The Young Stars tournament is finally here.
That means some real, actual hockey with players, goals, hits and, where
applicable, pride at stake.
Last year I ran through the prospect groups
for the Oilers as a way to introduce to fans here some names with
which they may not otherwise be familiar. The idea was that with the Flames
entering a rebuild and attention turning to prospects and prospect depth it
made sense to try and get the lay of the land in that regard amongst some other
Western Canadian teams.
This year I’ll again be looking at the
Canucks, Oilers, Jets and Flames and independently rating their prospect depth
We’ll begin with the hosts of the Young Stars
The Vancouver Canucks
The forward group includes:
Virtanen RW – star prospect, scoring winger, 52 pts
in 50 games playing for the Hitmen last season. Power forward type has another
year of junior eligibility left.
Gaunce C – after Bo Horvat, a prized center
prospect for the Canucks, big player spent last year in the AHL with 29 pts in
74 games. Needs to work on skating.
Cassels C – shutdown center who chipped in 81 pts
in 54 games last year. Shadowed McDavid in the OHL playoffs to eliminate Erie
from the post-season. 100 penalty minutes in the OHL last year. Turns pro this
Fox C – netted 30 goals last year, but only 15
assists in the ECHL, still managed 110 penalty minutes. Gritty, two-way
McCann C – junior center out of the OHL, netted 81
pts in 56 games. Eligible to return to Erie this year where he’ll try to move
out from the shadow of Connor McDavid and Dylan Strome.
Shinkaruk LW – small scoring winger netted 31 pts
in 74 AHL games last season.
Abols C – big body at 6’3” but only 174 lbs. Played
14 games with Riga in the KHL last year scoring 5 pts and 4 penalty minutes.
Gardiner C – smaller center played last season in
Prince Albert (WHL) getting 64 pts in 67 games. Eligible to return to PA this
Labate C – big man out of Eagan, Minnesota (6’4”,
210 lbs). Played 35 games with U. Wisconsin in the NCAA getting 18 pts and 46
penalty minutes. Defensive game was declining along with scoring last three
years, turns pro this year.
Martin RW – big winger out of Kootenay Ice at 6’2”
212 lbs. 24 pts in 56 WHL games last year and 86 penalty minutes. Likely plays
a specific role on the roster not related to hospitality.
Pettit C – tall center at 6’3” and 195 lbs, played
with the Erie Otters last season getting 27 pts in 60 games. Returns to Erie
Stewart F – big man (6’3”, 216 lbs) out of Prince
Albert, Canucks have at forward but his WHL page says defenseman. 11 pts in 66
games played last year…114 penalty minutes. Survey says…goon.
Zalewski LW – big winger at 6’2” , 205 lbs played
last season in the AHL, 12 pts in 55 games and 18 penalty minutes. Camp invite
going to Utica (AHL) this fall.
Zhukenov C – small center, 5’11 and a light 169
lbs. Spent last season in the KHL farm league, MHL, 19 pts in 35 games with 42
penalty minutes. Probably a bit of a sparkplug.
Brisebois – lanky defender, played in the Q last
season 28 pts in 63 games. Wore the “C” for Acadie-Bathhurst last year and
eligible to return this fall. Scouting
report says intelligent, engaged versatile defender.
Sautner – smaller stature, solid defensemen in the
WHL, 51 pts in 72 games last season but has gradually and continually improved
season-over-season. Likely headed to Utica this fall. One of the best defensive
prospects in the Canucks’ junior system.
Subban – of the Subban family, smaller defender,
netted 52 pts in 63 games in the OHL last season. A bit one-dimensional right
now. Headed to Utica this fall. He and Sautner are the best blueline prospects
for the Canucks.
Cederholm – tall and heavy at 6’2”, 209 lbs, 68 games
with the Winterhawks last year and 19 pts. Shutdown defender and a decent
prospect given limited skill set.
Hutton – 6’3”, 200 lbs, 39 games with U of Maine in
the NCAA last season potting 21 pts. Headed to Utica this fall.
