Rossy’s Prospect Ramblings – February 11th

Dean Youngblood


Analysis of the Buffalo-Winnipeg swap, breaking down Craig Button’s new draft rankings and a look at the Calder Trophy race.



Thursday, February 12th


Let’s get straight to the big news that shook down Wednesday afternoon with Evander Kane and Zach Bogosian headed to Buffalo in a trade. Kevin Cheveldayoff did a miraculous job in a trade where his hands were tied (Kane being a diva with a questionable character and then add in the fact that he was out for the remainder of the season). As I was reading the return for Kane, I kept getting more and more impressed.


I won’t address Drew Stafford or Tyler Myers too much as they are both beyond their “prospect” designation but Stafford gives Winnipeg a great depth option who can replace Kane’s minutes. In Tyler Myers, Winnipeg is banking on him returning to a similar level that he did when he won the Calder Trophy as a rookie. With Trouba, Myers, Byfuglien, Enstrom and Morrissey (arriving soon) on the blue line, that’s arguably the best in the entire NHL.


Joel Armia has taken his sweet time developing into a worthy pro-prospect and while the jury is still out on whether he can become a legit top-six winger, his AHL production has been impressive. Winnipeg gets a skilled Finnish forward who’s close to NHL action. The last time the Jets had a Finn in their system was Teemu Selanne.


Brendan Lemieux was a nice get in the trade and will replace some of the sandpaper grit that departed in Evander Kane…down the road obviously. Like Kane, Lemieux has a good set of offensive skills and a knack for scoring goals. He needs to work on his shift-to-shift consistency and is at his best when playing on the edge but his 36 goals in 46 games speaks to his above-average shooting ability. It’s becoming very fun to follow any draft eligible player from the Barrie Colts because it’s quite clear that Dale Hawerchuk’s former team (Winnipeg) fancies his current players. Over the past few years (including Atlanta drafts), we’ve seen quite a few current/former Colts land in Winnipeg – including Bryan Little, Alexander Burmistrov, Ivan Telegin, Michael Hutchinson, Mark Scheifele and now Brendan Lemieux.


With an eye on the 2015 NHL Draft class, keep tabs on Colts’ Rasmus Andersson (more on him later), Mackenzie Blackwood (goaltender), Roy Radke and re-entry Andrew Mangiapane as possible Jets selections.


The 1st round pick – In addition to getting Buffalo to include Lemieux, I was surprised that there was an additional 1st round pick thrown in (with the Jets’ choice). Buffalo had three current 1st round picks (their own, New York Islanders and St. Louis Blues’) so moving one, especially with their deep prospect cupboards, was probably easier than if it were a different team.




The ever-controversial “Craig’s List” was updated today with Craig Button’s latest draft rankings (February). Button is a guy I definitely respect as he’s at the rinks (I see him there quite often) and has the history of scouting but there were some “head scratchers” in this release. In the end, it’s his opinion so I won’t fault him but here are a few players I disagree on.


Ivan Provorov was bumped up to the 5th overall spot and sits as the top ranked defenseman on Craig’s List. There’s a ton to like about Provorov’s game and I don’t mind him being in the Top 5 but I question what he will become at the next level. He’s extremely smart, elusive and his defensive awareness is off the charts but there’s something about his game that I’m not content on. I think in the best-case scenario, Provorov becomes Drew Doughty lite which would be quite the accomplishment. I doubt he gets to that level.


Pavel Zacha was ranked 17th on Button’s January 7th release and fell to 31st after playing five games and missing time since with an injury? Why the big drop? He says he doesn’t think Zacha is an elite prospect and that’s fine if that’s his opinion but if it’s because he’s played limited time or received limited views, I’m not sure that justifies a 14-spot drop. In my opinion, Zacha is one of the best pro prospects available in the draft. He’s a hungry competitor who plays a physical game, owns a pro-ready shot and impressive speed. I am looking forward to his return to see how this injury affects his game and whether he can re-establish himself as a top 15 prospect (he’s still there f