Thursday, September 6th
It’s been too long since my last ramblings but I’ve been busy scouring the province catching minor midget games and attending OHL camps and preseason games. Please forgive me as it will benefit us all in the long run.
You can check out my thoughts on some potential breakout candidates for the Ontario Hockey League in my latest article, Three Cities in Three Days: Potential OHL Breakout Candidates. Featured are a few players I absolutely love for the 2013 NHL Entry Draft in London’s Bo Horvat, Nikita Zadorov (D) and Max Domi, as well as some very intriguing 2014 NHL Entry Draft eligibles in Sarnia’s Anthony DeAngelo (D) and Windsor’s Joshua Ho-Sang. All five have an extremely high chance of becoming top NHL drafted players. Other great players are mentioned as well!
Joshua Ho-Sang, C (Windsor Spitfires)
The easiest way to replace a departing dynamic winger in the mold of Alexander Khokhlachev is to draft an arguably more-talented and younger player in Ho-Sang. Windsor selected Ho-Sang 5th overall at the 2012 OHL Priority Selection draft and he is arguably the most talented player of his age group. During Spitfires’ training camp, Ho-Sang was able to introduce himself to Windsor fans using his elite-level on-ice talents. It’s expected that the Spitfires will provide Ho-Sang with the offensive minutes needed to succeed right from the start. During camp, Ho-Sang skated between Kerby Rychel (2013 draft-eligible) and Chris Marchese.
Scouting Analysis: Joshua Ho-Sang’s dynamic game comes from his ability to operate at high speeds using his quick feet and elusive skating style. As Ho-Sang gains speed through the neutral zone he is able to draw in the opposition creating time and space for his teammates. He has elite level puck skills and shows a willingness to drive the net hard. Look for Ho-Sang to become a vital member of the scoring committee in Windsor this season and take a run at rookie of the year honours.
THN’s Adam Proteau takes a look at 10 Hockey Alternatives if (aka when) a lockout ensues. This is a must-needed piece for any hockey fan. I agree 100% with each league listed.
It’s certainly interesting to consider which players, specifically prospects, would benefit from the lockout since some will be sent back to junior hockey. The names that come to mind include Montreal’s Alex Galchenyuk, New York Islanders’ Griffin Reinhart, Toronto’s Morgan Rielly, and Dallas’ Radek Faksa.
Each one of these players could easily challenge for an NHL roster spot during camps and each one could survive as a rookie in the NHL. However, in the case of Galchenyuk and Rielly, I would hesitate to insert these two into NHL competition after missing most of their draft seasons last year. They would probably be fine, but I would rather see them return to junior, dominate, attend the 2013 World Juniors and also dominate. Neither player would be hindered by returning to their Junior franchises but I think there might be more risk in stagnating their development by forcing them to play limited minutes in Montreal or Toronto as both teams have decent to good depth at their respective positions. I think the lockout helps them. Oh ya, Galchenyuk had two beauty assists in his opening exhibition game.
Griffin Reinhart is still pretty raw and is coming off an injury that limited his action during the Canada-Russia Challenge Cup so another year definitely helps him in the long term.
Radek Faksa was a man-beast at the Kitchener Rangers camp last week and is showing that he can dominate this year in the OHL; however, there is an opening in Dallas due to the injury to Derek Roy (he may be ready by the time the NHL lockout ends anyways). The reason Faksa could benefit from returning to the OHL is for his chance to dominate and learn how to win. He’ll be playing on a stacked Kitchener Rangers’ team (Anaheim’s John Gibson, Edmonton’s Tobias Rieder, and potentially Carolina’s Ryan Murphy should be returning too) giving him a chance to challenge for the OHL title and Memorial Cup. Faksa is showing a real improved nastiness to his game and I think that comes with increased confidence at the OHL level. If I am looking at his development then I want to unleash this confidence beast and watch him learn how to become a “winner” before making that jump to the NHL (which he could technically do NOW). Just my small rant on developing a few great future NHLers.
One player who may have benefited from coming to the Canadian Hockey League via the Import Draft is Montreal’s Sebastian Collberg. As reported by Evan Hotham in Collberg’s recent update (see player profile), Collberg is receiving extremely limited minutes playing for Frolunda. He would have received endless minutes in the CHL. However, don’t write Collberg off as the Elitserien league often limits ice time to its younger players.
One OHL Import player I am extremely excited to watch play this season is…Columbus Blue Jackets’ goaltending prospect Oscar Dansk (2012 2nd round). He is committed to playing in Erie and should help improve the worst team from last season substantially. Connor McDavid, the most recent player granted “exceptional status”, won’t hurt the Erie Otters either. Undrafted Dane Fox and Maple Leafs’ prospect Connor Brown will look to take big steps forward too. Erie is a fun team with a lot of potential.
When the NHL resumes, I am extremely excited to see the “expected” improvements in Toronto’s Nazem Kadri’s game after working out with Gary Roberts all summer. Strength has always been a weakness in Kadri’s game and he stands to improve with extra attention in this area. Apparently, Kadri has made significant strides in developing lower-body strength improving his speed. It’s been four years since Kadri was selected 7th overall in 2008 but he is the exact type of prospect that you have to be patient with. Sure, Kadri can attempt to improve his defensive game but, realistically, his hope of becoming a true impact NHL player rests in his ability to play top-six offensive minutes. Those types of minutes aren’t just handed over to young players…especially in Toronto. The blue and white fans and media have pretty much given up on Kadri but I think it’s much too soon. He can’t be judged until he receives a true opportunity to play top-six minutes. It’s doubtful those opportunities will happen this season but if Toronto wants to see him succeed then they MUST find him the opportunity and a give him a long leash to play his own game. Unfortunately, I have my doubts that Toronto will remain patient with Kadri as they are desperate to win NOW. Call it a hunch, but I could see Kadri being moved within the next 12 months and it’s a shame if he does.
Per Jeremy Rutherford, Tarasenko says if there’s a lockout he will decide between Peoria (Blues’ AHL Affiliate) and KHL on September 15 after talking with GM Doug Armstrong.
A potentially devasting blow to the USA World Junior Roster with the news that Minnesota Wild prospect Mario Lucia will miss 3 months of his freshman year at Notre Dame after breaking his fibula and injuring his angle. Lucia was one of my favourite players prior to the 2011 NHL Entry Draft and he’s come a long ways since being drafted 60th overall. Lucia scored 42 goals and 93 points in 56 games (highest PPG) finishing 3rd in BCHL scoring last year.
Ummm…Nail Yakupov is cool! And, he’s an alright hockey player too. He is going to be great for the Edmonton Oilers’ fanbase. Very personable and always willing to give time to the fans/media. In Sarnia last season, his entire family was often caught socializing with the fans (especially his dad) and I think that has positively rubbed off on Nail. Great kid.
Thanks for reading,