Thursday, April 3rd
Happy belated (April 2nd) birthday to the boss man, Dobber, himself!
The following are a just a few prospects who have inked their entry level contracts:
Justin Kea, BUF
Carter Verhaeghe, TOR
Jake McCabe, BUF
Madison Bowey, WAS
TJ Tynan, CBJ
Connor Brickley, FLA
Adam Erne, TBL
Chris Driedger, OTT
Ryan Culkin, CGY
Mac Bennett, MTL
Alex Guptill, DAL
Phil DiGuiseppe, CAR
Gustav Olofsson, MIN
Tommy Vannelli, STL)
In no way is the above list an exhaustive one and several notable prospects have agreed to amateur tryouts with AHL clubs in hopes of convincing management that they are deserving of ELC’s. One player to keep an eye on is Brady Vail (Montreal Canadiens). The Florida native set new career highs in goals (32), assists (51) and points (83) for the Windsor Spitfires and was named one of the most underrated players in the OHL’s Western Conference but Montreal has yet to sign that coveted entry level deal. In my viewings of Vail I would conclude that the Habs are taking the right approach. He has shown flashes of good play but in too many games, he’s look average at the OHL level. Too many forced turnovers and he often loses focus in the game showing bouts of wavering effort level. When playing at the top of his game, Vail is using his speed to bust wide on defenders and unleash a deceptive shot but I would like to see him challenge players in the physical areas of the rink. Vail will have a chance to earn his contract in eight games with the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs. He was held pointless in his AHL debut Thursday night.
The Ontario Hockey League has released its candidates for the Red Tilson Award (Most Outstanding Player) and I had the privilege of filling out my ballot. That was not an easy task. In the end, it was very difficult for Connor Brown (Maple Leafs/Erie Otters) not to top the list but Sam Bennett (2014 NHL Draft/Kingston Frontenacs) and Matt Murray (Pittsburgh Penguins/Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds) received votes from me as well.
Other names on the ballot were:
Barrie – Aaron Ekblad (2014 NHL Draft)
Belleville – Remi Elie (Stars)
Guelph – Brock McGinn (Hurricanes)
Kitchener – Justin Bailey (Sabres)
London – Max Domi (Coyotes)
Mississauga – Bryson Cianfrone (2014 NHL Draft re-entry)
Niagara – Brendan Perlini (2014 NHL Draft)
North Bay – Barclay Goodrow (Sharks)
Oshawa – Scott Laughton (Flyers)
Ottawa – Philippe Trudeau (FA)
Owen Sound – Chris Bigras (Avalanche)
Peterborough – Nick Ritchie (2014 NHL Draft)
Plymouth – Alex Nedeljkovic (2014 NHL Draft)
Saginaw – Dylan Sadowy (2014 NHL Draft)
Sarnia – Nikolay Goldobin (2014 NHL Draft)
Sudbury – Nick Baptiste (Sabres)
Windsor – Slater Koekkoek (Lightning)
Uplifted by Nick Ritchie’s OT series winning goal, the Peterborough Petes’ erased a 3-0 series lead by the Kingston Frontenacs to become the 4th team in OHL History to complete such a comeback. Ritchie is a top prospect for the 2014 NHL Entry Draft and one of my personal favourites.
Heading into the Western Conference Semi-Final series versus the Western Conference Regular Season Champions, Guelph Storm, the London Knights (also CHL Memorial Cup hosts) will be in tough without three of its most important players. Goaltender Anthony Stolarz (Philadelphia Flyers) will serve the remaining seven games in an eight game suspension after high sticking Windsor’s Josh Ho-Sang over the head in the first round.
Furthermore, London learned that defenceman Brady Austin (Buffalo Sabres) is out with mononucleosis, joining Zach Bell (leg) on the sidelines. London, a team already vulnerable on defence, will be challenged versus the OHL’s most dominating team in regular season.
OHL Monthly Awards….
Erie Otters’ Andre Burakovsky (Washington Capitals) picked up OHL Player of the Month honours…
Andre Burakovsky is the OHL’s Player of the Month for March becoming the fourth different Erie Otters’ forward to earn the award this season following teammates Connor Brown, Dane Fox, and Connor McDavid. The Washington Capitals prospect averaged two points per game last month with 24 points in 12 games including a league-high 14 goals to go along with 10 assists while also recording a league-high plus-minus rating of plus-22.
