Thursday, February 6th
It’s been a great year for the NHL’s youth. I shouldn’t be but I continue to be tremendously surprised with the Jacob Trouba’s quick emergence. I knew he’d be a stud when he was drafted but he’s developed so quickly and become the Jet’s most consistent defenseman (besides Dustin Byfuglien when he’s back on the blue line).
Wild youngster Nino Niederreiter has been a streaky scorer early in his career but he snapped a 12-game goalless drought on Tuesday. He was pointless in six games prior to that powerplay marker. The good news for Niederreiter is that he is second in plus-minus on the Wild with a plus-9 rating so he should continue to earn the coaches’ trust.
Staying in Minnesota, Justin Fontaine’s 12 goals on the season are a good sign considering he’s skating with Kyle Brodziak and Matt Cooke 49% of the time and receiving virtually no powerplay time. His dozen goals places him third on Minnesota and only behind Parise and Pominville.
Disappointing news that Stamkos isn’t ready to compete for Team Canada after learning his fracture isn’t fully healed. However, Tampa Bay’s youngsters have really stepped up in his absence and not only kept the Lightning afloat but rather climb to second of the Atlantic Division, trailing only the big bad Bruins. Stick tap to Tyler Johnson (32 points), Alex Killorn (32) and Ondrej Palat (31) for capitalizing on their opportunities. Hell, Ryan Malone is damn-near off the roster.
Oh ya, that Nikita Kucherov character is pretty good with 14 points and probably 100 breakaways on the season. I cannot wait for him to lineup inside the Lightning’s top six.
With 11 goals, 25 assists and 36 points on the season, Tampa’s Victor Hedman has shattered his previous career highs. The fifth year NHLer is on pace for a whopping 17 goals and 55 points this season. It’s a shame Sweden left this young stud off of their Olympic roster.
Across the sunshine state, Aleksander Barkov is ready to head to Sochi, Russia to compete for his homeland of Finland. He’ll be the youngest player in Sochi at just 18-years-young. His eight goals and 24 points aren’t overly flashy but he plays such a smart game and remains one of my favourite prospects out there.
Max Domi was named the OHL Player of the Week after scoring six points in three games last week. It was the second week in a row that Domi earned these honours.
Toronto Maple Leafs’ prospect Connor Brown has been nothing short of amazing this year in Erie and 13 tallies and 29 points in a dozen January games earns him OHL Player of the Month for January. Brown was the first OHL player to reach the 100-point marker this season and did so in just 48 games, setting a new points record for the Erie Otters’ franchise. Not too shabby for a 6th round selection in 2012.
Islanders prospect Adam Pelech led all OHL blue liners in the January scoring with 17 points (all of them assists) and an impressive plus-13 rating in 10 contests. His outstanding monthly performance was good enough to earn Pelech OHL Defenseman of the Month honours for January.
Looking ahead, Travis Konecny is a player to keep tabs on for the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. His shot and ability to attack aggressively is right up there with Phil Kessel and he’s enjoying an outstanding rookie season in the OHL after being selected 1st overall last April. Konecny was named January’s OHL Rookie of the Month for January. The award has been handed out four times this season and Konecny has won three of the four.
Kootenay’s Sam Reinhart certainly not hurting his #2014NHLDraft stock notching 1G 5P in 6-3W over Saskatoon.1st #WHL fight earlier in the wk— Brendan Ross (@RossyYoungblood) February 5, 2014
Leon Draisaitl scores a hat trick and four points for Swift Current earlier this week. He’s considered a top 10 pick for the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. Reminds me of Kopitar. Look for my mid-season draft rankings this week….
One bright spot on the rebuilding Kitchener Rangers is Buffalo Sabres’ prospects Justin Bailey…
Lost in lopsided defeat, Justin Bailey (@BuffaloSabres) scored three times and picked up four points in Kitchener #Rangers 10-4 loss #Sabres— Brendan Ross (@RossyYoungblood) February 5, 2014
The Winnipeg Jets’ are coming off a couple strong drafts in my opinion. At the 2012 draft, Winnipeg grabbed Scott Kosmachuk 70th overall (I had him as a mid-2nd round selection) and he’s had a strong campaign with the contending Guelph Storm. Kosmachuk scored 4 goals and 5 points earlier this week.
Who’s the hottest prospect in the world right now?
New York Rangers’ 80th pick in 2013 – Anthony Duclair. For the second consecutive week, Duclair was named CHL Player of the Week after scoring three times adding 10 points in two weekly games with the Quebec Remparts.
On January 30th, Duclair had a two goal, SEVEN point game versus the mighty Halifax Mooseheads. Through 46 games, Duclair sits second in QMJHL with 41 goals and 87 points, just three back of Red Wings’ prospect Anthony Mantha (90 points). In the same game, Anaheim Ducks’ second rounder (2013) Nick Sorensen tallied three goals and five points, Lightning draftee Adam Erne registered two assists and Sabres Mikhail Grigorenko had one goal and two points. The Quebec Remparts are rolling right now and are a team to watch for the 2014 CHL Memorial Cup.
For the record, Mikhail Grigorenko has four goals and nine points in seven games since being returned to junior by the Buffalo Sabres.
Shark’s Tomas Hertl’s between-the-leg-goal that drew both praise and criticism earlier in the season seems to have been more inspirational than anything else. Nashville Predators’ prospect Brendan Leipsic’s replication will receive consideration for CHL Highlight of the Year goal
Don Cherry celebrated his 80th Birthday on Wednesday, February 6th! Cheers to you “Grapes”!
Thanks for reading folks,
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