Monday, July 8th, 2013

 

Before I continue with my grading of NHL teams at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, I want to touch on a few things floating around my mind.

 

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Last week, the Canadian Hockey League held its annual CHL Import Draft and the results can be found here. Of course, not every one of these players will report to play for these franchises but past CHL Import Drafts have brought names like Oilers' Nail Yakupov (2nd overall 2010, Sarnia), Red Wings' Martin Frk (3rd 2010, Halifax), Coyotes Tobias Rieder (5th 2010, Kitchener), Flames' Sven Baertschi (7th 2010, Lethbridge), Canucks Nicklas Jensen (8th 2010, Oshawa), Lightning's Vladislav Namestnikov (20th 2010, London), Bruins' Alexander Khokhlachev (23rd 2010, Windsor), Penguins Olli Maatta (1st 2011, London), Sabres Mikhail Grigorenko (2nd 2011, Quebec) and Nikita Zadorov (9th 2012, London) to the CHL to compete, among many many others.

 

The top prospects from the 2013 NHL Entry Draft that were selected in the CHL Import Draft last week were: Capitals 23rd overall selection Andre Burakovsky (5th, Erie), Canadiens' 34th overall selection Jacob de la Rose (11th, Windsor), Islanders Victor Crus-Rydberg (41st, Plymouth), Leafs Fabrice Herzog (42nd, Quebec), Canucks Anton Cederholm (60th, Portland) and Canadiens' Artturi Lehkonen (85th, Kootenay).



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Interesting rule change out of Sweden stating that players leaving to play hockey abroad (CHL) will not be eligible to play for its junior national teams. It is believed that this rule applies to the U18 and under teams and not the Under-20 teams, like we see at the World Junior Championships every Holiday season. That could change though.

 

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Free agent frenzy brought a lot of movement (of http://prospects.dobbersports.com/index.php/submit-articlebig names too) around the NHL and there were several notable prospects moved.

 

Anaheim (finally) dealt Bobby Ryan for Jakob Silfverberg, Stefan Noesen and a 2014 1st round pick. Silfverberg no longer qualifies as a prospect but Stefan Noesen is a player who I really liked. However, Noesen certainly struggled this season and failed to meet the expectations that I felt he was capable of. Noesen is at his best when he’s engaging himself and he didn’t do that as consistently as I wanted this season. I really like his upside as a complementary forward and this is a trade that will unite him with Plymouth Whaler teammate and fellow 2011 1st round pick in Rickard Rakell. Apparently, the Ducks wanted to draft Noesen at the 2011 NHL Draft but missed him by one pick.

 

Angus did an excellent job breaking down the impacts of the prospects in the Tyler Seguin – Loui Eriksson trade. Some quick thoughts….Joe Morrow needs to find his way in Providence and then Boston or he will quickly lose fantasy value. He didn’t have the strongest audition for the Texas Stars (three goals, seven points in 17 regular season and playoff games) but his puck moving abilities and big point shot are valuable assets. He will have lots of competition in Boston (much more than Dallas) with Dougie Hamilton, Torey Krug and Matt Bartkowski competing for offensive minutes, the latter two are left handed shots like Morrow too.

 

Reilly Smith is certainly a player to watch as he offers great versatility and the ability to potentially crack the top six. I question whether he has the skill set to hold down that type of spot in the Bruins future top six but he will certainly make a name for himself in the lineup with his ability to play a number of different roles.

 

Matt Fraser is the most interesting acquisition in the Seguin trade as he possesses that rare ability to just get it done (that it factor). Sure, he needs to work on the defensive side of the game but he packs a lethal shot and at the end of the day, goals win games. Fraser could play a similar role as Michael Ryder does.

 

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Plenty of development camps are ongoing across the NHL and I am always intrigued by the invitees that went undrafted and are playing their hearts out to impress the NHL brass. Here are some notable names that caught my attention:

 

Anaheim Ducks: Kyle Novak

Boston Bruins: Casey Bailey, Ryan Carpenter, Garnet Hathaway – all three are 6-foot-plus ’91 born NCAA forwards.

Buffalo Sabres (Camp Info)

Chicago Blackhawks (Camp Info)

Colorado Avalanche: Kurt Etchegary

Columbus Blue Jackets (Roster)

Dallas Stars: Matt Needham, Luke Mercer, Zach Yuen

Detroit Red Wings: Michael Babcock, Dean Chelios – names look familiar?, Kurt Etchegary, Barclay Goodrow, Brody Silk, Alex Gudbranson (D), Andrew D'Agostini (G), Jake Patterson (G...not to be confused with their draftee Jake Paterson)

Edmonton Oilers: Franky Palazzese (G)

Florida Panthers (Roster)

Los Angeles Kings: Cameron Maclise, Scott Sabourin (D), Alex Fortinos (G), Mathias Niederberger (G)

Minnesota Wild: Rhyse Dieno, Alex Basso (D), Cody Corbett (D)

