Subway Super Series player updates, a look at Team Canada’s potential World Junior squad and a look at a few of Rossy’s underrated prospects who are heating up…
Wednesday, November 19th
It’s an active time of the year for prospect news as injuries on NHL clubs result in minor league call-ups giving prospects a time to shine. Preparation for the highly anticipated 2015 IIHF World U20 Junior Hockey Championships is in full force as countries are identifying potential roster players. Specifically, we are in the middle of the SUBWAY® Super Series which is a six game series between the Russian All-Star squad and three CHL teams carrying top players from the WHL, OHL and QMJHL.
Let’s start with the Super Series. In a tournament that is traditionally dominated by the CHL (47-14-5 record coming into 2014), Russia took a 3-0 series lead after sweeping the WHL and owning the first OHL game 4-0. The OHL responded well on Monday night cruising to a 5-1 victory in Kingston and the QMJHL held off the Russians Tuesday night to make game six worth watching. Russia leads the series but the CHL can tie it with a win Thursday in Rimouski. With only one game remaining, let’s take a quick look at some prospects, drafted and undrafted, that have impressed.
Ivan Provorov (Brandon Wheat Kings, 2015 NHL Draft) – The WHL leader in defenseman goals (8), Ivan Provorov had a great showing in both Subway Super Series (SSS) games out west recording an assist in both games. An exception skater, Brandon Wheat Kings import blueliner owns some exciting offensive instincts and projects to be an intelligent and poised puck-moving defenseman. Provorov projects as a Top 30 pick.
Pavel Kraskovsky (Russia, Winnipeg Jets) – With a two goal, three point effort in the Brandon game, Jets’ 2014 6th round selection, Pavel Kraskovsky, was very good. He was buzzing all night and did an excellent job using his rangy 6-foot-4 frame to outmuscle opponents and fight to get into scoring lanes.
Rushan Rafikov (Russia, Calgary Flames) – Not particularly known for his offensive skills, Rafikov has done well to find his way onto the scoresheet posting one goal and three assists. The Flames’ 2013 7th rounder has maintained his low-maintenance smart hockey throughout the exhibition series and remains a defender Russia has leaned on for big shutdown minutes. Calgary appears to have got good value on Rafikov.
Vyacheslav Leshchenko (Russia) – An undrafted 1995-born forward, Leshchenko was a player who stood out for me. He’s terrific on the attack flashing quick feet and elusive agility, making him extremely difficult to check. He had a beautiful assist during last night’s QMJHL setting up defenseman Dmitry Yudin.
Igor Shestyorkin (Russia, New York Rangers) – Stood on his head in three of Russia’s first four games turning away 91 of the 93 shots fired at him. For a while there, it didn’t appear that any CHL skater would figure out how to get pucks past the Russian netminder. Shestyorkin allowed four goals in Tuesday’s game but it still appears Shestyorkin will serve as one of Russia’s WJC goaltenders. He plays an exciting style of goaltending and one that uses desperation saves. Now, who doesn’t love that?
Alexander Dergachev (Russia) – Scouts are enamored with this massive power forward who can flat out dominate possession, especially when he’s engaged along the boards or in the cycle. Listed at 6-foot-4 and a smidge over 200-pounds, Dergachev certainly appears to play much bigger than those impressive physical attributes. He shows solid possession skills and uses his size well making him a sure-fire prospect to watch for the upcoming 2015 draft.
Joe Hicketts (Victoria Royals, Detroit Red Wings) – Hicketts may be undersized but no one has told him. After going undrafted in the past draft, Joe Hicketts received camp invites to both Montreal and Detroit. Hoping to impress after missing the majority of his draft year with injury, Hicketts did exactly that earning a contract with the Red Wings. Hicketts is short in stature but he is a full-bodied defender who owns a rocket of a point shot and the willingness to lay bone-crushing checks. He led the WHL team in points scoring one goal and picking up an assist in two Subway Series games. In the WHL, Hicketts sits first among all defensemen with 28 points in 21 games. Yup, get him on your fantasy hockey radar.
