Latvia is far from a major hockey power, usually finding themselves within a game or two on either side of the relegation line between the IIHF's top division and the second tier. But the tiny Baltic nation has produced a handful of nice NHL players over the years. Forward Erlends Klavins was the top forward on Latvia's U18 national team this year, and though he's a longshot, he just might have the talent to make it to the NHL some day.
Player: Erlends Klavins
Team: HK Riga(MHL)
Height: 6'2" Weight: 176 lbs.
Stats: 42 games, four goals, five assists, nine points, -1
Final NHL Central Scouting rank: Not ranked
What I Like:
Klavins has a smooth, powerful stride for a 6'2" skater. His first step acceleration is just average, but when he's moving, he has excellent speed. He too often uses that speed on the perimeter rather than using in tight areas, but the ability is definitely there.
-Some Offensive Skill
Klavins didn't factor much in the offense for his junior team, but was a big part of Team Latvia's offense at the World U18s and showed some potential. His handle on the puck is sort of on-again, off-again. He showed decent vision and an ability to seek out his shot and get pucks through to the net.
What I Don't Like:
-All tools with no toolbox
Klavins skates around the ice nicely and has some skill, but that doesn't mean much if he can't translate that into tangible results on the ice. He struggled to put up scoring numbers in his junior league this season. He needs to find a way to put it all together and take better advantage of the ability that he has.
Klavins isn't enough of a scorer to justify his laziness on the defensive end. If he's going to succeed at the pro level, it will likely be as a lower line two-way player. He's got the talent to do so, but needs to add the desire.
NHL Central Scouting didn't rank Klavins. I have him as about a late-6th to early-7th round pick on my list. He's not a for-sure draft pick, but I'm intrigued by the raw tools that he has and think he might be worth a late-round gamble that he figures out a way to put it all together in the next few years. He's definitely a late round home run swing.
Klavins is a project pick that is still a long ways from the NHL. If the light goes on for him in terms of hockey sense, he has potential as a second or third line wing at the NHL level, but the odds of that happening are admittedly long.