HUGE News - After acquiring the rights to 2013 draft eligible defenseman, Seth Jones, the Portland Winterhawks announce that he will join the team next season. Jones is a favourite to go top three and was heavily considering the NCAA route. Chalk another one up for the CHL.
The Portland Winterhawks keep stockpiling talent to replace departing stars. Jones should fill in nicely as defenseman Joe Morrow (Penguins) takes the next step. Sven Bartschi (Flames) stands a chance at making the big club next year. If not, he will likely suit up in The AHL and compete for rookie of the year.
As a closet Maple Leafs fan (for good reason) I was openly upset when Burke traded up to grab Tyler Biggs at last years draft. In my opinion, I don't see Biggs as anything more than a versatile third liner (which is value) but the fact that they used a good pick to move up eight spots frustrated me. I felt Toronto needed a skilled player and three picks in the top 40 allowed them to take that player with one of them.
Toronto dealt the 30th overall pick and 39th pick to Anaheim for the 22nd pick used to take Biggs. Toronto then selected defenseman Stuart Percy 25th, who is a solid player but likely would've been there at 30th or 39th. Anaheim then took Rickard Rakell (reminds me of Shane Doan) and goaltender John Gibson (standout for the Kitchener Rangers this spring). I would have liked Burke to sit tight and draft three players rather than move up to draft his safe picks in Biggs an Percy.
The two players I wanted Burke to target last year were Brandon Saad and Ty Rattie. Saad is a big bodied forward with good puck skills and solid puck protection He was considered a first round talent to begin his draft year but fell to the Blackhawks at 43rd due to consistency issues last year. This season he was the OHL's most dominant forward as he recorded the highest point-per-game in the league. He exceeded even my expectations but, in my opinion last year, he was the big bodied forward that the Leafs should have targeted especially given his higher offensive upside.
Ty Rattie was the player I thought the Leafs were targeting at 25th instead of Percy. He now leads all WHL players in playoff scoring with 18 goals and 31 points in 17 games. Dominant. Hindsight is always nice but the Leafs could have landed Percy (25th), Rattie (30th) and Saad (39th) had Burke not traded up for Biggs. That's my rant but it's these types of deals sacrificing quantity and quality for a safe pick (Biggs) that scare me with Burke at the helm. Biggs may develop into a special player but my gut hated the deal at the time and it's not looking good at all now.
Tyler Biggs played for Miami University (Ohio) in 2011-12 and tallied nine goals and 17 points in 37 games as a freshman. By NCAA standards, those statistics are good for a first year player. Biggs has since decided to leave college and will either suit up for the Toronto Marlies (AHL) or Oshawa Generals (OHL). This will be an interesting story to follow.
Burke holds a very valuable 5th overall pick at the upcoming 2012 NHL Draft and I worry about where it ends up or who he chooses to pick if he keeps it. With Yakupov, Grigorenko, Murray, Forsberg, Galchenyuk and Dumba all available in the top 5-6 range, Toronto should get a solid player. If he decides to deal that pick he better get a LEGIT top line center.
The London Knights defeated the Niagara Ice Dogs in Game three to take a 2-1 series lead in the OHL Championship. 2012 draft eligible a Chris Tierney and OlliMaatta teamed up to score the game winning goal with under four minutes remaining. Tierney is an underrated prospect for the upcoming draft but he does a lot of little things right with limited ice time. He could be a mid to late round steal.
Ryan Strome (Islanders) only has 2 assists in the series and 3 points in the past five. Niagara needs him to step up in order to beat this deep Knights team.
Dougie Hamilton (Bruins) and older brother Freddie (Sharks) have both showed to be gamers throughout the playoffs. The brothers sit third and fourth in OHL scoring. Teammate Brett Ritchie (Stars) Has been very good in the series He's a player that has struggled with consistency but if he can put it all together he has the size and skill to become a very good player.
Charlie Coyle (Wild) is absolutely dominating the QMJHL as he leads the league in scoring with 15 goals and 32 points in only 15 games. Coyle has a very good chance at cracking Minnesota's roster next season and has the tools to produce early. He was one of the pieces that came to Minny from San Jose for defenseman Brent Burns.
From our Finnish hockey expert Miika Arponen......
Teuvo Teräväinen (2012 NHL Draft) has won the Jarmo Wasama Trophy that is awarded for the best rookie of the season in SM-liiga.
