IFk Munkfors forward Felix Andersson

Bugg isn't the only one moving this weekend; three players are booming onto the draft scene despite less-than-ideal circumstances. Find out who they are in today's Bugg Bytes.

 

WHL

The Trans-Canada Clash is one of the best-kept secrets in the Dub. Featuring a home-and-home set between two provincial and historic rivals that has all the intensity of a BOA, even the annual Alumni Game between the Moose Jaw Warriors and Regina Pats can be a nasty affair.

Friday night was Game One of the Clash, and it couldn't have been a bigger stage for Moose Jaw back-up Brandon Glover. A 6'3, 165 goaltender getting just his 19th start of the year, the fact that the game was well-attended by scouts and aired on Shaw TV merely added to the pressure.

As it turns out, this game might very well be the reason Glover gets drafted. Facing an incredible 31 shots just in the 1st period, the 1992-born goalie turned aside all but 44 of 47 eventual shots. Despite taking the loss in a 3-2 heartbreaker, Glover was named first star.

The epitome of composure and clutch last night, you could've sworn you were watching Steve Mason- well, Steve Mason circa 2008-09. Whether it was through sticking out a long leg to catch a puck off his toe or exploding forward to cover the puck to kill a mad scramble, Glover was simply incredible. His best save of the night came on a JordanEberle -Jordan Weal two-on-oh, a play on which the keeper was forced to kick across and make a ridiculous glove save that required his mitt to be tight to his body lest the puck squeak by.

Glover has not had a dream season, at least statistically; although 7-5-1, he carried a 3.26 GAA and 0.893 Sv% into the game. However, if he's even half as good the rest of the year as he was tonight, few NHL teams will care.


Czech Republic


While CSS's lists always contain the odd surprise, by far the most hit-and-miss rankings year in and year out involve Czech and Slovak U20 players. Hey, we get it- it's a difficult job, and Central Scouting only has so many bodies. That's why players who represent their respective countries and/or have terrific size suited for the pro game tend to get all the love.

But that doesn't explain the absence of LW/C Petr Kolouch on CSS's Mid-Term Rankings. One of just three players over 50 points in the Czech U20 league- and the only one younger than 19- Kolouch isn't exactly a mite at 6'1 (although he is just 168 lbs) having grown from 5'10 last year.

HC Vitkovice's star attraction, Kolouch's 17-33-50 line in just 34 games is all the more staggering when you consider a) he's 11 points up on the nearest teammate b) he's a +41.

Because of his late growth spurt, the other elements of Kolouch's game are very much the specialties of a smaller player. An extremely creative forward who thrives off chaos in the opponent's zone,Kolouch possesses exceptional puckhandling skills and that rare killer instinct required to turn mistakes into quick goals.

Example: During a recent game, Kolouch intercepted an ill-advised clearing attempt by a defender in front of the opponent's net. After shaking and baking his way around the offendingblueliner, Kolouch pulled the goalie over to his side before sliding the puck back the other way- and to an open man at the side of the net.

Although scouting has become very much a global business, the Czech Republic is one country where teams consider a full-time scouting presence optional.Kolouch is a dazzling offensive player that has the potential to reward a club who does do their homework. He compares favorably to current Detroit Red Wings prospect JanMursak.


Sweden

Although 2011 looks exceptional thanks in no small part to wunderkind Adam Larsson, this season's crop is a little weaker than most. Surprise picks will reign on Draft Day, and one of them just might be little-known left wing Felix Andersson.

Suitng up for IFK Munkfors in Sweden's Division 1 league, the 5'11, 187 lbs forward finished third during the regular season with 20 points in 27 games and currently has three goals in fiveplaydown games. The youngest regular player on the team, that Andersson is even playing a full-time role is a special thing.

Division 1 has produced the odd homerun talent, most notably Henrik Zetterberg. In recounting his discovery of Alex Edler there, Canucks scout Thomas Gradin once famously referred to the 40+ team circuit as a 'beer league'. In many cases, that's not far from the truth; while the Elitserien and Allsvenskan are professional leagues, Division 1 teams can be contenders, recreational teams and even farm clubs for other squads.

Andersson's is the former. Although IFK Munkfors features the odd 25+ player, the tiny sporting club is mostly made up of players younger than 23, Predictably, icing such an inexperienced squad against men- many with lengthyAllsvenskan experience- has led to some truly one-sided games: last year, scores like 12 or 13-1 were the norm as the team struggled to adapt. A more physical group in years past, the 2010 edition ofMunkfors has managed to keep most games respectable.

One reason is the clutch play of Andersson, both with and away from the puck:

 

(#19, in white. LW on the faceoff.)

 

(#19 white again, at the 0:35 mark)



It's impossible not love his performance in the first clip; while at first it looks like he's dogging it on the back-check, Andersson reads the play flawlessly, intercepting a pass to break up what was a 2-on-1. The fact that he set up a goal (not clearly shown) is just gravy.

The second clip is more of the same; while many would have peeled off, Andersson again manages to make something happen out of nothing. Those who watch the rest of it will see it was the only bright spot for Munkfors that night as they lost 12-1.

Because of his creativity, quickness and excellent defensive awareness, the obvious comparison would be Henrik Zetterberg. How they do stack up statistically?

Andersson: 25/11/1991 (18 years/2 months in draft year)
Zetterberg: 09/10/1980 (18 years/3 months in draft year)

Andersson: 5'11, 187 lbs
Zetterberg: 6'0, 194 lbs

Andersson: 32 GP, 12-11-23 (0.72 PPG)
Zetterberg: (18/19): 37 GP, 15-13-28 (0.76 PPG)

That's about as close as it gets. While it would be fool-hardy to expect lightning to strike twice, that the math backs up the on-ice results is a good starting point. Even if Andersson isn't drafted this year, he's worth keeping an eye on in the deepest keeper leagues. Andersson is a free agent in the summer, and could wind up anywhere from J20 SuperElit to the Allsvenskan to North America.


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