Today’s ramblings look at the Connor McDavid show, recaps the progress of 2014 1st rounders and applauds the Leafs’ Mark Hunter addition…
Thursday, October 23rd
Continuing from Tuesday’s ramblings, let’s get back to reviewing the progress of the prospects drafted in the first round of the 2014 draft.
Previously, John Quenneville (30th) to Robby Fabbri (21st) were covered and now it’s time to examine the start prospects Nick Schmaltz (20th) to Kevin Fiala (11th) have gotten off to.
20th – Nick Schmaltz (Chicago Blackhawks) – An aggressive move to trade up to acquire Schmaltz on draft day, it will be interesting to see how this dazzling playmaker progresses in the Blackhawks system. North Dakota’s freshman is showing no problems transitioning to the collegiate game with one goal and four points through four games.
19th – Anthony DeAngelo (Tampa Bay Lightning) – It’s an odd sight to look at the OHL’s defensive scoring leaders and not see Sarnia’s Anthony DeAngelo leading the pack but with one goal and eight points through his first half-dozen games, we’re not panicking. After impressing the Lightning during training camp, DeAngelo has returned to Sarnia rejuvenated. There has been a minor blip on his young season as the New Jersey defender has already served a two-game suspension for his altercation with an official.
18th – Alex Tuch (Minnesota Wild) – Fresh into his collegiate debut with Boston College, Alex Tuch has been an impressive rookie scoring two goals in the Eagles 6-2 win. The hulking 6-foot-4, 22o-pound winger has been a force to handle and with his size, hockey sense and maturity, he may not last beyond his freshman season.
17th – Travis Sanheim (Philadelphia Flyers) – The Flyers were fascinated with Travis Sanheim’s inspired play to end his draft season last year and targeted him with their first round pick. Investing in Sanheim’s late surge is certainly proving to be smart as the tall defender has already surpassed his WHL career high goal total with six and his 11 points (10 games) has him ranked 7th among the league’s top scoring defencemen. Sanheim is coming off a two goal, three point effort against the Regina Pats and will represent Team WHL during November’s Subway Super Series.
16th – Sonny Milano (Columbus Blue Jackets) – The Plymouth Whalers were able to successfully lure Columbus first rounder away from his childhood dream of playing with Boston College but the team has had to be patient for his on-ice arrival after he suffered a facial fracture during Blue Jackets prospect tournament. Well, the fans of Plymouth won’t have to wait much longer as this puck wizard is set to make his OHL debut with the Whalers on Friday (October 24) after missing 11 games. You should be able to spot him fairly easy – he’ll be the dazzling forward with the full cage.
15th – Dylan Larkin (Detroit Red Wings) – He has been involved in the Tyler Myers to Detroit rumours as one of the key targets coming back but the Red Wings have no interest in moving Dylan Larkin. His team is off to a slow start (1-2-0) and he hasn’t found the gamesheet yet in league action but the rangy Wolverine is looking at a longer development so there really is no rush. Larkin has fired 11 shots on goal in his first three games so eventually the tallies will follow.
Larkin goal vs. Wilfrid Laurier (Exhibition) – 1:10 mark
14th – Julius Honka (Dallas Stars) – Entering the 2014 draft, Julius Honka’s style of game and overall demeanor was one that I fancied quite a bit and it appears the Dallas Stars shared that same sentiment. Honka nearly made Dallas’ roster out of camp and instead of sending him back to the WHL, Dallas found a loop-hole that allowed Honka to join the AHL’s Texas Stars. This intelligent and cerebral offensive defenseman is closer to NHL action than many believe. Beyond his Finnish heritage, he reminds me so much of Kimmo Timonen and his style of play. Honka has one goal and two points through three games of AHL professional action.
13th – Jakub Vrana (Washington Capitals) – Playing in the Swedish Hockey League (formerly called the Elitserien League), Czech forward Vrana has a pair of goals and three points in seven contests for Linkoping. A threatening goal scorer, Vrana has already matched his 2013-14 totals from his 24-game stint with Linkoping last season.
12th – Brendan Perlini (Arizona Coyotes) – Sidelined with a broken hand from Coyotes rookie camp when he was slashed on the hand, Perlini isn’t expected back anytime soon. He was left off of the Subway Super Series OHL roster meaning that it’s unlikely that he returns until late November. Perlini looked sharp during the IceDogs’ training camp and remains one of the best skating forwards I’ve witness to this day. The jury is still out on whether he is tough enough to become the offensive threat that his set of skills should suggest.
