Changes of scenery for Panik and Morin, WJC wrap-up, OHL, WHL and QMJHL trade deadline movement, and more…
The Toronto Maple Leafs traded Richard Panik to the Chicago Blackhawks for Jeremy Morin in a straight-up swap that gives both wingers a new chance to prove themselves. Both players have proven serviceable in the AHL but haven't done much with their NHL opportunities. 24-year-old Morin has 32 points in 82 career NHL games, while Panik (also 24) has 39 in 151. Morin has 22 points in 28 AHL games this year while Panik has 25 in 33. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more statistically balanced trade, but the takeaway here is that both teams had interest in a player so it’s likely that both new additions get another shot at the NHL in their new homes.
Speaking of players finding new homes…Kerby Rychel has reportedly requested a trade out of Columbus in a play for more NHL ice time. With six points in 16 career NHL games, the former 1st-round-pick clearly believes he’s ready to make the jump if given the ice-time to do so. Scoring at just under a point-per-game pace in the AHL while adding 43 PIM in 20 games makes him a valuable fantasy hockey asset and if he gets his wish, he’s going to become relevant in your pool in a big way soon enough.
The 2016 World Junior Championship wrapped up in dramatic fashion with the host Finland winning gold in an overtime thriller, leaving Russia with silver and USA earning bronze. Lots of storylines throughout to touch on, including huge production from 2016 draft-eligible prospects.
Team Finland was carried most of the tournament by beastly draft-eligible RW Jesse Puljujarvi (2016) and LW Patrik Laine (2016). Puljujarvi topped the WJCs with a ridiculous 17 points in seven games (while being named the tournament’s MVP and top forward), while Laine was third with 13 points. Both are expected to go in the top five in this year’s NHL entry draft. Sebastian Aho (CAR) centered the two on the ice and in the points standings, finishing with 14 points and a shout-out from Hurricanes GM Ron Francis who thinks he is nearly ready for NHL time. All-around defenceman Oli Juolevi (2016) had a dominant tournament, establishing himself as a potential top-10 pick this year. Captain Mikko Rantanen (COL) provided clutch points in both the final and semifinal, as did Kasperi Kapanen (TOR) including his beautiful golden goal below:
Team Russia went home with silver despite having no players in the top-ten in tournament scoring. Yegor Korshkov (2016) led the team with eight points in seven games, but his temper got the best of him leading to 16 PIM and a game misconduct in the gold-medal game. Ivan Provorov (PHI) took the shot with six seconds remaining that forced the final game to overtime, and had a pleasant eight points (all assists) in eight games.
Team USA hoped for a better finish than third but has to be happy with their players. Auston Matthews (2016) stood out almost every time he had the puck, showing off his smooth and powerful skating. He finished with 11 points in seven games and was named in the team’s top three of the tournament among goalie Alex Nedeljkovic (CAR) and defenceman Zach Werenski (CLB). Nedeljkovic had an outstanding showing, single-handedly keeping his team in games for long stretches and earning every fraction of his 0.943 SV%. Werenski finished with nine points in seven games and was named the tournament’s top defenceman, but was beat by the exact same power move at least three times, two of which led to goals against (including the game-winner in the video below). His defensive ability to hold off powerful forwards will need to be focused on if he hopes to make the jump to pro hockey and bigger competition. Matt