Tuesday, September 25th
The puck has dropped in all three major junior leagues’ regular seasons (WHL, OHL, and QMJHL) as well as several professional European leagues so now is the time to keep an eye on the world’s best prospects and there’s no better place to come to than DobberProspects!
AHL training camps open up on Friday (September 28th) and preseason games start on Monday, October 1st.
Taking a look at the major junior leagues after the opening weeks are in the books…
I have been pretty vocal about how Seth Griffith (Bruins) somehow got passed over 340 times before being selected last season by Boston. I’m not surprised he was undrafted two years ago but I was certainly flabbergasted that he lasted to the 5th round last year. In my opinion, Seth Griffith is one of the shrewdest picks in recent years and that has nothing to do with him recording 5 goals and 6 points in his opening two games this season (en route to being named OHL Player of the Week). The London Knights’ forward owns exceptional vision and his ability to execute offensively so consistently has been remarkable. He’s as good as or better than fellow Bruins’ forward Ryan Spooner in my opinion. Look for Griffith to challenge for the OHL scoring lead this season (my odds on favourite) and lead the London Knights to another deep OHL playoff run.
Mark Scheifele (Jets) will be an interesting player to watch in Barrie this season as the team will rely heavily on him for their offensive load. The Colts are a team that lost some serious firepower (Tanner Pearson, Kings) and Scheifele will shoulder most of the workload, along with Red Wings’ prospect Andreas Athanasiou. Scheifele started off strong recording one goal (EN) and three assists in the season opener but recorded only one goal in the next two games.
Does anyone else feel as though the Ottawa Senators cannot mess up on their draft picks these days? At the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, hometown defenseman Cody Ceci dropped to the Senators pick and the team did not hesitate selecting him. Ceci also debuted with a four-point effort this past week and sits atop defensive scoring with 5 points through just 2 games.
Other notable drafted players with quick starts include: Anthony Camara (Bruins; 3GP-5P), Ryan Rupert (Maple Leafs; 2GP-5P), Boone Jenner (Blue Jackets; 2GP-4P), Alex Broadhurst (Blackhawks; 2GP-4P), Daniel Catenacci (Sabres; 2GP-4P), Matt Finn (Maple Leafs; 2GP -4P), and Ryan Sproul (Red Wings; 2GP-4P).
I was also informed from a few scouts that Bruins Malcolm Subban (Belleville Bulls), Sharks JP Anderson (Sarnia Sting) and Ducks’ John Gibson (Kitchener Rangers) were outstanding in their opening weekend games. I’d expect each of these three netminders to earn a boatload of work this season for their respective teams.
2013 NHL Draft eligible forwards Sean Monahan (2GP-4P), Max Domi (2GP-4P) and Jason Dickinson (2GP-3P) are off to strong starts and all are considered first round talents.
Connor McDavid, the latest player to be granted exceptional status by the CHL, made his Ontario Hockey League debut and scouts were raving about his weekend performance stating that he was the best player on the ice. All of the reports I heard (and watched online) seem consistent with my notes from seeing him last season and during the summer. McDavid is a creative player that plays with a no fear approach as he drives the net and battles hard in the corners. The Otters are surely grateful that McDavid has arrived in Erie. The 15-year-old forward recorded one goal and an assist in his opening two games but those statistics don’t appear to do his play justice.
For those interested in everyone’s favourite prospect (including mine too) Alex Galchenyuk and his start to the season….well, he’s looked good in the opening two games. He tallied an assist in the season opener versus Belleville and a shootout goal in Sarnia’s shootout loss to a tough Kitchener Rangers’ team. Keep in mind, Galchenyuk has faced two stellar OHL goaltenders in his team’s opening two games including Bruins’ Malcolm Subban (Belleville) and Ducks’ John Gibson (Kitchener).
