Tuesday, July 10th, 2012 @ 4 pm EST
With a rare break from my regular summer employment that keeps me pre-occupied for the next 30+ straight days, I am here to pass on some recent prospect updates that have crossed my path in the past few days.
NHL Development camps continue…
The OHL’sMost Outstanding Player of the Year and also Goaltender of the Year, Michael Houser of the London Knights, was invited to several development camps after going undrafted twice including the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. Houser attended the Florida Panthers development camp last week and immediately found his new home as Dale Tallon and company signed him to a contract. It’s absolutely fantastic to see a dedicated hard working person with Houser’s pedigree rewarded for all of his efforts.
New York Rangers’ 2010 first round selection Dylan McIlrath suffered a dislocated knee cap at the Rangers development camp and had surgery to repair it. He is “out indefinitely” and his professional debut will be delayed as a result.
What’s up Gary Roberts? Sabres’ prospects Mikhail Grigorenko, Zemgus Girgensons and many Buffalo futures endured a Navy SEAL’s training program at their development camp.
Dobber mentioned yesterday in his ramblings that Scott Glennie received praise from development camp. I have never been a fan of Glennie, selected 8th overall in 2009, but his time to make the jump should be this season – at the very least in a complementary third line role. When he was drafted ,many people felt that he had top six upside but his development has been rather disappointing and he’s probably more suited for a tweener role (2nd or 3rd line). However, as I said above, Glennie must show his stuff now. From the 2009 draft class, only Phillippe Paradis (27th) and Jordan Schroeder (22nd) have played fewer than Glennie’s one NHL game. It was a year that had some very good players drafted behind Glennie including Jared Cowen (9th), Pajaarvi (10th), Ellis (11th), Kassian (13th) and Kulikov (14th). Throw in Leddy, Rundblad, Kreider, Johansson and Palmieri as mid-to-late round picks and Glennie knows he must make the jump before his development becomes stagnant.
From the same article,
“Radek Faksa looks to be a truly special player. There was a bit of a buzz surrounding him after Team A left the ice, as those in the arena were incredibly impressed with his polished puck skills and NHL-ready shot. His release could rival Jamie Benn's as the best on the team.” More on Radek Faksa below.
There are rumours floating around that the Penguins are interested in Semin and Doan to fill some voids on the wings. Whether those rumblings are true or not, coach Blysma has stated that prospects Eric Tangradi and Beau Bennett will be given a chance to snag a top-six role this season as they compete with Tyler Kennedy.
Keep an eye on Flyers’ Nick Cousins as he enters development camp. Cousins was the Greyhounds’ leading scorer but also showcased his rare agitating skills at the major junior level. The Flyers had six rookies play in the 2012-13 season and aren’t shy bringing in their draftees if they make a favourable impression in any of the camps. Cousins has the offensive skill, two-way game and character skills to become an immediate contributor in the Flyers’ bottom six. It’s more likely that Cousins’ arrival is in a year or so but he does have the rare skill set to make an impact, ala Andrew Shaw of the Hawks, if the Flyers feel they need him.
Toronto signed defenseman Korbinian Holzer to a one-year contract. The former 4th round pick in 2006 is NHL ready after two strong AHL seasons where he posted four goals, 33 points, 156 penalty minutes and a plus-17 rating in 140 regular season games. Holzer should slot in as the Leafs’ 6th/7th defenseman but will need a strong camp to do so.
Goaltender Andrei Vasilevski, drafted by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round, was selected by the OHL’s Mississauga Steelheads in the CHL Import Draft a few weeks back. He has made it clear that he will not report to North America for the upcoming season but playing for Mississauga in 2013/14 is a definite possibility.
Is Calgary’s Mikael Backlund still considered a prospect? Probably not, but he recently signed a one-year contract with the Flames and he must use this year to prove that he’s worth keeping around. I personally do not expect much as he’s been a very disappointing first round pick (24th in 2007).
I am interested to see how defenseman Jeff Petry fits into the Oilers’ plans for the upcoming season as he owns solid all-around skills and is a good secondary option. Petry just inked a two-year deal with Edmonton.
The 2012 draft class has started to sign their entry-level contracts. Dallas’ 13th overall pick, Radek Faksa, was the first to put ink to paper. Faksa is a well-rounded player that could make a solid impression in training camp and crack the opening day roster. His intelligence and responsible game could see him as a third line forward if the Stars like what they see.
Leafs fans, are you comfortable with goaltending tandem of Reimer and Scrivens heading into next season? Both are very young and inexperience and would both benefit from having a veteran mentor around. Personally, the only reason Roberto Luongo will be brought in is to save Brian Burke. If Luongo comes to town then the Leafs’ chances of making the playoffs for the first time in….forever….increase dramatically. However, I do not feel that Luongo is the right move for the Leafs long term. In one or two years, Toronto will be even more hard up to move RL’s ugly contract once the team realizes that it’s the lack of character that the team is missing. I am very interested to see what Burke has up his sleeve as the pressure to make the post-season is high. He will acquire a goaltender in my opinion.
Absolutely fantastic to hear that Coyotes’ prospect Brett MacLean is improving after his cardiac scare.
Thanks for reading,
Rich here with some notes from prospect camps that are currently underway for many NHL teams. It's always interesting to see how the big names do as well as the unheralded guys who step up and make their team take notice.
The Chicago Blackhawks are very excited about Brandon Saad for 2012-13 and beyond. As good as he looked last year, even more is expected at this year's camp. He made the team out of training camp last fall, impressed during a brief NHL trial, then sent back to junior and had a dominant campaign. Saad looks ready to step up, and could be a 40-50 point rookie with sufficient ice time this winter.
Staying with the Blackhawks, several interesting names will be attending their prospect camp beginning this week. Third-round pick Chris Calnan, nephew of former Hawk Jeremy Roenick, Jake Chelios, son of former defenseman Chris Chelios, and Kevin Hayes, brother of current Hawk Jimmy Hayes, will all be looking to make an impression at this years' camp. However, the two players that I will be watching closely are forward Phillip Danault, a first-round pick last year, and defenseman Adam Clendening, out of Boston University. Danault had a fine season with Victoriaville, then played well in a seven-game stint in Rockford, while Clendening has underrated offensive skills and plays with an edge. Clendening especially is close to NHL-ready.
Ryan Murray is doing just what the Bluejackets expected when they took the steady defenseman second overall in the draft. So far in camp he has been unspectacularly good, meaning very few mistakes and making good plays look easy. Columbus is being very careful not to raise both fans' expectations and pressure on Murray, but he has a very good chance of being in Columbus in October because of the mature game he plays.
Calgary's Sven Baertschi has reported to development camp in great shape, noticeably bigger and stronger than last year. The Flames are counting on big things from Baertschi, who played very well during an emergency call-up to the Flames last season. The extra size and strength should help the sniper fight off defenders and get himself into prime shooting lanes.
No one is going to replace Nik Lidstrom in Detroit, but his retirement does represent a golden opportunity for Brendan Smith. Smith was very good in his time with the Wings last year, and has likely seen his last AHL game. Smith will help replace some of the puck movement the team loses without Lidstrom, and also plays with an edge, something many believe that Detroit has been lacking in recent years. Smith is not afraid to make opposing forwards pay a price for going too close to the crease. Jimmy Howard will definitely appreciate his play. Look for Smith to be a multiple category fantasy stud, beginning this year.