Hockey is back! The World Cup is dominating hockey headlines and the annual rookie tournaments which usually have no competition this time of year are an afterthought. There are some prospects playing in the World Cup and Hayden Soboleski looked at that in his Prospects Ramblings on Sunday.
There are Rookie Tournaments across North America and our scouts are following them in their area, so with their help here is an inclusive look at standouts from all the rookie camps.
Leafs TV has been broadcasting all the games in London Ontario featuring the Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators and Pittsburgh Penguins
Several prominent prospects have been impressive for Montreal but none more than Michael McCarron and Mikhail Sergachev. Big Mike McCarron has been dominant at times in subtle ways. He has used his size and 20 games of NHL experience to his advantage and has looked like a man among boys. He has four goals including this one where he drives to the goal with a power move.
Sunday was the Mikhail Sergachev show. The Habs first round pick from the 2016 draft was dominating as an 18-year-old until he was knocked out of the game by a dirty hit from Ottawa’s Vince Dunn. Sergachev was controlling the game in every facet, physically, offensively and defensively.
Watch Sergachev on this play where he collects a loose puck on his own goal line and shows explosive two-step acceleration as he rushes the puck up the ice. He is heads up all the way and backs defenders off with his speed virtually unimpeded because of his speed. He threads the needle to Audette for the finish.
Audit gets his 2nd?? again on a great pass from Sergachev. Puts it on the tape for an easy goal. pic.twitter.com/TDS3CUdlwa— Peter Harling (@pharling) September 18, 2016
After Sergachev dished out a huge hip check to Ottawa’s Graham, the Sens Vince Dunn put on his goon hat and took Sergachev out of the game with this late hit.
The goal of the tournament goes to Nikita Scherbak as he goes through the neutral zone with speed, challenges the defender and threatens cutting to the middle, makes a sweet through his legs move and passes him on the outside and opens a lane to the goal.
Vince Dunn was a one man wrecking crew for Ottawa getting in three fights, and knocking Sergachev out in the final game. He is not likely to make the NHL and would only have value in leagues that reward PIM’s and hits. Nick Paul played very well, like McCarron he used his size and experience of 24 NHL games to his advantage. Paul needed to show some offensive ability and in the final game he broke out with two goals. On his first goal he showcased his shooting ability. Despite juggling the puck on the pass reception he still managed a quick release and accurate wrister shot that beat the goalie up high
Paul’s second goal was greasier and that is how he should score most of his goals in the NHL. He is a powerful skater and can drive the goal hard, set up screens in the crease and look for tips, and rebounds.
Nick Paul gets his 2nd?? today. Most of his goals will come from 4ft of the goal size driving net, tips rebounds pic.twitter.com/isg9YFaA7h— Peter Harling (@pharling) September 18, 2016
Andreas Englund was a force on the back end coming from Sweden this season he laid out some big hits and was noticeably stronger than the average player in this tournament. Nikita Scherbak made the mistake of dropping the gloves with Englund. Leafs Dmytro Timashov gets the business end of this hit from Englund
Dmytro Timashov gets levelled by Andreas Englund pic.twitter.com/zYuJl21Omb— Peter Harling (@pharling) September 16, 2016
Englund is a big defensive defenceman and really only offers value in deep leagues with hits, blocks and PIM categories.
Rising prospect Francis Perron had a multi goal game on Sunday as well with this snipe. Perron is an underrated prospect well worth adding and stashing on your prospect bench for a few years
Toronto Maple Leafs
With the tournament being held in London, all eyes were on Mitch Marner, and he flashed a few glimpses of his skill level and vision but failed to dominate overall. Toronto invited undrafted prospect Trevor Moore to their prospect camp earlier in the summer and have since signed him to a three year entry level contract. He created quite a bit of buzz this weekend with his offensive vision. Former first round pick Frederik Gauthier will never be a top six player but he has significantly improved his skating speed and agility. He still needs to find his offensive game but could project as an excellent fourth line center with size, strong on draws and some offensive ability.
From the Young Stars Classic in Penticton
Cam Robinson @CrazyJoeDavola3 had these observations in Vancouver. In his fourth rookie camp Jordan Subban showed improvement in his defensive game and pushed the play offensively with his edge work and shot. 2016 first round pick Olli Juolevi showed off his skating and passing skills and looks close to NHL ready now. Troy Stecher was signed as a free agent out of the NCAA and was a factor at both ends of the ice. Robinson believes the 22-year-old defenceman has an outside shot of cracking the roster. Thatcher Demko was lights out in Mondays game against Calgary featuring a penalty shot save on Flames Mark Jankowski
These games are also being broadcast on the Vancouver Canucks Facebook page and I was able to watch a few online.
Olli Juolevi, despite one major turnover at his own blueline that cost a goal, has shown he is a mobile and intelligent defender. Raced back to dive and break up a scoring chance on another goal has had multiple partners and ranged all over the offensive zone.
Thatcher Demko had a moderate first game and couldn't be faulted on 2 of 3 goals but looks solid and confident in net. In Mondays game he looked rock solid and stoned Jankowski on a penalty shot. He is the goalie of the future, the near future!
Troy Stecher has been the surprise on the roster, smallish but heady player that oozes hockey sense and determination. Skates well, moving the puck up the ice and looked comfortable running the powerplay. Seems to be adjusting with every shift and doesn't shy away from contact, finishing hits and digging hard in the corners in both zones.
Michael Carcone has been the best offensive player and is shifty with the puck, has a quick two-step, and can thread a pass.
