We kicked off the NHL Trade Deadline with some early deals in last week’s column found here. We covered prospects Tyler Madden (Vancouver to Los Angeles), David Quenneville (New York Islanders to New Jersey), Nolan Foote (Tampa Bay to New Jersey) and you will want to read our analysis there. Since that column, the NHL saw well over 40 transactions in a reasonably busy trade deadline period. This week, we round up some of the more significant prospects that were traded since our last column with notes and analysis from the McKeen’s team.
On our website, www.mckeenshockey.com we cover every prospect that was traded if you want to go even deeper in this lengthy article for subscribers found here. For the prospects we write about below, the site also contains scouting reports, feature articles and much more if you want an in-depth look at your team’s newest acquisition. Our Editor in Chief, Ryan Wagman will rank the top prospects traded since the beginning of 2020 with notes and observations on our site to complete our deadline coverage. Look for it later today.
Our continuing series of 2020 NHL Draft prospect profiles brings an insightful look at Finnish center Roni Hirvonen from our Senior Finland Prospect Analyst, Marco Bombino. He is currently ranked near the end of the first round at #25 in our mid-season 2020 NHL Draft ranking found here.
We have listed all the 2020 NHL Draft eligible prospects we have already introduced to the readers of this column at the end of this article with links for easy access. If you want to dive deeper, the team are scouting, analyzing and writing about prospects all season at www.mckeenshockey.com
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2020 NHL DRAFT PROSPECT
2019-20 Stats: Assat (Liiga) 48GP-4G-10A-14PTS
Roni Hirvonen is a crafty forward who has acclimated quickly to the pro game in Finland this season. He has spent majority of the season on the wing, although he has also played a bit at center in the Liiga. He has a very good understanding of the game. He reads plays well both with and without the puck, and he is consistently proactive instead of being reactive. He finds soft spots in the offensive zone. Although more of a playmaker than a shooter, he can be a dual threat and goalies have to respect that. An agile skater with quick feet and top notch acceleration, he has a motor that never stops. On the downside, Hirvonen is on the smaller side and his board and corner play require improvement. He is not the type of a player who will outmuscle opponents, but being stronger on the puck and winning more one-on-one battles must be priorities.
Hirvonen has similar attributes to his teammate Otto Kivenmäki, a Detroit Red Wings forward prospect. That being said, it is clear that Hirvonen is more advanced in several aspects of the game and projects as a much higher NHL draft pick. McKeen's Hockey has Hirvonen ranked inside the first round for the 2020 draft, currently at 25. Even though skating and puck skills are some of his biggest strengths, his ability to see the entire ice, anticipate and make quick decisions with the puck should enable him to make a smooth transition to the North American game. I feel very confident in projecting him as a potential middle-six NHL forward. Due to his versatility, Hirvonen's style of play may be better suited for center, but I could as well see him carve out an NHL career as a winger. – Marco Bombino, Senior Finland Prospect Analyst
PROSPECTS IN THE NEWS – NHL TRADE DEADLINE: PROSPECTS ON THE MOVE PART TWO
February 24, 2020
Vegas Acquired: Robin Lehner and Martins Dzierkals
Chicago Acquired: 2nd-round pick, Malcolm Subban and Slava Denim
Toronto Acquired: 5th round pick
2019-20 Stats: University of Denver (NCAA) 30GP-2G-7A-9PTS
Once in a while, a marginal prospect is included in a multi-part trade simply as the team trading him away would have too many contracts or reserved players without the move. Think of two deadlines ago, when Vegas, Ottawa, and Pittsburgh hooked up on a three-way deal. The Penguins wanted center Derick Brassard. The Golden Knights wanted Ryan Reaves. The Senators wanted Ian Cole. A first-round pick was involved. A prospect of note (Filip Gustavsson, to Ottawa). A couple of thirds and a fourth as well. Also, forwards Tobias Lindberg and Vincent Dunn ended up in the Pittsburgh system. While Lindberg has long had some fans and received a one-year extension to remain in the Pittsburgh system before going to play in the Swedish second division this year. Dunn was on the last year of his ELC and was floundering in the ECHL. He was included in the big deal as the Senators needed to rid themselves of a contract.
Demin has more value than Dunn. But not necessarily more value than Lindberg. Currently in his sophomore season at Denver, the puck moving potential he flashed prior to being drafted with Wenatchee of the BCHL have yet to catch up at the NCAA level. He does a lot of things at a reasonable level. He is a decent skater and recovers nicely after a turnover in the offensive end, he makes a crisp exit pass when he takes his time to find a passing option and has some wiggle when he carries the puck. His point shot is fairly mediocre and one of the reasons he has seen precious little time on the man advantage this year. The other reason is the presence of Ian Mitchell, who he now joins in the Chicago system, and who is treated like a workhorse. Demin is left with mostly third pairing opportunities and has not yet done much to suggest that he deserves more.
