Prospect Ramble – July 23 2015

Zach Hopkins

2015-07-23

Hey there fellow hockey lovers – Zach is back with another edition of Prospect Ramblings. What an exciting few weeks it has been with NHL clubs holding their annual development camps! With that in mind, our hard-working scouts have sent in reports from around the league highlighting said camps as we hit the two month lull until training camps begin in mid-to-late September.

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It wouldn’t be a ‘Zach Hopkins Ramblings’ if I didn’t start off by mentioning the Philadelphia Flyers. After essentially kicking off their development camp with the annual Trial on the Isle, the Flyers prospects hit the ice with all eyes on the next generation of Flyers blueliners which include Travis Sanheim, Shayne Gostisbehere, Samuel Morin, Robert Hagg and 2015 first round pick Ivan Provorov. While all five are phenomenal talents, Provorov and Sanheim are in a league of their own. They are quick with the puck and make decisions faster than what would seem to be humanly possible. The team wasted little time inking Provorov to his entry-level deal and the 18-year-old could have a legitimate chance at making the big club out of camp in the fall. If not, he and Sanheim will likely battle once more in the Western Hockey League where both surpassed 60 points last season.

Flyers fans also got their first look at Travis Konecny, the second of the team’s two, first round picks this summer. This kid was meant to wear the orange and black; he’s tenacious, hard-working, dedicated and a leader – all good qualities to have, especially in Philadelphia.

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Scout Mark Allen had the following to report out of Pittsburgh:

 

Ty Loney, the son of former Penguin forward Troy Loney, notched a natural hat trick as more than 5,000 fans watched an open scrimmage on the final day of development camp. That led Team White to a 6-0 win over Team Black.

The six-four, 208-pound center beat goalie Sean Maguire with a crowd-pleasing, one-handed goal in the sudden-death portion of a fan-bonus shootout. Loney, a former University of Denver player, has signed an AHL deal with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins for the 2015-16 season

 

Dominik Simon, Pittsburgh’s 2015 fourth-round draft pick, earlier added two goals for Team White.{source}
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Known more for his offensive skill, blueliner Derrick Pouliot made the defensive play of the game. Pittsburgh’s top prospect, ticketed for regular NHL duty in the coming season, thwarted a breakaway by lanky fifth-round pick Anthony Angello.

Besides praising Loney in his post-game assessment, Pittsburgh assistant GM Tom Fitzgerald noted Simon’s skill and hockey sense, the quickness of 2014-15 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (AHL) scoring leader Conor Sheary and the general play of Jake Guentzel.

 

Although second-round pick Daniel Sprong displayed a goal-scorer’s shot from right wing, he’ll return to Charlottetown of the QMJHL to round out his game.

 

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Ottawa scout Benjamin Gallant reports:

Matt O’Connor looked like what you’d expect out of a 23 year old that had played pro for a year or two. His size made it almost impossible for shooters to find space and his lightning quick blocker and glove were always in action. O’Connor uses the stick a lot more than what might be expected out of a goalie and of all the prospects between the pipe got the most individual work by Sens goalie coach Rick Wamsley.

Max McCormick won hardest worker at the prospect camp and was mentioned by name by both assistant general manager Pierre Dorion and head coach Dave Cameron as a potential first call up. With the Senators bottom 6 being clogged with some players who could play in the top six in case of injury it makes sense that a player like McCormick and his hard-nosed game would be a first call up for the team as he could succeed in a fourth line role.

Buddy Robinson has been a fan favorite for years with his huge frame and with the departure of Eric Condra on July 1st it’s likely he’ll have a roster spot now. Luke Richardson spent a little extra time with him individually working on his penalty killing skills, Randy Lee, the teams’ coordinator of player development and GM of the Binghamton Senators made it seem like he would not be available for Bingo next year.

Standing out in recently drafted players were later round picks Christian Jaros, 5th round, and Joey Daccord, 7th round. Both players went undrafted in their first draft, 2014, but put on a show. Jaros was involved physically and got into a fight with Ben Harpur. He handled the puck better than many expected as well and has a great shot. Working on his endurance will be very important as he was typically gassed at the end of each drill.  Joey Daccord, who played the week with a groin pull, showed a great glove hand throughout the camp and was able to fight through traffic extremely well.

Also in net were Marcus Hoberg and Chris Driedger and while neither disappointed neither stole the show in my opinion. It was revealed during the week that Hoberg will remain in Sweden for next year while Dreidger and O’Connor will take the net in the AHL, there was also discussion of Driedger going down to the ECHL for additional starts. In news of players locations Mikael Wikstrand, who reportedly wouldn’t come to NA the last two years, had a change of heart and is willing to come to the NHL if it fast tracks his way to the NHL, Andreas Englund is unsure on whether he will opt out of his contract with Djurgarden of the SHL for next season however and with Binghamton recently signing Chris Carlisle to an AHL deal its unlikely Englund will come over.

