A quick look at some targetable prospects as the NHL trade deadline nears.
Friday, February 20th
With the NHL trade deadline approaching, scouts are scouring junior and collegiate rinks checking in on targetable prospects. Look towards the teams with deep prospect cupboards who are considered “contenders/buyers” to draw the most attention.
The Anaheims, Floridas, Tampas, Winnipegs, Nashvilles, Detroits and Islanders are just a few organizations who want to take the next step that also have some desirable assets.
The following players are not in any rumours but rather just some top prospects who should draw interest.
Nick Ritchie, Shea Theodore and John Gibson are three prospects that the Ducks would prefer to keep but look for Kevin Roy (37 points with Northeastern University over 28 games; T-10th in NCAA scoring), Nicolas Kerdiles (25 points in 49 AHL games) and high-scoring defenseman Brandon Montour (16 points in 15 games with UMass after leaving the USHL for NCAA). These are just a few highly skilled Anaheim prospects who will interest other teams joining William Karlsson, Max Friberg, Stefan Noesen, Nick Sorensen, Andre Petersson and Marcus Pettersson. If Anaheim’s looking to make a big acquisition, some of these players could be in play.
Despite showing an impact in every NHL call-up, Vincent Trocheck can’t find a secure spot in a deep Panthers lineup. He’s one player that teams could be interested in but Mike Matheson (19 points in 30 games as Boston College’s captain), Alex Petrovic (knocking on the NHL door for full-time duty splitting time between Florida and San Antonia – 20 points in 39 games), Rocco Grimaldi (9 goals and 32 points in 45 AHL games), and Kyle Rau (30 points in 28 games with the Gophers) are four mature prospects who are playing well.
No one will get their hands on stud goaltender Andrey Vasilevskiy but the Lightning’s cupboards are getting full and they do have the luxury of adding prospects in deals. Vladislav Namestnikov (28 games in Syracuse with 24 points) has skated with the big club so Yzerman would likely prefer to keep him. Adam Erne has exploded in the Quebec league racking up 74 points in 50 games and will play a huge part of the Remparts’ Memorial Cup push (they are hosting). Anthony DeAngelo continues to lead the OHL in defensive scoring for the second straight year (65 points in 45 games) and will likely enjoy a long playoff run with the Soo Greyhounds – that experience will be invaluable. Slater Koekkoek is finally healthy and getting his feet wet in his first professional season, finding the gamesheet 13 times in 49 games with Syracuse. Lastly, Brayden Point introduced himself to the world outside of the WHL at the World Juniors and his 23 goals and 59 points speaks to his skill set. If Tampa is looking to make a BIG acquisition, these will be the most called about prospects.
Winnipeg’s Nikolaj Ehlers is my favourite drafted player but he will certainly be untouchable as the dashing Dane continues to dazzle in the Q – his 30-game point streak (68P) is a new Halifax franchise record. Winnipeg might take the hard line on not moving Ehlers but how about these other prospects that teams should be drolling about – Josh Morrissey (36 points in 43 games is down from last year but still impressive), Nic Petan (he won’t surpass last year’s 113 points but 54 points in 38 games is nothing to shudder at), Connor Hellebuyck (ripping up the AHL as a rookie with a sparkling .925 save percentage in St. John’s). These are just a few damn good prospects that for all sakes and purposes, won’t be moved however, their depth of Eric Comrie, Scott Kosmachuk, Jimmy Lodge, Chase De Leo, JC Lipon, Carl Klingberg, Brenden Kichton and newly acquired Joel Armia and Brendan Lemieux (37 goals in 49 OHL games) may get teams calling too. At some point, these players will be knocking on the door at the same time so some of them will need to be moved.
Nashville’s prized prospect is Kevin Fiala and I am a huge fan of his game. He blends impressive skill and creativity with a really gritty approach. Fiala is one player I would target in keeper leagues and I think we will see him sooner than later in the NHL. The young Swiss forward stayed overseas after the completion of the World Juniors and has four goals and nine points in a dozen AHL games with Milwaukee. Vladislav Kamenev was impressive at the World Juniors and is currently honing his game in the KHL (8 points in 35 games as an 18-year-old). Nashville has two promising netminders in Juuse Saros and Magnus Hellberg (1.94 GAA and .927 save percentage are among the AHL’s best) that could draw interest and Pontus Aberg (24 points in 46 AHL contests), Viktor Arvidsson (leading the Admirals with 42 points in 52), Austin Watson (30 in 52), Colton Sissons (28 in 30) and Mikka Salomaki are all close to NHL duty. Jimmy Vesey’s 39 points with Harvard is good for 7th in NCAA scoring.
We’re all familiar with Detroit’s patient approach with their prospects and they don’t move their farm talent often in trades so don’t get your hopes up. Dylan Larkin (10 goals and 32 points in 24 UofM games) and Anthony Mantha (9 goals and 20 points as an AHL rookie) will be coveted but they are building blocks, not moveable assets. Teemu Pulkkinen’s 30 goals and 57 points leads the American Hockey League and he’s ready for prime-time. Tyler Bertuzzi (39 goals and 80 points in 54 OHL games) and Zach Nastasiuk (30 goals and 61 points in 52 games) have already surpassed career highs. The Griffins are loaded with talent in Andreas Athanasiou (23P in 30 games), Landon Ferraro, and defensemen Ryan Sproul, Nick Jensen and Xavier Ouellet.
The Islanders made a remarkable turn-around this offseason after picking up key pieces to ensure that their 2015 1st round pick (sent to Buffalo) wouldn’t be a lottery one. Now, Garth Snow is looking to make a splash in the playoffs and he might need to dip into his developing prospect system to add NHL-ready players. Michael Dal Colle (79 points in 45) would be the prime target for inquiring teams. Josh Ho-Sang might not be a prospect on everyone’s wish list but his offensive totals this season continue to be good with 64 points in 46 games. Sophomore Gopher Taylor Cammarata is among Minnesota’s top scorers with 22 points. Ryan Pulock has 12 goals (17P) in 29 games with Bridgeport, showcasing his bomb of a shot. Griffin Reinhart, Aaron Ness and Jesse Graham have all produced favourable with the Sound Tigers. Goaltenders Ilya Sorokin and Linus Soderstrom have established themselves as two of the best up-and-coming puck stoppers. I will return to highlight some other prospects worth targeting at the NHL trade deadline next week.
Sportsnet released its February NHL Draft rankings. Discuss….
What is a Toronto Maple Leafs’ rebuild going to look like? Well, National Posts writer Michael Traikos takes a look with expert opinions from ESPN’s Corey Pronman and North American Central Scouting’s head scout Mark Seidel. There’s not much in their prospect cupboard.
According to some scouts, a main problem persists in Toronto. While the Leafs would appear to have plenty of NHL-calibre prospects — Stuart Percy, Connor Brown, the recently acquired Brendan Leipsic — they are not who anyone would term “blue-chip” prospects.
That does not mean Brown or Leipsic, who are both in the top-five in AHL rookie scoring this season, will not become top-six forwards in the NHL. Or that Percy, Viktor Loov or Tom Nilsson cannot develop into top-pairing defencemen. But right now, most within the organization would probably consider it a success if they simply made it to the NHL.
Part of this is the product of a “draft, schmaft” philosophy that began with general manager Cliff Fletcher in the 1990s and simply will not go away. The Leafs traded away first-round picks in 2007, 2010 and 2011. They also traded away second-round picks in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2015.It is difficult to find blue-chip prospects when you give away 11 top picks in the last nine years at a spot in the draft where you will most likely find impact players.
Thanks for Reading, Brendan Ross (@RossyYoungblood)