January 03 2015: Jonas Siegenthaler (25) of Switzerland fights for the puck against Germany during Switzerland's 5-2 victory over Germany at the IIHF World Junior Championship at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada.

McKeen's Hockey welcomes Dennis Schellenberg. Dennis lives in Zurich, Switzerland, the city of his birth. Dennis covers Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Slovakia as well as the Czech Republic for McKeen’s. He also covers International tournaments such as the Ivan Hlinka Memorial in SVK/CZE and the U18 Five Nations Tournament in Switzerland. He can be found on Twitter: @ScoutingFactory

A note on the 20-80 scale used below. We look at five attributes (skating, shooting, puck skills, hockey IQ and physicality) for skaters and six for goalies (athleticism/quickness, compete/temperament, vision/play reading, technique/style, rebound control and puck handling). Each individual attribute is graded along the 20-80 scales, which includes half-grades. The idea is that a projection of 50 in a given attribute meant that our observer believed that the player could get to roughly NHL average at that attribute at maturity.

Ostap Safin 2017 Draft Eligible
Position: LW, Shoots L H/W: 6-4", 200 lbs
Stats to date (GP-G-A-PTS-PIMS) HC Sparta Praha U20, Czech U20 (21-5-12-17-66)
  HC Sparta Praha, Czech (8-1-1-2-2)
Ostap Safin

Ostap Safin at the 2016 Ivan Hlinka Tournament. Photo by Karel Svec.

Skating: Despite his size, Safin is an agile skater with good edgework and acceleration. He uses long and powerful strides to hit a decent top speed. Possesses the agility and skating power to play a power forward style of game. He is able to make quick turns along the boards to get rid of defenders. Grade: 55

Shot: Safin possesses goal scoring instincts and therefore also possesses a good shot. Especially with his powerful wrist shot, he can beat goaltenders from the slot. He can shoot the puck with good velocity and accuracy. Usually does not waste time firing the puck towards the goaltender if he sees an open lane and uses good timing when shooting the puck, going down on his knees for one-timers. Grade: 60

Skills: Safin shows good passing skills with positive marks for both accuracy and power. Although he is not known for his creativity, he shows some nice puckhandling skills from time to time and likes to go into one-on-one situations where he can make quick turns with the puck on his stick to bypass opponents in the neutral zone. Grade: 50

Smarts: Like most goal scorers, Safin possesses a nose for the net and is dangerous around the crease. He knows where to position himself for a good shooting spot and has the ability to sneak into dangerous spots, making him available for passes within the offensive zone. Possesses a solid understanding of his own zone responsibilities and backchecks hard to eliminate odd men rushes. Reads plays well and covers defenders who jump rushes. Safin is aware of his linemates, has good vision and underrated set up skills. Grade: 55

Physicality: Safin is listed at 6-foot-4 and almost 200 pounds and therefore possesses the right frame to play a strong physical game. He likes to drive the net with the puck and uses his long reach to keep the puck away from defenders, who have a hard time handling the big-sized Czech at junior level. His size and strength gives him an advantage when battling for rebounds in front of the slot. Grade: 60

Summary: Ostap Safin plays a power forward type of game. His size and strength definitely support that playing style. He possesses the physical game, offensive upside and goal scoring nose which could lead to being a power forward at the NHL-level. He can add size in front of the net and drives the net with his long reach and good puck protection skills. However, Safin might lack some creativity and often needs someone to set him up and that could prevent him from being a first rounder. Also, he needs to work on his leadership skills as he did not lead the U18 Czech team at the Five Nations Tournament as much as I would have liked to see, despite being one of the oldest players on the squad. Safin played some games at the highest Czech league this season with Sparta Praha and was also loaned to the second highest division, giving him more playing time at pro level.

