Pipeline Series - Forwards

Let's get to know the forwards in the system and where we project some of them to end up if they make the pro roster!
by Gary Graves | January 8, 2022, 10:36 PM ET

The last segment in the pipeline series ends with the forwards making their way through the system. Not only is it important to draft those top-six guys, but a good team includes a well-rounded bottom six. We want to have a core group of forwards who can score, guys who excel at setting up teammates, kill penalties, play the shutdown role, go to the tough places and play physical.

Let’s look first at the players who could play a top-six role with the Colonials:

Tim Stutzle (C/LW)

Stutzle oozes talent and was an easy choice to make at pick #3 in the 2020 draft. He is an exciting playmaker, tremendous skater who thinks the game fast. He is a raw talent who will only get better as he gets stronger and as his game matures. Timmy is currently in the GHA and ripping up that league after a slow start with the Colonials. We expect him to be called up at some point in the season.

William Eklund (C/LW)

Eklund was ranked top 5 by many pro and independent scouts this past draft and was the team’s main target going into the 2021 draft. Eklund is more of a playmaker than a shooter. A real elusive player who shows a high degree of creativity and consistently sets up high danger passes. He is also very smart defensively and protects the puck well. He is a little on the smaller side so it could take some additional development time until he reaches his full potential.

John-Jason Peterka (RW)

Really like what I have seen with Peterka’s development. He has looked very good in the AHL this season with 25 points in 26 GP. Peterka plays an aggressive, energetic game and is strong on the forecheck. He knows where to go to score and has a tremendous release. He is well on his way to earning a full time SICHL role in a few years.

Ridly Greig (C)

Greig is like a competitive sparkplug, basically a hard nosed, two-way, smart player. There were some scouts that ranked Greig top 20 in the 2020 draft and the Black Book ranked him 14th. So getting him at 26, made GM Graves a happy man. We have been seeing year over year progression in his game and is WHL numbers back that. Tenacity, skill and a work horse mentality should get him a full time top-nine role with the Colonials in the future.

Luke Evangelista (RW)

Evangelista lost most of his 2020-2021 D+1 year when the OHL cancelled their season except for 14 games in the AHL where Luke had 4 assists. You wouldn’t know it based on his OHL season this year. Evangelista has 41 points in 22 games, with 21 goals. He was invited to the Team Canada WJC camp but was cut prior to the tournament. Evangelista was ranked 21 by the Hockey Prospect Black Book and he was drafted 42nd overall in round 2. Luke is a 200-foot player who plays an efficient and intelligent game and can play in all situations. We look forward to watching his progression going forward and feel we have a blue-chip prospect.

Liam Foudy (RW)

High end skating, great puck-handling skills and a guy who can control the play at high speeds describe Liam Foudy. His biggest knock has been consistency and we will be patient with his development as he works to improve his game. Foudy is another guy we feel is a blue-chipper but a guy that may play a 3rd line role vs a top-six pairing.

Zach Dean (RW)

Dean has a good mix of skill and grit and plays a very well-rounded game. Dean is a versatile player who can play both the powerplay and penalty kill. When he isn’t producing, he is still impacting the game in other ways with his play in all three zones. An early preseason injury forced him out of the QMJHL for a few months, but since his return, he has looked good putting up 14 points in 11 games played. Dean also a cut from the WJC Team Canada has a legit shot to make next year’s team.

Now let’s look at guys that could potentially play a second or third line role:

Raphael Lavoie (RW/C)

Lavoie is a talented goal-scorer, who has size and strength, skating ability and a powerful shot. His biggest issue is consistency, and he also needs to improve his play in the defensive zone. The tools are there for him to be a top-six forward, it comes down to the work and desire to get there.

Daniel Sprong (RW)

Sprong is a terrific skater and is also a very creative playmaker with excellent hockey sense. He also has a lethal shot and a nose for the net. Owns plenty of confidence in his playing ability. He has the potential to be a top-six goal scoring winger.

