October 14, 2012
The college hockey season kicked off in earnest this weekend and there is plenty of prospect news to report, so I’ll get right to it:
Notre Dame won the IceBreaker tournament with victories over Maine and Nebraska-Omaha. The Irish were led by Anders Lee (NYI) and T.J. Tynan (CBJ) with a goal and assist apiece. Lee is huge and goes to the net hard, a NHL power-forward in the making. Thomas DiPauli (WSH) was impressive in his first collegiate action, notching his first goal. On defense, Stephen Johns (CHI) was a rock on defense and showed more inclination to join the offense than in the past.
Nebraska-Omaha defenseman Andrej Sustr will be a highly sought-after free agent this spring. The 6’8 Czech has a booming shot and the Chara comparisons are inevitable. He had two points on the weekend.
Defenseman Brady Skjei (NYR) scored his first goal and added an assist in Minnesota’s sweep of Michigan St. Zach Budish (NAS) had four helpers, Erik Haula (MIN) and Nick Bjugstad (FLA) had two goals and an assist apiece, and freshman Chistian Isakson (BUF) added a goal and two assists in the domination.
Mark Jankowski (CAL) lit the lamp twice in his first game for Providence as the Flames first-rounder appears that his transition to the college game will be a seamless one. Miami sophomore Blake Coleman (NJD) picked up four points with three goals and an assist in his first two games.
Also off to a fast start is Michigan freshman defenseman Jake Trouba (WIN). The 1st-rounder from this past summer has scored two goals and an assist in his first pair of games. His power-play skills may have been understated prior to the draft as he looks very comfortable quarterbacking the Wolverine attack. Sophomore forward Phil Di Giuseppe (CAR) had two points on the weekend as well.
I had the chance to take in an AHL game last night and was treated to a pitcher’s duel with Chicago defeating Rockford in a shootout. Chicago netminder Eddie Lack looks like he is ready for NHL action with his poise and technical ability. On the other end of the ice, Rockford goalie Carter Hutton was outstanding as well, stopping all 31 shots he faced. Hutton surfaced on the prospect radar last year and continues to rise.
In other observations from the game, Jordan Schroeder didn’t impress me very much. He did score in the shootout, but his considerable skills don’t equal results. He seems reluctant to go into high traffic areas. Nick Leddy, who I’ll mention despite the fact that he is no longer a prospect, flashed the offensive ability and confidence with the puck that I haven’t seen in him since his college days. He went coast to coast a couple of times and looked really good. Brandon Piiri, a candidate for the Hawks second-line center spot, stood out as he created multiple chances for himself and teammates. Canuck prospect Bill Sweatt showed good speed and a pretty good pair of hands.
Speaking of the Blackhawks, I want to mention a possible steal from this past draft. Not much was made of 5th-round pick Garret Ross, who had scored a total of 38 goals in his first three OHL seasons, but he has started this season on fire. The Michigan native is currently fifth in OHL scoring with seven goals and seven assists in nine games, ahead of names like Ryan Strome and Mark Scheifele. I know it’s early but the aggressive play of Ross deserves attention.
Thanks for reading. @RichDillon17