Tuesday, October 23rd
In case you missed it, I wrote a piece last week on Canadian Hockey Players who are likely to head to NHL (mini) training camp if the lockout ends…soon. If the lockout ends, who is staying? Who is going?
Another piece of mine, CHL Import Draft: Sarnia Sting Strike GOLDobin…Again features a first year Russian in the OHL who has quickly become a personal favourite. In fact, he’s arguably out performed every other Sarnia Sting player in the OHL and is one of the most impactful imports in the OHL right now. Read more about him by following the above link.
Buffalo Sabres prospect Joel Armia (2011 1st round pick) missed time due to a “mild concussion” last week but returned on the weekend and scored a goal and an assist bringing his totals to seven goals and 11 points in 15 games for Assat of the SM-liiga.
Another Sabres’ prospect TJ Brennan currently leads all AHL defensemen with 7 points. Keep an eye on this kid.
Poached Anaheim Duck defenseman turned Oilers’ prospect Justin Schultz was named AHL Player of the Week after tallying 3 goals, 1 assist and recording a plus-3 rating in two games last week. He sits second in AHL defensive scoring with 6 points through four games.
Speaking of the Ducks, Nic Kerdiles (2012 2nd round selection) has decided to accept his NCAA suspension and stay at Wisconsin rather than heading to the WHL. Remember, Kerdiles was suspended for breaking NCAA recruitment policy. The suspension is a tough break for Kerdiles in such a crucial year of development.
In the AHL, your leading scorers are: Cory Conacher with 9P in 5 games (Tampa Bay Lightning), Marcus Foligno with 8P in 5 games (Buffalo Sabres), Tyler Johnson with 8P in 5 games (Tampa Bay Lightning). It’s hard not to really like Marcus Foligno as I see him as a player who will have a long NHL career and be one of those types of players that can be the difference in winning playoff games. Love this prospect. And, oh ya, he’s coming off a 4-point game (2G, 2A).
Other notable players in the AHL leading scorers include: Mikael Granlund (7 points; Minnesota Wild), Cody Hodgson (7 points; Buffalo Sabres), Sven Baertschi (6 points; Calgary Flames), Zack Boychuk (6 points; Carolina Hurricanes – yep, he’s still playing), Kyle Palmieri (6 points; Anaheim Ducks), and defenseman Mark Barberio (6 points; Tampa Bay Lightning). With the exception of Cody Hodgson (too fragile for my liking) and Zack Boychuk (his time was yesterday), I love the players listed above especially Granlund and Baertschi. In particular, Baertschi does not get the respect in fantasy circles that he deserves and I have a feeling he could be extremely valuable.
If you haven’t noticed, there are a lot of talk about Sabres, Ducks and Lightning prospects in these ramblings…and that wasn’t on purpose. Each of these teams have a few very intriguing players.
Keeping on a similar topic, Ducks’ prospect defenseman Sami Vatanen (who I am big on) is among the AHL’s top defensive scorers with one goal and six points in four games. Conversely, a prospect that I have always been skeptical on is Emerson Etem (also with the Anaheim Ducks) is pointless and minus-1 through his first four games of the season. He’s averaging over two shots per game so the goals should eventually come but my gut feeling is that the Etem hype was always much too high. It’s early and I am pulling for him (as I own him in a few leagues) but he’s certainly no lock to be an impact NHL player and I remain cautious.
Sticking with some of my other favourite players….Jaden Schwartz (St. Louis Blues) has three points in four games for the Peoria Rivermen. Toronto Marlies’ defender Jake Gardiner (Toronto Maple Leafs) sits second in team scoring with four points and is tied for team lead with two goals. As a team, the Toronto Marlies have struggled to start the season but Jake Gardiner is one of the few bright spots for this team.
No player needed more AHL seasoning than Islanders’ prospect Nino Niederreiter and is 5-point start in Bridgeport’s opening three games is extremely promising. Another prospect in a similar mold as Marcus Foligno mentioned above is Casey Cizikas and he ranks second behind El Nino with three points of his own.
A forgotten prospect in a bad development system is Calgary Flames’ defenseman T.J. Brodie. With four assists in his first four games, Brodie is showing he has the goods to become an impact prospect for the Flames in the near future. With a slight bias towards Brodie (he grew up near my hometown), I feel as though the Flames need to make him a part of their powerplay. His skating and puck moving is extremely good and he’s a better option than a Bouwmeester back there.
Back to my home league – the OHL. Tobias Rieder (Edmonton Oilers) received an honourable mention in the OHL Player of the Week after picking up three goals and eight points in three games last week. Rieder is a crafty player to watch but (as mentioned in his updated profile), he’s still a project as he needs to gain a lot of strength. Even at the OHL level, Rieder gets knocked around too much and his skating (while decent) isn’t quick enough to elude defenders like other small successful NHLers.
Mark Scheifele (Winnipeg Jets) had a six-point game last week as his unstoppable Barrie Colts continue to win by large margins. Scheifele sits tied with Vincent Trocheck (a shrewd Florida Panthers pick) in the OHL scoring race as both players have 20 points.
After Scheifele and Trocheck, pesky forward Nick Cousins (Philadelphia Flyers), Max Domi (2013 eligible) and Zach Hall (undrafted) share a three-way tie for second place with 19 points.
Another shrewd pick (or so it appears early on this season) is Colorado’s 7th round selection of overage forward Colin Smith (profiled here). Smith is currently on a 13-game point streak to start the season where he’s posted 7 goals and 28 points. 28 POINTS! Smith’s streak includes eight multi-point games including one 4-point game and five 3-point games.
Canucks prospect Brendan Gaunce is out 3-6 weeks with a shoulder injury.
I need to get this in print…2013 NHL Draft eligible goaltender Spencer Martin (who I raved about last year after the U17 tournament) is destined for a first round selection. I will have more on Spencer Martin (Mississauga Steelheads) later but he’s definitely a favourite of mine at the goaltender position after I watched back-to-back games last week where he DOMINATED.
Thanks for reading,