Alex Barre-Boulet (LW/RW/C)

Barre-Boulet is a hard-working, versatile forward whose determination and work ethic should help him reach the SICHL. His overall skills are underrated and he is an excellent forechecker but needs to get stronger and improve his skating for the long haul.

Janne Kuokkanen (LW/RW)

Kuokkanen has great hands and goal-scoring instincts, and can play anywhere in the lineup and in any situation. He also has very good stick handling ability, able to protect the puck and make quick moves in tight spaces. Kuokkanen shows good defensive instincts with solid positioning. He reads the play well and creates turnovers with good anticipation and by keeping attackers in front of him.

Some other notables that may end up with the big club down the road:

Jean-Luc Foudy

Like his older brother Liam, Jean-Luc is an incredible skater, has great work ethic, skill and tenacity. He may have better playmaking skills than Liam. Needs to bulk up and needs to continue to mature his game.

Zayde Wisdom

Zayde is a high-energy player who never stops moving his feet. He has decent skating skill and is prepared to do the dirty work on the line, getting in quickly on the forecheck, grinding for loose pucks in the corners and creating havoc in front of the net. He could be a complimentary piece on a second or third line if his game continues to develop. Zayde is back with the Kingston Frontenacs this season and joined the team late after a lengthy recovery period after having offseason shoulder surgery.

Graeme Clarke

Clarke, pure and simple is a shooter with a great release and very good at getting into open ice. One scout’s take on Clarke "Clarke also thinks the game and he plays the game at a good pace. His skating isn’t great, but if he plays with the right centerman who can get him the puck, he’ll be able to score in the SICHL.”

Nikita Alexandrov

Alexandrov’s game is a mix of skill and power. He has the ability to get the puck to the front of the net, and has the soft hands to finish in tight to the goal. He, like Clarke, has the ability to get into open lanes, setting himself up for the one-timer. Alexandrov is also committed to his defensive game, working hard on the backcheck.

Arseny Gritsyuk

One scout called Gritsyuk, Russia’s answer to goal-scoring machine Cole Caufield, the small but highly skilled Russian winger has torn up the U-17 and MHL levels with his ability score off the rush or hide out from the defense and materialize in prime scoring position to receive a pass and put the puck in the net. He is considered a boom or bust prospect. Gritsyuk has 15 goals and 11 assists in 38 GP with Avangard in the KHL this season.

Ty Tullio

Tullio is having a very good season with the Oshawa Generals this year, putting up 38 points in 27 games played. He is a versatile forward who can play both sides of the puck. His lack of size could be an issue, but if he gets stronger, he could be a top-nine guy.

Sean Tschigerl

Tschigerl has a well-rounded combination of skill and grit, a guy who may not possess a singular elite talent yet has very few weaknesses. He has good skating ability and plays a two-way game. He is a point a game player this season with the Calgary Hitmen in the WHL putting up 15 goals and 15 assists in 30 games. Will need to build strength and continue to refine his game.

Ryan Francis

Francis is an excellent playmaker, who is constantly looking to distribute the puck to his teammates with his vision and deft passing skills. He has excellent agility, quick hands, and good hockey sense and is a reliable player in his own zone. His biggest knock is that he is significantly undersized for the pro game, so he must add bulk and get physically stronger in order to progress.

There are also several guys in the system that could reach the SICHL level, including:

Maxim Cajkovic

Patrik Puistola

Kristian Reichel

Jonah Gadjovich

Austin Poganski

Andrei Buyalsky

Max Willman

Well, that concludes the pipeline series and now we focus on scouting out the 2022 (hopefully summit) SICHL draft and potentially adding more forwards, defensemen and maybe add a goalie or two. Speaking of pipeline, a big shout out to Guy and his weekly podcast The Pipeline Show as it is a great source to learn about prospects and hear their interviews!

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