Austin Czarnik could get some valuable NHL experience down the stretch with Boston while fellow center Ryan Spooner is out indefinitely with a concussion.
If you scan the migration of players between the NHL and either the minor leagues, junior or collegiate teams, you can spot some intriguing glimpses into what might be one day. As I often do when I ramble for Dobber Prospects, here’s this week’s analysis of promotions, demotions and signings.
C Austin Czarnik recalled from Providence Bruins.
The small but feisty Czarnik could be up with the NHL club for awhile considering C Ryan Spooner is out indefinitely with a concussion. In his first game since being called up, a 6-1 win over Detroit, Czarnik had a significant third-line role, skating 15:47 mainly with Frank Vatrano and Jimmy Hayes and getting 1:16 on the power play and 1:45 on the penalty kill. The undersized and undrafted Czarnik projects as at least a bottom-six hound using his quickness to harass opponents. He has just 13 points in 48 games as an NHL rookie, but 61 points in 68 AHL games last season and another eight points in seven games this season suggest a potential top-six role as an overachiever.
D Rasmus Andersson recalled from Stockton Heat (AHL).
The 20-year-old’s promotion was necessitated by day-to-day injuries to Calgary blueliners Dougie Hamilton and Michael Stone. It’s debatable how much icetime the 6-1, 209-pound Swede will receive in what is expected to be a limited callup, but it’s significant because it should provide Calgary’s 2015 53rd-overall pick with his NHL debut. Blessed with a solid frame, good work ethic and offensive instincts, Andersson has three goals and 19 assists with an encouraging plus-14 rating in 50 games with the Heat in his pro debut after two seasons with the OHL’s Barrie Colts. A right-handed shot, he looks like a sure NHLer.
G Alex Nedeljkovic reassigned to Florida Everblades (ECHL).
After a brief, illusory NHL callup to give Michael Leighton a chance to get in some AHL work, Carolina’s 37th-overall pick from 2014 was returned to the depths of the ECHL. After underwhelming numbers of 3.40 and .881 with the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers, his stats of 2.77 and .913 in five ECHL games aren’t much better. Still only 21, Nedeljkovic has time to forge a successful pro career if he can translate his scintillating performance for the 2017 WJC champion Americans. He’s got two more seasons on his entry-level deal with the Hurricanes.
LW Curtis McKenzie signed to one-year contract extension.
The 6-2, 205-pounder’s calling card is physical play combined with defensive responsibility. After a surprising 61-game, 55-point AHL campaign last season that included 120 PIMs and plus-11, Dallas’ sixth-round pick in 2009 has spent the entire season in the NHL with a modest 11 points in 43 games combined with 67 PIMs and plus-7. The veteran 26-year-old prospect seems to have finally carved out a bottom-six NHL role that could help you in pools that count penalty minutes and plus-minus. Dallas is particularly glad to have him while agitating and versatile LW Antoine Roussel is out until the second half of April with a hand injury.
G Landon Bow signed as undrafted free agent.
The two-year NHL entry-level deal followed an AHL-only contract with Texas last summer. After posting 2.24 and .929 peripherals with the ECHL’s Idaho Steelheads in 22 games of his pro debut, the 6-5 Bow is struggling to adjust (3.17, .894) in 16 AHL games so far. His WHL stats with the Swift Current Broncos were unimpressive until intriguing post-trade numbers of 1.76 and .938 in 23 games with the Seattle Thunderbirds. Bow concluded his four junior seasons with a scintillating 18-game playoff run as the Western Conference champions played for the league championship. He’s a long-term prospect worth occasional monitoring.
Detroit Red Wings
G Jared Coreau assigned to Grand Rapids Griffins (AHL).
A shutout against Montreal was Jared Coreau at his best during a 14-game NHL debut.
With the return of Jimmy Howard (out 32 games with a sprained knee), the 25-year-old prospect returned to the AHL. His 14-game NHL baptism had some promising moments, including shutouts of the Canadiens and Kings, although he was 0-3-1 in four recent starts with a 5.20 GAA and .847 save percentage. Overall, peripherals of 3.46 and .887 indicate he needs more work in the AHL. That’s just as well because until Detroit manages to unload the remaining two seasons of Howard’s pricy contract, he and Petr Mrazek (under contract next season) block any long-lasting netminder promotions.
D Simon Bourque signed to three-year, entry-level contract.
Only a sixth-round pick by the Habs in 2015, the 6-0, 183-pounder earned his first NHL deal with 15 Gs and 38 As for 53 points in 57 combined games with the QMJHL’s Rimouski Océanic and Saint John Sea Dogs. His plus-minus spiked to plus-30 from minus-1 after joining the Sea Dogs. Bourque was Rimouski’s captain the past two seasons after serving as assistant captain in just his second junior season, hinting at some outstanding intangibles. After suitable AHL development, this could turn out to be a steal by the Canadiens.
New York Rangers
D Sean Day signed to three-year, entry-level contract.
The Rangers, who drafted this sizable and highly skilled talent 81st overall last year due to perceived character shortcomings, have doubled down on their investment. After all, 6-3, 231-pound offensively-minded and mobile defenders do not come along every Day (sorry). After five points in five games to start his fourth OHL season with the Mississauga Steelheads, Day was traded to the Windsor Spitfires for whom he has 11 goals and 16 assists in 54 games combined with a plus-12 rating. If he matures to the point where he summons consistent game-to-game effort and doesn’t exhibit a bad attitude, NHL teams will regret passing on Day in the first two rounds.
C Oskar Sundqvist recalled from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL).
Projected as an NHL shutdown checker, the lanky Swede has blossomed offensively with 16 Gs and 23 As in 55 games in his second AHL season, combined with plus-11. Surely this will be 40-year-old UFA Matt Cullen’s last season with the Penguins. That and the trade of veteran Eric Fehr to the Maple Leafs should clear the way for Sundqvist to center Pittsburgh’s fourth line short term, although he could outgrow that role. As an RFA, the 2012 third-rounder will need a new contract.