A quick look at some of the top performers in the CHL playoffs, a couple of impressive 2016 prospects, and more…
The Flames called up Sam Bennett, who was in contention for the first overall pick a year ago. The North Bay Battalion held Bennett to just three assists and a minus-nine as they knocked out the Frontenacs in four games. The playoffs can make a prospect’s career but #SmallSampleSizes and Bennett did have 24 points in 11 games. Even with Calgary leaning on their young players, I think Bennett will take some time to get up to speed. Watch how he plays more than the points.
Instead of playing him right away, they decided to leave Markus Granlund in and he rewarded them with the first two goal game of the 21 year old’s career. While he has five points in his last six games, he really doesn’t have the same skillset as his brother, and he is only getting around 11 minutes a game on a surprising Flames team. There is still time for Granlund to develop, but his upside is around 55 points and he is an underdog for a long-term spot in the Flame’s top-six.
The Battalion are one of the few top OHL teams that isn’t led by a crop of top NHL picks. They don’t have a single pick from the first or second round, or any players that project to be first or second rounders. They make up for star-power for depth on defense: Four of their top seven regular season scorers are defensemen and all four have at least 38 points (two undrafted densemen, the Avelanch’s 2014 fourth round pick Kyle Wood and the Canucks’ 2013 seventh rounder Miles Liberati). Up front, they are led by Mike Amadio (90th overall pick, Kings 2014) and Nick Paul (101st overall, Senators, 2014). Nick Paul you might remember from his three goals in the World Juniors in January, but I’m also interested in Amadio in deeper leagues.
Amadio jumped from 38 points last year to 71 this year in roughly the same number of games, and has upped his game in the playoffs again with four goals and seven points in six games. His speed leaves a bit to be desired, but he is almost certainly hanging on the wire in even deeper leagues, and could have some value if his playoff tear continues.
Nikolay Goldobin scored a goal and an assist in his first AHL game with the Worcester Sharks. He ended his season in Finland with 21 points in 38 games, which is not bad for a men’s league at his age. Along with Kasperi Kapanen, they were the only teenagers to post above a half point per game in the Finish Elite League. Both could easily be steals at their spots in the late first round.
Oops, I missed the other Finnish player who scored above a half point per game. Jesse Puljujarvi scored 11 points in 21 games. He is 16. That is the highest point per game output by a 16 year old in the Finnish Elite Leauge, ever. Even better than Barkov back in 2011-2012. Keep your eye on him for the 2016 draft.
Goldobin’s first AHL goal:
Another 2016 prospect lighting it up: Victor Mete. The slick offensive defenseman for the London Knights just put up five points in a playoff game, and his draft stock could shoot up with a strong showing.
Over in the WHL, Adam Tambellini is leading the scoring race with seven goals and six assists in six games for the Calgary Hitmen, who have forced game seven against the Kootenay Ice. A third round pick for the Rangers, he scored 86 points in 71 regular season games after adding ~15 pounds over the offseason. He has gotten better defensively, and has solidified his future in the Rangers organization. He projects as a depth scorer, though he has some upside for more. If you have room, it is worth stashing him on your farm for the rest of the playoffs.
In third place for WHL scoring: Oliver Bjorkstrand with 10 points in five games. You can read about his impressive year in a DobberHockey feature here by Zach Hopkins.
The highest scoring defenseman is Travis Sanheim with seven points in six games. He wasn’t an exciting prospect in most drafts last year. I was beyond excited when I snagged him with the 52nd pick in my cap league, and he has shown why he was worth the 17th overall pick. He scored 36 more points (65) this year in the same amount of games (67). He projects very well in all three zones, and could end up easily being the best of Philadelphia’s current defensive prospects.
Feel free to guess who is leading the QMJHL in scoring with a goal and 11 assists in five games. Hint, he led the league in points per game during the regular season, and is one of my favorite prospects. Yup, Nicolaj Ehlers is at it again.
Even as a Canucks fan, I honestly think Ehlers (9th overall) will have a better NHL career than Jake Virtanen (6th overall). Virtanen’s single point in six playoff games doesn’t matter in the long run, but it sure doesn’t assuage any worries. Virtanen is big, strong, shoots and I just don’t see him as a first line forward in the NHL. Hope I’m wrong.
Speaking of the Canucks, they called up Sven Baertschi who has seven goals and 13 points in 12 games with the Utica Comets. Baertschi played limited minutes in his debut, made a couple of mistakes but also had some great chances offensively. Overall, it should be enough to get him another couple of looks.
Connor Brickley was drafted in the fifth round back in 2010 by the Panthers, and only scored 15 points in his best NCAA season. In his first full year in the AHL, he has surprised with 43 points in 67 games. He is still a bit of an unknown at 23, and will compete for call-ups next year.
Axel Holmstrom is a Swedish seventh round pick drafted by Detroit. With that deadly combination, you have to be good. And he is. Best playoff performance ever in the SHL by a player under 19. Of course he has 12 points in eight games as the second leading scorer in the SHL playoffs.
Undrafted free agent Austin Czarnik was signed by Boston this week. I don’t love his chances. At 5’9, he is skilled but doesn’t have the mindblowing numbers that make someone like Gaudreau stand out (not that there are many like Gaudreau). That being said, three 40-plus point seasons in the NCAA isn’t anything to sneeze at, and the Bruins seem to think he has a shot. I’d wait and see how he adjusts to the AHL next year before adding him.
Another college undrafted free agent signed recently is goaltender Joel Rumpel with the San Jose Sharks. This is mostly on the back of his two .929 save percentage seasons, as his latest season was easily his worst with a 3.49 GAA and .902 SV%. A lot of that is due to the team in front of him, but he isn’t worth adding in pretty much any format.
The Belleville Bulls have closed their doors for the last time, and Yahoo takes a look at the small-town team that brought us the Subbans:
North Saanich, British Columbia has won Kraft Hockeyville. A smaller town just outside of Victoria, where the Benn’s grew up and about an hour from where I grew up.
An excellent rundown of some top prospects from the QMJHL on Sportsnet.
Great goal, but it really can’t compete with the announcer here:
And then an even better goal by Michael Joly:
Hope everyone is having a great Easter/Passover/long weekend!
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