Soshnikov scores his first, Gaunce gets caught up in travel delays, Jokipakka gets his first point with the Flames, a recap of mid-week CHL and AHL action and a few prospect signings and extensions…
Nikita Soshnikov (TOR) recorded his first NHL goal in his second game played with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Soshnikov is playing on a line with Nazem Kadri and Leo Komarov. The line already looks like it has chemistry. If Soshnikov sticks on this line for the remainder of the season he could potentially put up some decent numbers. He was a half point per game player with the Marlies (50GP-18G-10A-28PTS). He probably won’t be able to produce at quite that high of a clip, but he could keep a 0.3 to 0.4 pace, which would give him seven to nine points to finish the year. He definitely should be put on your list of guys to watch for the remainder of the year, he has shown he can make some pretty slick moves out on the ice, we will have to wait and see if his AHL game translates to the NHL. Find more information on Soshnikov in his prospect profile found here.
As for the other young prospects called up to the Maple Leafs, William Nylander, Zach Hyman and Kasperi Kapanen. They have all been given a lot of responsibility early on and have shown they are capable of NHL minutes. Mike Babcock has been giving these young guys a lot of ice time and important ice time late in one goal games. The Maple Leafs have had two of the toughest Eastern Conference opponents, Tampa Bay (8-2-0 in the last 10) and Washington (7-3-0 in the last 10) and have kept the games close and have battled hard. The Maple Leafs are building excellent prospect depth and it is beginning to show at the NHL level.
Brendan Gaunce is getting another chance with the Vancouver Canucks, Gaunce played two games at the end of October and recorded a goal in the second game. Gaunce returned to the Utica Comets and resurrected his production, only two points in five games to start the season. Since returning to the AHL he now has 15 goals and 18 assists in 43 games played. Gaunce was recalled on March 1, but was unable to practice with the team on Wednesday due to flight delays, he has finally made it to Vancouver, but without his equipment or luggage. Read Gaunce’s interesting travel delays here, by Ben Kuzma of The Province. Gaunce will hopefully be dressed for tonight’s game against the San Jose Sharks.
Jyrki Jokipakka debuted for the Calgary Flames, paired with either Deryk Engelland or Jakub Nakladal. Jokipakka recorded his first point, an assist, in his first game with the Flames. Jokipakka also helped kill penalties, with just over two minutes of SH ice time.
The CHL had a pretty quiet couple of nights on Tuesday and Wednesday, let’s get to some of the action over the past two days.
On Tuesday night in the WHL, Matt Bradley (MTL) had a part in every one of Medicine Hat Tigers’ goals, setting up two and scoring one of his own. Bradley has eight points in his last five games played (3-5-8). Medicine Hat easily defeated the Kootenay Ice 3-0 to keep their playoff hopes alive. The Tigers are six points out of the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference of the WHL with only eight more games to play.
The Seattle Thunderbirds defeated the Tri-City Americans 7-2, two of the Thunderbirds had hat-tricks. Ryan Gropp (NYR) finished with a four point night (3-1) and Mathew Barzal (NYI), who finished with five points (3-2). Barzal is currently on an 11 game point streak, during his streak he has 11 goals, 14 assists for 25 points. Overage defensemen and Seattle captain Jerret Smith (Undrafted/Unsigned) also recorded three points in this game.
Wednesday night’s action in the WHL the Brandon Wheat Kings smoked the Saskatoon Blades 12-2. A bunch of Wheat Kings had really good games, Jayce Hawryluk (FLA) had a six point night (5-1) and was a plus-7, Hawryluk recently signed with the Florida Panthers, a three-year, $2.775 million entry-level contract. Nolan Patrick (2017 eligible) had a five point night (1-4) and John Quenneville (NJ) had a four point night (2-2). Tyler Coulter (Undrafted, ’96 born) continued his scoring streak, now at 12 games, surpassing his earlier streak of 11 games in December. Coulter recorded a goal and an assist in this one-sided match.
Overager Cole Sanford (Undrafted, ’95 born) had a hat trick Wednesday night for the Regina Pats, who defeated the Kootenay Ice 5-3. Adam Brooks (Undrafted ’96 born) recorded three more assists. Brooks is tearing up the WHL and is on a 16 game point streak (7-29-36). Brooks also has the second longest point streak of the year, 15 games from mid-December to mid-January (12-20-32). Brooks is now four points ahead of recently signed free agent Dryden Hunt (FLA) with 107 points (34-73-107)
Another overager Cory Millette (Undrafted ’95 born) recorded a hat trick for the Lethbridge Hurricanes in their 5-1 victory over the Moose Jaw Warriors.
Onto the QMJHL, Tuesday night had the top two teams from the East Division going head-to-head, Rouyn-Noranda Huskies defeated the Val-d’Or Foreurs 6-5 in overtime. The Huskies captain Francis Perron (OTT) recorded five points (1-4) to continue his torrid scoring pace, in the last 16 games, he has only missed the scoresheet once and has 12 goals and 19 assists for 31 points, which is 1.9 points per game pace. Perron has taken over the second spot for top QMJHL scorers, with 97 points (40-57) in 55 games played. Perron’s teammate Jean-Christophe Beaudin (COL) has a four point night, scoring two goals and two assists. Timo Meier (SJS) also helped the Huskies with two goals and an assist.
The OHL only had one game in the past two days, on Wednesday night Will Bitten (2016 eligible) started the month of March off with a three point game (1-2-3) to help the Flint Firebirds beat the Saginaw Spirit 6-5 in overtime. Bitten now has 27 goals and 33 assists for 60 points in 59 games played, since the terrible incident of ownership suspensions and coaching changes on February 17th. Bitten has continues to produce and put the off-ice distractions behind him, scoring four goals and 5 assists in those seven games playing for Joe Stefan, who was named head coach of the Firebirds for the remainder of the season.
Anthony Stolarz (PHI) made 51 saves in a shootout victory over the Syracuse Crunch on Wednesday night. Stolarz only allowed two goals and didn’t give up a goal in the shootout to give the Lehigh Valley the victory.
Left winger Curtis McKenzie (DAL) scored two goals Wednesday to help the Texas Stars defeat the Iowa Wild. In McKenzie’s last eight games, he has scored six goals and seven assists for 13 points.
A couple of other prospect extensions and signings to note…
Mikka Salomaki (NSH) has signed a two-year, $1.225 million contract extension with the Nashville Predators.
John Ramage (CBJ) has signed a two-year, $1.225 million two-way contract extension with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Adam Helewka (SJS) has signed a three-year entry-level contract worth $2.115 million with the San Jose Sharks.
Feel free to leave comments, questions or concerns below, have fun playing the game of Fantasy Hockey.