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Tag: Matyas Sapovaliv

Four Golden Knights To Play In World Junior Championships This Month

(Photo Credit: Ken Boehlke, SinBin.vegas)

Eight months ago the first few games of the 2022 edition of the World Junior Championships were played. However, due to a rash of positive COVID tests, multiple teams were forced to forfeit. It became clear fairly quickly that the sanctity of the tournament was jeopardized by the forfeitures, so the IIHF quickly moved to postpone the tournament to a later date.

Because the event has an age limit on it, there weren’t a lot of options on when the hockey’s international governing body could reschedule the tournament. So, we find ourselves here in August preparing for a tournament that typically kicks off the day after Christmas.

All games that were played in December have been wiped from the record books and Russia has been banned from the tournament due to the country’s invasion of Ukraine. That leaves the tournament with 10 participating nations, with all games to be played at Rogers Place in Edmonton, from August 9th to the 20th.

Lukas Cormier (Canada), Matyas Sapovaliv (Czechia), Jakub Demek (Slovakia), and Carl Lindbom (Sweden) are the four Golden Knights who will participate in this summer’s event.

Cormier, the smooth-skating offensive-minded defenseman, will likely play a key role for a Canadian team with eight drafted defensemen including #1 overall pick in 2021, Owen Power. Cormier’s prowess on the power play should see him getting significant special teams time. The biggest question mark will be where he lands on the depth chart at even-strength. Is he a top-four guy or does he play a sheltered role on the third pair?

Sapovaliv came into camp with a cloud above his skating. It was clear on the ice that he’s not the fastest player, but overall the skating did not slow him down in the scrimmages. His forechecking was elite for the group on the ice and he made a lot more plays than the scouting reports suggested he would. He’ll probably be used in a defensive role in this tournament, likely playing 3rd or 4th line minutes with penalty killing duties.

Demek did not attend Dev Camp which was likely to make sure he was fully healthy for this tournament. He’s one of just seven drafted players on the Slovakian team, including Juraj Slafkovsky, this year’s #1 overall pick. Hopefully, Demek gets a chance to play with Slafkovsky either on a line or on the power play. If he does, it should give a bit more of a glimpse into where he is compared to a player who is probably going to make his NHL debut in October.

Lindbom was solid in the goal during Camp, which was an improvement over his performance in the rookie games in Phoenix. There are three goalies on Team Sweden, both of which were selected much earlier in the Draft than Lindbom. Jesper Wallstedt was picked 20th overall in 2021 while Calle Clang went 77th in 2020. If Lindbom plays over these two, it will be a strong statement. If he doesn’t, while disappointing, not much should be made of it at this point.

Golden Knights Did Their Due Diligence On 2nd Round Pick’s Critical Weakness

It seems almost too obvious to point out, but the fact of the matter is the NHL is a league of skating. The better you can skate, the better you can play.

So, when you flip through the scouting reports of the first player the Golden Knights selected in the Draft this year, there’s good reason for concern. Here are just a few snippets about the 48th overall pick, Matyas Sapovaliv.

His lack of speed doesn’t just affect him in the defensive zone or when coming off of the walls either. His lack of top-end north-south speed forces him to make plays at half speeds more often than a lot of other forwards in transition. –NHL Black Book

He lacks agility and explosiveness, and despite his strong two-way play, he needs to skate backward quicker to improve his defensive abilities. If he wants his offensive prowess to translate to the faster AHL and NHL level, he needs to improve his skating. -Sean Raggio, TheHockeyWriters.com

Will need to improve his mobility and processing speed as he matures but has middle-six NHL potential. -Nick Richard, DobberProspects.com

Literally, every in-depth scouting report on Sapovaliv mentions his below-average skating.

It was evident to the Golden Knights too. Assistant Director of Player Personnel Bob Lowes mentioned he and his staff understand the issues with his skating. He also said he believes it’s correctable and that’s why he became a Golden Knight.

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2022 Golden Knights Draft Picks: Who Are These Guys?

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights did not have a 1st round pick due to the trade of Jack Eichel. They are slated to make six picks on Day 2 however with the first coming at #48. Here’s a quick rundown of what we know about each player selected by the Golden Knights in the 2021 NHL Draft.

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