Chris Bigras (Owen Sound Attack, Colorado Avalanche) – With the slew of great defensive prospects from the WHL, I wasn’t sure if Chris Bigras (one of only two returning defensemen with Josh Morrissey) would earn a spot on this 2015 WJC Team. After a stellar performance in the SSS playing top defensive minutes, it appears he is destined to make a second appearance. With 15 points in 17 games with Owen Sound, Bigras isn’t void of offensive ability either.
Darnell Nurse (Soo Greyhounds, Edmonton Oilers) – Since being returned to Sault Ste. Marie from Edmonton, Nurse has been a bit of an adventure. Reports are that he’s been trying to do too much and is attempting things he wouldn’t be permitted to do at the NHL. Concerns about Nurse developing bad habits were legit but he’s started to settle into the stifling defensive presence that the Oilers want him to become. During the two games with Team OHL, Nurse used his physicality and showed an ability to smartly lug the puck up the ice finding open teammates in transition.
Max Domi (London Knights, Arizona Coyotes) – Domi was upset last year when he didn’t receive an invitation to attend the final WJC camp, missing his chance to make the team. He sulked and showed some concerning behavior following that and it seemed to throw his offensive ability off. After being returned to the OHL from Arizona this year, Domi has been named captain and he is now showing to be the all-star talent that everyone knew he could become. He’s likely a lock for Team Canada and after an impressive two goal game in Kingston’s Super Series, his chances of donning the red and white look very good.
Josh Ho-Sang (Niagara IceDogs, New York Islanders) – Despite all of the drama that surrounds Josh Ho-Sang, he remains arguably Canada’s most skilled forward (outside of Connor McDavid). Over the past few WJCs, Canada’s skill level has been, rightfully, called into question and if head scout Ryan Jankowski is looking to add a game-breaker, then Josh Ho-Sang has to be legitimately considered. He’s a confident individual and some believe that may clash in the team dynamic but after his one goal and three points in his lone Super Series game, Hockey Canada will have a tough decision.
Ho-Sang was traded to the Niagara IceDogs last Friday and rushed to the rink, joining his teammates midway through the game. Ho-Sang notched a nice assist in the IceDogs’ win over the Connor McDavid-less Erie Otters.
Check out Josh Ho-Sang’s penalty shot goal vs Russia:
Remi Elie (Belleville Bulls, Dallas Stars) – Remi Elie is enjoying himself an excellent season in Belleville and his smart two-way game was on display again in Kingston Monday evening. With a boat load of qualified left-wingers and centremen, Elie may be in tough for a roster spot with Team Canada but his personality and versatile game would certainly allow him to play anywhere throughout the lineup.
Zach Fucale (Halifax Mooseheads, Montreal Canadiens) – Fucale was outstanding Tuesday night versus Russia and was the main reason that the QMJHL was able to withstand that Russian surge in a comeback attempt. Fucale was the team’s best penalty killer and the fact that he performs with such confidence and poise makes him Team Canada’s surefire starting goaltender. That poise allows his teammates to play with such confidence in front of him. Excellent performance.
