Saturday, June 2nd, 2012 @11:10 am
The Toronto Marlies fell to the Norfolk Admirals in game one of the AHL Calder Cup Final 3-1. Nazem Kadri did not suit up for the baby Leafs as he continues to nurse his injury. As reported earlier, Matt Frattin is out for the remainder of the season and the Marlies felt the absence of both players. Carter Ashton recorded the lone goal for Toronto while Jake Gardiner and Greg Scott picked up the assists. Ben Scrivens made 39 saves on 41 shots for the loss.
Norfolk’s Cory Conacher continued to impress with one goal and one assist in the win while firing six shots on goal – big time sleeper for next year. Dustin Tokarski got the start in game one and made 23 saves for the win.
Game 2 goes tonight in Norfolk.
Dmitry Chesnokov is reporting that Vladimir Tarasenko will report to the St. Louis Blues for next season after speculation that he might sign a contract in the KHL. The Blues will be adding a potential star forward if these reports hold true, something that the squad is missing on the front lines.
I forgot to report this last week, Bruins’ 2011 2nd round pick Alexander Khokhlachev is reportedly considering leaving the Windsor Spitfires (OHL) to sign with the KHL’s Moscow Sparkak. Khokhlachev was VERY impressive in my viewings of him last year but the young offensive forward is rumoured to be unhappy with the fact that the Bruins haven’t signed him to an ELC yet (not uncommon one year removed from your draft year).
If he receives a contract with the Bruins he will either make the NHL club or have to return to Windsor to play (since he is not 20-years-old yet). He could leave for a year or two to play in the KHL and that isn’t too far fetched considering he probably won’t be NHL ready until the 2014-15 season but it has to send chills through the spines of NHL GM’s…especially Peter Chiarlli.
The NHL draft combine is into day two of their fitness testing and, as always, there have been some standouts that have really impressed scouting teams. The physical fitness testing consists of the gruelling bike tests – the Wingate Cycle Ergometer and the VO2 Max test, as well as the vertical jump, bench press (150 lbs), standing long jump, curl-ups, gap strength and push/pull tests.
Most of the top prospects performed their fitness testing on Friday including Nail Yakupov, Ryan Murray, Alex Galchenyuk, Mathew Dumba, Cody Ceci, Morgan Rielly, among others.
Due to number of significant injuries to top draft-eligible players, scouts were paying close attention to those entries who missed time this past season – including Galchenyuk, Rielly, and Koekkoek. Furthermore, several players participated in limited capacities as players like Mikhail Grigorenko (mono). Griffin Reinhart (upper body), Olli Mä ä ttä (upper body) were three who were nursing recent injuries. While Grigorenko wasn’t clear to participate, Reinhart and Mä ä ttä participated in the exercises they felt they could give a good effort in. I believe Reinhart was among the top 10 in the standing long jump event.
Not surprisingly, Tom Wilson (Plymouth Whalers) was one standout player in the first day of testing pushing out a leading (unofficially) 13 reps on the bench press. Wilson also posted a remarkable vertical jump showing that the big man has great athleticism.
Defenseman Brady Skjei (USNTDP) and forward Nic Kerdiles (USNTDP) are two bodies that did well in the physical testing. Skjei recorded one of the better vertical jumps on the day.
Another big body, Stefan Matteau (USNTDP) nailed down 10 reps on the bench. For comparison, Athanasiou posted 10 reps while Yakupov had 9 and Matt Finn with 8.
Cody Ceci (Ottawa 67s) reportedly had a good showing although we won’t know how good until the “official” results are posted.
Scouts were impressed with Mathew Dumba’s (Red Deer Rebels) intensity and drive as he showed all-out effort in the testing portion (most of these kids do however).
Both Alex Galchenyuk (Sarnia Sting) and Morgan Rielly (Moose Jaw Warriors) showed teams that their knee injuries should not be a concern as both players impressed scouts in the physical testing.
Defenseman Slater Koekkoek (Peterborough Petes) missed significant time to a shoulder injury, yet, his bench press was among the best during day one of the firness portion. Koekkoek is a player flying a bit under the radar due to the time he missed but when it’s all said and done, he may become one of the best defenseman out of this draft class.
Malcolm Subban (Belleville Bulls) was among the top competitors Friday as he tested well in almost every category (except bench press, which is less significant for goaltenders). Subban had one of the largest wingspans measured on day one and performed well in the vertical jump as well – he’s one of the most athletic prospects in the 2012 draft class.
Nail Yakupov (Sarnia Sting) was reportedly average in most tests but showed great length strength during the testing, not surprising given that his powerful skating stride is one of his best weapons. As expected, Nail had a busy day responding to reporters and conducting interviews. I am impressed at how well he handles the media and how much his English has improved over the course of a year. He answers with a smile and usually includes a funny comment eluding the confidence and personality that these top players usually have. He reported did well during the bike tests and unofficially posted 9 reps on the bench press.
Undergoing physical testing on day two (Saturday) are prospects Ludvig Bystrom (D), Tomas Hertl (D), Ville Pokka (D), Lukas Sutter (F), Sebastian Collberg (F), Andrey Vasilevski (G), Brady Vail (F), Andrey Makarov (G), Gemel Smith (F), Tim Bozon (F), Daniil Zarkov (F), Dane Fox (F), Oscar Dansk (G), Tanner Richard (F), Mikko Vainonen (D) and Teuvo Terä vä inen (F) – all potential top 60 picks.
UPDATE: As my buddy @SeanLafortune tweeted, Dansk has posted one of the best numbers among draft-eligible goaltenders. My gut feeling is that Oscar Dansk (Brynas Jr) will turn out to be the best net minder in this draft class – just a hunch.
As I tweeted earlier today, the Blackhawks choose not to sign their 35th overall selection of the 2010 draft, Ludvig Rensfeldt and as a result, he will re-enter the 2012 NHL Draft. Rensfeldt is a big winger that came to play for the Sarnia Sting last season scoring 43 points in 53 games.
Given his admirable size, Rensfeldt almost never utilizes his large frame and that has been a frustrating aspect of his game (for me). He owns soft hands, a good shot and was utilized on Sarnia’s top power play unit often setting up on the left point. He improved over the course of the season, offensively and defensively, and owned increased confidence upon returning from the WJC with a gold medal. Rensfeldt was among Team Sweden’s scoring leaders with 6 points in 6 games. There have been rumours that Rensfeldt is weighing his option of joining Brynä s of the Elitserien league.
It appears that Florida’s forward depth has caused them to release winger Joonas Donskoi after not offering him a contract. He will re-enter the draft and is worthy of being selected again.
Once the combine results are finalized, I will report back with the leaders and players who may have increased their draft stock. However, in most of these tests/interviews the NHL scouts are simply looking for a commitment and all-out effort and generally aren’t overly concerned with that actual numbers (unless they are alarming). Hell, as TSN noted last night, Joe Thornton wasn’t able to do one bench press during his NHL Combine and Boston still grabbed him 1st overall.
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