Thursday Prospect Ramblings – January 15, 2015

Dean Youngblood

2015-01-15

Connor McDavid is an alright player, David Pastrnak re-energizes the Bruins and some buy-low prospect options on the Florida Panthers….

 

Thursday, January 15th

 

 

With ramblings becoming a more frequent highlight here at DobberProspects, be sure you continue to check back often to supplement the awesome information you received in the Mid-Season guide with ongoing opinions and observations from our talented DP team of writers. As Austin mentioned in his Monday ramblings, we are aiming to churn out ramblings every Monday (from Austin) and Thursday (from myself)…give or take a few hours here or there.

 

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How about this David Pastrnak kid? Talk about a timely injection of energy into a Bruins lineup desperately needing a jump start. With four goals in his last two games, Boston is starting to roll and it’s clear that most of that has been the direct result of Pastrnak. While the young Czech forward entered the WJC fairly hot from a strong AHL rookie start, he took a bit of time to get going in Toronto for the Czech team. He wasn’t nearly as dominant as I thought he might be from the start to the end of the WJCs but he certainly flashed his high-end game-breaking skill.

 

He was outstanding in his game against the Tampa Bay Lightning the other night chipping in with two goals and seven shots on goals, in over 17 minutes of icetime playing on a line with Krejci. The two Czech forwards showed fantastic chemistry and it’s just one reason he should be scooped up in all formats.

I messaged a buddy of mine in my keeper league the other day recommending that he add Pastrnak and then he goes out and explodes onto the scene. Sometimes I’m just too nice. I should’ve scooped him up myself.

 

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As soon as news hit Twitter about William Nylander being released from Modo to come to Toronto, I was hit with mixed emotions. Of course, as a quiet Leafs fan, I was excited about getting him onto North American ice and maybe getting into a few games. On the other hand, after watching him play live over the course of the World Juniors, I knew that he’s not quite ready for the NHL full-time. Sure, I am sure Nylander, like Pastrnak, would give the Leafs an energy boost and maybe help their offense that dried up, but I witnessed too much uninvolvement in Nylander’s game to believe he’d make a long impact this season. Nylander could be one of the most skilled forwards playing outside of the NHL but his compete level needs to be elevated substantially. When he eventually arrives with the big club, he can’t be floating around picking his spots to become active. It just doesn’t work and the Toronto media will eat him alive before his career even gets started. Yes, Nylander’s speed, puck creativity and one-on-one abilities can create chances at will but until he commits to playing at 100% every shift, I’m leery about bringing him into the lineup full-time.

 

Max Domi was a similar player last season but has since ramped up his urgency and compete. Nylander needs to take a similar step.

 

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Turning to the Florida Panthers, it’s good to finally see Jonathan Huberdeau find some chemistry in his game. With six points (including three goals) over his last four games, the third-year pro could be on the verge of a breakout. He’s primed to breakout in his fourth year next year when Florida starts to use him more. He’s only hovering around the 13 minutes of ice per game.

 

Huberdeau’s teammate, Aleksander Barkov, is a prospect I didn’t expect to have much trouble translating to the NHL. The Panthers are taking their time with the 2013 2nd overall pick but it’s worth noting that Barkov snapped a 17-game goalless drought last week tallying just his third goal of the season. Barkov. Playing alongside Sean Bergenheim and Brad Boyes on most nights, Barkov is averaging just shy of 17 minutes of ice and with his nine points through 30 games, the big pivot is on pace for 25 points. The 19-year-old Finnish center has never been known as a sniper but his 6.25 shooting % isn’t surely to remain that low moving forward. If you’ve got a chance, I’d recommend targeting both Huberdeau and Barkov as buy-low options.

 

Now, time to address one of my favourite prospects and he just so happens to come from the deep Panthers’ organization as well. Vincent Trocheck has spent time this season bouncing in and out of the Panthers lineup but he’s one player that I feel is being a bit mismanaged. Possessed with an outstanding compete level and a set of underrated offensive skills, Trocheck has looked good in every game I’ve watched. However, it’s got to be frustrating for him to be in and out of the lineup after showing that he can be an impact player every night. Here’s a suggestion, let Trocheck gain a bit of momentum and I guarantee that his ice-time would start to creep up. Just an outsider’s suggestion.

