The Kids Are Alright – Prospects Update

 

 

For those unaware, some Flames futures are having themselves a nice spring so far. The Abbotsford Heat managed to sweep their opening series over the Milwaukee Admirals 3-0 while the Portland Winterhawks advanced to the WHL finals by beating the Tri-City Americans.

The Pros

The Heat took advantage of their sudden roster depth and a slightly shorthanded Milwaukee squad (some of their best players were traveling with the parent club, the Nashville Predators). Like the regular season, Krys Kolanos led the way for Abbotsford, scoring four goals and eight points in just three games. Clay Wilson led the blueline with five points, while Ben Walter (5 points) and Greg Nemisz (5 points) also had noteworthy performances. The only other Flames youngsters to mark the score sheet were Paul Byron (3 points) and Roman Horak (2 points). Max Reinhart appeared in one contest and went pointless while Michael Ferland has yet to suit up.

Dany Taylor stared all three games for the Heat and managed an excellent .925 SV%.

The Juniors

Sven Baertschi and Tyler Wotherspoon will face the Edmonton Oil Kings (probably) in the WHL finals after their 4-1 win over the Americans on Thursday night. Portland fired 61 shots on net en route to a 4-1 win, with Baertschi scoring a goal. He now has 25 points in 15 post-season games. For his part, Wotherspoon has collected five points and +12 rating in the playoffs so far.

Finally, Laurent Brossoit continues to be the best goalie in the WHL playoffs despite a recent defeat at the hands of the Moose Jaw Warriors (the Oil Kings first loss in 20-odd games). HIs .942 SV% is the best save rate amongst any goalie who has started 4 or more games.

When/if the Oil Kings defeat the Warriors to make the finals, it will be interesting to see how prevails out of Baertschi/Brossoit.

We’ll provide more updates as things progress.

  • That sucks for Irving if Taylor is starting over him and doesn’t fill me with any confidence that he will be with the big club next season either. There goes there dreams of Irving making any significant impact 🙁

    Baertschi has really slowed down since his really hot start to the playoffs too, still has a really good PPG pace still though.

    And I can’t even begin to guess which team wins out between Edmonton and Portland, I’m cheering for Portland, but I think if Broissant stands on his head, he is obviously the better goalie between the teams, he could steal the series for Edmonton.

  • RexLibris

    One problem Kent. I believe that the MSM have trademarked the term “The Kids Are Alright” in reference to the Oilers of 2010-2011.

    Seriously though, I was so sick of seeing that headline on TSN, Sportsnet, and everywhere else every time Hall, Paajarvi or Eberle scored a goal in a game or, on a few rare occasions, the team won.

    I’ve been watching Brossoit closely and he looks like he’ll be in consideration for the WJC next season. That isn’t in itself a great commendation as some of the past invitees have been wanting in their NHL careers, but it is better than not being invited at all. Olivier Roy and Tyler Bunz both tried out, with mixed results, and their pro careers are beginning to develop nicely. Hopefully Brossoit can successfully make the jump to pro in a year or so.

    I was pulling for Tri-City because I think the Oil Kings will be harder pressed to shut down the deeper scoring of Portland. Tri-City was largely a one-line team. Either way, this could be a very entertaining series as the Kings and the Hawks both love to push the pace and create offense. Probably a very different series than the Warriors. That team plays smashmouth hockey to a tee.

    For what it’s worth I think the Kings have more depth and a better, more balanced, defensive corps than the Hawks.

  • Bikeit

    You know the more i saw of Wotherspoon in the playoffs the more I saw a NHL shut down d-man. He was a monster in Game 7 against the blazers and did not give an inch to a blazers team that had been lighting them up the three games previous. Definitely has upside when he ramps his game up.

  • Bikeit

    Why do you think the Oilkings have “more depth and a better, more balanced, defensive corps than the Hawks”? Edmonton has 1 players with a plus minus higher then 9 while Porltand has 6 players with a plus 11 or higher. The top 6 in plus minus are Hawks. Portland has 4 players in the top 20 in D scoring and Edomnton has 2. Portland has 4 players in the top 8 in scoring including 1st, 2nd, and 4th while no Edmonton players show up until 10th. look at the 2 oppontents this round Moose Jaw and Tri Cities. You guys beat them by 9 pts in the standings. Out scored them by 52 and allowed 19 less goals. Edmonton was the clear favorite to win that series while Portland finished 2 pts Behind Tri. while out scoring them by 47 but also letting in 39 more goals. Portland was never the clear favorite to win are series and last time I checked we won are series 4-0 over a team several people thought could win. While your series is 3-1 over a team most people except Moose Jaw said you guys would sweep.

  • RexLibris

    @Stephanie

    The Hawks and Tri-City both play in a relatively weaker conference, the winning percentages drop off sooner in the Western conference than the East. Also the matchup between the Portland and Tri-City was essentially a meeting between giants in the WHL.

    I’m glad that Edmonton didn’t have to face either in the playoffs. However, while Kootenay, Brandon and Moose Jaw appear to be much weaker sisters than either Portland or Tri-City, they all played very different styles that forced the Kings to adapt their style.

    Those two teams probably did a favour to any team coming out of the Eastern conference in eliminating one or the other.

    My argument for the Kings depth is precisely that they don’t have one single dominant line. They have several lines and should they lose a player to injury, in most cases they have the depth within the roster to replace that player with less of a drop-off in performance.

