Prospect thoughts as the regular season draws closer including who’s the top Islanders prospect, Connor McDavid vs. Jack Eichel debate, Pavel Zacha watch and a half-dozen favourite prospects to watch list.
Matt Barzal is turning heads at Islanders camp
, outperforming 2014 1st rounder Michael Dal Colle (who was sent back to Oshawa of the OHL). Dal Colle was a toss up to make the squad but returning him to junior for one final season makes sense – especially given that he’ll have the chance to represent Canada at the World Juniors in Finland this winter. He’ll also contend for the OHL’s top scorer.
Matt Barzal was applauded for his speed and overall creativity. He was the Islanders 15th overall pick after they dealt Griffin Reinhart to Edmonton. I was definitely surprised he lasted as long as he did (a Top 10 talent, in my opinion) and certainly very surprised he lasted as long as he did with Boston holding three back-to-back-to-back selections.
“Barzal has been in the organization for only three months, but he's already the team's top prospect in many eyes — a player who could be pushing hard for a roster spot at 19 next year if he continues the way he's been.”
I am also sure that Josh Ho-Sang’s early exit from camp allowed Barzal some extra ice and opportunities to showcase his stuff too. On the topic of Ho-Sang, how disappointing must it be for other players vying to make the NHL to see a high-end talent like Josh continue to make these poor decisions. Sure, he’s young and there’s opportunity to correct this “minor” stuff as he matures but it’s not the first time he hasn’t learned from mistakes. I am pulling for him to turn things around and clearly, this season on a stacked IceDogs squad is a great chance to take some steps forward off the ice.
Anthony Beauvillier, Islanders’ second 2015 1st rounder (28th overall), was also returned to junior and he’ll be one of the top contenders to win the QMJHL scoring title after racking up 94 points last year. Beauvillier will join the best team in the Q – Shawinigan Cataractes – and should be a key player for Canada’s WJC squad.
Everyone seems to be watching New Jersey’s camp very closely and I can see why after the organization is close to adding some young skill and potential to their team in the first time in a while. Headlining that group is their 2015 1st round selection Pavel Zacha. From reports I have read, Zacha seems to be improving each time he takes the ice, albeit in small steps. The team has sent 2014 1st rounder John Quenneville back to the Western Hockey League, so it’s all eyes on Zacha. Just a gut feeling but I think we’ll know whether Zacha is in the NHL to stay for the season very soon and I’m leaning towards a return to Sarnia (OHL). But that also could be the delicious mexican food I consumed last night. Zacha hasn’t necessarily lit up the game sheet and his offensive skills have been more “flashes” than pure dominance so heading back to Sarnia to work on his confidence and production would certainly benefit him long term.
Keep an eye on big-time junior scorer Reid Boucher. He scored an OHL-high 62 goals in 2012-13 and even though he took a step back offensively last year in Albany, he’s got the potential to break twine and make the NHL full time this season.
The Buffalo Sabres sent a