Friday, July 13th, 2012
Continuing with information coming from NHL Development Camps around the league…
The Chicago Blackhawks are extremely pleased with several of their top prospects drafted in the opening rounds of the past few drafts. The team has several prospects that could crack the opening day 2012-2013 roster including Brandon Saad, Phillip Danault, Mark McNeil and defenseman Adam Clendening.
Watching Saad in the OHL last season, it was clear that the big winger was a man amongst boys especially in Saginaw’s playoff run. The 19-year-old is loved by Hawks brass and I fully expect him to be given every opportunity to succeed with this franchise. In fact, with a 2012 NHL rookie class that likely features Mikael Granlund, Jonathan Huberdeau, Tarasenko and Dougie Hamilton, I actually feel as though Brandon Saad could end up walking away with the Calder Trophy at the end of the year. Again, the Blackhawks love him and will be given quality minutes next year. If he can find his way alongside Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane then Saad could strike gold.
At the Hawks development camp, Saad has been trying his hand at the centre position and is welcoming the challenge. Chicago continues to look for that second line centerman and if Saad can impress his team then he could eventually become the solution.
The Hawks’ 2011 3rd round selection, defenseman Adam Clendening is turning heads with his improvement to his defensive side of the game. Clendening is an offensive defenseman that will receive a long look come fall to make this roster either immediately or through call-ups. Rockford will be Clendening’s destination if he fails to crack the opening day roster and the Hawks will be watching him closely.
“Adam is the one defenseman who has the most potential to make the jump this year,” Bowman explained. “He has that offensive ability and seems to read the play really well…This year is a learning year but he could make an impact with us.”
Teuvo Teravainen, Chicago’s 2012 1st round selection (18th overall), did not take long to make an impression as he wowed the crowd with a goal and an assist in the opening minutes of the scrimmage Wednesday. Much like Patrick Kane, Teravainen has a deft ability to make crafty plays that leave us saying, “how’d he pull that off?”.
“It’s great to see a young kid like Teuvo be as good as he is,” general manager Stan Bowman said Friday, “He’s the youngest kid at camp here, and I think he’s probably been one of the best kids here all week.”
As the 18th overall pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, I’m confident saying that Teravainen is the early favourite to be the steal of the draft in the first round.
Nick Bjustad of the Florida Panthers has decided that he will return to the University of Minnesota to play another year with the Gophers. Bjustad has the talent to play in the NHL this season but the competition is fierce to earn a roster spot. He will most certainly turn pro next year.
The Minnesota Wild own the most appealing group of prospects in the NHL – Granlund, Coyle, Zucker, Larsson, Bulmer, Brussieres, Dumba, Brodin…the list goes on and on. Apparently, I am not the only one that is excited to see what these kids can do as their prospect camp attracted thousands of viewers.
As Wild beat writer Michael Russo (the best in hockey, in my opinion) reported, there is an under-the-radar prospect impressing at camp – Tyler Graovac (2011 7th round). Graovic is a player that the Wild brass really like and he scored two goals and added a beauty shootout winner according to Russo. The six-foot-two Ottawa 67’s pivot scored 8 goals and 27 points last season.
“Jonas Brodin can skate backwards better than most people can walk forwards. The kid is smooth” – Michael Russo
“Granlund looks awesome” – Russo
The following 2012 prospects have inked three-year entry-level contracts: Hampus Lindholm (Anaheim, 2012), Filip
Forsberg (Washington, 2012), and Zemgus Girgensons (Buffalo, 2012),
The Pittsburgh Penguins camp has many people watching first rounders Derrick Pouliot and Olli Maatta but it`s Teddy Blueger who is turning heads. Blueger hails from the Shattuck St. Mary`s program that developed the likes of Crosby and Toews and was one player I really liked entering the 2012 NHL Draft. Blueger is showcasing his offensive ability with slick puck handling ability and creative playmaking. The 52nd overall pick has good offensive potential and has shown early that the Pens were smart grabbing him late in the second round. He will not be playing in the NHL anytime soon but his long term upside projects well.
Smaller players are getting more chances these days. One player to keep an eye on is Calgary Flames 2011 4th round selection, John Gaudreau, as he is standing out at prospect camp (see video). Not that offensive stats tell the whole story but to compare, Gaudreau`s 44 points (in 44 games) for Boston College bested Nick Bjugstad (42), and was one behind Chris Kreider (45) at the collegiate level this past season. At five-foot-eight, Gaudreau will have an uphill battle and is considered a boom-bust type of player but the Flames are hoping he can pull a Theo Fleury and reward a Calgary franchise that desperately needs some success on the prospect front.
Aside from Gaudreau, Sven Bartschi has been outstanding during the development camps showing more strength and size and will certainly compete for a roster spot. I`d place money on the Portland Winterhawk star not only making the main roster but thriving in his first year of NHL action.
Gaudreau with a clutch goal (pretty slippery):
Thanks for reading,