National Hockey League talent evaluators have revealed their initial impressions of three 2018/19 Waterloo Black Hawks players who are candidates for the 2019 NHL Draft.
Austen Swankler, Ryan Drkulec, and Vladislav Firstov each appear on the NHL Central Scouting “Players to Watch” list released this week. Swankler received a “B” grade, suggesting that scouts currently believe he is a prospect in the running to be chosen in the second or third round next June. Drkulec and Firstov received “C”s, meaning that they could be chosen in the fourth through sixth rounds, based upon Central Scouting’s preliminary observations.
All three forwards made their Black Hawks’ regular season debuts during the USHL Fall Classic in Pittsburgh last week, and each made a scoring contribution as Waterloo earned three of four possible standings points from their two games. Firstov set up the Hawks’ first goal of the season and came away from the weekend with a pair of assists. Drkulec had a point in each game, including his first USHL goal Saturday versus the Omaha Lancers. A Swankler assist in that game created the winning goal by Griffin Ness.
Also in late September, Swankler and Drkulec appeared during USA Hockey’s All-American Prospects Game at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. The showcase event brings all of the leading draft-eligible prospects from the United States together for a highly-scouted exhibition matchup.
Waterloo acquired Swankler during Phase I of the 2017 USHL Draft, choosing him in the ninth round. The former member of the Oakland Junior Grizzlies is committed to the University of Michigan.
Drkulec and Firstov came to the Black Hawks through Phase II of the 2018 USHL Draft. Waterloo claimed Drkulec in the third round after he spent the 2017/18 season at Shattuck-St. Mary’s in Minnesota; Firstov was a 17th round selection by way of Yaroslavl in Russia’s MHL.
Central Scouting has typically refreshed its letter grades in November, followed by a numerical ranking of North American prospects in January. A final ranking will be issued in April.
The Black Hawks’ 2018/19 home opener is Saturday, October 13th versus the Green Bay Gamblers at 7:05 p.m. During Bud Light Opening “Knight,” Bud Light will be available to fans aged 21 and over for $2. To order, call the Domino’s Black Hawks Box Office at (319) 291-7680.