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Seven prospects who raised 2019 NHL Draft stock at Hlinka Gretzky Cup

Podkolzin, Broberg, Dach among standouts in U18 tournament

by Guillaume Lepage @GLepageLNH / Staff Writer

EDMONTON -- Here are seven prospects eligible for the 2019 NHL Draft whose stock rose at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, the annual under-18 tournament that ended Saturday with Canada's 6-2 victory against Sweden in the gold medal game (prospects in alphabetical order).


Philip Broberg, D, Sweden

An excellent skater, the defenseman (6-foot-3, 199 pounds) wowed the crowd with his sweeping rushes and his effective breakouts. He scored three goals, including one on the power play, in five games.

"He solidified himself as being one of the top prospects available (in 2019)," said Dan Marr, director of NHL Central Scouting. "He'll definitely be in the conversation as far as the first few picks go."

Broberg, 17, likely will start the season with AIK in Sweden's junior league this season.


Maxim Cajkovic, RW, Slovakia

The speedy forward (5-11, 185) showed solid puck possession skills. He had four points (two goals, two assists) in four games.

"I'm fast, but I need to improve my skating every day," said Cajkovic. "There's a lot of room for me to improve right now. I think I'm getting bigger and better, that's important for me."

Cajkovic, 17, will play this season for Saint John of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, which selected him with the No. 1 pick of the Canadian Hockey League import draft.


Dylan Cozens, C, Canada

A talented playmaker with size (6-3, 181) and speed, Cozens had five points (two goals, three assists) in five games.

"He was one of our best players," Canada coach Andre Tourigny said. "He's really quick on recovering loose pucks. He has a big body, he can win faceoffs. There are a lot of reasons to put him out there."

Cozens, 17, will play for Lethbridge of the Western Hockey League this season. He was the WHL rookie of the year last season with 53 points (21 goals, 33 assists) in 57 games.


Kirby Dach, C, Canada

The big center (6-3, 199) had seven points (two goals, five assists) in five games, and appears to have all the tools necessary to play a major role in the NHL.

"I want to become a dual threat out there instead of just looking for the pass all the time," said Dach, 17, who had 46 points (seven goals, 39 assists) in 52 games with Saskatoon of the WHL last season. "I tend to think pass first, but one of the areas I want to try work on is my shooting in order to become a more dangerous player all around."


Vasili Podkolzin, RW, Russia

Podkolzin (6-1, 183) scored a goal in every game for Russia, including a hat trick to help Russia win the bronze medal with a 5-4 victory against the United States. He led the tournament with eight goals and his 11 points tied for the tournament lead with Canada's Alexis Lafreniere.

"A lot of the Russian players have upgraded their status," Marr said. "It's such a big country, so it can be hard to see them play a lot and in different environments. A lot of those kids still have to get sorted out, but it's a deeper pool for Russia this year."

Podkolzin, 17, will start the season with SKA St. Petersburg 2 in Russia's junior league.


Victor Soderstrom, D, Sweden

Soderstrom (5-11, 179) was one of Sweden's best defensemen before getting injured against Switzerland in Sweden's second game. He finished the tournament with two points (one goal, one assist).

"He has offensive skills. He's the guy I trust on the power play on the blue line," Sweden coach Magnus Havelid said. "He has to improve his defensive game, but compared to one year ago he's taken a huge step forward."

Soderstrom, 17, likely will start the season with Brynas in Sweden's junior league.


Ryan Suzuki, C, Canada

Ryan (6-0, 178) is similar to his older brother, Nick Suzuki (Vegas Golden Knights), because of his uncanny intelligence on the ice. He can find his teammates despite limited options and skates well enough to escape sticky situations. He finished second on Canada with eight points (one goal, seven assists).

"I'd say my biggest strength is my hockey sense," said Suzuki. "I think I'm a little bit a better skater than my brother, but he has a better shot and he knows how to put the puck in the net. We're both smart players and we see the ice really well."

Nick, 17, was selected by Barrie with the No. 1 pick of the 2017 OHL Draft and had 44 points (14 goals, 30 assists) in 64 games.

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