Nick Ebert (Los Angeles Kings) of the Guelph Storm walked away with OHL Defenceman of the Month honours…
Nick Ebert is the OHL’s Defenceman of the Month for March with 13 points in 10 games including seven goals and six assists with a plus-minus rating of plus-14. The Los Angeles Kings prospect becomes the second member of the Storm to earn the award this season following Matt Finn in October. Last month he set a personal best with his first career four-point game on March 14 with two goals and two assists as second star of a 13-1 win over the Sarnia Sting giving the Storm their 52nd win of the season establishing a franchise record.
Remember, Ebert was the final pick of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft
Younger brother of Ryan Strome (also playing well with the Islanders), Dylan Strome was the OHL’s Rookie of the Month…
Dylan Strome of the Erie Otters is the OHL Rookie of the Month for March after leading all rookies in scoring with 15 points in 12 games including two goals and 13 assists while posting an impressive plus-minus rating of plus-17.
Dylan Strome is eligible for the 2015 NHL Entry Draft and is considered a potential Top 10 selection.
Guelph Storm netminder Justin Nichols was the OHL Goaltender of the Month for March…
Justin Nichols earns his second Vaughn OHL Goaltender of the Month honour this season after backstopping the Storm to their first Hamilton Spectator Trophy as regular season champions since 1998 and the club’s first Midwest Division title since 1999. He posted a 7-2-0-0 record including two shutout victories with a goals-against-average of 2.13 and a save percentage of .930 in 10 games last month appearing in five regular season contests and five first round playoff games
In the WHL, 2014 NHL Draft prospect Leon Draisaitl was named WHL Player of the Month for March…
Draisaitl, an 18-year-old from Cologne, Germany, recorded nine goals and 10 assists for 19 points to go with a +12 rating in eight regular-season games in March, helping the Raiders post a 6-2-0-0 record in that span. Draisaitl, a 6’1”, 209-lb center, recorded at least one point in seven of eight games, and picked up multiple points in six games including three four-point outings.
Neate Sager’s Buzz the Net series highlights some great prospect stories (always a must read in Junior Hockey)
Anaheim Ducks first-rounder Shea Theodore is a major reason why Seattle is in the Dub’s ‘elite-ish eight.’ Was he a steal that late in the first round last June? More
Vancouver Canucks first-rounder Hunter Shinkaruk, naturally, wishes he was healthy to join Medicine Hat for its series vs. Kootenay. (Calgary Herald)
The Hobey Baker Finalists have been announced in Johnny Gaudreau (Florida Panthers), Nic Dowd (Los Angeles Kings) and Greg Carey (recently signed as a free agent by Phoenix Coyotes)….
<blockquoteclass=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”><p>Johnny Gaudreau(BC), NicDowd(St. Cloud), and Greg Carey(St. Lawrence) are the three finalists for the HobeyBaker Award.</p>— SBN College Hockey (@SBNCollegePuck) <a href=”https://twitter.com/SBNCollegePuck/statuses/451388987555340288″>April 2, 2014</a></blockquote> <script asyncsrc=”//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>
The USA NTDP has announced its roster that will compete in the 2014 U18 World Championship beginning April 17th in Finland. Highlighting the roster is Jack Eichel, Connor McDavid’s rival for 1st overall in 2015, and Noah Hanifin, also widely considered a top 3 selection for the 2015 draft. Also included on the roster are 18 players eligible for the 2014 NHL Entry draft including Sonny Milano, Alex Tuch, Dylan Larkin and goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic who are all potential 1st round selections.
Team Canada will have plenty of solid options for its Under-18 squad as well, especially with several notable eligible players eliminated from CHL playoff action including: Brendan Perlini, Sam Bennett, Travis Konecny, Brent Moran, Jake Virtanen, among many others.
NHL Central Scouting’s Dan Marr confirms that 120 players, both North American and International skaters and goaltenders, have been invited to the NHL Combine. Last season, the NHL invited 101 players.
All NHL teams will have the opportunity for 1-on-1 interviews with the invited prospects between May 26 and May 30. The medical examinations of each player will take place May 30 and fitness testing will be May 31.
It was a busy week for NHL Central Scouting as they spent all week in final discussions of players and NHL.com’s Mike Morreale was there live tweeting….
Finally, some others jumping on the Fabbri train with me…
<blockquoteclass=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”><p>On Guelph’s Robert Fabbri: "Phenomenalwork ethic; If you’re going into battle in the trenches, you want this kid."</p>— Mike Morreale(@mikemorrealeNHL) <a href=”https://twitter.com/mikemorrealeNHL/statuses/448843953484611585″>March 26, 2014</a></blockquote> <script asyncsrc=”//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>
Oshawa traded for Sterk (a re-entry) to start the season and he’s been the best General on most nights that I have been in attendance…
<blockquoteclass=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”><p>Oshawa’s Joshua Sterk: "Areal gritty kid. Every night I saw him, he did something."</p>— Mike Morreale(@mikemorrealeNHL) <a href=”https://twitter.com/mikemorrealeNHL/statuses/448846531152838656″>March 26, 2014</a></blockquote> <script asyncsrc=”//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>
Not overly flashy but Alex Peters is a defenseman that will be able to log big minutes and be trusted in every situation. Every team should want this type of defenceman….