The Edmonton Oilers fourth overall pick from the 2016 draft Jesse Puljujarvi showed some serious finish on this goal
Jesse Puljujarvi with a slick goal in last nights Young Stars competition. pic.twitter.com/T1UYoV6vTk— Robert Söderlind (@HockeyWebCast) September 17, 2016
Once the season begins and Puljujarvi is getting passes from Connor McDavid it should spark the Gretzky-Kurri comparisons. Puljujarvi is far and away the best player on the roster, looking fast, big and confident with the puck enough to make aggressive plays in the offensive zone. Single handedly deked a defender and fired top corner within 8 feet of the net. The shot was hard, quick and perfectly placed, complete goal scorers goal.
Niemelainen has skated well, showing good mobility and a quick stick to break up passes.
Kyle Platzer displaying deceptive wrist shot, nose for scoring plays but needs work on his skating pace to keep up with the play.
The Oilers signed Matt Benning as a free agent out of college this summer had a great game and was the Oilers best player. Benning has shown well, good skater, and displaying a gritty side. He made some excellent reads and has good size and plays a two-way game. Benning should be NHL ready after some AHL development time.
Matthew Tkachuk has shown he is going to compete for a spot on the main roster. Skating much better and seems to be healed from Mem Cup injury. Playing a chippy and agitating style, stirring up the opposition and throwing them off, but also showing his hands and creativity. Displaying acute passing ability, and backchecking as well as he is forechecking.
Tyler Parsons looked very solid in his half game of work, moving laterally across the crease to stifle second chances and his rebound control was excellent. Displaying quick feet.
Andrew Mangiapane skates as well as anyone on the team, and has hints of offensive creativity.
Hunter Smith has been a defensive liability and seems to be unable to find the right spots on the ice.
Mark Jankowski looks strong in the circle and has shown good defensive conscience as well as solid playmaking. Not afraid to drive the net.
Eetu Tuulola is a prospect I mentioned in episode one of DobberProspect Radio Podcast and he has a goal and an assist as I write this after two periods in Penticton on Monday Night. Keep an eye on this one.
Kyle Connor has shown he is the most talented player in camp, skating hard and creating scoring chances constantly. Several times deked opponents in very small spaces to create something out of nothing. Playing with Roslovic and Stallard on a line
Jack Roslovic also has impressed. Hard on the puck and winning board battles, face offs and loose pucks, his motor hasn't stopped and has been the defensive conscience on the line.
Jordan Stallard for his part has kept up well. Showing a much faster release than expected, hard wrister and has driven to the net with force.
Logan Stanley has had a very rough camp, looking slow in footspeed and unable to make a clean pass. His slow decision making has resulted in turnovers in the defensive zone shift after shift.
Our Sharks scout Zach Devine is at the Rookie Showcase, follow him on Twitter for great updates and some live video @zakkthebear
Martin stopped all 12 shots in about 30 minutes of play against the Sharks and allowed only two goals on 32 shots against the Ducks. The 6’3”, 201-pound netminder split last year between the ECHL and AHL, but looks ready for a full-time job with the Rampage.
Fell to the Avalanche at the top of the second round and many teams will wish they had not passed on the versatile defender. Skates very well and is comfortable with the puck on his stick and shows some creativity as well. Had two goals in two games at the Rookie Showcase.
After a 57 point debut with the San Diego Gulls, the offensive-defenseman shows shades of Brent Burns in his game. Always a threat to activate from the point, his skating allows him to recover quickly and the defensive side of his game is coming around.
Had a goal and an assist against the Avalanche, he has the skills to be a difference maker. Time will tell if it can be sustained, as he is prone to spells of inactivity during games. But when he is on, he can be an offensive force.
Nattinen has looked solid for the Ducks. Creativity has always been there. In these two games he's skating hard and competing for ice— Zachary DeVine (@zakkthebear) September 19, 2016
San Jose Sharks
Set-up the Sharks only goal against Colorado, his speed caused issues for the Avalanche during the entire game. Physically had issues at times but has an elusive quality to his game as well.
The four years spent at Boston University paid off for the Sharks. O’Regan is a heady two-way center that San Jose loves. Undersized but has a good hockey IQ and competes hard. Should get big minutes with the Barracuda this year.
New York Rangers
Dylan Finan @dfinhockey took in a Rangers game and has these observations. Jimmy Vesey looks NHL ready, his skill set and hockey smarts set him apart from everyone on the ice. He had a fluky goal but perhaps deserves more points than he has.
Malte Stromwall – silky smooth hands, high on-puck hockey sense is on full display, quick release wrist shot gets velocity and elevation quickly, not very bulky but has no fear in driving toward the net, looks ready for AHL minutes now.
Boo Nieves – incredible grit and hustle, hungry player all the time that has shown good vision and good on-ice awareness. Smart choice as captain.
Sean Day – more polarizing efforts. He hasn’t had any face palm-worthy brain fart moments and he’s had some good reads on both ends of the ice, but he still just leaves you wanting more. He is, however, one of the best skaters at the tournament.
Our Carolina scout Kevin Leblanc @kleblanchockey had a preview of the Traverse City Prospect Tournament in his Prospects Ramblings and has these preliminary observations on the Carolina Hurricanes rookies
Canes appear to have found another Finnish second round steal Janne Kuokkanen. His movement both with and without the puck has been terrific in the first two games of the tournament. He's definitely one to watch for in London this year.
Haydn Fleury was injured in Game One on a freak play around the net. He's been listed as day-to-day but I doubt we will see him the rest of the tournament.
Lucas Wallmark was one that I highlighted in my prospect preview for this tournament, and he has not disappointed. I expect him to have a good first year in North America and is a solid center prospect for the Canes moving forward.
Valentin Zykov has been playing well, and could see NHL time this season.
Clark Bishop, Steven Lorentz and Spencer Smallman have been a tough trio to play against. None of them offer a ton in terms of offensive upside, but they are worth watching as they continue to develop.
Sergei Tolchinsky doing what Sergei Tolchinsky does
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