good shot and can pick his spot when he comes down the wing. His hands allow him to tip point-shots and catch rebounding pucks around the net and send them past an out-of-position goaltender. – David St. Louis, Habs Eyes on the Prize

No.44: Albin Grewe

Date of birth: March 22nd, 2001

Nation: Sweden

Position: C/RW

Shoots: L

Height: 6’0” / 182 cm

Weight: 187 lbs / 85 kg

Profile: A skilled forward who is very physical, Albin has good speed, goes to the net hard and finishes his checks. He needs to be more disciplined, but his power-forward style of game makes him an enticing option. 

Power forward with average size, good skill, great speed, and tremendous energy. Upside to become a very good complementary top-six forward. Could become a multi-cat beast. – Dobber Prospects 

Even though he’s not big, Grewe plays a power forward type game. He has a good shot, good puck-skills, good vision, and he’s a good skater. And most importantly, he works harder than most players on the ice. Currently, he’s able to combine that grinding power forward game with great offensive success at the junior level but it remains to be seen if he can do the same in the NHL. If he can, he could become a very valuable complementary top-six winger. But if he can’t, he can still have a very good career in the NHL as a bottom-six grinder. Grewe is likely to be drafted in the second round in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. –Jokke Nevalainen, Dobber Prospects 

Perpetual motion fireball of a wing with non stop speed, motion and intensity. Has terrific vision, compete level and seems to always come out of the high battle areas with the puck. Leading his junior team scoring by virtue of his skillful hands, his moves, and his ability to make successful passes in high traffic areas. His strong push on his wheels get him past defenders like he is bulling his way where he wants. Always moving in his low to ice stance, he dekes you, and makes time to thread the puck to an open teammate. Players like this are a nightmare to defend, and he still will score when double-covered. In the Swedish league in which he has played the most, he was much hated by the opposition, but a home town fan-favorite. Displays a lightning-fast release. One of the best forwards in the Under-18 Five Nations tourney on a team filled with older players from the 2018 class. Was once viewed as pretty near close to the late first rounder but things have cooled, although he still evokes memories of his energy laden gritty past performance. He is now apprehensive about contact and has disappeared in the battle areas. There is no question that he has skills as a guy who can play fast, make deft moves and display solid stick work and start out strong on the puck on his way down low, but has been prone to over-handles. Needs to use his linemates more effectively. Has a good shot and release but isn’t hitting the open spaces on the net. There is enough there to warrant developmental time. – Bill Placzek, Draft Site

No.43: Ilya Nikolayev

Date of birth: June 26th, 2001

Nation: Russia

Position: C

Shoots: L

Height: 6’0” / 183 cm

Weight: 190 lbs / 86 kg

Profile: A skilled two-way centre who competes hard, Nikolayev can be effective on both the power play and the penalty kill. His intensity and offensive talent have some scouts projecting top-six upside. 

A brick wall of a two-way playmaking center who was Russia’s top-line pivot at all of the under-18 events he participated in, Nikolayev is incredibly strong on his skates and plays with a high compete level. He is consistently the center summoned by his coaches to tackle tough assignments such as late-and-close faceoffs, checking opposing top players or scoring in the clutch. Nikolayev’s stickhandling and puck protection are excellent both on the move or within the cramped confines of a given zone. He can deke and dangle around defenders with relative ease, but he consistently victimizes opponents by dropping that shoulder and barreling towards the net. He is a breakaway threat in open ice; more for his anticipation and hockey sense than elite speed or cherrypicking – remember, this is a dependable two-way center we’re talking about, so his quick transition from defense to offense requires more calculation than what is being processed by the average offensive forward who floats his way into chances. Nikolayev plays with physicality and intensity while displaying leadership both on and off the ice, and he is an excellent choice to run both the lead power-play unit and top penalty kill.

Blessed with acute vision and creativity, Nikolayev is a tape-to-tape passer and does so with authority. He executes odd-man rushes with precision while not always choosing the expected passing option. He is poised on zone entries and will delay to allow puck support to appear until he sees the open lane he likes. Nikolayev is not an explosive skater nor does he possess a quick first step, but he is agile in every direction and generates a lot of power behind his wide stride. He also is effective in separating from back pressuring and weaving defensive pairs into a state of confusion. He was named the top forward in the MHL playoffs before he was summoned to play for Russia at the U18 worlds. – Steve Kournianos, The Draft Analyst

A capable and all-around centre who shines in pressure situations. Is as effective on the penalty kill as he is on the power play. Nice vision, an accurate release and a non-stop motor. – Cam Robinson, Dobber Prospects

