Klavs Veinbergs entered the Tampa Bay Lightning organization earlier this summer and steps into our Top 25 Under 25 for 2022.
Before I can get into this player, I first need to address the fact that he ended up outside the top 25 by both the writers and the readers, but still ended up on the final list. This is because Veinbergs was either ranked by individuals relatively high on the list or he wasn’t at all. When it was all averaged together it bumped him ahead of someone like Nick Malik who was only given votes in the 23-25 range but was ranked by many. Math can be weird.
At the end of the day, our rankings are not rigorous or carry any real-world weight behind them. They are an excuse to talk about many prospects you, the readers, haven’t heard about in a while or possibly ever before! Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about this player, Klavs Veinbergs!
Klavs Veinbergs was drafted by the Lightning as an overager (D+1) in the seventh round (224th overall, second from last) in the 2022 NHL Draft. Hailing from Latvia, Veinbergs has been in the Riga system for several years, playing in their KHL team’s junior league and representing his country in all international tournaments. Namely, he scored a goal in five games for Latvia in the most recent Men’s World Juniors, gaining some name recognition in the process.
It’s hard to miss Veinbergs on the ice. As a 6’3” 19-year-old, he’s a physical specimen. Not only is he huge for his age, but he can skate really well and he has excellent shot mechanics. His WJC goal against Finland where he made perfect contact with the puck on the power play from the right face-off circle was a thing of beauty.
Strengths and Homework
Veinbergs is very clearly a goal scorer when you look at his stats from the past two regular seasons, tournaments, and playoffs between the Latvian league, MHL, and on the international stage.
Looking ahead, it won’t be so hard to see Veinbergs play as he’ll be joining the Lincoln Stars of the USHL and then possibly to the NCAAs. This is great news for his development as the USHL-NCAA system will allow this raw prospect to build strength and explosiveness around his frame, practice time to improve his skills, and the structure to help bring a complete game. Andrej Sustr took a similar path to the NHL, playing for the Youngstown Phantoms before matriculating to the University of Nebraska-Omaha.
I’m a big fan of the USHL for their balance of games, training, and school. It’s frankly a lot more safe and responsible for these teenagers than what the CHL does. With Veinbergs in the USHL, we’re finally going to see him amongst his peers and playing lots of hockey games in one place (he’s been jumped around a lot between leagues up to this point).
What I would specifically like to see him work on is his explosiveness with skating. At the moment, he can move at a good speed when given time to build it up, but he has the stride and mechanics set up to put muscle on and be much more dynamic. Straight line speed is good, but in the NHL you have to get to that top speed quickly or your opponent is going to cut off your angles. I haven’t seen much of his defensive game but I expect it to need steps taken in order to get a structure going. Not everyone can be Anthony Cirelli.
I’m going to put all the highlights of Veinbergs that I can find from the internet in order to provide you with as much visual data as possible. You can tell in almost all these clips he’s the triggerman for his team.
Klavs Veinbergs (#27 in maroon) picks up the secondary assist on this power play goal. He wins the faceoff cleanly back to Girts Silkalns (‘03), who then feeds it to Bogdans Hodass (‘03) for the one time goal.— Future Bolts (@LightningProsp1) August 11, 2022
19 gadus vecais centra uzbrucējs Klāvs Veinbergs gūst savus pirmos vārtus Latvijas izlasē pic.twitter.com/PJVYjrtXp1— Ulvis Brože (@UlvisBrozhe) April 22, 2022
Speaking about my ranking, I ranked Veinbergs 21st. When doing my rankings, I put Veinbergs in a tier with players who were not directly in the NHL/AHL pipeline who I determined had good chances to make it there. Two of the players in that group went unranked: Cameron MacDonald for his draft position and storied shot, and Bennett MacArthur for his insane point production in the QMJHL. One player is ranked on this official list and I will be talking about him soon. The final player is Veinbergs. Within this tier, I ranked Veinbergs the highest because I like the development pathway he’s chosen, and because I think his skills are very good.
If you could change your vote, where would you rank Klavs Veinbergs now?
This poll is closed