Rossy’s March 12th Prospect Ramblings

Dean Youngblood

2015-03-12

Touching on the following happenings in the prospect world – Connor McDavid’s point streak ends, new #2015NHLDraft rankings, Marner vs Strome debate, a Mock Draft, O’Connor-gate, Auston Matthews future, William Nylander and the return of Sam Bennett

 

Thursday, March 12th

 

The 2015 NHL Draft’s cream of the crop, Connor McDavid, was riding a 27-game point streak heading into Wednesday’s game versus Niagara and it was a streak totaling 26 goals and 67 points. For only the second time this season, McDavid was held pointless snapping his streak. McDavid can’t be much of a fan of Niagara, they’re the only team to stop him this season (twice). Is this a good sign for him playing in Buffalo, located just across the Falls from Niagara? 

 

Additional Read: With the hoopla that surrounds Connor McDavid, comes sell-out crowds in the OHL. The demand for tickets when McDavid comes to town hasn’t been like this since a young Eric Lindros took the league by storm.

 

 

 

 

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With McDavid’s season long streak snapped, Tampa Bay Lightning prospect Anthony DeAngelo now holds the longest point streak in the OHL at 23 games (13 goals and 48 points). Since being acquired by the Soo Greyhounds, DeAngelo has dominated the game sheet recording points in every game except his first in the Northern border town. DeAngelo is a run-away favourite to win the OHL’s leading defenseman award with 86 points in 53 games, 18 ahead of second place Chris Bigras (Avalanche).

 

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TSN’s Craig Button released his latest draft rankings for March.

 

I voiced my opinions and thoughts about his rankings on twitter but to re-iterate,

 

I applaud his upward movements of Kyle Connor and Timo Meier into the Top 10 and generally like Button’s opening third. I know that Connor won’t crack my upcoming Top 10 (spoiler alert) but he will move up.

 

I get that Pavel Zacha hasn’t shown his true potential, mainly due to the number of suspensions and injury that have interrupted his momentum, but to suggest that he’s only the 28th best player seems wildly off.

 

Like Zacha, Mathew Barzalis ranked too low in my opinion. Outside of McDavid, Eichel, Strome and Marner, Barzal has the next highest upside. That doesn’t justify an 18th place ranking.

 

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My colleagues over at McKeen’s Hockey released their March rankings for the 2015 NHL Draft…have a look!

 

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Like Scott Wheeler (McKeen’s), I always get asked, “who do you take – Marner or Strome?” so why not let Wheeler answer that question to save me about a 5000 word essay ;)

 

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One of the drafts most talked about prospects, Ivan Provorov, projects to be a Top 10 pick come June. NHL.com’s Mike Morreale has a nice piece highlighting Provorov’s journey overseas from Russia to chase his NHL dreams.

 

“We had to point to the ice and basically tell him to get out there; he spoke no English,” Wilkes-Barre hockey director and coach Tom Kowal said. “This is a kid who doesn’t even need to speak English to understand what is going on.”

 

“What’s interesting for me with Ivan is as offensively gifted as he is, it’s his attention to detail and his motivation to be such a good player in all three zones that makes him special,” McCrimmon said. “I think the best part of his game is breaking the puck out and leading a forecheck. He’s been a tremendous player.”

 

“If this kid wanted to play in Russia he’d be there right now,” Kowal said. “He wants to be an NHL player and I feel very confident in saying that.”

 

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<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”><p>Travis Konecny is out 2-4 weeks with an upper-body injury suffered during yesterday&#39;s game vs Mississauga. <a href=”http://t.co/8FlM8t2Oen”>pic.twitter.com/8FlM8t2Oen</a></p>&mdash; Ottawa 67&#39;s (@Ottawa67sHockey) <a href=”https://twitter.com/Ottawa67sHockey/status/575036710930677760″>March 9, 2015</a></blockquote>

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ESPN’s Corey Pronman released his first NHL Mock Draft earlier today. As always, it’s a highly recommended read for all the draft nerds out there (warning: ESPN insider access only).