    The Winterhawks, from what I have been able to see so far, rely heavily on the Rattie-Baertschi combination, with some good scoring support from their forward depth. They have an absolutely stacked team in Niederreiter, Noebels, Ross, Johansen, Morrow, Pouliot, as well as the two I have mentioned above. They will certainly be favoured going into the final.

    However, I have been watching the Oil Kings all season and they are a deceptively good team. They have the depth and talent to turn a game within minutes. Brossoit is playing very well, Pysyk, Lowe, Reinhart, Gernat, Sautner, and Corbett can all move the puck quickly and can take the punishment of an aggressive forecheck.

    If Edmonton wins it will be the most challenging series they will have yet played, and I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if it wrapped up in four or went all the way to seven.

  • Sobueno

    I was actually hoping the Heat would lose game three so I could go watch them in Abbotsford for game 4 (I live pretty close), but can’t complain too much. I’ll still be here for round 2!

    Kolanos is sure lighting it up, that’s a pretty impressive points total for a pro league no? It raises the question though, if we were to use the AHL to NHL conversion discussed in several recent articles, wouldn’t Kolanos be expected to be close to a point-per-game player (if we’re solely looking at the playoffs)? I know this is a very small sample size, all against a single team, but he still had some good numbers during the regular season too. Any thoughts as to why he’s been so successful in the AHL, but couldn’t translate it during his stint with the Flames last season?

    • PrairieStew

      Dude missed nearly 2 years and probably played hurt for a couple before that. It is not surprising then that he has got even better as the season has worn on. Flames must have seen this as well, as he was initially signed to a minor pro contract only then later given a 2 way deal. Frankly if he continues to play well, I don’t see why he couldn’t be a full time Flame next year and be as productive as Matt Stajan – at a fifth of the cost

        • PrairieStew

          Kolanos generated some scoring chances but just didn’t bury them. Clearly he is dominating at the AHL level and seems to have improved throughout the year. At 1.3 pts per game in the regular season in the AHL – wouldn’t that translate close to the .29 ppg Stajan generated ? And roughly 2.9 million cheaper ?

          I know I might be being optimistic when it comes to Kolanos, but if he was hurt for a long while – then finally decided to get surgery, and missed 21 months and now has come back with a vengance – shouldn’t he be considered an option ?

          If you can move Stajan and replace with Krys, use that money to help attract a top 4 ( right shooting please) defenceman.

  • Sobueno

    @RexLibris

    First Off Niederreiter and Johansen are playing in the NHL not for Portland. The Hawks have a top line yes but we have more scoring then Rattie and Bartschi. Yes they both have tons of pts but Ross, Noebels, Morrow, Pouliot, all have double digits in pts two. Portland has not 2 but 4 players averaging more then a point per game. Portland has already delt with losing players this playoff and came out just fine. (Leipsic was hurt to start and Gabriel has been suspended twice).

    • RexLibris

      and @Douglas

      My apologies about Johansen and Niederreiter, I was looking at an older roster lineup.

      Don’t misunderstand what I am saying here. Portland has to be the favourite going into this next series as they have a high-octane offense and a very good defense with Morrow, Pouliot, et al.

      My overall point is that the Oil Kings aren’t slouches and shouldn’t be dismissed with the argument that they have gotten to the WHL finals by playing lesser teams.

      The Hawks are an elite team that, because of the conference in which they have played, have feasted on weaker teams throughout the season. This doesn’t take anything away from them as the Hawks had to face, arguably, the second best team in the WHL in this last series.

      However, when these two teams met this season it was an 8-4 win for the Kings (one game, small sample size). The Hawks were without Baertschi, the Kings hadn’t yet added Maxwell and Samuelsson.

      All I’m trying to say is that if this series becomes a run-and-gun series, it doesn’t necessarily become Portland’s to win. If it becomes physical, shut-down, or firewagon hockey the Kings have shown an ability to adapt and play well with most types of games.

      I’m not speaking at all here about the Hawks ability because I haven’t watched them play.

      In the end I think that a Tri-City series would have perhaps been a more favourable matchup for the Kings while the Portland series probably looks to be a more overall entertaining one.

  • PrairieStew

    @RexLibris

    “My overall point is that the Oil Kings aren’t slouches and shouldn’t be dismissed with the argument that they have gotten to the WHL finals by playing lesser teams.” I get that the Oilkings are a good team and never said they were not but your original point was that “Kings have more depth and a better, more balanced, defensive corps than the Hawks”. So witch one was your point again?
    “The Hawks are an elite team that, because of the conference in which they have played, have feasted on weaker teams throughout the season. This doesn’t take anything away from them as the Hawks had to face, arguably, the second best team in the WHL in this last series.” Because of our conference???? Last time I checked we play Tri City’s 10 times in the regular season. Spokane 8 times and Vancouver and Kamloops 4 times each. Thats almost half of our schedule.Yes we also play Seattle a lot but Edmonton plays crappy teams to like Prince Albert(who ended up being worse then Seattle). I dont think you can say we are a elite team simply because of playing in the West.
    The one game Edmonton and Portland played Bartschi was hurt, Gabriel had yet to be returned, Noebles was still in Seattle, Reid had not left college, plus is was the start of our 9 game road trip that lasted like 20 some odd days. This is a very different team now then back in October.