Tuesday February 24th – Zach Hopkins

Zach Hopkins

2015-02-24

Prospects that could be in a Kessel trade, the best defensive prospect in hockey, and more from a new rambler…

 

 

One of DobberProspects’ own top prospects, Zach Hopkins, has been tearing up the scout circuit and I thought I’d give him a shot at the ramblings. I think he rocked it and let us know in the comments if you agree. Austin Wallace

 

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Philadelphia Flyers fans are starting to get excited again as the team marches closer to a playoff berth. As of this morning, they sit four points behind the Boston Bruins for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. Flyers diehards have another reason to be excited as top defensive prospect Shayne Gostisbehere has resumed skating and is targeting a March return for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. The speedy blueliner tore his ACL back in the fall. Sam Morin, another Flyers defensive prospect, was suspended two games by the QMJHL after a check from behind in a blowout game against Saint John’s. Morin is projecting to possibly break camp with the big club next season and will need to be more disciplined in a city whose hockey franchise has affectionately been tabbed the Broad Street Bullies.

 

 

 

Speaking of breaking camp with the big club, I’d like to see Gostisbehere make the jump as well. My heart wants him to be ready but my gut tells me he will likely start the season in Lehigh Valley. While the Flyers wait for other defensive draft picks Robert Hägg and Travis Sanheim to develop, I wouldn’t mind seeing a blueline of Mark Streit-Nick Schultz, Michael Del Zotto-Luke Schenn, and Gostisbehere-Morin in 2015-16. (OK, I do mind a few of them, but that’s about as good as it will get!)

 

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There is talk that the Florida Panthers may have interest in trading for Toronto Maple Leafs forward Phil Kessel. The Leafs are in the process of cleaning house and are surely listening to offers for the American Sniper (Kessel, not Bradley Cooper). If I’m Dave Nonis, Dale Talon is on my speed dial and I’m calling every few days to remind him that Kessel could be his for a small fortune.

 

With an eight-million dollar cap hit per season, Nonis will likely need to retain some salary to make Kessel that much more attractive. That and it may be necessary to start the conversation off with the guys I would insist need to be a part of the deal, one of Mike Matheson OR Ian McCoshen. The Boston College teammates and top Florida prospects are going to be the real deal. Matheson is a natural-born leader and is captaining the storied program this season. The Panthers top pick in 2012 is sporting 19 points in 31 games for the 11-6-3 Eagles as they sit second in Hockey East behind BU. McCoshen has 13 points in 28 games and has one of the hardest slappers I’ve seen in recent history from a 19 year old. In fact, he has the ability to uncork one of those Weber or Chara-like cannons from the point that find their way through heavy traffic, regardless of who steps up in the shooting lane.

 

Imagine one of these two rebuilding the Leafs backend with other young guns such as Jake Gardiner and Morgan Rielly. The masses preach the need for offensive power, but the rebuild has to shape up the defense as well. I do recognize that they need an offensive chip in this deal as well so let’s ask Talon for Vincent Trocheck. In summary, I’ll go with Matheson, Trocheck and a first round pick for Kessel along with salary retention. How can Toronto go wrong with picking up a defensive prospect who could very well be the next captain of the famous Maple Leafs? (Wait, who is Luke Schenn?)

 

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While watching the televised games during Hockey Day in America, I got to thinking just who the best defensive prospect in hockey is right now. Perhaps it is one of Griffin Reinhart or Ryan Pulock? Could it be Derrick Pouliot? As I further enjoyed the Minnesota Wild and Dallas Stars, I realized my answer was Mathew Dumba. The Wild’s top prospect and seventh overall pick in 2012 has the ability to be a phenomenal player in the National Hockey League. Heck, the kid turned heads on the majority of his 59 goals in junior hockey. He is an exciting player who can help fuel a high-octane offense. He skates, he hits and he certainly shoots. Once he beefs up his defensive game a bit, he will be a mainstay in Minnesota’s lineup where he currently has four goals and four assists in 35 games played.  He’s going to be a player in this league.

 

 

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Mitchell Marner of the London Knights was named the OHL Player of the Week after scoring three goals and seven assists in three games. It is the third time Mitchell has won the award and may be more significant this time as his latest honor came as he topped the 100 point mark. What could be even more significant than that? Perhaps the fact the he is the first Knight to hit 100 points since current Islanders captain John Tavares did so in 2008-09. Marner is currently the seventh best North American skater according to NHL Central Scouting.

 

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Filip Forsberg scored a nifty backhand goal against Buffalo goaltender Michal Neuvirth in a shootout Sunday as Nashville grabbed two points from the lowly Sabres. The youngster now has 20 goals and 31 assists in 60 games and should be owned on every fantasy team. I wonder how badly Washington wishes they could give back Martin Erat (now an Arizona Coyote) and Michael Latta? If they don’t, they should.

 

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Just how good are the trio that made up Team Canada’s top line at the World Junior Championship? Sabres prospect Sam Reinhart has 15 goals and 34 assists in 35 games with the Kootenay Ice of the WHL after a nine-game trial with Buffalo to start the season. Max Domi has 26 goals and 60 assists in 46 games captaining the London Knights of the OHL. The Coyotes prospect will be a staple in Arizona’s lineup starting next season. Lastly, Anthony Duclair has seven goals and 15 assists in 17 games for the Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL. Duclair should be back in New York next season where he scored seven points in 18 games to start the year. Where will Reinhart be next season? Buffalo for sure, but one must wonder if another young center will be above him on the depth chart? If you tank it, he will come.

 

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Thanks for reading. Give me a follow on Twitter @healedbyhockey 

 

 

 

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