Tuesday, November 19th, 2014
November marks an extremely busy time for junior hockey in the prospects world given that many international events and evaluations are informally occurring.
Monday night kicked off the annual Subway Super Series that pits the Russian National Junior Team (albeit, a much different looking one that is sent to the World Junior Championships over the Holidays) against three "all-star" teams from the QMJHL, OHL and WHL. The QMJHL Team defeated the Russians 3-2 in an entertaining game and witnessed Habs prospect Charles Hudon score twice and add three points. Lightning top prospect Jonathan Drouin put on a stickhandling show and was the offensive catalyst all night long picking up assists on all three goals. His ability to dissect opposing teams and buy time with the combination of slick elusiveness and puck wizardry opens up so much ice for his linemates. In that sense, Drouin operates much like Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks. Drouin and Hudon skated on a line with Red Wings' prospect Anthony Mantha, who has quickly become the Canadian Hockey League's most dangerous sniper racking up 24 goals and 54 points in only 23 games for Val d'Or. Mantha finished the game with one goal (game winner) and an assist and the line combined for three goals and eight points.
Jonathan Drouin razzle dazzle...
On the other side of the puck, 2014 NHL Draft eligible skater Ivan Barbashev, who skates with the QMJHL Moncton Wildcats, was very impressive. He owns great size, unleashes his shot with authority and accuracy and can dominate possession with his rangy wingspan. Barbashev is projected to be first round selection in the upcoming draft and currently leads his Wildcats in scoring with 31 points in 23 games. His teammate Vladimir Tkachev was equally impressive showcasing some slick puck skills, a strong net drive and speed to burn. Tkachev is also available in the 2014 NHL Draft and the buzz has already started after a strong game one performance that included the following highlight reel goal (making Flyers' 2013 1st round selection, Samual Morin, look silly).
Maple Leafs Frederik Gauthier was strong defensively but he doesn't excite me one bit on the offensive side of the puck. He's going to be great in the face-off circle which is valuable. As a closet Leafs fan, I am hoping that sometime soon the team decides to take a chance on drafting an offensive forward to add to their system.
The next Subway Super Series game takes place Wednesday evening as Russia looks to even the series 1-1 versus the QMJHL. All games broadcasted on Sportsnet.
I released the newest edition of Youngblood, a series I have been releasing monthly that highlights OHL prospect news. Have a look as it includes a Q&A with the exceptional Sean Day (defenseman who received exceptional status), my latest 2014 NHL Draft Rankings for OHL players, OHL Draft prospects to watch and the roster (released today) of Team Ontario Under-17 squad.
The Sabres new management (Pat Lafontaine) and head coach, Ted Nolan, seem to be revamping the look of the team....and I like it. This morning, Nikita Zadorov was sent back to the London Knights, who desperately need his services in their chase for another OHL Championship and Mikhail Grigorenko is slated to return to the QMJHL.
London Knights ass't GM Rob Simpson on his way to pick up Zadorov in Buffalo. He has Nikita's 2013 OHL champion ring with him.— Ryan Pyette (@RyanatLFPress) November 19, 2013
Nolan and Lafontaine also hinted at the return of their 2013 1st round selection, Rasmus Ristolainen, and Johan Larsson to the AHL, as well.
Interesting statistic on Phoenix Coyotes prospect defenseman Michael Stone....
.@phoenixcoyotes defenseman Michael Stone has more goals(6) than Flyers Giroux/Simmonds/Couturier/Downie/Streit combined(4)— The Hockey Hitman (@TheHockeyHitman) November 18, 2013
Stone has three goals in his last two games and six goals ...wait for it...and zero assists in 15 games of action this season. Cy Young candidate. Rare for a defenseman. Stone is skating with Keith Yandle over 30% of the time.
Thanks for Reading,