Friday October 4th, 2013
I am going to try something new here and forgive me if it doesn't fancy each and everyone of you but it could be really fun. Friday's prospect rambling is going to be courtesy of my twitter feed and several others with embedded tweets and running commentary from yours truly.
Over the past two years, I have worked hard trying to provide top notch hockey coverage for NHL prospects, the World Junior Championship and the annual NHL Entry Draft. Dobber was kind enough to bring me on board a few years back to run a weekly prospect column featured on the main site DobberHockey and from there, I've dedicated myself (almost to a fault) into following the young up-and-coming talent.
Last year, I received my first OHL credentials from the Sarnia Sting allowing me to cover the team and any visiting prospects and I immediately recognized how important viewing these prospects LIVE were. I attended the CHL/NHL Top Prospects game in Sarnia and soaked up the experience. The off-season brought even more exciting changes as I joined a recognized scouting agency (TheScout.ca) that follows minor midget level kids eying the annual OHL Draft.
Recently, I received my CHL Media Pass allowing myself into 60 different OHL, WHL, and QMJHL rinks to scout the future talent of the NHL. To start the season, almost 25% of the National Hockey League players come from the Ontario Hockey League (178 OHL grads began the 2013-14 NHL season on active rosters). Combined with the WHL's 148 players and the QMJHL's 71 active grads, the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) ices 55% of the NHL players. What's the point? I am blessed to have the opportunity into the CHL rinks to watch the world's top development league and if you follow me on twitter then you can now realize why the majority of my tweets are focused on the league.
Onto the good stuff...
Ryan Murray (CBJ), Griffin Reinhart (NYI), Morgan Rielly (TOR), Mathew Dumba (MIN) await their NHL debut but Jacob Trouba (WPG, led Jets in ice-time with 25:02 minutes and 1G-1A-2P in his first game earning 1st Star), Olli Maatta (PIT, 14:41 minutes in debut with one shot) and Connor Carrick (WSH, scored a beauty goal in his second game of action) have all appeared in their first games.
Albany Devils cut three from roster, Kitchener Rangers OA Ben Thomson survives and remains in AHL.— Josh Brown (@BrownRecord) October 2, 2013
Ben Thomson, a 4th round selection of the New Jersey Devils (2010), is a big gritty forward that will really help the Kitchener Rangers....that is, until he is (likely) traded.
Another Devils' prospect performed well last night, Ben Johnson (3rd round, 2012) recorded a hat trick vs the Plymouth Whalers.
Got a little flack from this tweet....
Let me explain (as I tried to do on Twitter-verse to angry Oilers fans)....I love Nail Yakupov, he was one of the best players I have seen play live in the OHL but dating back to the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, I was a big proponent of the Oilers' selecting Alex Galchenyuk. When both of their careers are over, I truly feel that Galchenyuk will end up having the better year. Sure, Galchenyuk was injured heading into the draft and it would've been risky for the Oilers to take him over Yakupov (who also spent significant time injured) but he projects as the better NHLer. It's easy to fall in love with Yakupov's flash and dash but it's hard not to appreciate what Galchenyuk does on the ice (all three zones of it) on EVERY single shift. Galchenyuk's work ethic is unmatched, his hockey IQ is elite and once the Habs start playing this kid upwards of 18 minutes per game, he's going to soar. In saying that, Yakupov will be great too...most would agree that the Oilers are building something special in Edmonton and his chances of winning the cup improve because of that but Marc Bergevin isn't messing around either in Montreal. This matchup will be fun right up until the day these two retire....or Yakupov bolts to the KHL (haha...kidding folks...kinda ;)
Yep, this kid is good. I caught Alex Nedeljkovic in action last night in Windsor when his Plymouth Whalers came to town and he was outstanding through 50 minutes of the game. His team eventually gave up on him and Windsor chased Nedeljkovic in the third period winning 5-1 but the game could've been 10-1 easily before the horn sounded to end the second period without Alex in net. He's arguably the top ranked goaltender heading into the 2014 NHL Entry Class and, hands down, the top draft eligible goaltender from the OHL. His ability to move lateral is filthy and even when it appears he is down and out, his quick feet will pop up and kick out a sure goal.
Tampa Bay's Slater Koekkoek was excellent for Windsor last night picking up two assists all while being a force both offensively and defensively. This extra season in the OHL is going to do his development good, especially if he stays healthy and finds himself traded to a contender later in the year.
