Matyas Sapovaliv Scouting Report: 2022 NHL Draft #43

Matyas Sapovaliv Scouting Report

Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2022 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Hockey Prospects is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! We have a complete listing of our draft articles here. Today we bring you our Matyas Sapovaliv Scouting Report.

Drafted by the Saginaw Spirit in the first round, 15th overall, at the 2021 CHL Import Draft, Czechia forward Matyas Sapovaliv came to North America for this draft season. He started the year at the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup. Sapovaliv scored one goal and three assists for four points in four tournament games. Playing for the rebuilding Saginaw team, he put up 18 goals and 34 assists for 52 points in 68 games. Unfortunately, the Spirit did not make the playoffs. Sapovaliv joined the Czechia team for the IIHF Under-18 World Championships. He scored one goal and three points in six games. He also played in 15 other games with the U-18 Team, scoring two goals and nine points.

In 2020-21, Sapovaliv played in the Rytíři Kladno system. He scored four goals and seven assists for 11 points in six games in the Czechia Under-20 league. He also played 13 games in the Czechia second division, picking up three assists. Sapovaliv played in a number of games for the national Under-17 and Under-18 teams. He picked up three assists in three games with the Under-17s. He also had two goals and four points in four games with the Under-18 team.

Matyas Sapovaliv Scouting Report

Center — shoots Left
Born February 12th, 2004 — Kladno, Czechia
Height 6’2.75″ — Weight 183 lbs [191 cm/83 kg]

Skating

Sapovaliv’s skating really improved over the course of the year but there continues to be room for improvement. His stride was really wide at the start of the season, and while it is still long, it is more compact. This has helped Sapovaliv to add power and speed. His top-end speed is now above average. He can take a defenceman wide and cut to the net. There is still some work to do on his acceleration and first few steps though as they are below average. Sapovaliv greatly improved his agility and edgework too. They are now the strengths of his skating game. He can cut on a dime and change directions with ease. His crossovers add speed and power as he comes out of his turns.

Sapovaliv is also strong on the puck for a junior player. He wins his battles on the boards and in front of the net. However, he may struggle against men right now. He has a big frame, at nearly 6-foot-3. He should be able to add muscle mass. This will give him added balance and the ability to fight through checks.

Offensive Game

Sapovaliv is a playmaker. He pairs his size with strong stickhandling ability. This allows him to control the puck down low and work well in the cycle game. He can extend possession and wait for teammates to get open. When they do, he can make a quick cut or change in direction, coupled with a smooth move on his hands, and open up a passing lane. Sapovaliv can then make a tape-to-tape pass to a teammate. His speed also helps him on the rush. As defenders have to back up and respect his ability to go wide, this opens passing lanes. When he sees an open teammate, Sapovaliv is quick to get them the puck. His ability to carry the puck through the neutral zone is also helpful in generating efficient zone entries.

Sapovaliv scores most of his goals in the slot or closer to the net. His wrist shot has decent power and accuracy. However, his release could be a lot quicker. This limits its effectiveness as he gives goalies time to set up. Sapovaliv is more effective at getting off his snapshot, as it features a much quicker release. It is not as powerful as his wrist shot but is more effective thanks to its quicker release. Sapovaliv’s quick hands also help him in tight to the net. He can deke the goalie and elevate the puck quickly on both his forehand and backhand. He also does a good job of pouncing on rebounds, getting deflections, and one-timing passes from teammates.

Defensive Game

Sapovaliv is also a good defensive player. He played against the other team’s top line and killed penalties for the Spirit. Sapovaliv is a smart player. He reads the play well and cuts off what the opponent is doing. He also does a good job of forcing his man to the outside and away from high-danger shooting areas. Sapovaliv uses his long stick to cut down passing lanes and steal pucks from opponents. He is also willing to play physical, winning battles on the boards, containing his man in the cycle game and clearing the front of the net. Sapovaliv is also good in the faceoff circle. When a turnover is created, Sapovaliv is good at clearing the zone and starting the transition game.

Projection and Comparison

Sapovaliv’s effective two-way game, good size and skating ability give him a high floor. He should be a coach’s favourite at any level he plays. He needs more time in the OHL to add strength to his frame and continue to improve his skating and his wrist shot. If he reaches his potential, he can become a second-line centre, capable of playing in all situations. Even if he does not reach his ceiling, his game will translate well to a third or fourth line. Sapovaliv’s game is reminiscent of Anze Kopitar. This is a stylistic comparison though, not one based on his skill and ability.

Highlights

The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Matyas Sapovaliv that are available on youtube and Twitter.

 

Check back later for our next article on the 2022 NHL Draft.


Mattyas Sapovaliv Scouting Report Main Photo: