Western Conference Prospect Camp Battles (Part 1) & Notes

Jason Banks

2014-09-23

 

Before we go team by team, let’s talk Ryan Johansen situation for a second…

 

Johansen and his agent feel that he is worth 5-7 million after only three years in the NHL in which he has scored half a point per game on average (.31, .30 & .77) at only 22 years old. To be fair, he had a huge spike in production, became a top line player while leading the team in goals, points and shots, so he has an argument. The major problem is that even with his argument he has no arbitration rights so no one will hear the argument!

 

Johansen should be accepting the Columbus offer that is rumored around 3 million for a year or 2 until he has arbitration rights or hits UFA status. Then his 5-6 million claim will be heard and likely largely agreed with after another year of 70+ points strengthening his case.

 

If Johansen played this intelligently, he could sign a bridge deal to get to UFA status, then demand 8-11 million for 8 years and with the new TV revenue, growth, Columbus playoff runs and cap increases, he would likely have no issues getting it from management.

 

Without Johansen the forwards look something like:

 

Hartnall-Dubinsky-Atkinson

Jenner-Anisimov-Horton

Foligno-Letestu-Hjalmarsson

Calvert-XXX-Tropp/Boll/D’Amigo/Gibbons < XXX – could be filled by a rookie and moved up to 3rd line or wing with the likes of Wennberg, Rychel, Dano, Anderson or Bjorkstrand

 

The lineup is still rather solid without Johansen, less explosive, but difficult to play against, and personally I’d allow Rychel the first stint for 9 games to see if he can take the ball and run with it, if he still needs growing you’ve given yourself 3 weeks to see who deserves a spot. Mid-season you can discuss dealing a pick or 2 to acquire a top 6 player off an under preforming team to help strengthen the roster.

 

Looking at the bigger picture, Columbus is a playoff caliber team that is still growing into itself (Johansen’s growth is a major piece), but they could still make the playoffs without him. He would look rather foolish if he threw away a season as a hold out and the team made the playoffs or even when a couple rounds.

For poolies, watching Blue Jacket’s training camp to see who can step up in his absence could pay off for your season and because I’m mentioning here, my money is that a prospect will be getting an opportunity.

 

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I’ve only watched a pair games of prospect camp, Leafs vs Blackhawks & Leafs vs Sens, everyone is talking Viktor Loov and Tom Nilsson on the defense, but I really enjoyed Eric Knodel’s game vs Chicago, simple and quiet and Matt Finn in both.

 

Knodel I’ve marked on his profile has decent upside as a bigger body man that could slide into a 4-5 role in the NHL within 2 years and has some upside.

 

Finn is more high reward for keeper leagues, showed some flair in the games, but also made a couple of mistakes trying too much. Will need to round out his game in the AHL, but he is the best Leaf prospect to own on defense at the moment.

 

Bob McGill mentioned Garret Sparks’ play looked ‘much more economical’ in the crease, Im yet to figure out what game he was watching. Sparks won, and was ok, but several times he looked lost in the crease, checking for pucks going through him, and over playing pucks. Justin Goldman feels Sparks has little upside as a prospect, he feels Sparks lacks core strength and is not as mentally strong as needed for the NHL. I feel similar, but my issues are more on his play that I’ve seen as unreasonably erratic.

 

Carter Verhaeghe was rather decent in h