That said, he will likely be looked at to deliver more next season when Mitchell finally turns pro. Until then, we will be left to wonder whether Demin or second string netminder Malcolm Subban was the second piece returning to the Blackhawks in the Robin Lehner deal, after the second-round pick. – Editor in Chief, Ryan Wagman, Senior US Prospect Analyst
2019 -20 Stats: Jukurit (Liiga) 31GP-3G-7A-10PTS
The newly acquired Vegas Golden Knights prospect Martins Dzierkals has had some ups and downs in his first season with Jukurit in the Finnish Liiga. The Latvian winger missed almost two months due to injury, but he has had some good performances since returning to game action. The attribute that stands out most about Dzierkals is his skating. He is very quick and light on his skates. He can be a handful for defenders because of his speed. He can be slick with the puck and he has the hands to effectively carry the puck up the ice.
With only 10 points in 31 games, the main issue thus far has been his lack of production. Granted, Jukurit is a low-scoring team without too much offensive firepower, but Dzierkals will need to find ways to be more efficient in the offensive zone. He has been too much of a perimeter player this season. He must attack the net and go to high-traffic areas more consistently. However, I'm not ready to write him off as an NHL prospect. He has the abilities needed to be a very good Liiga forward, it's just a matter of putting all the pieces of his game together. I am curious to see if he'll stay in Finland for another season to improve his overall game. – Marco Bombino, Senior Finnish Prospect Analyst
Colorado Acquired: Michael Hutchinson
Toronto Acquired: Calle Rosen
2019-20 Stats: Colorado (NHL) 35GP-3G-12A-15PTS, Colorado (AHL) 35GP-3G-12A-15PTS
The Toronto Maple Leafs have stayed mostly quiet on the trade market during a hectic season in The Six, but this morning acquired a solid depth defenseman in Calle Rosen from the Colorado Avalanche organization, sending to Denver goaltender Michael Hutchinson in exchange. Or, should we say "re-acquired," as Rosen spent the first two years of his North American pro career with the Leafs organization. This is a deal that is frankly hard to hate in Toronto; Hutchinson flamed out quick and has been replaced by Jack Campbell, whereas Rosen's maturity, discipline, and high level of physical play provide a steady presence in whatever role the club decides to throw him into, be it elite AHL defenseman with the Marlies (which he has been in the past), or a veteran extra defenseman on a Leafs team that has played some shaky defensive hockey of late. – Tom Dorsa, AHL Analyst
Carolina Acquired: Sami Vatanen
New Jersey Acquired: Janne Kuokkanen, Frederik Claesson and a conditional 4th round pick (2020 conditional)
Prospect – Janne Kuokkanen
2019-20 Stats: Charlotte (AHL) 52GP-12G-30A-42PTS
As part of a fiery set of trade deadline deals, the Carolina Hurricanes sent 2016 second-rounder Janne Kuokkanen, one of their more productive forward prospects, over to New Jersey in the Sami Vatanen trade. The 21-year-old winger has been dynamite with AHL Charlotte this season, with 10 goals, 32 assists, and 92 shots in 54 games. The Finn’s hands will amaze you at first watch, with his skating and shooting also grading out as above average. Unfortunately for the Hurricanes, Kuokkanen was merely the victim of a numbers game in Raleigh, and will instead mightily help AHL Binghamton or New Jersey right away. – Tom Dorsa, AHL Prospect Analyst
From McKeen’s Hockey Pool Yearbook – “Gifted with fantastic hands, the playmaker has the full complement of tools available to him. His skating and shot are both above average tools, while his keen hockey brain helps it all coalesce. The former second round pick even has an NHL frame, even if he does not play a very physical game. He is a hard worker who gives his all in all three zones.”