McEneny – massive defender at 6’3”, 214 lbs out of
Kingston (OHL), 45 pts in 68 games and 71 penalty minutes, brings a very
different element than Subban or Sautner. Physical and has some offense in his
game. Headed to Utica in the fall.
Neill – 6’3” and 206 lbs, played 63 games in the Q
last season getting 40 pts and 77 penalty minutes. Inconsistent defender who
has some offense but needs to work on decision-making and skating. Headed back
to the Q this season.
Olson – 6’3” but only 174 lbs, last year in the WHL
netted 24 pts in 68 games and 69 penalty minutes. Scouting
report suggests a strong, smart defender who consistently makes the
high-percentage plays. Returning to Prince George (WHL) this season.
Whistle – Kelowna Rockets goaltender, played 50
games last season with a GAA of 2.55 and a .909 sv%. Returning to WHL this
Witt – played 23 games with Northeastern in the
NCAA last year, GAA of 2.83 and a .904 sv%. Headed to Utica this fall.
Canuck organizational strengths: players
with size and willingness to engage physically, a few intriguing forward
prospects in Cassels, Virtanen and Gaunce.
Weaknesses – lack of elite-level talent at
every position and depth. Roster decisions by managemnet have depleted
recently-graduated prospects in favour of immediate returns, compounding asset
mismanagement. Weakest prospect group of the four teams participating.
The Edmonton Oilers
McDavid C – 120 pts in 47 games with Erie last
year. Will start as 2nd line center in NHL this season. McDavid
isn’t a player you watch so much as one you experience. Bruce McCurdy discusses the player and person in a Portrait-of-the-Player-As-A-Young-Man kind of way.
Draisaitl C – 6’1”, 210 lbs, big playmaking center,
won Memorial Cup MVP. Likely headed back to AHL for part of the year where
he’ll play 1st line minutes.
Chase RW – 59 pts in 61 WHL games last year.
Initiates after-whistle activities and excels as scoring forward and opposition
distraction. Will play in the AHL this fall.
Platzer RW – Two way center, exploded for 81 pts in
68 games last season in the OHL. Going to the AHL this season.
Loiseau C – undrafted forward, 6’1”, 179 lbs,
netted 96 pts in 68 games for Rimouski this season. Headed for AHL this fall.
Marco Roy C – 2nd round pick by the Oilers in 2013 based on analytics, unsigned this June and undrafted, re-signed to an AHL deal this summer and will attend. Has reputation as a speedy, smart, two-way center and is motivated to prove that an ELC should be forthcoming. Scored 192 pts in 229 QMJHL games, turns pro this fall and will play in the ECHL/AHL.
Soy C – undrafted forward, 5’11”, 172 lbs, speedy
player collected 63 pts in 69 games last year for the Royals (WHL). Intelligent
player with quickness and ability to read the game at a high level. Will return
to junior as Victoria’s 1st line center this coming season.
Moroz LW – big winger plays a north-south game,
skates well and initiates contact. Can contribute offense but doesn’t generally
Winquist LW – undrafted scoring winger, will go to
AHL for his second season this year, scored 19 pts in 46 games.
Rankin LW – undrafted forward, 6′, 202 lbs,
surprised with 79 pts in 72 games in his final WHL season with the Hitmen.
Christoffer LW – undersized undrafted forward out
of the WHL, netted 59 pts in 72 games with the Regina Pats, consecutive 130+
penalty minute seasons. Unlikely receive applause from opposing fans.
Slepyshev RW – fast winger with size, played the
last few seasons in the KHL scoring 25 pts in 58 games last season, entering
his first pro season in North America. Will go to the AHL this fall.
Burkarts RW – undrafted winger scored 74 pts in 62
games with the Wheat Kings last season. Plays with energy but managed to drop his
penalty minutes from 50 last season to 16 this year and improving from +2 to
Linaker C – undrafted camp invite, scouting
report says skating needs work but is willing to spend time in the dirty
areas of the ice. Rockets with 32 pts in 72 games last season. Eligible for AHL
this fall. (thanks to Cody Nickolet for the work cited from Dub From Above).
Sanford RW – undrafted camp invite, smaller forward
at 5’9” and 165lbs, 95 pts in 72 games with Medicine Hat last year with 50
goals. 20 year-old eligible to return to junior for another season.
