Welcome to the Thursday Ramblings.
This week I will go over a few team’s prospects who have to battle with one of the greatest nemeses’ towards starting a professional career: The dreaded Roster Spot! There are prospects I feel can make their respective teams, but they have to either battle another prospect and a chance at a roster spot or battle to make the monster alone to make the team.
Before we being, my #GoodTweet of the week (I have been awful at twitter this week+, my bad):
Cool a bottom six player because Detroit doesn't have enough of those https://t.co/u237qRC1V3— Pat Quinn (not that one) (@FHPQuinn) August 14, 2019
Let me begin
Barrett Hayton vs Roster Spot
The Arizona Coyotes currently have 10 players signed to one-way deals and Clayton Keller and Christian Fischer on the end of their ELCs. If Hayton makes the team it will not be as the 13th forward. The only players he can take the spots of are: Connor Garland, Carl Soderberg and Brad Richardson. The Coyotes will likely have an easier time scratching Garland than the teams’ top prospect, and if Hayton can beat Richardson or Soderberg for a spot, the staying player would likely be the fourth line centre.
Prospects Hayton must battle for a roster spot: Nick Merkley, Tyler Steenbergen, and Hudson Fasching. Fasching is a much better prospect to play in the bottom six, and Steenbergen is not very close. Merkley is Hayton’s toughest competition, but injuries will not leave Markley alone as he has only 83 AHL games played in the last two seasons. It would be best for him to stay in the AHL.
I believe there is a good chance Hayton can make it, but with the set-up of the roster (a lot of similar players) I would not put his chances higher than 65%
The Columbus Blue Jackets have 10 players signed with only PLD as the additional notable two-way contract. There will be a challenge from Marko Dano and Eric Robinson, as they are more suited to bottom line roles, but the Jackets need scoring and these two players fir the bill. The Blue Jackets’ problem is that there is really only one spot open for two offensively gifted young players, as eight on the one-way contracts have term, the ninth is Josh Anderson, and the tenth is Markus Hannikainen who has established himself as an NHLer to Torts.
Texier should have the inside track but Bemstrom could surprise. Really it would be in CBJ’s best interest to ship out a bad contract (ie. Dubinsky, Wennberg or Riley Nash) and give both players top six ice time, but that is always easier said than done.
I would give Texier the inside track here and say he is 95% to make the squad full-time, as Torts is unpredictable if he perceives a player not working hard. Bemstrom I would peg at 30% unless the Jackets make a move or two.
The Florida Panthers have nine one-way contracts with Dadonov and Hoffman as notable UFAs for 2020, with Borgstrom on the only two-way contract. Now this should be a battle between Heponiemi and Tippett but Denis Malgin and Jayce Hawryluk have become great depth scorers that can be moved throughout the line-up. That fills up a 12 man forward roster, with both Tippett and Heponiemi best served in the AHL. There is a chance Sceviour can be sat in favour of either player, but people should remember Quenneville is not the greatest at incorporating young rookies into a pro roster.
I would give Tippett the edge in getting a roster spot as he is bigger and has NHL experience, but it would be at only 40%. I would peg Heponiemi at 20% as the Panthers will likely want him to play AHL games to see how he does on a smaller ice surface with bigger players.
The Canadiens have 14 one-way contracts and Kotkaniemi in year two of his ELC. Now it is almost a foregone conclusion that Weise will be on waivers along with Charles Hudon (please some team save this good boy and give him ice time), but that still bring the roster to 12. Montreal needs to make a couple moves if they want either, or both, of these kids on the roster. The way prospects have developed in Laval (or any Montreal AHL squad) it may be best to have these two skip playing there.
I will make a bold prediction and say Poehling will make the team at a 75% chance after his hattrick in the last game of the 2018-2019 Montreal season (as long as the team makes some moves). Suzuki will come up later but depending how the season goes in Montreal I can see his chances only really reaching 45%.
NEW YORK ISLANDERS
Noah Dobson vs Roster Spot
The Islanders are in a really weird spot where they have 14 forwards on one-way deals, with Beauvillier still to sign, up front and seven one-way deals on defense, with a roster that looks poor up front but good on the back end. The Islanders’ problem is that Dobson is too good for Junior and should not be in the AHL either, but there is no room for him and as we saw in 2018-2019 the Islanders would rather keep an old player on a PTO and sign another bad player than give a young player a chance (a Trotz staple).
Dobson will have to battle Sebastian Aho and Mitch Vande Somple to be one of the first call ups as both prospects are older and impressive. With Trotz and Lamorellio’s love of older players over rookies I would peg Dobson with only a 15% chance to make the roster.
Jesper Boqvist vs Roster Spot
The Devils have nine one-way contracts, plus Zacha unsigned, and Bratt, Hischer and Hughes on their ELCs. Two on those one-way contracts can be buries in the AHL, with Kevin Rooney and John Hayden. The battle becomes who the Devils want on the roster over those two, and Boqvist is in that battle. He is going up against Joey Anderson, Michael Mcleod, Brett Seney, and Nathan Bastain. What goes for Boqvist is that he arguable has the best scoring upside of the group, as Anderson and Bastain would be used for energy roles, Seney will likely be an AHL player, and the team wanting McLeod to make the team an impress.
There is a clause in Boqvist’s contract that can have him go back to the SHL this season if he does not make the NHL squad, which could be likely. I would peg Boqvist at a 35% chance to make the roster due to the abundance of two-way players the Devils have coming up, but if any players are moved his chances would shoot up to 55% for me.
Jordan Kyrou vs Roster Spot
The Blues are still too full at forward, like last season, without having Maroon signed. The team currently has 12 one-way contracts, one being Mackenzie MacEachern (AHL-bound), Robert Thomas on a two-way deal and Ivan Barbashev as an RFA. Kyrous showed last season that he can play in the NHL but he showed that as the Blues played terrible in the first half and then proceeded to play great in the AHL. With Steen and Fabbri injury prone Kyrou should see some NHL time and his only real competition is Klim Kostin for NHL time, as Dominik Bokk, Alexei Toropchenko, and Erik Foley all need more AHL time.
I would put Kyrou at 62% to make the NHL squad but an adding move by the Blues or Steen and Fabbri staying healthy all season greatly reduces that number.
Alright thanks for reading. Keep checking out the 31-in-31 series
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- WHL Report - September
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