Montreal Canadiens: Jean-Sebastien Dea, Matt Murphy (D), Peter Trainor, Ben Duffy, Stephen MacAuley, Zach Hall, Jordan Dekort (G)

Nashville Predators (Camp Info)

New York Islanders (Camp Info)

New York Rangers (Camp Info): Sergei Tolchinsky, Charlie Dodero (D), Ben Fanelli (D)

Ottawa Senators: Jeff Corbett, Macoy Erkamps

Philadelphia Flyers: Andrew Ryan, Stephen Harper

Phoenix Coyotes: Brenden Walker, Jackson Playfair (son of Asst. Coach, Jim Playfair), Justin Feser, Josh Currie

Pittsburgh Penguins: Connor Rankin

San Jose Sharks (Roster)

Tampa Bay Lightning: Brett Welychka, Brady Brassart

Toronto Maple Leafs: Josh Burnside, Matt Rupert, Christopher Gibson (G), Ted Doherty (D), Mack Lemmon (D), Kevin Raine (D)

Vancouver Canucks: Daniel Johnston (D), Kyle Hope (D/F), Cody Sylvester

Washington Capitals (Roster): Matt Petgrave (D), Dalton Young (D)

Winnipeg Jets: Austin Czarnik

 

Information Not Available: Calgary Flames, Carolina Hurricanes, New Jersey Devils, St. Louis Blues

 

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Onto more draft grades….diving into teams D-M (Dallas through Montreal) drafts now….and providing them with an early grade. Clearly, time will tell how these grades/picks pan out. Grades are based on number of picks and the value they got where they were selecting.

 

Dallas Stars: B

Selections: Valeri Nichushkin (10), Jason Dickinson (29), Remi Elie (40), Philippe Desrosiers (54), Niklas Hansson (68), Nicholas Paul (101), Cole Ully (131), Matej Paulovic (149), Aleksi Makela (182)

 

Whenever a projected top three prospect falls to you at the 10th position then that particular team gets off on a strong foot…and Dallas did exactly that with Nichushkin. The speedy big Russian winger landed on the perfect team as Dallas needs immediate offensive help and they have open spots as well. Jim Nill had a good draft in his first attempt at the helm of the Stars and rolled the dice on another skilled forward with loads of upside when the team selected Jason Dickinson 29th overall. Anyone who follows my work knows that I praised London Knights’ forward Remi Elie since the opening day of their training camp so I approved their selection of this gritty forward. While 40th overall surprised even me, Elie is a player who WILL take on a much larger role in London next year and is a prime candidate for a breakout. Nabbing goaltender Desrosiers was a shrewd move by Dallas (he was one of my favourite netminders) and then Hansson, Paul and Ully are all good serviceable players with good value at their positions.

 

Detroit Red Wings: B -

Selections: Anthony Mantha (20), Zach Nastasiuk (48), Tyler Bertuzzi (58), Mattias Janmark-Nylen (79), David Pope (109), Mitch Wheaton (139), Marc McNulty (169), Hampus Melen (199)

 

The Red Wings were handed a gift when San Jose offered up an extra second round pick for Detroit to move back two spots and still landed the size and scoring touch they coveted in Anthony Mantha. I was a big fan of their Nastasiuk selection as he brings a hard-working two-way presence and I envision him as a key piece to a future championship team. Detroit lost me with their “extra” second round pick when they went off the board to grab tough guy Tyler Bertuzzi (nephew of Todd). I had Bertuzzi as a late round flier pick but it was clear the Wings were looking to get bigger and tougher and Wheaton and McNulty fit that bill too. Janmark-Nylen appears to be one of Detroit’s project picks as this overage player has some offensive skill but lacks the skating skills.

 

Edmonton Oilers:  B+

Selections: Darnell Nurse (7), Marc-Oliver Roy (56), Bogdan Yakimov (83), Anton Slepyshev (88), Jackson Houck (94), Kyle Platzer (96), Aidan Muir (113), Evan Campbell (128), Ben Betker (158), Gregory Chase (188)

 

After their 2012 NHL Draft, I was not a fan of the Oilers’ selections given where some of their prospects were taken. However, newly appointed GM Craig MacTavish and his draft team did much better in 2013 (in my opinion). With a slew of talented forward prospects in the system, the Oilers finally addressed their defensive needs in the first round by selecting Darnell Nurse (a player I had the Oilers selecting in my mock). Nurse has a high upside and should be in Edmonton within a few years (minimum). Edmonton did a great job at adding players with either big upside (Roy, Yakimov, Slepyshev) or great team qualities (Houck, Platzer, Chase) at positions where they didn’t need to reach for them. I was shocked they didn’t add a goaltender or another defenseman (or two) but the Oilers got great value on almost every single selection.

