Thursday, November 1st, 2012
Justin Schultz (Edmonton Oilers) has been named American Hockey League Player of the Month (October) after posting 12 points in seven October games to lead the entire AHL as a defenseman. There is no guarantee that Schultz’ AHL production will translate seamlessly to NHL production whenever action resumes but I have a hard time believing that this kid will not be a star. I am kicking myself for not drafting him for my keeper league team last month when I had the chance.
Mikael Granlund (Minnesota Wild), probably my favourite NHL prospect, has been named American Hockey League Rookie of the Month (October) after posting 3 goals and 10 points, as well as a plus-5 rating, for the Houston Aeros last month. Granlund’s eventual NHL debut is highly anticipated (especially by me) as the Wild hold their top prospect in high regard.
The United States of Hockey writer Chris Peters wrote an article on his views of which American prospects would make the 2013 USA WJC Roster and the following prospects were considered locks: John Gibson (Anaheim; Kitchener Rangers), Jacob Trouba (Winnipeg; University of Michigan), Seth Jones (2013 draft eligible; Portland Winterhawks), JT Miller (New York R; Connecticut Whale), Alex Galchenyuk (Montreal; Sarnia Sting), Johnny Gaudreau (Calgary; Boston College), Tyler Biggs (Toronto; Oshawa Generals), Vincent Trocheck (Florida; Saginaw Spirit), and Stefan Noesen (Ottawa; Plymouth Whalers).
You can read more of Peters’ article to see the “likely” roster players.
From earlier today, my article Inside the OHL – Part II: Power Rankings and Standout Goaltenders is an extensive release for The Hockey Guys. Tons of information in this article on 2013 NHL Draft eligible players that are impressing, disappointing and surprising, plus plenty of other Ontario Hockey League information (team rankings, etc.).
In case you missed it, the Subway Super Series is slated to begin shortly featuring a six-game series that pits the Russian National Junior team against powerhouse teams from each of the CHL’s leagues (QMJHL, OHL and WHL). Check out the preview pieces for the Team OHL and Team Russia rosters. Edmonton Oilers’ first overall selection, Nail Yakupov, will captain the dangerous Russian squad and each of these games features top-end prospects.
There are some interesting names sitting on top of the AHL scoring leads and a few of them are players it seems we have been waiting forever to emerge as fantasy assets.
Drayson Bowman (Carolina Hurricanes) leads the AHL in goals with eight (9 games). Roman Horak (Calgary Flames) made a quick appearance last season and his seven goals in as many games places him second in the league.
Cory Conacher (Tampa Bay Lightning) continues on his “prove-the-world-wrong” tour as his encore to his AHL MVP last season is just another red-hot start – five goals and 11 points through seven games. In no way will I ever bet against this small creative player especially considering he is property of the Tampa Bay Lightning, a franchise that has shown the willingness to gamble on these talented smaller players.
Jacob Josefson (New Jersey Devils) – It is nice to see Josefson off to a strong start (6 games and 4 goals) as this prospect certainly has the skill to develop nicely as a replacement for Elias, whenever he calls it quits.
Justin Faulk (Carolina Hurricanes) leads the entire AHL with nine assists and it appears that he has surpassed Jamie McBain (probably last season) as the franchise’s future stud defenseman. Faulk with an impressive 11 points already on his young seven game season (he’s another defenseman I wanted at my draft by didn’t pull the trigger on…teaching me, always go with your gut).
Cody Hodgson (Buffalo Sabres) has never been my favourite prospect but he is certainly making the most of his opportunity in the AHL and is starting to change my views on him. Nine assists to go with his lone goal gives him 10 points in eight games this season. The lockout has definitely benefited a player of Cody Hodgson’s ilk as there were areas that he needed some improvement in.
Emerson Etem (Anaheim Ducks) – There was a ton of hype around Etem’s standout WHL season last year but my gut told me, “don’t buy it yet”. After eight games, Etem is still searching for his first AHL point. It’s much too early to conclude that he’s a bust as many young players struggle when entering their first professional season but I still have some serious reservations about Etem and his “upside”. Speed doesn’t always translate to success.
Warning: Long Analysis
Alex Galchenyuk (Montreal Canadiens) – There isn’t an NHL drafted player that I have watched more than Canadiens’ third overall pick, Alex Galchenyuk, so I thought I would share my opinion on his start. Galchenyuk has returned nicely from his season-long knee injury. From a fitness standpoint, Galchenyuk is 110% committed to conditioning and it has shown in his rehabilitation. There are none, zilch, zero visible side effects from his surgery last season and his skating is probably stronger than it was pre-injury. Galchenyuk doesn’t possess elite skating ability but he is extremely sturdy on his feet and when he’s rolling at top speed he is very difficult to contain.
Galchenyuk has been playing the wing this season mainly because Sarnia has several options down the middle. He is still taking the occasional faceoff and skating at centre when needed but the team has decided to keep him with Charlie Sarault (Sarnia’s 2011-12 leading scorer) and Sarault is better served as a centerman.
Galchenyuk is an interesting player to analyze because his game is extremely unique. He’s a prospect that can play as a playmaker, power forward or pure sniper. When Galchenyuk is fully engaged using his long reach and good puck protection skills, he is extremely difficult to win a puck battle against. He can drive the net and maintaining puck possession and then quickly rip a pass or shot to an open teammate or corner of the net. There are times when I want to see Galchenyuk employ a harder puck pursuit, specifically when the opposition is in possession as he occasionally chooses to retreat rather than attack.
Defensively, Galchenyuk isn’t always focused as he is prone to cheating but he has shown that when committed, he can become a very good shutdown forward as well. The Sarnia Sting coaching staff is using Galchenyuk on their penalty kill and it’s been very successful (4th in OHL). Conversely, Galchenyuk is (obviously) Sarnia’s key figure on the league’s top ranked power play as well.
One of Galchenyuk’s greatest attributes is his confidence in his skills. He’s a player that is willing to push the limits of creativity and these creative moments usually come when the opposition least expects it. These crafty moments make him extremely dangerous especially when the opposing team is on their heels trying to contain him as he exploits them more easily.
This season, Galchenyuk has formed tremendous chemistry with Sarnia’s newest import player, Nikolai Goldobin (a gem of a player in his own right), and both of them have been at their best feeding off of each other with their elite vision and slick puckhandling. In fact, I might argue that Galchenyuk and Goldobin possess more chemistry than Alex did with former Sting, Nail Yakupov. It will be interesting to see how Galchenyuk continues over the course of the season (and during the WJC with Team USA) but I would expect Galchenyuk to remain among the leading scorers in the Ontario Hockey League.
Check out my YouTube video of Alex Galchenyuk’s shootout goal last Thursday versus the Windsor Spitfires. Last week, Alex Galchenyuk had two 3-point games and received a second honourable mention on the year for OHL Player of the Week.
I will be sure to continue to pass on my thoughts on Galchenyuk and any other OHL players the readers request.
Thanks for reading,
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