Jonas Siegenthaler 2015 Draft (57th - Washington Capitals)
Position: D, Shoots L H/W: 6-2", 220 lbs
Stats to date (GP-G-A-PTS-PIMS) ZSC Lions, NLA (21-0-6-6-16)
  Switzerland U20, WJC (5-1-5-6-2)
January 03 2015: Jonas Siegenthaler (25) of Switzerland fights for the puck against Germany during Switzerland's 5-2 victory over Germany at the IIHF World Junior Championship at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada.

January 03 2015: Jonas Siegenthaler (25) of Switzerland fights for the puck against Germany during Switzerland's 5-2 victory over Germany at the IIHF World Junior Championship at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada.

Skating: For a guy his size, Siegenthaler shows good skating agility and can move over the ice smoothly. His edgework and pivots are fine, too. However, he needs to work on explosiveness especially in his first strides and make use of his powerful legs more efficiently. Quickness in his feet has been an issue for a while now and has not improved recently. Especially at the fast NHL-level, he could have a clear disadvantage in skating speed against smaller and speedier forwards. Grade: 50

Shot: His shot is disappointing in terms of release, speed and power. He needs to use his strength better when shooting the puck, and needs to gain strength and accuracy both in his wrist shot and slap shot. The power is not nearly as good as it should be for a powerful physical player like he is. Grade: 40

Skills: Siegenthaler can deliver powerful and accurate passes within his own zone and is also a good pass receiver. He does not panic when he is under pressure in his own zone and shows patience when playing an outlet pass as he waits for the perfect passing moment. However, his first pass is mostly a safety-first pass instead of a long and opening outlet pass. Siegenthaler is no gifted puck carrier, although he has improved in that matter and shows more confidence when carrying the puck. Grade: 45

Smarts: Siegenthaler plays a reliable own zone game and keeps it simple defensively. He is very hard to pass by in one-on-one situations as he uses an active stick and good positioning to keep the opponents away from dangerous shooting spots. He also does so in front of the net where he does not allow opposing forwards to benefit on rebounds. He interferes with plays and reads plays well. He shows good gap control and keeps opposing puck carriers away from the net, forcing them to make plays along the boards. Grade: 55

Physicality: Given his size and strength as well as skating balance, it is no surprise Siegenthaler plays a strong physical game. He uses his big body along the boards and wins many of those battles. Once he manages to force the opposing forwards to get involved along the boards, he often succeeds in separating them from the puck. He closes gaps first with his long and active stick before closing the gap physically. Shows good overall strength and is able to take a big hit without dropping to his knees. Grade: 60

Summary: There are two concerns when it comes to Jonas Siegenthaler – He is a pure defensive-minded defender who does not have lots of offensive upside and the question will be if that is enough to succeed at the NHL-level. Second, his skating speed and quickness has been an issue in the highest Swiss league and it could be even more of an issue at a higher level as he lacks explosiveness and gets caught flat-footed against speedy forwards. Next to those issues, he brings everything to the table to be a successful shut-down defenceman. His size, physical game and positioning are all excellent. He also showed at the WJC that he can play big minutes and play against the opposing team’s top line. It still seems like a 50-50 gamble if he can be an NHLer but if he fixes his skating issues he could very well succeed and be a Washington Capital in the coming years.

Patrik Hrehorcak 2017 Draft Eligible
Position: LW, Shoots L H/W: 5-9", 180 lbs
Stats to date (GP-G-A-PTS-PIMS) HC Trinec U20, Czech U20 (36-22-25-47-51)

Skating: Patrik Hrehorcak can be described as an overall good skater. He is small and quick which gives him a shiftiness most talented undersized forwards possess. He is agile and skates with determination. He always keeps his feet moving and possesses a motor that never breaks. Creates lots of speed in his shifts and does not take one off, plays with a good energy level. Shows quick acceleration and top speed and can take off in a hurry and outspeed opponents. Grade: 55

Shot: Hrehorcak can fire the puck with good velocity and possess a good shot release combined with good power. His shot is accurate and he can make use of his entire shot arsenal. He is no pure sniper but certainly can score goals and beat goaltenders with his slapshot as well as wrist shot. Grade: 55