Nurse – 6’4”, 225 lbs, stud defenseman can skate
effortlessly and brings reasonable offense (scored 33 pts in 36 OHL games last
season) and significant physical element to his game. Headed to AHL this
Laleggia – NCAA star offensive defenseman who
scored 40 pts in 37 games with U of Denver. Smaller stature, but will
quarterback the powerplay in the AHL this season.
Betker – massive defender at 6’5”, 204 lbs, skates
well, good passer, can engage physically. 31 pts in 64 games, cut down penalty
minutes from 102 to 63 last season and improved +/- rating from -3 to +19 with
the Silvertips (WHL). Headed to the ECHL/AHL this fall.
Jones – Brother of Seth Jones, joining Winterhawks
(WHL) this season, simple, reliable mobile defender with no single outstanding
strengths but quality across the board.
Bear – well-rounded defender with the Seahawks
(WHL), 6′, 197 lbs, netted 38 pts in 69 games last season. Returning to junior
Leveille – undrafted 6′, 223 lbs defender, put up
54 pts in 68 games last year with Cape Breton of the Q.
Davis – undrafted Silvertips defender (WHL), scored
25 pts in 64 games last season, smooth-skating defender, calm with the puck.
Eligible to return to junior next season.
Waltz – undrafted defender, 6’1”, 198 lbs, scored
32 pts in 72 games played with the Wheat Kings last year. Posted a significant
increase last season going from -8 to +39. Will turn pro this fall.
Laurikainen – free-agent signing, former WHL goalie
went to SM-liiga last season posting 2.1 GAA and a .933 sv%.
Bouchard – goalie from the Q, last season recorded
a 3.85 GAA and a .872 sv%. Will return to junior next season.
Papirny – undrafted goalie with the Wheat Kings
last season, 2.74 GAA last year with a .910 sv%.
Organizational prospect strengths:
elite-level talent at center and defense with asset redundancies, several
possible prospects at depth skating positions, little demand for top-six talent
at the NHL level for the foreseeable future.
Weaknesses: Team results have prompted early
promotion of some key assets in the past, principal NHL roster weakness at
defense is unlikely to be sufficiently resolved by internal development this
season. Goaltending prospect depth remains questionable.
2nd best prospect group of the
four participating organizations.
The Winnipeg Jets
Ehlers RW – Dynamic winger with speed to burn.
Scored consecutive 100+ pt seasons with Mooseheads (QMJHL), 101 pts in 51 games
last year. Phenomenal talent who could push for an NHL spot this fall.
Andrew Copp C – captain of his U of Michigan team last season, recorded 31 pts in 37 games, 6’1″, 201 lbs, athletic player with size shows potential as a power forward.
Jiri Fronk RW – big winger (6’2″, 203 lbs) scored 50 pts in 60 NCAA games last season, good blend of size and skill.
Blomqvist LW – undrafted winger signed as a
free-agent, massive at 6’6”, 212 lbs, skilled forward posting 30 pts in 27
games with Moose Jaw. Has a .80 ppg pace over 185 WHL games.
De Leo C – small scoring winger with the
Winterhawks, scored 84 pts in 67 games last season, 81 the year previous when
he achieved a +49 rating.
Gennaro C – 6’3”, 187 lbs, scored 31 pts in 72
games with Prince Albert (WHL) last season. Size gives him potential but he’ll
need to develop more dynamic offensive ability. Due to return to junior this
Harkins C – skilled two-way center with Prince
George (WHL) who recorded 79 pts in 70 games last year. Will return to junior
Kosmachuk RW –
posted 28 pts in 70 AHL games last season, recorded 101 pts in 68 games
with 83 penalty minutes two years ago in his last OHL season.
Lemieux LW – Claude Lemieux’s son, apple doesn’t
fall far from the tree. 6′, 209 lbs, prototypical love-to-hate opponent you
wish your team had. Scored 60 pts in 57 games with Barrie Colts (OHL) last
season. Will return to junior this fall.