Other players throughout the five games who had strong showings or noteworthy flashes in action were: Greg Chase (Edmonton Oilers), Jayce Hawryluk (Brandon Wheat Kings, Florida Panthers), Sam Reinhart (Kootenay Ice, Buffalo Sabres), Jake Virtanen (Vancouver Canucks), Morgan Klimchuk (Regina Pats, Calgary Flames), Brayden Point (Moose Jaw Warriors, Tampa Bay Lightning), John Quenneville (Brandon Wheat Kings, New Jersey Devils), Nic Petan (Portland Winterhawks, Winnipeg Jets), Haydn Fleury (Red Deer Rebels, Carolina Hurricanes), Conner Bleackley (Red Deer Rebels, Colorado Avalanche), Michael Dal Colle (Oshawa Generals, New York Islanders), Roland McKeown (Kingston Frontenacs, Los Angeles Kings), Nick Ritchie (Peterborough Petes, Anaheim Ducks), , Mitchell Vande Sompel (Oshawa Generals, 2015 NHL Draft), Lawson Crouse (Kingston Frontenacs, 2015 NHL Draft), Daniel Audette (Sherbrooke Phoenix, Montreal Canadiens), Yan Pavel Laplante (Victoriaville, Arizona Coyotes), Sergey Tolchinsky (Soo Greyhounds, Carolina Hurricanes), Ivan Barbashev (Moncton Wildcats, St. Louis Blues)
With an eye on Russia’s World Junior team, look for Ivan Barbashev (St. Louis Blues), Pavel Buchnevich (New York Rangers), Valentin Zykov (Los Angeles Kings), Sergey Tolchinsky (Carolina Hurricanes), Vladislav Kamenev (Nashville Predators), Evgeny Svechnikov (2015) and Vladimir Tkachev (undrafted) to lead the team offensively. Scary!
Check out my look at potential players for Canada’s World Junior Team. This was published prior to the OHL Subway Series games and after strong showings from Max Domi and Josh Ho-Sang, it will be interesting to see if Hockey Canada seriously considers these two strong personalities. I think Domi is a lock but there are still a lot of questions and concerns around Ho-Sang, even though he may be Canada’s most skilled forward (other than McDavid).
Calgary Flames prospect Markus Granlund has always been a hard-working, in-your-face, industrious competitor and it’s one of the reasons that I’ve kept him on my fantasy hockey radar. These types of players come with high NHL certainty and with Granlund’s underrated skilled game, he appears to be a future stalwart in Calgary’s top nine. Granlund has three goals and six points in eight games, coming into Tuesday’s games…that’s more goals than his older-and-more-hyped-borther Mikael Granlund’s two goals.
Granlund picked up two more assists last night versus Anaheim giving him eight points in nine game. It should be noted that he skated over 21 minutes with two minutes on the PP – impressive for the rookie.
One of my favourite OHLers to watch in his days with Saginaw, Vincent Trocheck plays a similar style as the above mentioned Granlund…but probably has more upside. Like Granlund, Trocheck is a highly competitive forward who seeks out pucks with a high-intensity pressure game. His puck skills and vision are strong assets and after posting one goal and five points in seven games with Florida this year. With Bolland and Pirri on IR, pick up Trocheck for the run as he occupies one of the Panthers’ center spots. Once players start returning from injury, Trocheck is the type of hard-working skilled player that will make the decision to return him to the AHL a very difficult one.
Trocheck sent the water bottle flying with his first goal of the season.
After skating in the San Antonio’s afternoon game Tuesday, Rocco Grimaldi was called up to the Florida Panthers to play his second game of the day. Now, that would be a fun experience! Grimaldi skated 10:36 minutes in Florida’s 5-2 loss to Los Angeles last night, seeing 59 seconds of powerplay time.
Charlottetown Islanders’ forward Filip Chlapik is a player to get on your 2015 NHL Draft radars as he’s really making a name for himself in the QMJHL…
The skilled 6-foot-1, 183-lb. centre from Praha, Czech Republic, leads the Islanders in points (27), trailed closely by linemate Daniel Sprong.He sees himself as a playmaker and models his game after Evgeni Malkin and Jonathan Toews.
Chlapik was part of this sweet three-way passing play..
Max Domi notches the natural hat trick versus Windsor (November 7th)
Leafs William Nylander has been outstanding this season, dominating the SHL, Sweden’s top league with five goals and 14 points in 11 games with Modo. He trails the team leader by just two points despite playing ten less games.
Nylander scores a goal and adds an assist this past weekend vs Leksands (November 15, 2014)
Teuvo Teravainen scores on a one-timer (November 15, 2014):
Thanks for reading,
@RossyYoungblood (Brendan Ross)
As always, feel free to converse, comment or rambling in the comment section below.