This rambling is certainly going to be a bunch of random thoughts from me. Let's take a look a look at the WHL and QMJHL action from Tuesday night and see what we can notice.
First off, Cody Glass is once again off to a hot start for Portland and continues to lead them in points. He had a three-assist night giving him 35 points in 20 games which puts him 8th in league scoring. Being the first selection from Vegas in 2017, it's what you'd expect. Islander fans should be happy to see Kieffer Bellows add a goal and an assist to his total. He now sits with 16 goals in 20 games for Portland. He was drafted to be a goal scorer and it would be a major red flag if he couldn't put the puck in the net on a strong team. After Caleb Jones departed from the Winterhawks, they would need a significant boost from someone on the back end. So far, Blackhawks prospect dman Henri Jokiharju has gathered 26 points in 20 games which is an improvement on his 0.68 PPG in 16/17. If you grabbed him later in a draft, you might have found some hidden offensive fantasy potential.
Another common small stature story goes to 7th rd Winnipeg draft pick Skyler McKenzie. Listed at 5'9 and 165lbs currently has 83 shots on net and 32 points in 20 games. He plays on Portland's top line with the two-first round prospects but certainly has smaller build players to model his game after in the Jets system. Chase De Leo and Nic Petan are both Portland alumni playing for Manitoba Moose in the AHL. It's clear that Winnipeg likes to take risks on the smaller WHL prospects with offensive talent.
Two more WHL blueliners who have seen their production jump are Saskatoon's Libor Hajek and Prince George's Dennis Cholowski. Libor plays for an offensively challenged team but is already closing in on last season's point total of 26. His 19 points in 22 games are impressive but fantasy owners might wait until his shot totals skyrocket too (currently sits at 38). He was selected by Tampa after the 37th pick was acquired for sending Anthony DeAngelo to then Arizona. Libor has always been praised for his mobility and his NHL frame so it would be nice to add a bit more offensive potential to that list of positive qualities.
The first-round risky Detroit pick transferred his talents from St Cloud in the NCHC to the WHL. Whenever a prospect is labelled a long-term project, fans get excited to see when or if a production jump happens. Cholowski recorded an assist tonight but fired five shots on net bringing his season shot total to 47 in 21 games. He currently sits at 17 points in 20 games. I remember his getting some comparisons to Keith Yandle at the draft so an offensive boost to the excellent skater and passer is certainly what the Red Wings need to hear. There may be light ahead for your backend Red Wings fans. Please don't hold me to that though…please don't. He's at 12% owned on Fantrax. His potential future teammates are around the same percentage. (Saarijarvi – 8%, Hickets – 10%).
As far as the prospects in the QMJHL, it's nice to see draft-eligible Filip Zadina piling on. He's currently shooting 18.4% with 98 shots on goal in 24 games. With 15 of 18 goals coming at even-strength, I have concluded that he enjoys shooting pucks into nets.
Teammate Maxime Fortier grabbed 2 assists shooting at 15.1% with 93 total shots in 23 games. Columbus is hoping they grabbed an offensive weapon after he was undrafted twice.
Now… let's change focus here for a last longer look.
Philadelphia has been drafting over the moon the last number of years. If you are one who uses the phrase, "stock the cupboards"….the metaphor would continue to declare that they shouldn't get any more groceries for a while. It's just not fair. It's unfortunate that Pascal Laberge isn't one of those found gems however. After taking a headshot early in 2016/17, he missed a chunk of games recovering from a concussion. He hasn't had the same production since. His draft eligible year he had 68 points in 56 games and performed wonderfully during the top prospects game. He was selected 36th overall and has since put up 32 points in 46 and currently sits with 13 points in 21 games. He went from leading Victoriaville in points to not in the top 10 of team scoring. Oooof. I drafted him in the DPFHL prospects league in spring of 2016 and declared myself a genius. It's tough to see a talented youngster lose his stride.
Hope for the best, folks. Hope for the best.
Thanks for reading the ramblings!
Follow me @dathockeydoe covering all things Calgary Flames. Matthew Phillips is amazing.
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