Aug 4 2015

Zach Hopkins

2015-08-05

 

Hey there loyal Dobber Prospects followers! This is Rambling Zach Hopkins back at you with another edition of Prospect Ramblings. With a little over two months to go until the start of the NHL season, fans are getting the itch for the coolest game on ice. If you are like me, and require all hockey, all the time – then you came to the right place! Let’s get at it.

 

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They say that cheaters only really cheat themselves. With that in mind, I really thought long and hard about NOT starting this off with the orange and black, however, I would only be cheating myself! The Philadelphia Flyers have three top prospects attending Hockey Canada’s summer showcase in Calgary where 40 hopefuls will skate together in the early stages of forming the 2016 team that will look to defend the World Junior Championship in Helsinki, Finland. 2014 first round pick Travis Sanheim is arguably one of the best prospects in the Flyers system. He’ll be joined by 2014 classmate Nicolas Aube-Kubel and 2015 first round pick Travis Konecny. Sanheim is a strong play for Canada after a successful season with the Calgary Hitmen where he registered 65 points in 67 games. Likewise, Konecny will be given a strong look after a 68-point season in Ottawa which culminated with him winning the inaugural E.J. McGuire Award of Excellence at the NHL draft. Now healthy, he could be a strong presence on the ice and in the locker room. Aube-Kubel, who scored 80 points for Val-d’Or of the QMJHL, is the wild card. He’s developed a knack for finding the back of the net (38 goals in 2014-15) and will make a string play to be one of the top-nine forwards.

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Speaking of Junior Development Camps, our very own Pat Quinn took in the action live as Canada squared off against Russia and was kind enough to share his scouting impressions.

Toronto first round pick Mitch Marner was easily the best player on the ice. He kept control of the puck in both zones (although Canada had Russia pinned deep for most of the contest) and was flying around the ice. He was able to create something out of nothing, even while manning the point on the power play unit. He got a little fancy and turned the puck over a few times as great players tend to do, but he was easily the start of the show.

Islanders prospect Joshua Ho-Sang was involved in a lot of plays and made smooth transitions throughout the neutral zone. He had excellent vision on the ice, including his time on the power play, where he was using his teammates quite frequently – a rarity in the minds of Ho-Sang’s detractors.

St. Louis Blues prospect Robby Fabbri played a very impressive game and just seemed to do everything right. He played well in his own zone and seemed to navigate through the Russian defenders with ease.

Overall, Canada’s defense was solid with Joe Hicketts standing out for joining the rush and pinching down low.

The Russians just could not get anything going and their attempts at entering the Canadian zone were mostly futile. Quite honestly, their best player was goaltender Maxim Tretyak who made a few highlight reel saves during the 4-1 defeat. Without him in the net, it easily could have been an 8-1 or 9-1 victory for the Canadians. Of the four goals scored, he seemed to have no shot on three of them.

Despite the overall poor game by the Russian team, Detroit prospect Evgeny Svechnikov still made it a point to slap hands with every kid on his way to and from the dressing room. No other player really did that, so it was cool to see. At only 18 years of age, he gets the little things in the game. The Red Wings found themselves a good one here.

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Mike Brophy of NHL.com recently ranked the Toronto Maple Leafs top five prospects. Mitch Marner was the obvious choice at number one but the second selection was a little surprising, though not far-fetched. Newly acquired forward Kasperi Kapanen was Brophy’s number two pick, edging out William Nylander, the latter of whom scored 32 points in 37 games with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies after scoring 20 points in 21 games with Modo in Sweden. Kapanen, while already a phenomenal playmaker and prospect, will have a lot to prove to live up the expectations of being the main return in the Phil Kessel deal. Both players are projected to stick in the NHL by the 2016-17 season.

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The Pittsburgh Penguins finally put the kibosh on goaltending prospect Matt Murray making the roster as a backup to Marc-Andre Fleury. The AHL’s Rookie of the Year and Goaltender of the Year had a scoreless streak of 304:11 last season and the Pens brass is excited for him – down the line.

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One of the things I am most looking forward to in the upcoming season is the progression of Aaron Ekblad and John Klingberg. Ekblad is obviously the cream of the crop, but Klingberg was not that far behind. In fact, the Stars blueliner was closer than most may think. In 65 games, the rookie scored 11 goals and added 29 assists for 40 points with a plus-five rating on a team whose overall defense was atrocious. I would not be surprised if he makes the biggest jump in year-two.

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In a somewhat shocking move, Ryan MacInnis was one of six players released from WJC camp in Lake Placid, New York. The son of Hall of Fame defender Al MacInnis was also released from camp in 2014 as well. One of my favorite 2014 first round picks, Sonny Milano, is in camp and looks to have yet another outstanding season. Milano scored 68 points in 50 games for the Plymouth Whalers of the OHL and is one of the Columbus Blue Jackets top prospects.

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Since I am talking about top prospects, the Blue Jackets might just have some of the best prospects in the game in Milano, Oliver Bjorkstrand, Ryan Collins and Zachary Werenski. Although, the Arizona Coyotes aren’t too shabby either with Max Domi, Anthony Duclair and Dylan Strome. Just some really good talent developing in the wings.

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As another Prospect Ramblings comes to a close, I’ll leave you with some of the best plays from the various developmental camps throughout the league. Thanks for reading!

Sergey Tolchinsky – ‘Wait for it’

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John Schiavo – “Magic hands”

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Jake DeBrusk – “Call the Doctor; that’s sick”

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Zach Hopkins is a Senior Writer and Flyers scout for Dobber Hockey and Dobber Prospects. You can follow him on twitter @healedbyhockey

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