 

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I’ll admit that I don’t follow the NHL standings very often, not until playoff’s start to loom, but I happened to check in the other day and notice that the Nashville Predators were sitting atop the standings. Maybe it wasn’t just Barry Trotz carrying this team. The Preds made some shrewd moves including bringing in Ribeiro and Jarnkrok but it’s the long-time core of this team that’s carrying them to wins – Shea Weber, Pekka Rinne, Colin Wilson and Roman Josi. Obviously, the coming out party by rookie Filip Forsberg has certainly helped. I’ve never been a big Forsberg guy but his season has been outstanding and I applaud him for that. With 39 points in 42 games, Forsberg has the opportunity to be the first rookie to reach point-per-game totals over the course of a full season since Evgeni Malkin recorded 85 points in 78 games. He’s on pace to outproduce rookie campaigns from Nathan MacKinnon (63 in 82), Jeff Skinner (63 in 82), Patrick Kane (72 in 82) and Niklas Backstrom (69 in 82). That’s some elite company.

 

Do I think Forsberg reaches the point-per-game number by the end of the regular season? No. But that’s not to say he won’t be close. Sorry Washington, what an awful trade in hindsight.

 

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I lied. One more Florida Panthers’ prospect to cover.

 

After watching exceptional status recipient Aaron Ekblad over his long OHL career, I knew that he’d turn out to be an exceptional professional. Did I realize how good he’d be off the hop? Absolutely not. Ekblad is already logging over 22 minutes per game and his 24 points and plus-10 rating in 41 games (that’s a 48-point pace) is Calder Trophy worthy, in my opinion.

 

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Worth mentioning, Ekblad’s teammate in Barrie last season, Joseph Blandisi, was signed by the New Jersey Devils yesterday. Blandisi was originally drafted by the Colorado Avalanche in the 6th round of the 2012 draft, the Avs opted not to sign him after he came back from injury. Blandisi has 69 points, good for 4th in OHL scoring, and will certainly give the Devils a much needed quality prospect. He projects as a two-way top nine forward at the professional level.

 

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While the legendary Martin Brodeur continues to hang-on to a NHL career that’s passed him by, his son Jeremy Brodeur (eligible for the 2015 NHL Draft) has recorded back-to-back shutouts with the Oshawa Generals.

 

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I don’t really like talking about him much after I regretfully dropped him last off-season for Soft-as-a-Teddy-bear Purcell, but Nikita Kucherov is even exceeding my expectations. I’ve always loved his aggressive offensive attacks and expected him to become a relevant fantasy star but I truly thought he might be one more season away and as a result released him back into our draft, hoping to grab him in the middle rounds. That didn’t happen and I’m livid. I’ve actually never made a fantasy decision as bad as that one. Lesson learned though – always go with your gut instinct. It’s more often right then wrong.

 

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Last week, the OHL trade deadline was in place and there was no shortage of action. For me, It was more entertaining for me than the annual made-for-TV-NHL trade deadline. Of note, Nick Ritchie (Anaheim Ducks), Justin Bailey (Buffalo Sabres) and Anthony DeAngelo (Tampa Bay Lightning) were dealt to the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. Wednesday night, the Greyhounds stomped the Saginaw Spirit to a tune of a 12-5 score. Ritchie had four goals, Bailey recorded the hattrick and DeAngelo chipped in with one goal and four points from their blueline. Yup, these were outstanding additions by the Greyhounds.

 

Other NHL drafted names on the move were: Remi Elie (Dallas Stars) and Nick Baptiste (Buffalo Sabres) to the Erie Otters, Nick Moutrey (Columbus Blue Jackets) to the North Bay Battalion, Mike McCarron (Montreal Canadiens) to the Oshawa Generals and Jake Paterson (Detroit Red Wings) to the Kitchener Rangers.

 

Please take a look at my buddy Brock Otten’s review of the deadline. I certainly don’t agree with everything he says but it provides a detailed list of the action that went down.

 

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I plan on releasing my updated 2015 NHL Draft rankings next week. It will be the first time I expand my rankings to include players outside the OHL. Keep tabs on my twitter timeline for that announcement.

 

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Next on my agenda, I will be heading to the CHL-NHL Top Prospects game on Thursday, January 22nd to catch the top-40 CHL prospects for the upcoming NHL Draft. It should be fun.

 

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I think Connor McDavid will be pretty good. Video evidence from the game I viewed live a week ago:

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A few nights later, projected Top 5 2016 pick, Jakob Chychrun (Sarnia Sting rookie defenseman and 2014 OHL 1st overall pick) scored a McDavid-like goal on the same net that #97 did above:

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Bruins David Pastrnak snipes two goals vs Tampa:

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Austin touched on Brett Ritchie, a player I liked in his OHL days, but he’s one of his recent tallies. He’s a productive option and currently has a spot in Dallas’ top-six.

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This story with Alex Ovechkin hits close to home with me so it’s great seeing role models doing stuff like this:

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Thanks for reading,

@RossyYoungblood (Brendan Ross)

 

As always, feel free to converse, comment or rambling in the comment section below.

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