Thursday, February 7th
Please check out my recent piece over at The Hockey Guys titled #CalderWatch 2013: Week Two. In this weekly series, I follow and post my thoughts on 2013 NHL Calder Trophy candidates every Monday or Tuesday.
How crazy is it that Jordan Eberle and Justin Schultz sit one-two respective in AHL scoring still, despite being in the NHL for a month? Two scoops of crazy…that’s how crazy.
Looking at 2010 drafted players…
Since news came out that Islanders’ Nino Niederreiter was not happy about playing in the AHL causing trade request chatter, the Swiss forward has just one goal in his past five games for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Not great. He remains Bridgeport’s leading scorer (37P in 44GP) but his situation is one to watch. His development has not been ideal for a 5th overall selection.
Speaking of high 2010 draft selections, the Columbus Blue Jackets are at it again with destroying another top prospects’ confidence…we call it the “Gilbert Brule” treatment. Nikita Filatov is familiar with it. Anyways, Ryan Johansen (4th overall, 2010) has been sent to Springfield of the AHL. In several viewings of Johansen this season in Columbus, he has looked good. The offensive production isn’t there yet (10GP 2A) but he’s skating well and making a difference on the ice in different ways. He needs to be in the NHL competing against NHLers to improve at this point. I’m worried for Johansen if this stay in the AHL is a prolonged one…he is one of my favourite prospects.
Emerson Etem has now played five games for the Anaheim Ducks and I think he is here to stick in the NHL. His speed, size and relentless forecheck have been fun to watch and he has worked his way up to playing on the top line with Getzlaf and Perry. Keep an eye on his ice-time. Etem has two assists (both coming in the same game) on the season.
Bruins 2010 second round pick, Ryan Spooner (45th overall), got into his first career NHL game last night versus Montreal. He only played 5:29 minutes but it is a promising sign that he’s developing nicely. I was able to watch quite a bit of Spooner in Sarnia (OHL) last season and his upside and future as an NHL player is intriguing. He is clearly an offensively minded player but he actually owns good defensive instincts…when he applies them. At the NHL level, Spooner is probably a “tweener”. Ideally, he would slide into the top-six but he will need to take advantage of his opportunities to solidify that top-six role. Spooner’s time up with the big club will be short lived but it was a nice gesture by Boston to reward the crafty forward after his strong AHL showing this season. In 35 games for Providence, Spooner has nine goals and 30 points in his rookie season.
Minnesota Wild’s Jason Zucker (59th overall) is pushing to earn an NHL position as he sits among AHL scoring leaders with 18 goals and 39 points (43 games). Charlie Coyle made his debut in the NHL this past week and went scoreless but he was quite noticeable. The big bodied winger is slated to
Looking at the 2011 draft class…
The Winnipeg Jets returned Mark Scheifele to the Barrie Colts (OHL) as they feel his experience leading his junior club will be more beneficial to his development than playing limited minutes in Winnipeg. I am torn on whether this is good or bad for Scheifele. The big forward has looked dominant at times but his consistency and work ethic continue to wander from game-to-game. He’s good enough to play in the NHL but I don’t think this return to Barrie will hurt him in the long run since he will gain invaluable experience as the key piece to the Colts’ offense. Next year, watch out for Scheifele.
Rangers 1st round selection, JT Miller, played his first NHL game earlier in the week after being recalled from the AHL. He received good ice time (14+ minutes) and while his stay this season will be shortlived, Miller’s future looks bright. I wouldn’t expect huge numbers from JT Miller but he certainly is a player that will win games as he is a true competitor. He could develop into a Ryan O’Reilly type of player, minus the contractual disputes…hopefully.
The Leafs’ trading up to draft Stuart Percy in the first round is looking like a good decision. I have been VERY impressed with Percy in a handful of live viewings this season. He is extremely poised with the puck and is an effective defender at both ends of the rink. He is logging huge minutes for the Mississauga Steelheads and he has 11 goals totalling 33 points in 51 games this season which is good enough for 14th in league defensive scoring. Percy projects as a future top-4/5 defenseman at the NHL level.
With Granlund and Tarasenko already in the NHL, the 2011 26th overall selection, Evgeny Kuznetsov, has to be the top prospect in the world not playing in the NHL. And boy, could the Washington Capitals use his injection of energy at this point. Kuznetsov has 18 goals and 42 points for Traktor Chelyabinsk and sits tied with the departed Ilya Kovalchuk for 8th in KHL scoring.
Staying locally for me, Sarnia Sting’s Reid Boucher (Devils) has been tearing up the OHL with his tremendous goal scoring prowess. I expect to write up a full report on him soon but the kid has a knack for sniping goals. He’s the type of player that the puck follows around the ice and he always knows where to be inside the offensive zone to score goals. Boucher has benefited from playing with playmakers in Alex Galchenyuk (now with Montreal) and overage undrafted centerman Charlie Sarault (a name to watch as a potential NHL free agent signing…he deserves it), but Boucher’s hair trigger release is rare, VERY rare. Boucher has 45 goals (51GP) to lead the OHL in that department by 12 goals entering Thursday night OHL action. Interesting stat I dug up – with Galchenyuk in the lineup, Boucher scores at 0.73 goals/game and without him, he has increased that to 1.18 goals/game.
The Detroit Red Wings had some nice prospect development notes this past week. Goaltender Petr Mrazek won AHL Player of the Week honours last week leading his Grand Rapid Griffins to a 2-0-0 record en route to stopping 53 of 54 shots (.950 SV%, 0.50 GAA). With Detroit’s lack of goaltending prospects, Mrazek is a goaltender to own in deep keeper leagues as he has proven to be a big time gamer early in his career. Mrazek will make his NHL debut tonight as the Red Wings have appointed him the starter versus St. Louis…that’s quite the challenge.
The Wings’ 2011 2nd round selection, Ryan Sproul (a favourite prospect of mine whose DobberProspect’s profile can be found here), won OHL Player of the Week honours after netting three goals and six points in two games for Sault Ste. Marie. The big mobile defenseman has been absolutely fantastic this season as he leads all OHL defensemen in goals (17) and scoring with 47 points (tied with Cody Ceci) in just 34 games. His 1.38 points-per-game is easily the highest among defensemen unseating even Dougie Hamilton’s 1.28 pts/game. Sproul has 20 points in his past 8 games and yes, he is a defenseman.
Sproul was deserving of POW honours but so was fellow Red Wings’ prospect Alan Quine, who registered a 6-point game and ended the week with 9 points.
Checking in on some 2012 draft selections…
Senators’ 1st round selection, Cody Ceci, has picked up seven points in 11 games with his new Owen Sound Attack team and that moves him up to first place (shared with Ryan Sproul) with 47 points in OHL defensive scoring.
Tanner Pearson (LAK’s 30th overall) has picked up 10 goals and 29 points in 45 games for Manchester (AHL); that’s a good rookie showing in professional hockey.
Devils’ Stefan Matteau remains with New Jersey as he sits at the give games played mark. The Devils are deciding what to do with their 1st round pick but it appears he will suit up Thursday to replace the injured Danius Zubrus and that will activate his ELC. Looks like Matteau is another ’12 draftee sticking this year joining Nail Yakupov and Alex Galchenyuk. It should be noted that if Matteau struggles, the Devils can send him down to the AHL since he was drafted out of the NTDP and not the CHL.
Check back soon as Rich Dillon and I continue to keep you up-to-date on the world’s top hockey prospects.
Thanks for reading,
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