 

Florida Panthers: B

Selections: Aleksander Barkov (2), Ian McCoshen (31), Evan Cowley (92), Michael Downing (97), Matt Buckles (98), Christopher Clapperton (122), Josh Brown (152), Mackenzie Weegar (206)

 

Dale Tallon made the first big surprise of the draft selecting Finnish centerman, Aleksander Barkov, second overall and after analyzing his current skill set, impressive success against men already and the fact that he is mere days away from being 2014 eligible, you start to see why the Panthers wanted this stud. Beyond the Barkov selection, Florida’s remaining picks were solid yet unspectacular. McCoshen (who I had going 35th in my mock) was a good safe pick at 31st but I preferred other defensemen (and forwards) to him that remained on the board. Grabbing both goaltender Cowley and defenseman Downing (whose upside I like) in the fourth round were great selections and the Matt Buckles selection adds a real competitive player with decent upside.

 

Los Angeles Kings:  B +

Selections: Valentin Zykov (37), Justin Auger (103), Hudson Fasching (118), Patrik Bartosak (146), Jonny Brodzinski (148), Zach Leslie (178), Dominik Kubalik (191)

 

Considering the Kings didn’t have many selections in the top half of the draft, Dean Lombardi had a very impressive draft. Trading up to grab draft slider Valentin Zykov was a crafty play and then their next three selections were all favourite players of mine. Auger improved his skating (borderline horrific in his first draft season) substantially and his size (6-6) and soft hands certainly offer a rare combination in a player his size. Fasching entered this season as a coveted prospect but struggled mightily; however, his size and character are extremely high so grabbing him late in the fourth was great value. Bartosak, another overager, was named the WHL and CHL Goaltender of the Year so no more justification is needed with this pick. Leslie, yep…another overager, is a solid two-way defenseman that showed to be extremely responsible for Guelph this season. My favourite selection of the Kings might be the Dominik Kubalik pick as his offensive skills are very intriguing in the games I watched Sudbury play.

Minnesota Wild: C

Selections: Gustav Olofsson (46), Kurtis Gabriel (81), Dylan Labbe (107), Carson Soucy (137), Avery Peterson (167), Nolan De Jong (197), Alexandre Belanger (200)

 

Void of a first round selection, Minnesota added a mediocre defensive prospect midway through the 2nd in Gustav Olofsson. He is a mobile defender who plays a tough game but there doesn’t appear to be too high of an upside on either side of the puck. Gabriel is an overage forward with good size but he projects as a bottom six forward. Avery Peterson is a forward with an intriguing offensive upside as he boasts good vision and puck handling ability but he remains a project at this point. Minnesota’s draft did not excite me one bit.

 

Montreal Canadiens: A -

Selections: Michael McCarron (25), Jacob de la Rose (34), Zach Fucale (36), Artturi Lehkonen (55), Connor Crisp (71), Sven Andrighetto (86), Martin Reway (116), Jeremy Gregoire (176)

 

While I feel Montreal had a second consecutive strong draft, their grades need to reflect the fact that they possessed some great picks high in this draft….a very deep draft class. To be honest, I was not a fan of them selecting Michael McCarron with the 25th pick (I had them selecting him 34th in my mock though) as I don’t see the upside necessary for that pick. His skating needs work, his hockey sense is questionable and there are times when he gets too involved into the physical aspect of the game. Sure, McCarron brings great size and the Montreal Canadiens could afford to “take a shot” with the number of high selections they had but there were GREAT players remaining on the board. However, it is all about “upside” with McCarron.

I really liked the next three picks Montreal made in de la Rose, Fucale and Lehkonen as they each offer something very unique. However, I keep hearing Montreal being praised for grabbing Fucale in the second and how “smart” it was but was it really? If Montreal coveted Fucale anymore than any other team did, then why didn’t they use their 25th pick to select him? Or, more importantly, the 34th pick? Ballsy move to pass Fucale for two players with much lower NHL upside. Jacob de la Rose was an excellent pick as he will provide Montreal with a stabilizing two-way presence for years to come (and it looks like he’s coming to Windsor next year too). Artturi Lekhonen is all about upside as an offensive forward but beware, there are concussion issues already (hence why he fell). I did not like how high they selected Connor Crisp but they finished the draft with three good value picks in overager Andrighetto, tiny offensive forward Martin Reway and agitator Jeremy Gregoire. Regardless of whether I approve of where players were taken, Montreal walks away from the draft with another promising group of prospects….and most of them having very intriguing upsides (McCarron, de la Rose, Fucale, Lehkonen, Andrighetto and Reway).

 

I will be back with more thoughts in a day or two so don’t feel left out if your team wasn’t discussed. There is a lot to digest from this draft and it will take a while.

 

 

I love this video especially because Canucks’ Bo Horvat grew up in my neck of the woods and his father (seen here) was an extremely impactful coach in our hometown minor hockey organization (….and he was a hell of a player in his day as well).

 

 

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Thanks for reading,

@RossyYoungblood


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