Rossy’s Ramblings – April 15th

by Dean Youngblood on April 15, 2015


Jack Eichel wins the Hobey Baker, Connor McDavid sets another record, Max Domi and Robby Fabbri have likely played their final OHL games.

Wednesday, April 15th

Connor McDavid continues to tear apart the Canadian Hockey League and was recently named CHL Player of the week scoring seven times and picking up 12 points in three playoff games. More recently, McDavid scored an empty net goal and had an assist in last night’s 3-2 win over the London Knights to complete the Otters’ sweep of the Knights. With 14 points in four games against the Knights, Connor McDavid set a new franchise record for points in a series. I absolutely love how deceptive McDavid proves to be …in his skating, in his puck skills, in his decision makings. His ability to separate and turn up speed in transitions is unmatched. His ability to use clever intentional bank plays around the net cannot be strategized against. The kid just knows how to exceed the lofty and nearly impossible expectations set on him. Never bet against him. I think he’ll be better than Sidney Crosby when it’s all said and done.

McDavid’s draft rival, Jack Eichel, is no slouch himself and was the main reason that Boston University marched their way to the Frozen Four championship. Eichel was named the 2015 Hobey Baker award winner last Friday before their National Championship game against Providence. Eichel won the coveted award over Harvard junior standout Jimmy Vesey (Predators draft pick) who racked up 32 goals and 58 points in only 37 games himself. Eichel’s 26 goals and 71 points in 40 games topped all NCAA players. That’s damn impressive for an 18 year old in College hockey.

Eichel put on an absolute show versus the University of North Dakota in the semi-final game where he not only showed his elite offensive skillset but impressed me even more with his defensive abilities. He uses his length extremely well and it’s why he draws some comparisons to Mario Lemieux that way. Of course, he’s a beautiful skater with a long stride that rockets up to top speed. Defensively, I was especially impressed with Eichel’s face off abilities. Unfortunately for Eichel and BU, the Terriers lost to Providence in the Frozen Four final. Don’t expect Eichel to be back with BU next season as the Buffalo Sabres guaranteed (at worst) drafting Eichel as they finished last in the NHL.

 

Jack Eichel wins the 2015 Hobey Baker Award:

 

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After watching most of the Frozen Four tournament, It was nice to see how well Flames 1st rounder Mark Jankowski played. Calgary was questioned a lot at the draft for taking a flier on Jankowski with the 14th pick but he’s coming along nicely. Plays a great two way game and was one of Providence’s most impactful forwards on both sides of the puck. He’s got a lot more room to grow as a player too so that’s promising for Calgary.

 

Other prospects from the Frozen Four who I was impressed with include: Matt Grzelcyk (BU, Boston Bruins), Danny O’Regan (BU, San Jose Sharks), Brandon Hickey (BU, Calgary Flames), Nick Schmaltz (UND, Chicago Blackhawks), Luke Johnson (UND, Chicago Blackhawks), Jordan Schmaltz (UND, St. Louis Blues), Jon Gillies (Providence, Calgary Flames), Zane McIntyre (UND, Boston Bruins), Paul Ladue (UND, Los Angeles Bruins), Drake Caggiula (UND, undrafted/unsigned).

 

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One year after a great OHL season with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, Matt Murray (Pittsburgh Penguins) wins the AHL Rookie of the Year after a dominant season between the pipes for Wilkes-Barre Scranton.

 

“A third-round draft pick by Pittsburgh in 2012, Murray has spent much of his rookie season rewriting the AHL’s record book. The 20-year-old native of Thunder Bay, Ont., is 25-9-3 in 39 appearances for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton while leading the league with a 1.51 goals-against average, a .943 save percentage and 12 shutouts, more than any other rookie goaltender in AHL history. From Feb. 8 to Mar. 8, Murray held Penguins opponents off the scoreboard for 304 minutes and 11 seconds, the longest shutout streak by a goaltender in the AHL’s 79-year history. Murray has been named CCM/AHL Player of the Week and CCM/AHL Goaltender of the Month twice each, and last week earned AHL All-Rookie Team and AHL All-Star First Team honors.”