 

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Want a sleeper for your favourite team in the upcoming draft? This guy might be worth a late round flyer as a re-entry player…

 

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<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”><p>Nick Olesen was passed over last year but he was one player who stood out for me on Denmark&#39;s WJC squad. <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/2015NHLDraft?src=hash”>#2015NHLDraft</a></p>&mdash; Brendan Ross (@RossyYoungblood) <a href=”https://twitter.com/RossyYoungblood/status/576019819604025344″>March 12, 2015</a></blockquote>

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Keep an eye on Boston University’s Matt O’Connor, who`s the top unsigned college free agent available. Team`s looking for a goaltender are guaranteeing him starts THIS SEASON if he chooses them. According to Craig Custance, 14 teams are in talks with his agent and five of them are willing to play him this year (which would burn a year off his ELC).

 

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Looking down the road to the 2016 NHL Draft, all eyes are on top projected pick Auston Matthews and whereabouts he will play next year when his draft season starts. Weighing his options between the University of Wisconsin and the WHL’s Everett Silvertips, many believe the young star will ultimately choose the major junior route. Cue the debate between collegiate and major junior hockey.

 

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The Kingston Frontenacs are 6-1 with sinceSam Bennettcame back from Calgary. Personally, I cannot wait until next season when he joins the Calgary Flames, a team that’s becoming one of the best teams to watch. Bennett has been held pointless in only one of his seven games since returning and has piled up six goals and 15 points. Ya, he’s good.

 

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Thursday evening, I took in a rare live Toronto Marlies game as they hosted the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (Philadelphia’s affiliate). It was a rare chance to see one of my favourite OHL players of all time – Nick Cousins. It’s been a while since I watched him play live but I’ve always loved his game and have been very confident that his skills would translate well to the NHL game. He did not disappoint last night scoring a hattrick (his second of the season …a feat only two other AHLers have accomplished this season – Pulkkinen and Garret Ross) and four points. He was easily the best player on the ice and as usual, mixed his skilled game well with his agitating/entertaining side.

 

Unfortunately, neither Scott Laughton nor Robert Hagg played a lot Thursday but I was very impressed with Hagg’s offensive sense and overall mobility in limited action. Shayne Gostibehere was still out with injury as well but I am eagerly anticipating his arrival into the NHL full time. There aren’t many defenseman that I get excited about but he has some tremendous upside.

 

For a full list of Flyers prospects, head to Philadelphia’s DP page.

 

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Of course, my eyes were locked on several Marlies skaters including Connor Brown, William Nylander, Stuart Percy, Josh Leivo, Viktor Loov and newly acquired Brendan Leipsic.

 

It’s not hard to notice rookie Connor Brown out there as he’s always around the puck. Not a great skater or tremendously flashy but he’s a player that’s extremely smart and just knows how to play the game. His impressive rookie AHL season continued last night picking up an assist on a slick passing play before Matt Frattin potted. With 48 points in 59 games (T-11th), Brown will get a long look at camp next season.

 

Not unlike previous viewings, William Nylander had an up-and-down game peaking with some slippery one-on-one creative abilities but causing me to cringe during puck battles, where he plays soft often relying solely on stick checks. He scored a wicked goal (so I hear) with 30-some seconds remaining in the game when I slipped out early to beat traffic (faux pas, I know). Nylander is clearly skilled and I am glad that he’s in the AHL learning the ropes because I have seen small improvements to his defensive commitments since arriving in North America.

 

Percy and Loov logged big minutes with the former seeing top PP time. Unfortunately, Toronto didn’t muster up a whole lot of sustained pressure with the man advantage. Both Percy and Loov will become full time NHLers as soon as next season.

 

Brendan Leipsic was as advertised. Small and slick in possession but had difficulty in any type of physical battle. However, I was impressed to see him take the puck into traffic to generate scoring chances – which were very sporadic last night.

 

VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS: Lehigh 4,Toronto 3

 

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In case you missed it, Toronto’s Tyler Biggs has been shut down for the season to have surgery on a partially torn Achilles. Biggs has been a major disappointment recording only five points on the season. At this point, I’m sure the Leafs aren’t expecting a major turnaround.

 

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One year ago Wednesday marked the anniversary of Terry Trafford’s death, a Saginaw Spirit (OHL) forward who took his life after being cut from the team. Watch this powerful video…

 

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Observations on players from all levels of hockey” by Sean Lafortune, one of the most respected scouts in the Ontario loop.

 

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Want more prospect information? Listen to my favourite podcast over at Sportsnet

 

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Got a girlfriend or wife who’s tired of always watching hockey? I know I do. Here’s a show that might be a good compromise.

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William Nylander’s goal from March 11th, 2015:

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Thanks for reading,

@RossyYoungblood (Brendan Ross)

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