<blockquoteclass=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”><p>Defenseman Alexander Peters of Plymouth is topic of long debate here. Peters was No. 36 on CSS midterm ranks</p>— Mike Morreale(@mikemorrealeNHL) <a href=”https://twitter.com/mikemorrealeNHL/statuses/448848887051481088″>March 26, 2014</a></blockquote> <script asyncsrc=”//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>
Watched Bryan Moore a lot in Sarnia and his start to the 2013-14 was very promising (outstanding in pre-season play) but consistency remains his biggest obstacle. One night he will look like a star and then the next, he’s invisible…
<blockquoteclass=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”><p>On RW Bryan Moore of Sault Ste. Marie: "Isgetting more looks." Began the yrin Sarnia (11-22-33) ; now w/ Soo(14-14-28)</p>— Mike Morreale(@mikemorrealeNHL) <a href=”https://twitter.com/mikemorrealeNHL/statuses/448878409952018432″>March 26, 2014</a></blockquote> <script asyncsrc=”//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>
Here is one player I haven’t viewed but the scouts I talk to are VERY VERY intrigued. Projecting him because of the league he played in is the biggest challenge…
<blockquoteclass=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”><p>On LW Warren Foegeleof St. Andrews: "Againstbetter competition, he was really dominant." Was No. 62 on midterm. Had 45-37-82 in 43 gms</p>— Mike Morreale(@mikemorrealeNHL) <a href=”https://twitter.com/mikemorrealeNHL/statuses/448882587470004224″>March 26, 2014</a></blockquote> <script asyncsrc=”//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>
Take these comparisons with a grain of salt…
<blockquoteclass=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”><p>Tough decision, eh? "Youwant mini-Jagr, take Draisaitl; You want Adam Oates you take Sam Reinhart; want Cam Neely you take Jake Virtanen"</p>— Mike Morreale(@mikemorrealeNHL) <a href=”https://twitter.com/mikemorrealeNHL/statuses/448896416350740480″>March 26, 2014</a></blockquote> <script asyncsrc=”//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>
No surprise here…
<blockquoteclass=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”><p>RT <a href=”https://twitter.com/horaxhorax”>@horaxhorax</a>: top three forwards from the WHL at midterm; Draisaitl, Reinhart and Virtanen.</p>— Mike Morreale(@mikemorrealeNHL) <a href=”https://twitter.com/mikemorrealeNHL/statuses/448897334118998016″>March 26, 2014</a></blockquote> <script asyncsrc=”//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>
Close to my heart, the 2014 OHL Priority Selection Draft is just days away (April 5th starting at 9am). If interested in this level of hockey, be sure to check out my latest Youngblood release previewing the draft and its prospects.
For more information, you can check out the OHL’s Draft Preview Guide as well
Top names to watch are Jakob Chychrun (expected to be taken 1st overall by the Sarnia Sting; 2016 NHL Draft prospect), Adam Mascherin (expected to be taken 2nd overall by the Kitchener Rangers; 2016 NHL Draft prospect), Travis Barron (expected to be selected 3rd overall by the Ottawa 67’s; 2016 NHL Draft), Mikey McLeod (expected to be taken 5th overall by the Mississauga Steelheads), Brandon Saigeon (2016 NHL Draft) and Tye Felhaber (2016 NHL Draft). Top American players to watch are Max Jones (Honeybaked), Logan Brown (Indiana), Clayton Keller (Shattuck St. Mary’s), Trent Frederic (St. Louis Blues U16), Griffin Luce (Salisbury), Ben Gleason (Honeybaked) Nick Pastujov (Honeybaked), among many others. These American skaters are the real wild cards of the OHL draft as potential collegiate commitments complicate their draft statuses.
Jakob Chychrun ISO Video:
Adam Mascherin ISO Video:
Michael McLeod ISO Video:
The Hockey World needed this…Montreal prospect and Kootenay Ice forward, Tim Bozon, has come out of his coma and been discharged from hospital after a scary battle with meningitis. Bozon recently dropped the puck in a ceremony faceoff at the Kootenay-Calgary game.
What a sight!
Thanks for reading folks,