Other players who received positive reviews from coaching staff were the first round picks in 2015, Chabot and White, as well as 4th round pick in 2013 and part of the Spezza trade Nick Paul. Matt Puempel also received rave reviews but was limited to just two days of on ice action due to an ankle sustained in the NHL last year. Colin White joined him on IR for the three on three tournament injuring his ankle during off ice activities. Gabriel Gagne, the teams 2nd round pick, also impressed fans and oozes potential if he can fill out his frame something the Sens staff preached in off-ice drills. With a gym session each day before on ice workouts there was opportunity for the players to improve on their fitness and Gagne was reportedly one of the hardest workers.

Players that didn’t do anything to stand out included many of the camp invites, shown by no contract signings at the NHL or AHL level thus far, as well as Vincent Dunn, who stood out for all the wrong reasons, 4th round pick Filip Ahl, who needs to work on providing an effort at all times as he would stop trying during various drills, and Quentin Shore who had no stand out skill. Players like Troy Rutkowski and Alex Guptill at age 23 looked behind many of the younger players in terms of skill set as well.

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Carolina scout and my The Journey partner Kevin LeBlanc sent the following scouting report:

Sergei Tolchinsky – Stole the show in his second prospects camp. Obviously with his talent he will thrive in drills and in 3v3 and 4v4 formats. He’s so good in small spaces and the most creative player the Canes have in their system, period. Coach Peters raved about Sergei pretty much everyday. I think he is a sleeper to make the team outright but will likely start in Charlotte. I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if he puts on a Canes sweater at some point this season, based on the fact that he has a skill set they simply don’t have. Obvious negative is his size, so it will be interesting to see how he adjusts to larger defensemen.

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Sebastian Aho – Was a bit shaky early in the week, but I chalk that up to the fact that it was his first time on NHL ice. He was a player who improved each day, and had his best day of camp at the prospects scrimmage, scoring a couple nice goals. I think he is more built to be a wing in the future, rather than a center. Although he is only 5-11, he does seem to have the frame to put on weight. Could see him eventually being a middle six forward in the future for Carolina. Does have two years left on his deal with Karpat, where his father is the GM, so I expect him to continue his development overseas.

Nicholas Roy – In my opinion, Roy could end up being the steal of the draft for the Canes. I consistently was impressed by Roy this week both in practice, and in the scrimmage.. He has an enormous frame (already 6-4, 200) and if he can continue to improve his skating, he will be a problem for opposing teams in the future. He is a solid stickhandler that plays the game straightforward. He goes to the front of the net hard, creating scoring chances for himself but is not shy about setting up his teammates as well. He is going to be a relentless forechecker in Peters system. Roy does have good hands, but you can tell he is still growing into his size. He should take a huge jump forward in the Q next year for Chicoutimi. Definitely sleeper potential down the road.

Warren Foegele – Foegele is a hard worker and a potential NHLer in the future. He doesn’t do anything necessarily elite, but is a very good skater who does a great job of getting in on the forecheck. He reminds me a bit of former Hurricanes player Tim Brent. He will be a player who can provide secondary scoring and could turn into a very good penalty killer. He doesn’t shy away from contact, and goes to the dirty areas of the ice. He should continue to hone his skills at New Hampshire over the next couple season. Likely a bottom six forward at the NHL level. 

Haydn Fleury – For me, Fleury was the best defensive player at camp. His growth from last year was evident, as he seemed more confident both with his positioning and his puck movement. Rarely found out of place, Fleury does a very good job at taking care of his own end. His first pass was very solid all week, and I was impressed with his skating. He did have a highlight reel goal in a shootouts drill (attached) which showed off some offensive flair. Likely Fleury will be a top 4 defenseman in Charlotte this year so it will be interesting to see how his game evolves. I see him as Brent Seabrook type player in the future in the sense that he takes care of his own end first, and allows his partner (potentially someone like Hanifin or Faulk) to be a little more offensively creative. Fleury does have the offensive ability to chip in when needed. 

 

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Noah Hanifin – Noah had a good camp and was rewarded by signing his entry level deal in front of the fans the morning of the Canes Summerfest scrimmage on Saturday. He is an elite skater, that has all the tools to be a number one defenseman in the NHL. The Traverse City prospects tournament will be very important for him to log minutes and gain confidence before preseason camp. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Hanifin paired with veteran Ron Hainsey this season as he learns the ropes in the NHL. It doesn’t appear Coach Bill Peters believes in training wheels when it comes to Hanifin, and will give him every opportunity to succeed. It won’t do the young d-man any good to be sitting in the press box when he could be playing too minutes at BC.

Jaccob Slavin – Slavin is a sleeper I expect to improve with Charlotte this year. Even though he had a down year with Colorado College last season, he has a ton of offensive talent from the blue line and loves joining the rush and going backdoor in the offensive zone. He is a big bodied player that could outplay his 4th round draft selection. He has a bit of Jake Muzzin in his game, and should continue to develop his defensive side  in the AHL especially now that Mark Morris has taken the gig. If he does that, he could be a bottom four d-man for the Canes in the future.

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Lastly, I’ll leave you with a thing of beauty from the Bruins development camp. Jake DeBrusk, the 14th overall selection in the 2015 draft unleashed an absolutely filthy, behind-the-back shootout that has been slowed down for your viewing pleasure.

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Zach Hopkins is a Flyers scout for Dobber Prospects and contributed to the weekly article The Journey over at Dobber Hockey. Feel free to sauce him a follow on twitter @healedbyhockey

 

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