Teräväinen, Markus Granlund (CGY), Aleksander Barkov, Jani Hakanpää (STL), Tommi Taimi and Riku Helenius (TBL) formed the All-Rookie all stars team.
Helenius was the recipient of the Urpo Ylönen Trophy for the top goalie. Sami Vatanen (ANA) received the Pekka Rautakallio Trophy for best D-man.
Last week, Miika Arponen previewed some players to watch at the World Championships. Here are his observations to date on their performances...
Ryan Murray (CAN)
- Murray has played three games with an average of about 9 minutes per
game. He hasn't score a point yet and is -1 in the tournament. He has had
some problems in the own end but this could be due to the big ice and that
he isn't used to play against grown men.
Frederik Andersen (DEN)
- Like the whole Denmark team, Andersen has not been good. Three games
with .867 saving percentage and 4.00 GAA are not very good numbers. He
hasn't got much support from his defence though.
Nichlas Hardt (DEN)
- 23-year-old speedy winger has been the only positive surprise in the
Danish team. He has played over 20 minutes per game alongside Frans
Nielsen and Lars Eller and nobody could have seen any difference comparing
him to those two NHLers. Is a bit smallish, but may get a shot in the NHL
Joonas Järvinen (FIN)
- Järvinen, who according to reports has signed a contract with the
Predators, has been really solid in the own end. As has been the whole
Finnish team though, posting two shutouts in two games so far. Järvinen's
fantasy upside is quite modest, but he has the potential to become an NHL
regular making him a good pick up in deepest leagues.
Mikael Granlund (FIN)
- Team Finland has won both of their games 1-0, and Granlund has assisted
on both goals. He has really been on fire and have served several good
scoring opportunities to his linemates in both games.
Petri Vehanen (FIN)
- A 34-year-old goalie that has never played in North America may not
sound like very intriguing fantasywise but he really is worth a look.
Finnish newspaper Ilta-Sanomat reported that he has received offers from
two NHL teams, other being Boston Bruins. Vehanen has been for years one
of the best goalies outside the NHL and I doubt he would sign without
being promised to play at least 25-30 games. He has posted solid numbers
in every level he has played so far and he was chosen to be the best
goalie of the KHL in 2010/11. He has played one game in the tournament so
far posting a shutout with 26 saves against Slovakia.
Evgeni Kuznetsov (RUS)
- Despite being rumoured to sign a two-year deal to KHL, Kuznetsov remains
as one of the top prospects outside North America. In two games he has
posted one goal and one assist while lining up alongside Pavel Datsyuk and
Nikolai Kulemin in the second line. He definitely looks like an NHL
players there, but it remains to be seen whether he takes the step to move
against the pond.
Vladimir Tarasenko (RUS)
- Tarasenko was on Team Russia's "long list" but he hasn't so far been on
their game roster.
Damien Brunner (SUI)
- As another late bloomer that has been rumoured to sign an NHL deal this
summer, Brunner has had an assist in both games the Swiss has played so
far. Despite being a bit smallish, he playes quite gritty game and may
well be NHL ready next season.
- 25 years old Berra was chosen as the top goalie of Swiss NLA this season
and there was rumours of him signing an NHL contract this summer too. So
far he has played only one in the tournament against Kazakstan stopping 19
of 20 shots.
Tomas Tatar (SVK)
- The 21-year-old Detroit prospect has been of the best forwards in the
Slovakian team so far. Despite scoring only one goal in three games, the
skilled winger has showed that he belongs to the NHL.
Viktor Fasth (SWE)
- Fasth has split the duties with Jhonas Enroth so far and played only
game against the Czech stopping 16 of 17 shots. Despite winning, Enroth
had really bad game yesterday against Denmark so Fasth will probably be
Team Sweden's go-to goalie in this tournament.
Jonas Brodin (SWE)
- 18-year-old Wild prospect Brodin was scratched in the first game but got
in the lineup in two following games while Jonathan Ericsson was out
because of muscle soreness. Brodin scored a goal against Denmark and has
been solid in the own end too.
Calle Järnkrok (SWE)
- Järnkrok has one assist in three games and hasn't really showed anything
spectacular in the tournament so far.
Jakob Silfverberg (SWE)
- Ottawa prospect has scored one goal in the tournament with a really nice
wrist shot from the slot.
Ryan Lasch (USA)
- Regular season scoring leader of SM-liiga from this season, Ryan Lasch
has showed good performance in the second line of the USA alongside Jim
Slater and Kyle Okposo posting two assists in three games.