Wednesday, October 16th
After a busy Tuesday night in NHL action, I was able to do some quality channel surfing to catch up on some of my favourite prospects. Here are my thoughts:
Michael Stone (PHX) – I was pleasantly surprised with how well defenseman Michael Stone played for the Coyotes. He logged over 23 minutes of ice time (the most of any Phoenix player) and played significant time on both the powerplay (2:51) and penalty kill (2:05). Stone is a two-way defenseman who has shown big promise at the AHL level and it appears the Coyotes are big fans of his game two. He could make for a great pick-up in deeper keeper leagues.
Ondrej Palat (TBL) – With one goal and an assist in a shade over 10 minutes of ice time, Tampa Bay`s Palat recorded his fourth point in as many games. Clearly his minutes aren`t too promising right now but if his production continues playing alongside Teddy Purcell and Tyler Johnson then his minutes should creep up.
Tomas Hertl (SJS) – Hertl refuses to fizzle out but that`s not overly shocking considering how red-hot the Sharks are running right now, especially the Brent Burns-Joe Thornton- Tomas Hertl line.
The Tomas Hertl-Joe Thornton-Brent Burns line has combined for 11 goals and 14 assists for 25 points in 6 games for the unbeaten #Sharks!— Fred Poulin (@FredPoulin98) October 16, 2013
Hertl should continue to post points all season long. The Sharks trust him playing big minutes and he has looked extremely comfortable in playing with the big boys. Hertl is a legit Calder candidate and arguably, the early season favourite right now. He picked up his 9th point on the season last night versus the Blues and has only been held pointless in one game (Vancouver).
Aleksander Barkov put on the ice in the final minutes as #Panthers looked for tying goal. The young Finn iwad very good. Going to be good— Brendan Ross (@RossyYoungblood) October 16, 2013
Aleksander Barkov (FLA) – The Florida Panthers invested a lot in Barkov after selecting him 2nd overall in 2013 and it’s starting to show exactly why. Barkov impressed me a ton last night with his ability to control the play and pace of the game. Promising future for the young kid and I truly feel he will develop into a Joe Thornton-esque type of player. Florida used Barkov during the final minutes of the game as they attempted to tie the game.
Jonas Brodin (MIN) – Stud. Nothing else to say at this point other then the 20-year-old should, really, no longer be considered a prospect. He’s averaging 25:16 minutes per game (8th among NHLers) and is 8th in NHL defensive scoring with 5 points in 7 games.
Morgan Rielly (TOR) – Darren Dreger says there’s an 80% chance that Morgan Rielly stays with the Maple Leafs club this season. Really, where does one conclude on an 80% chance? Haha. It’s clear to me that Rielly belongs with the big club but the Leafs will undoubtedly make that decision after his ninth game and before his tenth. Rielly posted two helpers in 17:57 minutes (1:42 with the man advantage). And, if Don Cherry's words mean anything to you....
“Everybody’s asking me about Morgan Rielly; should they send him back?” Cherry said. “Here’s the problem: This kid is dynamite. He is the best defenceman they’ve got. Now, if they send him back — and they might, I’m not saying they won’t — they can’t send him back. “
Because he knows he’s the best defenceman,” Cherry said. “And he might say the right thing, that ‘Oh well, I have to go back and be a leader and win the [world junior] gold and all stuff that.’ He knows, in his heart, that he’s the best defenceman.”
Seth Jones (NSH) – Jones is a defenseman who loves to rush the puck with his outstanding skating ability. In the few games I watched him play this season (including last night), Jones has done a remarkable job at picking his spots to jump into the play. He wields an active stick that is effective at containing opponents in the defensive zone but also allows the big man to force turnovers, a testament to his six already this season. Jones is skating almost exclusively with Shea Weber now (in all situations) and it should be noted that he's playing the left side as a right handed defenseman which is not an easy task. His assist last night gives him three points in six games.
Russians Mikhail Grigorenko (BUF) and Valeri Nichushkin (DAL) were benched in last night’s games. I’m not concerned about the latter right now as Ruff wanted him to view a game from the press box after Nichushkin put a ton of pressure on himself…but, the former (Grigorenko) is in an uneasy position. Grigorenko is pointless and has already been scratched two times on the young season. Not to beat a dead horse but Grigorenko should`ve been returned to the Quebec Remparts after his nine games last season rather than burning a year off his ELC. Mismanagement on the Sabres part.
“There’s probably some frustration there,” said Ruff. “He’s putting a lot of pressure on himself to score goals, and he needs to just relax and play his game. He’s a young player, and he’s just going through the adjustments that any young player will go through.”
The left-handed Nichushkin has been playing the right side, where he seems most comfortable, but could be switched to the left wing when he returns.
“He has a ton of talent, and we may have to move him around to see where he fits best, and that’s all part of the process,” Ruff said. “I’m still really excited about him, but it’s a process.”
On a similar page, Nail Yakupov return to the lineup for the Oilers Tuesday night after being a healthy scratch for two games. You can never fault Yakupov`s energy and compete level but his effectiveness has been sporadic, at best. It appears he is struggling to find any sort of chemistry at the moment. Yakupov skated with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and David Perron at regular strength last night and was paired with Eberle and Hall on the powerplay. He went pointless and minus-1 in 17:29 minutes of ice-time (2:35 of PP).
With Yakupov`s struggles, it brings me too….
