Tuesday, July 24th, 2012 @7:30 pm EST
Taking a break from writing my portion for the 2012-13 Dobber Fantasy Guide (a must read….obviously) to share some prospect news.
Let me preface by warning you that I am going to do a bit of random rambling to start…
As a local to the Sarnia area, it was nice to see Nail Yakupov and Alex Galchenyuk sign their three year entry-level contracts. Of course, the signing was expected but these two individuals have had a testing year battling injuries all season long but persevered and ended up as top selections. Hard work definitely paid off. Dating back to last summer, Sarnia Sting fans were anxious to get the season started as the core of the team was very promising and expectations were high, both for the team and individually for Yakupov and Galchenyuk.
Personally, I was eager to see how Yakupov and Galchenyuk would perform during their draft year and fully expected these two players to go number one and two in the draft. I had a strong feeling that Galchenyuk would unseat Nail Yakupov as the top player for the 2012 NHL Draft but a preseason injury put an end to that. I can recall being at that pre-season game in Sarnia sitting behind the net to witness first hand Galchenyuk catching a rut in the ice and crashing into the net and end boards. The entire arena went deathly silent and as Galchenyuk skated off the ice I remember thinking, “this cannot be good”. I get these weird hunches sometimes and coming into last season I remember experiencing a feeling that Yakupov was on the verge of a serious injury. I was wrong, Galchenyuk was the victim to the injury.
Fast forward almost ten months and Yakupov and Galchenyuk are now property of the Oilers and Canadiens – two Canadian teams. I may have a small bias but I do feel that Yakupov and Galchenyuk were the two best players available in this draft class. Another hunch….I do feel that the Columbus Blue Jackets made the wrong decision selecting Ryan Murray instead of Alex Galchenyuk (the player I feel has the brightest NHL future). Obviously, Ryan Murray is a great talent but when we reflect back on this draft class in a decade or so, I won’t be surprised to see us preferring Galchenyuk to Murray…but then again, I may be wrong. These hunches are just that – a hunch.
The season long knee injury to Alex Galchenyuk will have most people predicting that he returns to play another year in Sarnia but this kid has the smarts, skill and physical conditioning to surprise in training camp and make this Canadiens’ roster. At the very least, Galchenyuk should see the usual 9 game stint and Montreal might be forced to keep him around. However, as a long term investment, Montreal will likely err on the side of caution and monitor him from the OHL. As a Sting supporter and writer, I hope he returns so that we have someone to watch.
Ryan Murray also signed his three year entry-level contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets. All three of these players, Yakupov, Galchenyuk, and Murray, are profiled in the Fantasy Guide showing their upside, NHL likelihood and NHL due date.
Tom Wilson, selected 15th overall by the Washington Capitals, has signed a three year entry-level contract.
The Carolina Hurricanes have signed Zach Boychuk to a two-way contract extension. The soon-to-be 23 year-old has played in 72 career NHL games and recorded 18 points. Drafted 14th overall in 2008, Boychuk has had an up-and-down career (more down than up) and really needs to find a home. Don’t be surprised to see the Hurricanes use Boychuk in part of a trade.
ESPN and Hockey Prospectus writer, Corey Pronman, usually has some questionable rankings but I have always agreed with his skill assessment on most players. He has been slowly releasing the top ten prospects from each NHL franchise and his latest features the Toronto Maple Leafs bunch. His ranking: 1. Rielly 2. Colborne 3.Finn 4. McKegg 5.Percy 6.Ashton 7. Blacker 8. Abbott 9.D’Amigo 10. Biggs.
“Toronto has a deep system, especially in terms of middle- to low-tier prospects. I had to leave off several players I liked, such as Josh Leivo, Andrew MacWilliam, and Ben Scrivens (who could be a backup goalie in the NHL next year). They have a high-end D prospect in Morgan Rielly, and while Joe Colborne has high-end upside, his pro career has been somewhat concerning thus far. Considering the players they have in their system and Jake Gardiner up on the big club, Toronto could use one more significant forward prospect aside from Colborne and Nazem Kadri to really round out their young core.”
I agree with Pronman’s ranking but