Monday, September 15th
Buckle up folks and get your bookmarks ready, today’s prospect camp and tournament updates/thoughts are coming in the form of a massive hockey avalanche.
NHL prospect tournaments are in full swing and it’s that time of the year where we start taking down names on players whose hard work in the summer is translating into great things on the ice. In fantasy hockey, any bit of progression (good or bad) news is a chip in your hand.
After attending several junior training camps and even more exhibition games, here are a few names of draftees who may be ready to step into stardom in their respective leagues.
The Anaheim Ducks’ prospect cupboards are one of the best when considering NHL-ready players. With John Gibson, Rickard Rakell, William Karlsson, Stefan Noesen, Nick Ritchie, Shea Theodore and Nic Kerdiles, the ducklings are looking very good. Honestly, one of my favourite prospect lineups resides in Anaheim. Look for Nic Kerdiles to be a player who won’t take long to adjust to the NHL game. I expect him to be a breakout player this year with Norfolk (turned pro after last season) and force the hands of the Ducks. Many of these players will use the prospect camps/tournaments to prepare for the NHL main camp before heading back to their junior, collegiate or AHL teams (except for Gibson and Rakell).
Under the new name “Arizona Coyotes”, forward Henrik Samuelsson is turning heads early in camp and appears to be carrying the momentum after a strong showing at the 2014 CHL Memorial Cup Championship, where he helped his Edmonton Oil Kings capture the title. Wouldn’t be surprised to see Hank push for a bottom six role this season. More likely, Samuelsson will attempt to acclimate himself in the AHL.
Max Domi is the Arizona Coyotes top prospect and even after a roller-coaster OHL season, he’s expected to make the main roster. He was wildly inconsistent and showed a lack of effort last year but even as frustrating as he was to watch last year, Domi needs to be challenged at the pro level to see if his special offensive talent can emerge against the best players….and, yes, I do think it will. In a system not known for offensive surges, Domi’s talents could change the dessert’s landscape.
I was able to catch Brendan Perlini in OHL training camp action and I remain extremely impressed with his skating ability. Honestly, Perlini is one of the best skaters in recent memory. His lengthy stride features every element you want from an elite skater – acceleration, power, quickness and lateral agility. As good as he was flying down the wing, Perlini will certainly be returned to the Niagara IceDogs where he will attempt to improve upon his 2013-14 breakout season. He still has work to do on his consistency and physical play but he should remain one of the OHL’s top scorers.
One under the radar prospect to watch is Coyotes Tyler Gaudet. He has been a rising prospect who the Coyotes signed as a free agent but his blue-collar work ethic and intelligent two-way play could see him crack the roster as a 4th line player.
Last Coyotes prospect to watch …. Defenseman Connor Murphy. Many people peg Murphy as a defender who will draw mainly defensive minutes and that may be true to a degree but I witnessed him confidently run an offense in Sarnia and know that he has some underlying offensive upside. He has already earned significant minutes with Arizona/Phoenix so we know that the organization values him. More offensive minutes will come his way and he’ll exceed people’s offensive expectations (as long as he remains healthy).
The Boston Bruins have several prospects ready to push the coaching staff and that begins with Ryan Spooner who I feel could replicate a similar game to David Krejci and create a more dynamic offense in Boston. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the crafty pivot reach double digits in goals and push for 35-40 points with the B’s.