Wonder if the #Oilers are having second thoughts on drafting Yakupov over Galchenyuk. Still think #94 would've been their best choice— Brendan Ross (@RossyYoungblood) October 16, 2013
It's amazing all of the "Should I trade Yakupov" questions I receive and threads I see popping up around forums. To address this, I am of the mindset that fantasy owners should always remain open to trading their prized players. Clearly, if you plan on trading Yakupov now, you are putting yourself at risk of selling low. There's always a small chance that Yakupov bolts to the KHL or becomes a complete bust but I HIGHLY doubt that happens. He's a warrior and a player who NEEDS to win and succeed. At times, he places almost too much pressure on himself. If you drafted Yakupov or traded for him, you must remain patient (unless a fair offer comes your way). I witnessed Yakupov alter his game over his years in Sarnia from mainly a sniper to an outstanding playmaker and I am sure that Dallas Eakins will make him a better NHLer in the end too.
Some thoughts from Krueger on Yakupov's work ethic and willingness to improve,
"What was interesting about Nail was his willingness to truly adapt to what is important in North America," Krueger said. "A European has to bring that mindset of accepting the differences of culture and humor and just daily execution in life. This kid, I tell you, was all in on that. Whatever is going on now, that's a real small speed bump in where he's going to be as an NHL player."
"He's just going to work harder, he's not going to work less," Krueger said. "He comes from a very tough background. He has resilience inside."
With that out of the way, I remain steadfast that the Oilers should've selected Alex Galchenyuk over Yakupov in the 2012 NHL Draft. I was shocked that the Blue Jackets didn't opt to select Galchenyuk second overall. I am confident that Galchenyuk will be a better NHLer (maybe not fantasy player though) than Yakupov in his career and time will tell on Ryan Murray vs. Galchenyuk, but I won’t be surprised to see #94 as the best player from that draft class…right there with Jacob Trouba. Galchenyuk is certainly less risky in fantasy circles either and owns a ceiling that's not too far off of Yakky's.
Mattias Ekblom (NSH) – After recording 32 points in 59 games for Milwaukee (AHL) last season, Mattias Ekblom is still searching for his first career NHL point on the Predators blueline. Ekblom has skated over 20 minutes in all but two games this season but he has witnessed his powerplay time virtually vanish over the last three games. Competition for offensive minutes increases with so many promising defensemen in Nashville.
Filip Forsberg (NSH) – I tuned into the Predators game specifically to watch Forsberg in action and I left with mixed feelings. I am pleased at how Nashville's coaching staff is utilizing Forsberg. They are providing him with offensive opportunities (averaging 2:11 minutes of powerplay time) yet aren’t overwhelming him with too much responsibility. He is a smart player and always seems to place himself in the right spot but his upside isn`t all that appealing to me. His skating is average at best and I am not sure he possesses the one-on-one skills to become that star player the Preds are hoping for. In saying that, Forsberg does have solid NHL skills and I could see him developing into a Stephen Weiss type of player.
Jonathan Drouin remains sidelined with a groin injury and missed his third straight game last night. Drouin has five points in the four games before injuring himself in practice last week.
Last week, Maple Leafs' prospect Connor Brown was named OHL Player of the Week scoring three goals and seven points in three weekly wins with the Erie Otters. More impressive, Red Wings' 2013 1st round selection, Anthony Mantha, potted five goals and 10 points in two games last week for Val d'Or en route to being named First Star of the Week in the QMJHL. Mantha currently leads all CHL players in scoring with 28 points in nine games. He signed a three-year entry level contract earlier in the week too with the Detroit. Not too shabby of a week!
Interesting scenario given that the New Jersey Devils automatically have to forfeit their 2014 NHL Draft pick….
Imagine NJ having the 1st overall pick and having to forfeit it?— Victor Carneiro (@vcarneiro) October 16, 2013
The Devils remain winless through a half-dozen games and while I didn’t expect them to finish too high in the standings, this start is terrible. By the season's end, do you expect the Devils to be in the basement of the NHL. Honestly, I think that spot will be reserved for the Sabres or Flyers but I am not too certain that the Devils will be much higher. Because the Devils are forced to forfeit their first round pick, there will be only 29 selections made in the opening round of the 2014 NHL Draft meaning that New Jersey won`t be eligible for a lottery pick.
Staying with the NHL Draft topic, ISS Hockey released its October rankings for the 2014 NHL Entry Draft…
I have been outspokenly excited about Michael Dal Colle this season already but even I was shocked an agency had him ranked Top 3….
2015 NHL Draft phenom prospect Connor McDavid has already recorded 29 goals and 81 points in 73 OHL games but it appears he still has some tests to pass…
A big weekend for Connor McDavid - a win against Mississauga picking up a goal and an assist. Tomorrow he goes for his drivers license.— Tony Ambrogio (@SNTonyAmbrogio) October 14, 2013
My travels this week include Saginaw Spirit @ Sarnia Sting Thursday evening, Kingston Frontenacs @ Kitchener Rangers Friday night and Ottawa 67's @ Guelph Storm in a Sunday afternoon matinee. In between those travels, I plan on enjoying some Oktoberfest festivities in Kitchener-Waterloo...always a favourite time of the year for me!
Feel free to download my Free Prospect Newsletter, Youngblood (October Edition), which focuses mostly on the OHL.
Anthony Mantha (DET) recent two goal, five point game vs Drummondville:
Aleksander Barkov (FLA) three point game versus Pittsburgh:
Top 5 NHL Goals of the Week:
Thanks for reading folks! Feel free to tweet me any questions or comment below.