Lodge C – recorded 45 pts in 40 games in the OHL
last season. Has seen point totals drop each year post-draft. Will go to AHL
Olsen C – 9 pts in 60 WHL games last year, 47
penalty minutes. Google search’s first results include a photo of him grinning
through multiple bruises and lacerations.
Petan C – small and skilled forward projected as a
winger, scored 120 pts in his draft year, 113 draft +1 and 89 in 54 games last
season with the Winterhawks. Will turn pro this fall.
Spacek RW – scored 12 pts in 40 games with HC
Pardubice U18 team last year. Will join Red Deer (WHL) this fall.
Harstad – 6’2”, 199 lbs shutdown defender in the
NCAA last season. Will turn pro this fall.
Karlstrom – Swedish shutdown defender, due to play
in the USHL this fall.
Kostalek – 6’1”, 196 lbs, scored 36 pts in 57 games
with Rimouski (QMJHL) last season with 35 penalty minutes and was +55. 21 pts
in 20 games during the OHL playoffs.
Morrissey – dynamic defender scored 38 pts in 47
WHL games last season. Along with Leon Draisaitl, was traded from the Raiders
to the Rockets for the WHL playoffs and Memorial Cup drive last spring. Will
turn pro this season.
Nogier – strong defensive defenseman at 6’2”, 192
lbs, skates well but appears rather one-dimensional.
Serville – 6’3”, 201 lbs, scored 7 pts in 33 NCAA
games last season with 12 penalty minutes. Headed to the AHL this fall.
Stoykewych – 6’3”, 205 lbs, NCAA defensive defenseman,
will turn pro this fall.
Comrie – step-brother of Paul and Mike Comrie, posted
a 2.87 GAA and a .914 sv% in his last WHL season. Eligible for ECHL/AHL this
Hellebuyck – AHL goalie, recorded 2.58 GAA and a
.921 sv% last season, the lowest sv% of his career thus far.
Organizational prospect strengths: Wide
variety of talent available at all positions. Size, skill and depth at center,
wing, defense and goal.
Weaknesses: limited number of clearly
identified elite-level prospects mitigated by high-ceiling potential across the
Strongest prospect group of the four
The Calgary Flames
Bennett C – 6’1”, 180 lbs skilled center/winger.
High-energy, scoring forward. Currently the best prospect in the Flames’
system. Will start the season in the NHL.
Agostino LW – 6’1”, 200 lbs, scored 43 pts in 67
AHL games last season. Likely headed to AHL this fall.
Arnold C – 6′, 218 lbs, part of Gaudreau’s dynamic
Boston College line, recorded 38 pts in 61 games in his first AHL season. Will
head to Adirondack this fall.
Carroll RW – 6’3”, 216 lbs, winger can play either
side, scored 77 pts in 69 games with Victoria (WHL) last season. Headed to
ECHL/AHL this year.
Karnaukhov LW – 6’3”, 194 lbs, scored 42 pts in 69
games with the Hitmen (WHL) last season. Interesting prospect who will return
to junior this season. Needs to improve skating stride but has developed
Klimchuk LW – oft-overlooked part of the 2013 draft
haul, smaller winger at 6′, 185 lbs, scored 80 pts in 60 games with the Pats
and Wheat Kings (WHL) last season. Headed to the AHL this season.
Mangiapane LW – small forward, 5’10”, 171 lbs, high
offensive skill, 104 pts in 68 games last season. Will return to the Colts
(OHL) this season.
Poirier LW – speedy winger had a strong AHL debut
last season netting 42 pts in 55 games. Will likely return to the AHL this
Smith RW – 6’7” 208 lbs. They don’t come much
bigger. Turning pro this season after recording 49 pts in 57 games with Oshawa
(OHL) last season. Will need to show he can play at the professional level
where his size is a less distinct advantage than in junior.
van Brabant LW – big winger, 6’2”, 205 lbs, scored
15 pts in 52 AHL games last year. Limited role on the roster. Will return to
the AHL this season.
Tyson Baillie RW – energetic smaller forward who scored 76 pts in 68 games with the Rockets (WHL) this past season.
Taylor Burke C – physical forward who scored 37 pts in 56 QMJHL games last season. Turns pro this fall.