Six foot thick centreman who has a strong first step and bursts that glide him into the soft areas on the attack. Good balanced skater with a bow legged base but it doesn’t deter him from controlling the middle of the ice in three zones responsibly. A very soft passer who is slick in his movements before he dishes. Displays fast hands and quick burst explosions as he comes out from the corners and wall. Fights hard to maintain space in blue paint area. Strong middle zone defender. Was one of the more noticeable players in the World Junior Challenge with his effort, and slick opportunistic passing including his slap passes. – Bill Placzek, Draft Site

No.42: Isaiah Saville

Date of birth: September 21st, 2001

Nation: USA

Position: G

Catches: R

Height: 6’1” / 185 cm

Weight: 194 lbs / 88 kg

Profile: A rare full-right netminder, Saville has been gaining traction thanks to an excellent season in the USHL. His terrific skating and quick reflexes have some scouts thinking he could push for an NHL slot one day. 

Odd Duck right shooting goalie is a winner who is a terrific athlete with superb reflexes who already stops second and third attempts with a cool and calm demeanor far past his age. Displays excellent puck tracking, super quick leg pads and the ability to direct rebounds where he wants them. Fills the net and there is little net to shoot at. All he has done in the 2018-19 season is play for the U.S. Junior Select Team in the World Junior A Challenge, where he posted a shutout in the gold-medal game victory, lead the USHL in goals against average in this his rookie season. A tremendous skater with or without his equipment on, he is rising up the charts. – Bill Placzek, Draft Site

I think he’s a great goalie. One thing that’s interesting about him is he’s a full right goalie, he’s a southpaw. Those goalies can be deceiving, and it adds a lot of value to teams to have a goalie like that. – Thomas Speer, USA Hockey’s national goalie coach

There’s no doubt that he has a chance to play at the next level. He’s got a chance to play in the American (Hockey League) and push for an NHL slot. He’s had a pretty good trajectory. Here’s a kid that played in the North American Hockey League a year ago and here he is a year later and he’s leading the USHL in pretty much every statistical category, winning international events and continuing to impress. – Tri-City coach Anthony Noreen

 

No.41: Tobias Björnfot

Date of birth: April 6th, 2001

Nation: Sweden

Position: D

Shoots: L

Height: 6’0” / 184 cm

Weight: 203 lbs / 92 kg

Profile: A reliable two-way defenseman, Björnfot logs heavy minutes and has leadership qualities. His excellent skating and good size have some scouts projecting him to become a solid all-around NHL blueliner. 

Björnfot was expected to become a high first-rounder after he put up very impressive numbers in the SuperElit as a 16-year-old. But he hasn’t taken that next step offensively this season which is part of the reason he’s seen more as a second-rounder now. Even though Björnfot has improved as an all-around player compared to last season, his points-per-game average is almost identical to a year ago which is never a good sign. Björnfot is a reliable two-way defenseman who makes smart decisions at both ends of the rink. He likes to join the rush but avoids unnecessary risks. He has decent size, and he’s a good defensive player because of his high hockey sense. Björnfot has also shown good leadership qualities at a young age. He’s an alternate captain on his team in SuperElit, and he’s been carrying the ‘C’ on his sweater for Team Sweden in international tournaments. – Jokke Nevalainen, Dobber Prospects

He might not be spectacular, but he makes it easy for his partner. He is calm, collected, and secure, and he will do the dirty work, too. It is very easy to play beside a player like that. sometimes the hard thing is to do the simple thing right. Björnfot is that player. He doesn’t have to do the spectacular thing all the time, but he knows he can do it. He is happy to hit the blade of the player with speed. He gets others to shine, rather than shine himself. – Djurgårdens IF SHL coach, Robert Ohlsson

A push the pace attacking defenseman who plays with some jam, and a blazing wrist shot. A mobile defender who pivots well, he has a bit more size and thickness than many of the prospects categorized as new age push the pace defenseman. Plays calm and aware in his end and is willing to engage with attackers trying to set up shop in front. At the U-18 Five Nations tourney in the summer, he tied the game for Sweden against the United States in the final period and then with an end to end rush, he tied it again. – Bill Placzek, Draft Site

Read Also:

2019 Draft Countdown No. 50-46: Mikko Kokkonen, Mads Søgaard, Ryan Johnson, Nolan Foote, Maxim Cajkovic

2019 Draft Countdown 55-51: Henry Thrun, Marshall Warren, Dillon Hamaliuk, Robert Mastrosimone, and Michal Teply

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