Skills: Hrehorcak possesses fine hands and solid puckhandling skills. He is able to make quick turns along the boards with the puck and can be hard to catch for defenders. His backhand passes are accurate and arrive on the tape. On the powerplay he is often the player who orchestrates the plays and initiates passes as he reads open ice well but can also fire the puck. Grade: 50

Smarts: He is a fine team player and shows good work ethic. Possesses leadership skills and communicates well, especially on the powerplay where he usually is the team’s most important player. He does not quit on any play and backchecks hard to eliminate odd-man rushes. Hrehorcak wants to make things happen and often goes for an active play. He knows where to position himself in the defensive zone in order to successfully stand in shooting or passing lanes and is not afraid to go down on his knees to block shots. Shows good overall awareness of the game. Grade: 55

Physicality: At only 5-9”, Hrehorcak is rather smallish but that does not keep him away from throwing his body around. He shows tenaciousness in most battles and is a tough competitor along the boards. He loves to battle and compete and mix things up. He does not quit on any play and keeps going hard after the puck as long there is still gas left in his tank. Grade: 50

Summary: Patrik Hrehorcak is one of those guys who make up for his lack of size and strength with his fine work ethic and willingness to battle. He possesses a decent shot, puck skills and good skating, but is not outstanding in any of those areas. In other words, Hrehorcak might not be more than a bottom-six guy at a higher level. Nevertheless, he is willing to do whatever it takes to win the game and his tenaciousness and work ethic impressed me and makes me believe that he can succeed at a higher level. The next step for the Slovakian is to make his season debut in the Czech Extraliga for HC Trinec as he did not yet played professionally.

Sven Leuenberger 2017 Draft Eligible
Position: C/RW, Shoots R H/W: 5-10", 185 lbs
Stats to date (GP-G-A-PTS-PIMS) Zug U20, Swiss Elite Jr. A (34-13-16-29-34)
  EVZ Academy, NLB (10-1-1-2-5)
Sven Leuenberger at the 2016 Ivan Hlinka Tournament. Photo by Karel Svec

Sven Leuenberger at the 2016 Ivan Hlinka Tournament. Photo by Karel Svec

Skating: Sven Leuenberger is a smallish centerman who possesses good overall skating. He makes quick and small steps to hit top speed. He also shows good acceleration and quickness in his first steps which helps him to take off in a hurry. He has good edgework and can smoothly skate in all four directions. His skating can be described as both powerful and determined. Grade: 55

Shot: It is rather hard to judge his shot as he is neither a sniper nor a true goal scorer. Most of his goals are scored in the dirty areas in front of the net. He is definitely not a guy that will catch your eye with a rocket. However, his wrist shot is decent in terms of accuracy and power. I would like to see him more often making use of it. Grade: 50

Skills: Leuenberger is able to handle the puck with solid puckhandling skills, but does not possess overly flashy hands. He has decent quickness in his hands and can escape from opponents with quick turns. He changes direction very quickly with the puck on his stick. He drives the net with the puck thanks to his good puck protection skills. When killing penalties, he has the ability to keep the puck out of the defensive zone. Grade: 50

Smarts: Leuenberger is a smart hockey player who understands the game well. In front of the net, he often has a good nose for the right position. He executes well on rebounds and battles hard for position. He is always ready for an opening outlet pass as he puts his stick on the ice to receive the pass. His overall awareness and vision are good, as he seems to see teammates in the back of his head and sees the open ice well. Defensively, he backchecks and takes his responsibilities seriously. He successfully controls the sticks of opposing forwards in order to prevent them from scoring on rebounds. He has displayed some leadership skills as of late and communicates well on the ice. His coach uses him in all situations. Leuenberger shows good work ethic and is not afraid to go to the dirty areas for rebounds. Although he plays mostly at center, his faceoff skills are a real concern and something he needs to work on. Grade: 55