More from last night's Windsor-Plymouth game....
Get Alex Peters (D) on your draft radars...
Plymouth's dman Alex Peters has played an excellent game. Poised under pressure, strong skater & gd containment skills. #2014NHLDraft— Brendan Ross (@RossyYoungblood) October 4, 2013
Matthew Mistele (Plymouth Whalers) was invisible last night. He's been ranked in the Top 30 of most 2014 NHL Draft lists and it's because of his strong powerful north-south game but in several viewings over the past year, I have made note that his puck skills need to improve. He flubbed on several easy dump-ins last night and appears to struggle when pressured in open ice. I'm cheering for this kid to do well and, luckily, puck skills can be improved but he will likely slide in most draft rankings.
Nathan MacKinnon picked up two primary assists in his NHL debut. Not too shabby #Avs— Brendan Ross (@RossyYoungblood) October 3, 2013
Jonathan Drouin who? Nathan MacKinnon was great in his NHL debut. It appears he has formed some instant chemisty with Jamie McGinn.
Speaking of Jonathan Drouin....he was held pointless in his QMJHL season debut (4PIM).
Not a bad return game for Scott Laughton. If the Oshawa Generals (who I feel are decent contenders in the OHL's Eastern Conference) decide to deal Laughton, expect a big return for this OHL veteran.
Teammate Michael Dal Colle, a potential Top 10 2014 NHL Draft prospect, picked up three more assists in Oshawa's 7-1 giving him 10 points through five games (2nd place in OHL scoring).
Sticking with the 2014 NHL Entry Draft prospects, how about Brendan Perlini....
Perlini will climb the draft boards quickly as he's not only dominating in Niagara with Leafs prospect Carter Verhaeghe (9P in 5 games) but because he's a strong big kid with a solid two-way game.
My boy Tony DeAngelo showing his stuff...
Bo Horvat (VAN) scored in his return to the London Knights Thursday night. The team is without Max Domi (PHX) for three more games for his flying forearm on Guelph's Brock McGinn (CAR) last Sunday.
Good stat RT @jhiitela: Aleksander Barkov, 18yrs and 31days is the youngest player to score in post expansion era (1967) NHL.— Brendan Ross (@RossyYoungblood) October 4, 2013
Barkov played 15:34 minutes (2:15 PP) scoring once on four shots.
While we are on the topic of the San Jose Sharks, Matt Nieto is a prospect to watch. He owns blazing speed and he certainly didn't look out of place in the Sharks win last night. Hertl and Nieto are two youngsters I feel could make an impact as soon as this season.
Sean Monahan assisted on Calgary's opening goal and played 11:40 last night picking up two shots on goal and one hit. I'm stuck with what the Flames should do with Monahan. He's going to get more games but eventually, Feaster Burke will need to make a difficult decision on him. He can certainly play at the NHL level but does he need to this year? Probably not. Calgary's probably better to send him back to junior for one final season where he can be traded to a Memorial Cup contender and earn some "winning" experience. But, I do love watching him play.
More NHL debuts....
Lucas Lessio (PHX), former Oshawa Generals scoring star, debuted with the Phoenix Coyotes earning 9:22 minutes of ice time (2 SOG, 2 PIM).
Valeri NIchushkin (DAL) logged a ton of ice time (19:50 including 2:16 PP) and managed one shot on goal with two hits.Nichushkin played 50% of his even strength hockey next to Vern Fiddler and Shawn Horcoff (via FrozenPool).
Nichushkin's teammate Alex Chiasson (DAL) continues to roll...
DAL rookie Alex Chiasson scores vs. FLA. First of season but that is his 7th goal in last 8 NHL GP dating back to last April.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) October 4, 2013
I don't expect Chiasson's 46.2 shooting percentage (going into tonight) to hold up but he should be considered amongst Calder candidates.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) October 4, 2013
Check back soon as I prepare to break down the 2014 NHL Draft crop, specifically looking at how tight of a race it's going to be with OHL eligibles. Nick Ritchie, Jared McCann, Michael Dal Colle, Sam Bennett, Spencer Watson, Brendan Perlini, Nikolay Goldobin, Anthony DeAngelo and Aaron Ekblad are showing us how special this OHL draft crop is.
Feedback is always welcomed!
Thanks for reading,