Mason Marchment LW – son of Bryan Marchment and big at 6’3″, 195 lbs. 24 pts in 56 games with Erie (OHL) last season.
Louick Marcotte RW – winger had a breakout season in 13/14 scoring 100 pts in 67 QMJHL games before returning to earth last season with 76 pts in 63 games. Turned pro and signed with Stockton this summer.
Ryan Lomberg LW – smaller forward, but stocky at 5’9″, 191 lbs. Skilled and quick, he scored 43 pts in 56 USHL games last season, adding 146 penalty minutes on top of that. Rarely receives gifts of flowers from the opposing bench.
Julien Proulx LW – 6’5″, 224 lbs, over his two seasons in the QMJHL he has amassed 6 pts in 79 games playing either forward or defense (apparently position doesn’t affect his game). Suspect he is there to put out the fires that Lomberg starts.
Tomas Soustal RW – Czech winger came over to Kelowna from Europe last year for his first WHL season, scored 18 pts in 65 games. Reported to have a high energy level and good skill/hockey IQ.
Andersson – 6′, 212 lbs, dynamic defenseman with
strong skating and speed. Intelligent puck-mover but needs work on
decision-making. Scored 64 pts in 67 games with Barrie (OHL) last season and
will return to junior this season.
Bruce – massive shutdown defender at 6’6”, 205 lbs,
offense is non-existent.
Culkin – offensive defenseman in junior who scored
18 pts in 37 games in his first AHL season. Will return to AHL this fall where
he is expected to take another step forward.
Kanzig – 6’7”, 245 lbs behemoth, skating and
decision-making have been issues in the past. Shutdown defender with an edge,
posted 16 pts in 49 AHL games last season as well as 115 penalty minutes.
Kulak – split time between ECHL/AHL last season, 26
gp 4-9-13 (AHL), 39 gp 9-21-30 (ECHL). Headed to the AHL this fall.
Kylington – intelligent and skilled defender with
smooth skating style and strong hockey-sense. Will make professional North
American debut this season in the AHL. Could be among the first injury
Morrison – large defender 6’2”, 210 lbs with some
offensive contributions, scored 15 pts in 37 NCAA games last season. Making
professional debut in the AHL this season.
Jason Fram – offensive-support defenseman who scored 62 pts in 70 games with Spokane (WHL) last season (57 pts in 72 gp the previous season).
Jason Bell – offensive defenseman out of the QMJHL, scored 29 pts in 63 games last season
Eric Roy – drafted-but-unsigned Flames prospect who went undrafted this past June. Big body at 6’3″, 208lbs. He can contribute offensively, scoring an average of 45 pts in each of his last four WHL seasons. Turns pro this fall.
Sieloff – physical defenseman entering his 3rd
professional season, recorded 5 pts in 48 games but 78 penalty minutes. Limited
skill set that he will be hard-pressed to transfer to full NHL employment.
Gillies – 6’5”, 216 lbs in 39 games with Providence
last season (his last in the NCAA) he posted a 2.01 GAA with a .930 sv%.
Trending as future franchise goaltender will challenge Ortio as starter in AHL
MacDonald – Islanders goalie (QMJHL) posted 3.06
GAA and .906 sv% last season. Will return to junior this fall.
Nick Schneider – goalie played for the Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL) this past season, posting a 2.82 GAA and 0.898 sv% over 27 games.
Organizational prospect strengths: defensive
depth significantly bolstered by draft additions this June compared to one year
ago, goaltending prospect depth is heavily contingent on spectacular prospect
Gillies, forward prospect depth is modest with a handful of assets with top-six
Weaknesess: all areas have strong prospects
but lack depth to counter attrition by graduation, injury or stalled
3rd strongest prospect group of
the four organizations participating.
The Penticton tournament is another classic
small sample-size event that allows one to gauge the relative strengths and
weaknesses between organizational prospects and offers fans a tantalizing view
of what might be. It is, however, a small collection of games featuring players
who have limited experience with each other and under tight timelines by way of
coaching and systems.
While the results will always matter between
these four historic rival organizations, the takeaway from the competition has
to be the relative depth of each organization’s prospect pool.