Prospect Ramblings

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2012-05-14

Congratulations to the Edmonton Oil Kings for winning the WHL Championship and booking the final ticket to the CHL MasterCard Memorial Cup. Edmonton defeated a star-studded Portland Winterhawks featuring Sven Bartschi (Flames), Ty Rattie (Blues), Brad Ross (Leafs), Joe Morrow (Penguins) and Derrick Pouliot (2012 eligible) in game seven.

 

Congratulations to the Penticton Vees on winning the 2012 RBC Cup as the BCHL Champions. It was their first championship in 26 years. Mario Lucia was a second round selection of the Minnesota Wild and finished tied for first in team playoff scoring with 17 points. In the regular season, Lucia racked up 94 points in 56 games.

 

 

One of my favourite sleepers last year at the 2011 draft was Michael St.Croix who the Rangers snatched up in the fourth round (106th). He was fantastic in the championship series for Edmonton recording two goals and seven points including a highlight worthy goal in game six. St. Croix was one of eight players who cleared the 100-point marker this past regular season in the WHL with 45 goals and 105 points.

 

Flames goaltender prospect Laurent Brossoit was named the playoff MVP after finishing with a 2.04 GAA and .933 save percentage. Calgary may not be too stealthy at drafting skaters but they have been really successful with the net minder picks lately.

 

Sleeper to watch in the upcoming draft – Brendan Leipsic who just completed a very strong playoff run for Edmonton. He’s a small player but he really brings it when it counts. Keep an eye on during the Memorial Cup.

 

Draft eligible Oil King Griffin Reinhart and Henrik Samuelsson will get more exposure to the scouts as they head to Shawinigan, Quebec to help propel the WHL’s representative. Reinhart was solid in a shutdown role versus the high flying Winterhawks finishing with two points and a plus-4 rating in the seven game series. Pretty impressive considering Portland had four of the top five leading playoff scorers (Bartschi, Rattie, Noebels, and Ross). Reinhart has tons of upside is headed towards a potential top 10 selection.

 

Reinhart and the rest of the Oil Kings’ defense core did a great job at shutting down Portland’s dynamic attack of Ty Rattie limiting the WHL’s playoff leading goal scorer to just two goals and four points. Rattie’s teammate Sven Bartschi was a little more difficult to contain as he went nutty in the Championship scoring seven goals and nine points finishing as the playoff leader in points (34 points in 22 games).

 

Bartschi may or may not make the jump to the Flames next season but he’s shown that he is a step above the WHL. Calgary has a history of bringing up prospects a tad too soon (see Backlund) but in this case, I feel as though Bartschi could really provide an offensive punch for an aging Flames core. Bring the kid up and surround him with offensive minutes and we could be looking at the 2012-13 Calder Trophy winner. He plays a similar game to Jeff Skinner producing offensive chances with his strong skating skills and elusive ability.

 

Joining the Edmonton Oil Kings in the Memorial Cup are the Saint John Sea Dogs, London Knights and host team Shawinigan Cataractes. Loads of talented NHL prospects to watch here. Action starts Friday night between Edmonton and Shawinigan. The game I am looking forward to is the Saint John Sea Dogs vs. London Knights match up. With the Washington Capitals eliminated from NHL Playoff action, I am not surprised to hear that Dale Hunter will not return as head coach. He was a temporary solution and his heart lies with his London Knights of the OHL. Expect him to join the team (in some capacity) for the Memorial Cup.

 

London’s Austin Watson (Predators) was named the OHL MVP after coming over from the Peterborough Petes at the trade deadline. Watson had 10 goals and 17 points in 19 playoff games for London. To be honest, I was shocked not to see defenseman Olli Maatta (2012 eligible) named MVP after leading the Knights in scoring as an OHL rookie. However, Watson played a vital role contributing in all situations.

 

The OHL’s Mississauga St.Michael’s Majors team has been sold (again). Senators’ owner Eugene Melnyk sold the team to businessman Elliott Kerr. The franchise has struggled to fill the rink despite icing a competitive team. It’s a shame that the Hershey Centre was not being filled as it’s one of the OHL’s best rinks. The Mississauga OHL team is expected to be re-branded with a new name and logo.

 

One league that does not get talked about much as a development league is the United States Hockey League (USHL) but last year they produced more NHL draftees than the QMJHL. The USHL is in the middle of their playoffs with the Green Bay Gamblers facing off against the Waterloo Blackhawks – both hotbeds of the USHL. Alumni for the Gamblers include Adam Burish, Ty Conklin, Jeff Finger, Matt Greene and Blake Wheeler. Former Waterloo Blackhawks include Andrew Alberts, Nick Ebert (2012), Joe Pavelski and Craig Smith.

 

One player to keep an eye on is Chicago Blackhawk’s 2011 7th round selection (199th) Alex Broadhurst who currently leads the USHL Playoffs in scoring with eight goals and 14 points through nine games. Last year’s thirteenth last pick, Broadhurst was drafted by the London Knights last month as an overage player in the OHL Priority Selection Draft in the second round. Formerly committed to the University of Nebraska-Omaha, it is expected that Broadhurst will join the Knights and become an instant contributor. Broadhurst finished third in USHL regular season scoring with 26 goals and 73 points in 53 games for Green Bay.

 

Another player to watch us the USHL’s leading scorer, Kevin Roy. He was passed over last year in the draft but the kid is a wizard. Just take a look at him below at he 13 and in present time. Roy scored 54 goals and 104 points in only 59 games finishing 16 points ahead of the next closest player. He’s small but very crafty and his plus-44 rating was impressive too.

Kevin Roy as a 13-year-old

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WHL Championship Game 7 Final {youtube}9vLu8C2l{/youtube}

 

Tampa Bay Lightning prospect Nikita Kucherov highlight package

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