I was fortunate enough to be in beautiful Victoria, British Columbia over the Christmas break and was stoked when my wife suggested I go watch the Finland-Kazakhstan game. As the Chicago Blackhawks prospect writer here on DobberProspects, I was happy to get a chance to see the Blackhawks best (arguably) current prospect Henri Jokiharju play live. He did not disappoint. Positionally sound play, nothing flashy, I was most impressed with how aggressively he wanted the puck in the offensive zone. The Blackhawks have got a good one here.
Also from that game, I need to mention the outstanding 51-save performance by the Kazakhstan goalie Demid Yeremeyev. In the almost 40 years I have been watching live hockey, I have never witnessed such a performance. If this goes down as his career highlight, what a highlight it was.
Penalty killing is a critical skill in today’s NHL and no rookies are better at it than the Tampa Bay Lightning duo of Anthony Cirelli and Mathieu Joseph. At least when it comes to producing offence while down a man. Cirelli leads all rookies with three short-handed points with Joseph right behind him with two. There are only five other rookies with a short-handed point so far this season.
As we near the midway point of the season, here are my choices for the All-Rookie team. Second team in brackets.
Center – Elias Pettersson (Kotkaniemi)
Left Wing – Brady Tkachuk (A.Johnsson)
Right Wing – Andrei Svechnikov (Joseph)
Defence – Rasmus Dahlin (Jokiharju)
Defence – Miro Heiskanen (Lajoie)
Goalie – Adin Hill (Blackwood)
The skaters were easy choices. Goaltender, not so much. I went with Hill because his seven wins for a struggling Coyotes team is impressive. I chose him over Mackenzie Blackwood based on number of games played but it wasn’t easy. Blackwood is on fire with back-to-back shutouts.
What does your list look like?
It will be very interesting to see what CHL players are traded and where they are going as teams gear up for a run to the 2019 Memorial Cup. Hosted this year by the Halifax Mooseheads, the Memorial Cup is my favorite time of year for hockey. The tournament itself is one of the hardest to win and every game is meaningful. This is junior hockey at its finest.
Thanks very much for taking the time to read my thoughts. You can follow along with me on Twitter @fiveminutemajor. Happy New Year.
Main photo courtesy of NHL.com