11th – Kevin Fiala (Nashville Predators) – Nashville was thrilled with Fiala’s first NHL camp and really dazzled before being one of the Predators’ final cuts. At just 18 years of age, Fiala was always destined to return to Sweden to polish up his game to better prepare him for a roster spot next season with the Predators. Fiala has already buried two goals and registered four points in four games with HV-71. Expect Fiala to improve substantially on his three goal and 11 point showing through 17 games with the SHL team last year. Fiala will be the face of Switzerland’s Under-20 World Junior team that will face off in Toronto in late December.
See Tuesday’s breakdown of players drafted 21st-30th here…
Check back for the final 2014 draftees update next week….
Jonathan Drouin registered his first career point when he sent a backend saucer to Garrison and then Valeri Filppula cleaned up the rebound….have a look:
Drouin is skating alongside sniper Steven Stamkos and Valeri Filppula 41.41% of the time so we can just imagine the chaos that the Drouin-Stamkos duo is going to cause on opposing defenders.
More Drouin, his first pro goal with the AHL’s Springfield Falcons:
Andre Burakovsky with another point (assist) in Washington’s 3-2 loss to Edmonton Wednesday night. The slick Swede has a pair of goals and six points in as many games, just one point back of “rookie” Tanner Pearson for the scoring lead (among rooks). Burakovsky is averaging 14:00 minutes and just over 2 on the second powerplay unit. With Niklas Backstrom in the lineup, I wouldn’t expect Burakovsky to move up onto the top unit but if an injury ever strikes #19 then he would be the prime benefactor.
Interesting enough, Burakovsky is garnering more ice-time than Kuznetsov by almost three minutes.
William Karlsson has been skating on Anaheim’s top PP unit with Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf but unfortunately, he hasn’t found the scoresheet. He hasn’t looked out of place and there is usually an adjustment period but he will need to produce in order to hold down that coveted spot.
The Buffalo Sabres’ First Niagara Center hosted an Ontario Hockey League game Wednesday evening between the Niagara IceDogs and Connor McDavid’s Erie Otters. I think it’s safe to assume that the Sabres’ marketing department organized this particular game to showcase a potential Sabres’ pick in Connor McDavid. For the thousands of fans that converged at the FNC, they didn’t walk away disappointed as McDavid turned in a four-point effort (1G 3A). Despite the media driven hype of Jack Eichel as McJesus’ rival, there’s no doubt that McDavid will be drafted first overall. Anyone indicating otherwise is just attempting to create page views. McDavid has 29 points in 10 games.
McDavid’s teammate and potential top 5 selection, Dylan Strome, impressed with another two-point effort in the game. Strome has tallied 25 points in 10 games.
Check out these “Reverse Standings” to watch the leaders in the McDavid hunt. Guess who’s leading?
Another good read about Buffalo and Connor McDavid…
Anders Lee has been recalled to the New York Islanders. All eyes are on who his linemates are with numerous combinations possible.
The Minnesota Wild have signed budding power forward, Charlie Coyle, to a five-year, $16 million contract. Coyle was set to become a RFA this upcoming off-season.
Coyle has a goal and two points through four games, skating alongside Niederreiter and Haula 56% of the time.
Glad to see the Calgary Flames lock up defenseman TJ Brodie. He’s been somewhat of an underrated player and the deal is certainly fair value for both sides. Brodie grew up in my community and still contributes to many local organizations and causes, including fundraising for Cystic Fibrosis, a disease his cousin has battled. I had the luxury of playing some pick-up summer hockey with Brodie back during his junior hockey days (Saginaw/Barrie) and I can now say that I’m glad he’s dangling on the NHL ice rather than making me look like a pylon. All the best to TJ!
The Maple Leafs continue to add knowledgeable and respected management personnel to the organization. Mark Hunter, one of the most respected hockey men in all of junior hockey, has been brought on as Director of Player Development to oversee pro and amateur scouting. Excellent recruiting and hiring! Few men in hockey are as well connected as Mark Hunter and that should help the Leafs to bring talent, through trade and possibly free agency, to the world’s most fiercest hockey market.
The Maple Leafs are starting to figure out how to use their financial advantages to their benefit in the salary cap era….
Looking towards the 2016 NHL Draft, TSN’s Craig Button dubs Austin Matthews as the favourite to go 1st overall.
Watching Matthews, I see a player capable of impacting the game in multiple ways. The 6-foot-1, 194-pounder is an excellent skater who can beat opponents with speed or quickness and is capable of executing plays at high speed. His passing skills are precise and he has the ability to score off the rush, off the cycle, from a distance, from in close. He has the intelligence of high-end players and exudes an uncommon confidence. He swats away obstacles as though they are merely irritating flies.
Thanks for reading,
@RossyYoungblood (Brendan Ross)
As always, feel free to converse, comment or rambling in the comment section below.
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