Prospect Ramblings: How are youngsters faring in playoff cauldron?

Mark Allan

2017-04-16

Signed to an entry-level NHL contract just two days before the Stanley Cup playoffs were to begin, 19-year-old Charlie McAvoy is on the spot to solidify Boston's blueline, which has been ravaged by injuries.

 

The NHL playoffs are the most gruelling championship gauntlet in pro sports.

After a daunting 82-game audition that challenges the limits of players’ physiques, emotions and will, the eventual Stanley Cup winner must win four best-of-seven series, an absolute minimum of 16 hard-fought post-season victories.

While sparing no man or lad, it’s hardest of all on youngsters, many of whom are experiencing Lord Stanley’s endurance test for the first time.

So which players still considered prospects by Dobber and deemed by their teams good enough to make playoff rosters are handling it well?

Anaheim Ducks

D Shea Theodore: Two assists so far and one on the PP as he’s playing on the first man-advantage unit and logging big minutes with Kevin Bieksa at even strength.

D Brandon Montour: With Sami Vatanen on the second PP unit, he’s logging big minutes with Hampus Lindholm at even strength.

Boston Bruins

D Charlie McAvoy: Signed in desperation by the Bruins with their blueline in tatters, Boston’s prized young defense prospect logged a hefty 27:47 in Game Two. On the second even-strength pairing with Kevan Miller, McAvoy was by far Boston’s most-used PP pointman (3:25) in Game Two.

C Frank Vatrano: On the second PP unit with David Backes and Drew Stafford, Vatrano skated with various even-strength linemates. He got 13:35 even-strength icetime in Game Two and 45 seconds on the PP.

Calgary Flames

LW Matthew Tkachuk: Pointless in the first two games and only 12:14 TOI in the opener, the bruising winger was on the ice a lot at even strength to begin Game Two with Mikael Backlund and Michael Frolik. He’s making his physical presence felt.

LW Micheal Ferland: The big, swift, rambunctious winger was also without a point and on ice for just 11:49 in the opener yet on the top line with Gaudreau and Monahan to start Game Two.

Chicago Blackhawks

C Ryan Hartman: Playing mostly on a third line with Marian Hossa and Marcus Kruger. Only 11:03 of ES icetime in Game Two. Nobody is doing much for the ‘Hawks, who were blanked by Nashville two straight.

Columbus Blue Jackets

D Zach Werenski: Outstanding rookie playing huge minutes on top pairing with Seth Jones as well as both special teams, but no points to show for 11 SOGs in two losses.

RW Oliver Bjorkstrand: Barely used (9:47 ES, 1:06 PP) in a second straight loss as the Penguins dominated the visiting Jackets. Played on a third line with Sam Gagner and Scott Hartnell, although John Tortorella will likely shuffle lines back home.

Edmonton Oilers

F Drake Caggiula: On an extremely effective third line with Zach Kassian and Mark Letestu as the Oilers thrilled their long-suffering followers by blanking San Jose 2-0 to even the series. Caggiula remains pointless but got invaluable playoff experience with more than two minutes each on the PP and PK in Game Two.

D Darnell Nurse: Playing mostly with Matt Benning, Nurse saw time on both specials teams and assisted on Connor McDavid’s SH insurance goal in Game Two.

Minnesota Wild

D Christian Folin: Playing on a third pairing with fellow Swede Jonas Brodin, the third-year NHLer appears to be caught up with the rest of the Wild in Boudreau's Bane, namely the NHL playoffs. Folin is getting precious post-season experience albeit withou