 

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Back to Jimmy Vesey – there were plenty of rumours swirling that Vesey was considering leaving college to turn pro with Nashville but has decided to finish out his college career out with Harvard

 

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There were some players who did decide to turn pro early including New York Rangers’ defensive prospect Brady Skjei (University of Minnesota) who was drafted in the 2012 first round.

 

Quinnipiac’s captain Matthew Peca signed his entry level contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Peca is a 7th round selection of the Lightning in 2011.

 

Tampa Bay also inked Minnesota goaltender Adam Wilcox who will forego his senior year with the Gophers. His ELC will begin in 2015-16 as he finishes out the 2014-15 season with Syracuse on a try out contract. Wilcox was drafted in the 6th round of the 2011 draft.

 

Los Angeles has signed St. Cloud forward Jonny Brodzinski who has developed into one of college’s best pure goal scorers. He was passed over twice in the NHL Draft before LA scooped him up in the 5th round of the 2013 draft.

 

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See who tops the list of SBNation’s Top 100 NHL Prospects playing in the NCAA…

 

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USA Hockey names 16 to World Championship roster including abovementioned Jimmy Vesey, Others include: defensemen Justin Faulk(Carolina Hurricanes), Jake Gardiner (Toronto Maple Leafs), Torey Krug (Boston Bruins), John Moore(Arizona Coyotes) and Connor Murphy (Arizona Coyotes); and forwards Mark Arcobello (Arizona Coyotes), Matt Hendricks (Edmonton Oilers), Trevor Lewis (Los Angeles Kings), Jeremy Morin (Columbus Blue Jackets), Ben Smith (San Jose Sharks), Goaltender Alex Lyon (Yale University), defenseman Mike Reilly (University of Minnesota), forwards Dylan Larkin (University of Michigan), Steve Moses (Jokerit, KHL) and Dan Sexton (Nizhnekamsk Neftekhimik, KHL)

 

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With the London Knights and Guelph Storm being eliminated in sweeps at the hands of the Erie Otters and Soo Greyhounds respectively, first rounders Max Domi (Arizona Coyotes) and Robby Fabbri (St. Louis Blues) have likely played their final junior games. Both of these players will be future offensive dynamos for their NHL franchises and should crack the big club next season.

 

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The Toronto Maple Leafs relieved Nonis and a whole whack of scouts from their duties. It’s not overly shocking considering their recent history of drafting and development but I was shocked that they cleaned out so many people. That is tough to do so Shanahan is serious about changing the direction of this franchise. Tough for those scouts and yes, it’s part of the business, but good luck to them finding new work.

 

I wouldn’t expect the Leafs to rush into hiring a new GM (and Mark Hunter might eventually become that guy). It appears that it’ll be Kyle Dubas and Mark Hunter at the helm for the Leafs draft and that’s a good thing. They kept on scouts who they trust and these two have watched enough hockey over the past few years to have a great grasp on the ’15 class. I’d expect Toronto to target more CHL players.

 

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The NHL Draft Lottery (aka McDavid Lottery) is scheduled for Saturday, April 18th. Gut feeling is that Toronto wins 😉

 

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Leafs take with 27 of 102 possible points over their final 51 games. That's a 44-point pace over an 82-game season.

— Jonas Siegel (@jonasTSN1050) April 12, 2015

 

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Sam Bennett suited up in first career NHL game with the Calgary Flames and assisted in his first shift, in the first minute of the game. Not a bad start. His compete and skills will make him a very special NHL player and a great youngster for the Flames to build around.

 

 

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If you’re interested in the future of the OHL and eventual NHL, give my OHL Draft Guide a read. The OHL Priority Selection was completed last Saturday.

 

This is a nice video capturing the excitement around these young kids being selected. In this case, it’s defenseman Hayden Davis who gets selected 1st round by the Niagara Ice Dogs.

 

 

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TJ Oshie and Zach Parise show off their skills and GoPro is there to catch it!

 

 

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Thanks for reading,

@RossyYoungblood (Brendan Ross)