1. Some good news
So in the last several days, I had a chance to see five of Calgary’s six NCAA prospects live and in person, which was a nice treat. I took in a pair of Boston University games this past weekend, and got an eyeful of Brandon Hickey, and then on Tuesday had a chance to see Providence College (Mark Jankowski, Jon Gillies, John Gilmour) take on Colgate (Tim Harrison). Would that Michigan State (Matt DeBlouw) had been in town, but I guess we’ll have to settle.
You’ll recall that last week I talked about the progression so far this season for Jankowski and Gillies, and what I saw in Tuesday’s game really continued both those trends for me.
Gillies is still dominant. Obviously. He certainly didn’t have his best game on Tuesday (three goals allowed on 32 shots) but he didn’t see the first two through traffic, and the third was the result of a scramble around the netfront that he really couldn’t have been expected to stop. He also made a number of saves that most college goalies do not make, to keep his team in a game it ended up winning 4-3 on a truly bizarre game-winner late in the third. That this was his worst outing since Halloween, on a statistical basis, really doesn’t matter; he’s still .938 for the season, having allowed just 28 goals in a little more than 883 minutes.
Kid’s just great, and I’d expect him to go pro this spring just as quickly as he can.
2. Now the bad news
As for Jankowski, well, it might be a situation where you call this one a wash. I tracked his 5-on-5 corsi-on statistics last night and they were quite poor (seven attempts for, 20 against) in approximately 13:59. He played about 17:50 overall, taking only two shorthanded shifts for about 1:15 in a game filled with penalties. But yeah, the possession numbers are, you know, bad: 25.9 percent. Small sample size, sure, but he’s playing top minutes and Colgate’s competition aren’t exactly worldbeaters. And to be fair, he was 2-10 in 4:43 or so in the third period, when Colgate was pressing.
(I should note here that TOI isn’t tracked by teams and so I have to do it myself, and thus I might miss a second here or there at the beginning or end of a shit; I also don’t always trust individual teams’ counting of their own corsi events for and consequently do that myself as well. My numbers were only slightly off from the official ones, though; I had PC down 24-31, or 43.6 percent, without the top line on the ice at 5-on-5.)
He did, to his credit, get a breakaway as he stepped out of the box after taking a penalty (200 feet from his own net), but the defensemen coming back erased the distance between themselves and their quarry pretty quickly and pressured him into a low-percentage shot.
As to the repeated insistence that he’s playing hurt, I talked to some people and I don’t believe that to be the case. He’s not wearing the “don’t hit me jersey” in practices and he certainly didn’t shy away from play along the boards. Basically, my belief is that he theoretically could still be hampered by the injury that held him out of the lineup as recently as Oct. 25 (seems like that’d be a bad injury) but I doubt it.
He was, however, very active in PC’s 2-1 loss to Northeastern, which I did not see, this past Saturday. His five shots on goal in that game account for nearly one-third of his entire output over 12 games.
At this point, I just don’t know what to make of him. He’s still relatively young for a college kid, but he’s also 20 years old. He’s 13 months younger than Johnny Gaudreau, and 13 months ago Johnny Gaudreau was lighting this same conference on fire. Gaudreau doesn’t come with Jankowski’s first-round pick/”best player in the draft 10 years from now” pedigree — which, okay, Jankowski was always overrated by the Flames organization, and mishandled after the draft by sending him to college before he was ready — but the production really ought to be better than this.
3. Back to good news
One guy I didn’t touch on last week who’s been playing well enough for Providence this season is John Gilmour. The stats aren’t in any way overwhelming (he’s a second-pairing defenseman with six points and 17 shots in 13 games) but that’s mostly because he struggled — partly with injury — early in the season. Through his first eight games, he had just two assists and four shots on goal.
But as Providence has come on in the last few weeks, so too has Gilmour. In all, 13 of his 17 shots have come in the last five games, in which he has four points. In fact, he had a goal and two assists in Tuesday’s game — the goal was at even strength and came entirely because he jumped up in the play and identified a truly abysmal line change from Colgate as an opportunity to cash in. Just a good follow as the game opened up in front of him.
Which, apparently, is how he’s going to flourish going forward. Here’s Providence coach Nate Leaman, who’s done a great job for the Friars, talking about Gilmour’s game:
“He’s an offensive guy and there was space in that game tonight. He was really good against Northeastern also, because there was space in that game. That’s what he does: He gets his feet going, he’s got a good stick, and very good vision. In the games where there’s a little space, that’s where you can really notice him.”
4. Neutral news
Unfortunately, I have little to nothing to report about Tim Harrison, as usual.
He had a single shot on goal last night — it was, in fact, the only one he attempted — and despite the fact that he’s 6-foot-3 he wasn’t very noticeable out there. He was a sixth-round pick and you can’t be too mad that he only has 3-3-6 this season, because he’s just an okay player that I don’t think was ever all that highly valued or considered.
You take guys like Harrison, who are size-y and did well at the lower levels (21-22-43 in 28 games in preps before he got drafted), because you hope they turn into something. He hasn’t yet, but he’s also just a second-year player who’s not getting top minutes or good linemates.
He’s getting a little bit of power play time this season — and Colgate’s man advantage is generally abysmal — but he’s not making hay there. Apart from a three-game stretch in which he went 3-2-5 against two of the worst teams in college hockey (Northeastern once and Sacred Heart twice), he has just one assist on the year.
I’ve seen his last two games live and, well, I guess you could say he plays a physical game. But that’s about it right now.
Anyway, highlights of Tuesday’s game are available here:
5. Still more good news
Finally we come to Brandon Hickey, who continues to impress me for Boston University.
He’s up to 1-7-8 on the season, with that goal coming in his most recent game, against nationally ranked and defensively stout Merrimack. That was a game in which he put four shots on goal and he got a lot of ice time with Jack Eichel, who makes his teammates’ lives very, very easy (I have the future No. 2 pick at close to 70 percent 5-on-5 corsi-for in the five BU games I’ve seen this year; Johnny Gaudreau, in the best college hockey season I’ve ever seen, went about 58 percent in my 15 viewings).
His goal wasn’t mind-blowing and it wasn’t goofy either. He just snapped a wrister right past the goaltender, and as coach Dave Quinn said after the game, when you put 35 good-quality shots on net in 15 games, one of them has to go in:
“He shoots the puck very well, gets it to the net, keeps it low, so he was bound to get one, and he’ll get a few more. He’s a real good player who can find the shooting lane, doesn’t get a lot of shots blocked. And hopefully that’s one of many to come this year.”