Dallas Acquired: 6th round pick
Florida Acquired: Emil Djuse
2019-20 Stats: Texas, (AHL) 48GP-4G-25A-29PTS
In spite of enjoying a highly productive season with AHL Texas, his first campaign in North America, Djuse's chances to crack the lineup of the NHL Stars were limited due to his age. At 26, he was one of the oldest rookies in the sport, and his one-year contract and pending UFA situation made him a movable asset. The highly mobile, puck-moving left-hander was the third-highest point scorer on the Texas Stars and their leader in assists, however, his defensive instincts are still quite raw and not fully adjusted to the higher competition level of North American pro hockey. The Dallas Stars dealing their most productive AHL defenseman for a draft pick and doing nothing else only handicaps their AHL team for now, but it is clear now that Djuse's hectic, fast-paced playing style was incompatible with Dallas' slower, more defensively structured system under Rick Bowness. – Tom Dorsa, AHL Prospect Analyst
Carolina Acquired: Vincent Trocheck
A smart, offensive defenseman with NCAA talent, Chase Priskie was one of the more desired minor league players available as trade bait. After being included in a deal for Florida’s Vincent Trocheck, Priskie will be calling Springfield his new home for the time being. Sitting second in points for defensemen on the Charlotte Checkers, Priskie is a high-end passer and a smart shooter capable of finding holes and quarterbacking a power play. Often times, the defensemen coming from the NCAA possess a high hockey IQ and an offensive mindset and Priskie fits right into that mold. A late trade after acquiring young defensive prospect Joey Keane meant that a last minute trade for right handed center Vincent Trocheck was a no brainer by including Priskie in the deal; a defenseman for a defenseman in that sense. Priskie is an asset to any blueline, and with the new model of offensive defensemen being a high priority, Priskie’s point production with Charlotte only adds to his value.
With 31 points throughout the first half of the season with Charlotte in the AHL, as of the trade Priskie would currently sit in first spot for defensemen with the Springfield Thunderbirds. With talent like Aaron Ekblad and Keith Yandle on Florida, the defensive blueline in Springfield simply does not match their big sister club. Adding Priskie to the mix will add the offensive strength and puck movement they need for their special team play. Here’s hoping that adding a player like Priskie adds the production needed to crack a playoff spot in the AHL’s Atlantic division. – Shaiyena Cote, AHL Prospect Analyst
2019-20 Stats: Carolina (NHL) 8GP-0G-1A-1PTS, Charlotte (AHL) 44GP-8G-17A-25PTS
Eetu Luostarinen has had success across various leagues and tournaments in his career, ranging from a World Championship win last year with Finland and success in the Liiga as a former top U20 prospect. Luostarinen came to North America for the first time in his career last season with a quick call up to the Carolina Hurricanes since being drafted by them in the second round in 2017. Known for drafting a range of Finnish talent, the Carolina Hurricanes enjoy players who have the skating ability and hands that players coming from the Liiga typically possess and Luostarinen is no exception to that rule. However, Luostarinen has been simply average in the AHL with the Charlotte Checkers and with time on the power play and rotating constantly between first and second line, there have been no shortage of chances for Luostarinen to shine.
A trade to a new franchise where Luostarinen will get the chance to feel things out as a new player may be the right type of change for a player who was being smothered with a bottleneck of offensive talent in the Carolina system. The Canes have a high competition dynamic and with so many skilled draft picks, time is limited for these prospects to make an impression. With a young squad making up for some of the top players on the Canes, Carolina does not make it easy to crack the NHL. A good trade for Luostarinen, the Florida Panthers may be just what he needs to develop his own game and develop the motivation to stand out and take the risks necessary to crack the Florida Panthers. – Shaiyena Cote, AHL Prospect Analyst
February 21, 2020
Anaheim Acquired: 1st-round pick, David Backes, and Axel Andersson
Boston Acquired: Ondrej Kase
Prospect: Axel Andersson
2019-20 Stats: Moncton (QMJHL) 41GP-2G-20A-22PTS
Andersson has missed the last seven games with an undisclosed injury that was originally declared as day-to-day but is close to returning. The Bruins have depth on defense in their system, dealing from a position of strength to move the David Backes contract and get another scoring forward option in Ondrej Kase.
Andersson, like many European veterans who jump stateside after being drafted, has experience in his native league's professional ranks, and it shows in his play. Andersson spent a majority of last season with Södertälje SK in the Swedish second-division, on loan from his junior team. The poise and patience that players who've played professionally exhibit when they return to a junior league is exceptional, and Andersson has that poise with and without the puck.
The six-foot Swede, a Boston second rounder from 2018, is a calm defender who doesn't rush the play, and can handle the puck well. He uses his legs to their utmost potential, and is an excellent skater, with very good top speed and excellent agility in terms of handling the fast opposition. He has a great first pass and runs the point well, but his point totals do not reflect that. Andersson is a smarter offensive player than his stat line shows, and he has two-way potential.
