This week’s prospects include Aleksi Heponiemi (Current Broncos), Daniil Vertiy (North Bay Battalion) & Yaroslav Alexeyev (Sherbrooke Phoenix).
Aleksi Heponiemi, Centre, Swift Current Broncos, WHL
Born: January 9, 1999 – Tampere, Finland
Draft: 2016 CHL Import Draft - Round #1 (10th overall) by the Swift Current Broncos
Undersized centreman Aleksi Heponiemi is at his best when he is making plays and and keeping possession of the puck in the offensive zone. A fantastic playmaker who is a wizard with the puck on his stick. Makes tape-to-tape passes and does a great job of hitting his target in motion. Very difficult to defend and defenders back off because they know he will end up passing the puck. Constantly moving his feet and using his good sped and acceleration to get knocked off the puck. Plays the perimeter and is real slippery along the board eluding checks using angles to protect himself and the puck. Has tremendous vision and likes to make some highlight reel plays that don't always have the best results but you admire his ability to do what he does. Is a dynamic power play performer and gaining strength will only improve his balance and confidence to skate into dangerous areas of the ice.
DID YOU KNOW? Heponiemi spent the 2015-16 season playing with the llves Jr. B Sarja league U18 team in Finland where he amassed 25 goals and 65 points in only 39 games. He also suited up for Finland in the Ivan Hlinka Tournament in August of 2016 and had four assists in five games.
Daniil Vertiy, LW, North Bay Battalion, OHL
Weight: 206 lbs
Born: November 12, 1998 – Nizhnevartovsk, Russia
Draft: 2014 OHL Draft - Round #2 (26th overall) by the Windsor Spitfires
A highly touted prospect at the start of the season, Daniil Vertiy is in the middle of a somewhat disappointing stretch. He is a skilled player who likes the puck on his stick and generates offence. Has good speed for a big kid and has good hands receiving passes and can really handcuff goalies with a quick and deceiving release. Looks like a natural goal scorer and can be a real pain to move off the puck. Strong lower body enables him to separate himself from defenders on the rush. Defensively, he is in on the forecheck and stays close to his check and limits any offensive opportunities. His work ethic is what hurts him. To be effective, he needs to play a full 60 minutes and not get frustrated with himself.
DID YOU KNOW? Vertiy is Russian-born but moved to Toronto when he was 14 and gained Canadian Citizenship giving him the right to enter the OHL Draft rather than go through the CHL Import Draft. Currently in his third OHL season and in November 2015, he was traded to North Bay from Windsor along with a draft pick for a pair of draft picks.
Yaroslav Alexeyev, LW, Sherbrooke Phoenix, QMJHL
Weight: 148 lbs.
Born: January 17, 1999 – Tyumen, Russia
Draft: 2016 CHL Import Draft - Round #1 (12th overall) by the Sherbrooke Phoenix
Tall and lanky, Yaroslav Alexeyev doesn't look like much when he is standing still, but once he gets moving on the ice you see how dynamic he is. Fantastic skater who can turn on a dime and is real light on his edges. He has the ability to change direction very quickly and can skate well in all four directions. Lots of energy in his game and is good at getting under the skin of opponents with his blazing speed and his aggressive, attacking play. He has dropped the gloves this season and is not afraid of playing to mix it up. Pinpoint accuracy with his wrist shot and can pick the corners. Real good puck control and is a real scoring threat whenever he gets going through traffic and plays with a determination that he will score. He needs to improve on his play away from the puck and play more of a two way game.
DID YOU KNOW? Alexeyev was a member of the Russian team at the Ivan Hlinka tournament this pst summer and had one goal and five points in five games while accumulating 29 penalty minutes.
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