TSN reported tonight that the NHL-CHL has come to an agreement to allow NHL teams to recall players (2-3 drafted CHL players) if/when the lockout ends as long as the players appeared on the short list submitted back in August. Bob McKenzie noted several players including: Dougie Hamilton (Boston/Niagara), Ryan Murphy (Carolina/Kitchener), Jonathan Huberdeau (Florida/Saint John), Victor Rask (Carolina/Calgary), David Broll (Toronto/SSM), David Musil (Edmonton/Vancouver), Nail Yakupov (Edmonton/KHL), Alex Galchenyuk (Montreal/Sarnia), Morgan Rielly (Toronto/Moose Jaw), Cody Ceci (Ottawa), Stefan Noesen (Ottawa/Plymouth), Mark Scheifele (Winnipeg/Barrie), Mikhail Grigorenko (Buffalo/Quebec), Mathew Dumba (Minnesota/Red Deer), Ryan Murray (Columbus/Everett), Boone Jenner (Columbus/Oshawa), Ryan Strome (New York Is./Niagara), Griffin Reinhart (New York Is/Edmonton), Ty Rattie (St. Louis/Portland), Tom Wilson (Washington/Plymouth), Scott Laughton (Philadelphia/Oshawa), Scott Harrington (Pittsburgh/London), Olli Maatta (Pittsburgh/London), Derrick Pouliot (Pittsburgh/Portland), Radek Faksa (Dallas/Kitchener), Brett Ritchie (Dallas/Niagara)….among others. These players don’t have to be recalled but CAN be if wanted.
In the Western Hockey League, 2013 NHL Draft-eligible Nic Petan received Player of the Week honours after rocketing to the top of the league scoring leaders with 4 goals and 8 points through just 3 games. Petan is just another member of that potent Portland Winterhawks’ franchise that keeps pumping out NHL draftees. Michael St. Croix (New York Rangers) was a favourite mid-round pick of mine back prior to the 2011 NHL Draft and he’s really starting to find his way. He currently sits with 4 points after a pair of games.
Canadiens’ prospect Tim Bozon has tallied three goals in his two opening games for Kamloops.
Forward Curtis Lazar (2013) and defenseman Ryan Pulock (2013) have registered 3 and 4 points respectfully to start their NHL draft year. Both players have been projected as first round selections and have appeared inside the top 10 (including my own).
Out east in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, ‘13 draft prospect Jonathan Drouin (Halifax Mooseheads) is doing his thing to move up the draft charts with 2 goals and 7 points through 2 games. Drouin is an exceptionally smart player and great skater that will surely push for a top 10-20 selection.
Sabres’ steal of the 2012 NHL Draft, Mikhail Grigorenko is chasing Drouin as he sits second in the league with 6 points in a pair of games including 5 assists, not surprising considering his creativity.
Not far behind, 2013 top prospect Nathan MacKinnon has a trio of goals and 5 points to start his season (2 games) while Anthony Duclair (2013) of the Quebec Remparts shares the exact same statline.
The QMJHL has recently produced fewer first round draft picks than its OHL and WHL counterparts but for the upcoming 2013 NHL Entry Draft it will have plenty of first round talent representing its league.
Heading overseas, several prospects are off to a hot start In Elitserien action...
Canucks’ Niklas Jensen’s decision to leave the OHL Oshawa Generals for professional action looks good early on as he sits 11th in scoring with 3 goals and 4 points in 5 games, leading his AIK team.
St.Louis Blues’ 2nd round pick in 2004, Carl Söderberg currently leads the league in scoring with 6 goals and 7 points through his first 5 games. Another Blues’ forward and teammate of Söderberg, Simon Hjalmarsson has earned four assists.
Canucks’ 2011 7th round pick, defenseman Henrik Tömmernes has started strong for Frolunda with four points in a half-dozen SEL games.
One of my favourite prospects, Calle Järnkrok (Red Wings), showing signs of production with his four apples in Brynas’ opening five games.
Remember Kings’ prospect Oscar Moller? Well, Moller tallied a hattrick in his first game but is currently sidelined with an injury.
Heading over to the SM-liiga….
A pair of 2013 NHL Draft eligible are making headlines early on as Aleksander ‘Sasha’ Barkov (Tappara) and Artturi Lehkonen (KalPa) sit tied for third in league scoring with an impressive 8 points. Barkov has been touted as a potential top 3 selection for next June’s 2013 NHL Entry Draft.
Sabres’ 2011 1st round selection, Joel Armia has recorded 5 points through 5 games including three goals and DobberProspect European correspondent Miika Arponen has informed me that he looks more matured and stronger than last year. Armia owns good upside and his size will be welcomed in Buffalo.
Thanks for reading,