However, the defensive side of the puck is where he excels, and he has been a great back bone, if underused, on the Wildcats defense this season. He has excellent stick work in the defensive zone to block passes and avenues for oncoming rushers and can play physical if needed. He is a very intelligent player and rarely overextends himself in terms of his talents. He doesn't pose a threat to take unnecessary penalties and steers clear of the extra curricular activities unless it is in the act of defending a teammate. He projects as a solid and reliable, if unspectacular, top-four defender in the pro ranks. - Mike Sanderson, Senior QMJHL Prospect Analyst
February 18th, 2020
Carolina Acquired: Joey Keane (Prospect)
2019-20 Stats: Hartford (AHL) 49GP-8G-22A-30PTS
Joey Keane has gotten off to quite the impressive start through his first five months of professional hockey experience. A 2018 third rounder, Keane already has an AHL All Star appearance under his belt along with 30 points for the New York Rangers affiliate Hartford Wolfpack. While he has made an easy transition, considering the abundance of young defensive talent in the Rangers organization, it comes as no surprise that the Blue Shirts have traded for a forward (Julien Gauthier) as they currently have one of the younger blue lines in the NHL and lessening room for defensive prospects on the rise.
Keane is a superb playmaker and has the skill to be a second pairing defender in the NHL. For a rookie, he jumps in with the courage and calmness needed to play at a more mature level and with the Carolina Hurricanes he will get more of a chance to do just that.
Carolina currently generates the most opportunities from their forwards and the same goes for the Charlotte Checkers, their AHL affiliate. Keane has much to offer in consistency and his ability to convert plays due to his strong puck skills will be an asset to a team like the Checkers. Aside for one really strong defensive prospect in Jake Bean, the Checkers have few defensemen capable of both shooting and carrying the puck deep and Keane can do just that. He is a player who has proven his ability to adapt thus far in the AHL and will hopefully continue to prove his abilities in his new home. - Shaiyena Cote AHL Prospect Analyst
New York Rangers Acquired: Julien Gauthier (Prospect)
2019-20 Stats: Charlotte (AHL) 44GP-26G-11A-37PTS
A 2016 first round pick, Julien Gauthier has been given time in the Carolina organization with the Charlotte Checkers as well as a few games up with the Hurricanes since turning pro. However, with such a strong talent pool among their forwards, it is understandable to see why the Hurricanes looked for a defenseman instead. Before being traded to the Rangers, Gauthier sat third in points with the Checkers, yet after three professional seasons he only spent 5 games up with Carolina. In this situation, it is clear that he was not given the appropriate time in the NHL and had reached a wall in his development. A move was the right idea for an under-pushed forward who has the skill and size to be tested more in the NHL.
As for now it looks as though Gauthier will be making Madison Square Garden his home right away. Both the Rangers and the Hurricanes have different ways of developing prospects and different timelines for what is expected, and with the Rangers Gauthier will be tested early on. Should things not work out, the Hartford Wolfpack currently sit second in the Atlantic Division and acquiring a player as dominant with the puck as the big winger will only add to their talented lineup. Although Gauthier developed his professional game well in Charlotte, he could have been pushed harder in order to better fast track his NHL development. Being traded to a fast paced, youth driven team like the Rangers should help do the trick for a player whose full potential has not yet been reached. - Shaiyena Cote - AHL Prospect Analyst
PAST ROTOWORLD MCKEEN’S 2020 NHL DRAFT PROSPECT REPORTS – In our weekly columns we cover an NHL Draft prospect. Check out what we have written to date here listed by our most recent ranking.
#1 Alexis Lafreniere (October 15th, 2019)
#2 Quinton Byfield (October 8th, 2019)
#3 Tim Stutzle (January 21st, 2020)
#4 Lucas Raymond (October 8th, 2019)
#5 Alexander Holtz (October 15th, 2019)
#6 Jamie Drysdale (October 29th, 2019)
#7 Marco Rossi (November 19th, 2019)
#8 Cole Perfetti (October 22nd, 2019)
#9 Connor Zary (November 5th, 2019)
#10 Jake Sanderson (January 28th, 2020)
#11 Anton Lundell (October 22nd, 2019)
#12 Yaroslav Askarov (November 5th, 2019)
#13 Rodion Amarov (February 4th, 2020)
#14 Noel Gunler (January 14th, 2020)
#15 Dawson Mercer (January 7th, 2020)
#16 Jack Quinn (December 17th, 2019):
#17 Dylan Holloway (November 12th, 2019)
#18 Kaiden Guhle + #19 Braden Schneider (February 4th, 2020)
#21 Jacob Perreault (February 11th, 2020)
#23 Jérémie Poirier (February 18th, 2020)
#25 Roni Hirvonen (February 25th, 2020) - Today
#27 Ty Smilanic (January 28th, 2020)
#29 Emil Andrae (November 26th, 2019)
#32 Hendrix Lapierre (December 3rd, 2019)
#57 Michael Benning (December 10th, 2019)