Way back in October we took a look at the first month results of many of our prospects. At that time we hadn't seen much out of a few of our top prospects (Horvat, Virtanen) because of injuries; Cassels was lighting the world on fire in the OHL; Markstrom was virtually impossible to score on for Utica; and Cederholm had already come close to last year's goal total. Time to see what's happened in the past month and a half!
World Junior Stars?
This year could be very interesting for Canucks fans as the organization will be watching as many as 3 different nations with vested interests. Virtanen has already found some chemistry with the Canadian squad; Demko is a returnee and likely the starting goaltender for the Americans; Cole Casels could also make the US team as a Right Winger; and Swedish d-man Gustav Forsling was named to their 30 man initial roster. Talk about having a variety of horses in the race! Best of luck to these 4 young men at their selection camps and hopefully we will see them all in Montreal and Toronto on Boxing Day!
Last visit, we had Cole Cassels dominating the OHL... Unfortunately he hasn't been scoring much due to a 10 game suspension for a nasty hit vs. Owen Sound on November 23. Hopefully he learns from his mistake and can move on from this incident and resume piling up the points at his season rate of 1.77 points per game!
Sixth pick Jake Virtanen had only played a handful of games when last we checked, so what has he been up to? Jake has been busy showing off his passing skills this year amassing 14 helpers in his 20 games so far this year. Known primarily as a goal scorer it is great to see that he has taken it upon himself to become a more balanced forward! He's currently fighting for a spot on Team Canada for the WJHC where he has lead the team in scoring with 2 goals and 4 assists in 2 games vs. an assembly of CIS players.
Undrafted free agent Curtis Valk has been a huge surprise so far this season as he leads the Kalamazoo Wings in scoring. Not bad for a guy who went into the summer development camp with no professional contract!
Ronalds Kenins is a player most folks aren't overly familiar with because he's taken a road less traveled to end up playing professional hockey in North America. The Latvian born player was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2013 after playing a couple of seasons with Zurich of the Swiss A league. Kenins has ideal NHL size, but will need some time to get acclimatized to the style of hockey played in North America.
|Darren Archibald||Utica Comets||AHL||23||3||5||8||55||2|
|Cole Cassels||Oshawa Generals||OHL||22||12||27||39||53||10|
|Dane Fox||Kalamazoo Wings||ECHL||21||5||4||9||32||-7|
|Brendan Gaunce||Utica Comets||AHL||26||1||8||9||5||2|
|Alexandre Grenier||Utica Comets||AHL||23||7||6||13||37||5|
|Nicklas Jensen||Utica Comets||AHL||18||8||6||14||10||0|
|Ronalds Kenins||Utica Comets||AHL||25||5||4||9||19||7|
|Joseph Labate||U. of Wisconsin||Big-10||12||1||5||6||18||-7|
|Jared McCann||Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds||OHL||24||11||18||29||17||9|
|Hunter Shinkaruk||Utica Comets||AHL||26||4||6||10||16||3|
|Curtis Valk||Kalamazoo Wings||ECHL||18||8||11||19||10||2|
|Jake Virtanen||Calgary Hitmen||WHL||20||9||14||23||36||5|
|Michael Zalewski||Utica Comets||AHL||14||1||1||2||2||0|
This is the source of much anguish in NM-land! Most of the threads lately have steered themselves to the blueline, so let's take a look at what we have going on in the system.
The first things that I noticed when compiling the stats was that most of our defensive prospects is that there are plenty of shut down players, a couple of smaller boom or bust offensively minded players, but very little in the way of solid 2-way defensmen.
Andrey Pedan is the newest plaything we've been given by GMJB and there was much rejoicing! Pedan is a big rugged blueliner who's always ready to drop the mitts. I'm sure there were many players excited to see him join the organization... I don't know how Bo Horvat felt about it though...
Ben Hutton has picked up the pace since last we checked and is showing similar form that of last season where he was a semi-finalist for the Hobey Baker award.
Gustav Forsling is playing great in the Swedish Hockey League, but it isn't showing up on the scoresheets. As previously mentioned, Forsling could find himself playing at the World Juniors this year. If only he were 3 inches taller...
|Anton Cederholm||Portland Winterhawks||WHL||22||4||3||7||50||-5|
|Frank Corrado||Utica Comets||AHL||14||2||1||3||13||1|
|Gustav Forsling||Linkopings HC||SweHL||29||3||2||5||8||3|
|Ben Hutton||U. of Maine||H-East||18||4||6||10||6||-9|
|Andrey Pedan||Utica Comets||AHL||8||0||0||0||13||1|
|Mackenze Stewart||Prince Albert Raiders||WHL||31||2||5||7||57||-2|
|Jordan Subban||Belleville Bulls||OHL||32||13||15||28||32||-4|
|Henrik Tommernes||Utica Comets||AHL||20||2||7||9||6||-5|
|Nikita Tryamkin||Yekaterinburg Automobilist||KHL||36||0||4||4||25||1|
I can't really add much more insight than the heading already covered. Markstrom's GAA is still below 2; Eriksson has a save percentage of .918; and Demko is posting better numbers so far this season than he did last year. No real problems here! My question is: When do we trade one of Eriksson, Markstrom or Lack? Yep, I went there!
|Thatcher Demko||Boston College||H-East||16||2.12||9||6||1||0.927|
|Joacim Eriksson||Utica Comets||AHL||17||2.30||10||3||4||0.918|
|Jacob Markstrom||Utica Comets||AHL||9||1.77||7||1||1||0.937|
I Was Wrong!
Part of making predictions is being wrong, and I have to say I was WAY off base with my projection on Bo Horvat: "Something tells me he'll be headed back to London just in time for the World Juniors.". I can't say that I'm upset about being wrong because he has been very solid as a 19 year old playing in the NHL. It would have been awesome to see Horvat dominate the WJ's, but being able to play at the NHL level is a much more impressive feat for the youngster!