Tuesday, October 2nd
Check out my “Hockey Canada World Junior Roster Benefits from NHL Lockout” piece over at The Hockey Writers where I speculate on the potential star-studded lineup.
Hunter Shinkaruk, a personal favourite of mine for the upcoming 2013 NHL Draft, earned WHL Player of the Week honours after scoring one goal and six points in two games. Shinkaruk was one of the featured players last season in my Dean’s List series published over at DobberHockey last year. Look for the return of that series after a hiatus as I feature some upcoming 2013 draft-eligible players.
In the OHL, draft-eligible Ryan Kujawinski was the Player of the Week after recording two goals and three points in two games as his team, Kingston Frontenacs, remained undefeated (3-0-0) to start the season. I have had plenty of viewings of Kujawinski over the past year as he was a member of the Sarnia Sting and I can honestly say that I have never (NEVER) seen a player benefit more from a trade than Kujawinski has. Last season, Sarnia dealt Kujawinski (4th overall pick in the OHL Draft) to Kingston at Christmas for Ryan Spooner (Boston Bruins prospect). Frontenacs GM Doug Gilmour has to be loving this trade as Kujawinski produced at a point-per-game pace last season after coming to Kingston. Spooner was good for Sarnia but his production was nothing spectacular and, of course, Sarnia lost Spooner this past offseason to the AHL. Kujawinski is a player to watch in his draft year. He’s been fantastic since participating in the World Under-17 Challenge last year.
Columbus Blue Jackets have a few prospects that are really doing well to start the year. Boone Jenner is coming off a week where he tallied 8 points (4G, 4A) in a trio of games that vaulted him to the OHL scoring lead. Gianluca Curcuruto (a defenseman I had rated just outside the first round to start last season) was selected by Columbus in the 7th round at the 2012 NHL Draft but he has earned four assists in three games with his new team (Plymouth Whalers). The second overall pick, Ryan Murray, is showing positive offensive signs with four points in as many games for Everett. Oscar Dansk, 31st overall, has made appearances in four OHL games to date but hasn’t had the same success as the abovementioned Jackets. Dansk is sporting a 1-3-0 record with a 5.47 GAA and 0.873 save percentage against some tough teams (Niagara, London, Peterborough, and Ottawa). He can only improve on those digits.
Mikhail Grigorenko currently sits tied for second in QMJHL scoring with three goals and 12 points in five games played. Buffalo received a steal when he fell to them at last year’s draft. Phillip Danault (Chicago Blackhawks) is the player Grigorenko is tied with at a dozen points. Sticking with the Q, Habs’ prospect Charles Hudon is among the top 10 early on in the season with nine points in five games.
I’ve spent a ton of time at the rinks this fall scouting for the OHL Draft as well as making my observations on the current OHLers. Here are a few drafted players that have really stood out to me:
Ben Johnson (Devils) – In three games this season (preseason and regular season), Johnson has yet to disappoint me. He owns good speed and his puck pursuit and work ethic reminds me of an Adam Henrique style of player. Johnson rarely takes a shift off and that’s a valuable attribute at any level of hockey.
Brady Vail (Canadiens) – Vail can disappear on some shifts but when his feet are moving he is a difficult player to stop. He generates a lot of chances off the rush and should increase his production with more offensive minutes in Windsor this season. He is a player that has “steal” wrote all over him from last year’s draft. I had him as a late 2nd/early 3rd round player. He sits tied-2nd in OHL Scoring with 9 points in five games.
Alex Galchenyuk (Canadiens) – Any Galchenyuk owners panicking after reading his three points in four games statline? No reason to. Sarnia has face four strong teams including two outstanding goaltenders in Malcolm Subban and John Gibson, as well as Brandon Hope, who played outstanding against his former Sting club. Galchenyuk’s production will come folks.
JP Anderson (Sharks) – Anderson is ready to shoulder the workload as an overage goaltender for a Sarnia squad with no other netminding options. He has been OUTSTANDING to date and his fantasy value could skyrocket after a disappointing injury-filled year last season.
Ryan Sproul (Red Wings) – Sproul is a defenseman that gets overlooked too often. He was drafted late in the second round by those pesky Red Wings in 2011 and finished among the OHL defensive scoring leaders last season. He’s back at it again this year, leading all defenseman in OHL scoring with eight points in four games. He’s often tagged as a defensive defenseman because he’s so damn good in his own zone but he definitely has offensive skills. He’s a defender that could sneak up and contribute in most league formats but especially those that count penalty minutes and hits.
We’ve all got a few years before we can draft this kid, but I highly recommend that you make a point to go watch Connor McDavid (Erie Otters) live if you get a chance. McDavid was the latest to receive “exceptional status” from the Canadian Hockey League and is already making scouts giddy. Remember, John Tavares was the first player to be granted with the exceptional tag and Aaron Ekblad (2014 Draft) was the second. McDavid isn’t eligible for the NHL Draft until 2015 but this 15-year-old prodigy is a treat to watch.
Thanks for reading,