Teuvo Teravainen soaring up draft boards
BRNO, Czech Republic -- While many fans may be more concerned with tournament results -- such as Team USA's 5-3 victory over Team Canada in pursuit of a fourth-consecutive U-18 gold medal -- the stands are also teeming with throngs of NHL scouts looking to finalize their prospect evaluations ahead of the 2012 draft. As I take in all the action in person, I'm looking to do the same.
At this stage of the tournament, I find myself wanting to rethink a number of player evaluations -- but then I pinch myself. The easy thing to do when scouting a major tournament like the World U-18s is to start changing your mind based on recent impressions. While prospects' play during the tournament will certainly factor in to the decisions of NHL draft boards, it is very important to remember the body of work witnessed all season long. One stellar game doesn't trump a season of mediocrity; a few bad shifts don't outweigh an otherwise sensational draft year.
However, the tournament represents one of the final opportunities for scouts to see some of these players in meaningful competition, and thus will leave lasting impressions. Come draft day, the memories of this tournament will likely be top-of-mind for most scouts. Because of that, players will climb up or fall down the draft charts based on this must-see event.
One player who has rocketed up the draft list in the second half of the season is Finnish forward Teuvo Teravainen who put on a skills exhibition and passing clinic on Monday against Denmark in a 5-1 victory. I have to temper my overall game thoughts, as Denmark is not a worthy opponent for Finland, but rating the individual components of the player is the key. He has become the talk of the tournament and will certainly move up my own list going into the draft this June in Pittsburgh. And he won't be alone.
Here's a look at how some of the top prospects have fared so far over here in the Czech Republic.
LW Teuvo Teravainen, Finland, 5-foot-11, 165 pounds: Having played with the men all season in Jokerit, this highly skilled puck-moving forward is getting better and better. His vision and passing separates him from most in the draft and is a high riser. Size and strength are the concerns.
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