Physicality: Given his size and strength, Leuenberger will never be the most physical guy on the ice. With that being said, I need to add that he definitely shows the willingness to get his nose dirty and battles as hard as he can. Especially in front of the net, he succeeds at junior level, but it remains to be seen if he can also do so at a higher level and against bigger and stronger opponents. However, he protects the puck nicely and keeps defenders away from the puck. Grade: 50

Summary: Sven Leuenberger’s strong play at the U20 level got him a call-up to the NLB, the second highest Swiss pro league where he made his first steps. Next to teammate Tobias Geisser, Leuenberger is the second most intriguing prospect out of the Swiss leagues this year. He impresses with good work ethic and an overall understanding of the game. He plays with maturity and is a very reliable player for his junior club. He might not a guy who catches your eye with fancy moves as he is rather a quiet worker. Neither does he possess high-end offensive upside, therefore I do see him more of a bottom-six guy who can kill penalties and add some depth to a pro team. His rather smallish size could be a concern but so far at junior level he shows the willingness and competitiveness to contribute physically more than might generally be expected. Whoever drafts Leuenberger gets a competitive work horse who fits into a typical bottom-six role but lacks any outstanding skills.

Roger Karrer 2017 Draft Eligible
Position: D, Shoots R H/W: 5-11", 180 lbs
Stats to date (GP-G-A-PTS-PIMS) ZSC Lions, NLA (14-0-2-2-0)
  GC Kusnacht Lions, NLB (25-2-3-5-8)
  Switzerland U20, WJC (5-0-0-0-0)

Roger Karrer

Skating: Roger Karrer is a strong skater. He glides over the ice smoothly and has fluid strides and very good top speed. Thanks to his mobility, he can escape from forechecking forwards elegantly and with ease. With his high-end top speed, he can hustle back in a hurry to eliminate odd man rushes. Is able to close gaps with his very agile skating style and opposing forwards usually have a tough time to get rid of him skating wise. Grade: 55

Shot: Karrer’s shot is above-average and is his biggest asset as a prospect. He shoots the puck with great power and can unleash his shot with a quick release. Uses all of his shooting arsenal but he is at his most dangerous when using his slap shot. Especially on the powerplay, he can be a dangerous weapon on the blueline with his heavy shot Grade: 60

Skills: Blessed with decent puckhandling skills. Karrer is a puckmoving defenceman and can carry the puck up ice with ease. He possesses an accurate pass and can make crisp outlet passes. He tends to play a risky first outlet pass as he mostly goes for a difficult pass rather than a secure one. That causes some unforced giveaways by Karrer from time to time. Grade: 50

Smarts: Karrer sees open teammates well and is able to read plays as well as open ice. He uses an active stick and shows good timing when using the stick to interfere with plays and keeps opposing forwards outside the dangerous area. I would like to see him play with more confidence and leadership. He is now in his second season of professional hockey and needs to step up. With that being said, he does all of the above on the powerplay where he takes over responsibility with the puck and can guide a powerplay with good vision, and his strong shot and passing skills. Grade: 45

Physicality: He is a player that does not have a notable physical impact, although he is trying to battle hard for position in front of the net. He mostly loses those positional battles in front of the net and along the boards due to his smallish size. Would rather use his stick than body to gain puck momentum. Grade: 40

Summary: Having scouted Roger Karrer at U20 junior level as well as in professional hockey in Switzerland, I have come to the conclusion that he truly cannot elevate his game to the next level in order to guarantee him a roster spot at the highest levels. Too often he hides behind teammates and does not step up, not even at the junior level. He had a quiet WJC generally playing in the shadow of teammate Jonas Siegenthaler. He possesses a great shot as well as good puck skills and skating which could pave the way to become a starter at NLA-level, although probably not more than that. Karrer was not selected at last year’s draft probably because of his lack of strength and physicality. He re-enters the draft this year hoping to become a late round pick, but seems again to be a long-shot to be selected.

Share →