With a couple days between games and finally some Stockton Heat action to talk about, now seems like a pretty smart time to revisit our summer Top 20 Prospects rankings. We’ll do this periodically throughout the season, but hopefully this shows which players are performing better-than-expected, which players are disappointing, and which cases that our rankings are just completely out to lunch.
Case in point: there are six defensemen ranked ahead of Brett Kulak, who is currently in the NHL. Granted, one of them is hurt (Ryan Culkin) and two of them aren’t pros yet (Brandon Hickey and Rasmus Andersson), but it doesn’t look too good for our rankings sometimes.
Full update after the jump!
THE TOP 20
#1: Sam Bennett – Calgary Flames
Bennett began the year as the organization’s top prospect. Through three regular season games, he’s got zero points but he’s looked like an NHL center. Most impressive? His 46.7% face-off mark, which is pretty solid for a rookie – and actually better than Mikael Backlund and Sean Monahan.
#2: Jon Gillies – Stockton Heat
After being hampered by a concussion in the pre-season that largely kept him off the ice, Gillies was thrown in (relatively) cold against the Rockford IceHogs on Saturday night. In his professional debut, he made 19 saves for his first professional shutout. Not a bad start.
#3: Emile Poirier – Stockton Heat
Poirier was one of several prospects that looked good in Stockton’s debut. He had two assists, but bear in mind that they were both secondary assists. Still: points are points.
#4: Oliver Kylington – Stockton Heat
There were a few question marks about Kylington before the season began. Those questions aren’t completely answered as of yet, but all reports are that he was superb on Saturday. He had a goal and a primary assist, and generally looked like a guy that had played Swedish pro hockey as a teenager. Give it a few games before you start penciling him into the Flames line-up, though.
#5: Morgan Klimchuk – Stockton Heat
Klimchuk was one of only a few Heat players held pointless on Saturday, but remember (a) it’s his first pro season and there’s probably some growing pains involved and (b) he was playing primarily with Blair Riley and Freddie Hamilton.
#6: Rasmus Andersson – Barrie Colts
Andersson has an assist in five games with Barrie so far. I’d be a bit concerned with his -5 rating so far, but it seems like the whole team has sagged a bit lately – they’ve lost two in a row after a good start.
#7: Brandon Hickey – Boston University Terriers
Hickey began his sophomore season rather quietly, putting up zero points as the Terriers lost 5-3 to Union over the weekend.
#8: Tyler Wotherspoon – Stockton Heat
Wotherspoon had a primary assist in Stockton’s big win on Saturday night.
#9: Bill Arnold – Stockton Heat
Arnold had a power-play goal on Saturday for the Heat.
#10: Mark Jankowski – Providence College Friars
Jankowski might have done the most to elevate his status among all of the team’s prospects this weekend. Providence College beat (and tied) Miami (of Ohio) in their weekend set, and Jankowski had a goal and four assists. It’s probably not sustainable, but it’s a good start. He begins the year as Providence’s first-line center.
#11: Kenney Morrison – Stockton Heat
Morrison was a healthy scratch on Saturday. Granted, there’s a lot of defenders in Stockton, but hopefully that’s not a regular occurrence.
#12: Andrew Mangiapane – Barrie Colts (Stock Rising)
He’s slowed down a bit as the team’s struggled a bit recently, but Mangiapane has eight points in seven games. His -4 rating isn’t anything to write home about, but it’s also too early to be that concerned.
#13: Ryan Culkin – Stockton Heat
Culkin’s currently on the shelf with a shoulder injury. Current estimates see him returning to action sometime in November.
#14: Kenny Agostino – Stockton Heat (Stock Rising)
A runner-up to Jankowski for “Prospect That Elevated Their Status This Week,” Agostino had three assists -all of them secondary – in Stockton’s big win. He might not have been burying pucks in the net, but plays were definitely not dying on his stick. He’s a guy that probably deserved some NHL time last season but was a victim of the numbers game. Keep an eye on him.
#15: Hunter Smith – Stockton Heat
Smith played on the fourth line and made his pro debut on Saturday, but he was held pointless.
#16: Mason McDonald – Charlottetown Islanders
McDonald was just named to Team QMJHL in the annual Canada/Russia junior challenge. He’s been okay with Charlottetown, going 1-2-0 with a 3.33 goals against average and .898 save percentage.
#17: Brett Kulak – Calgary Flames (Stock Rising)
Kulak has zero points in three NHL games. But he’s a third-pairing guy that hasn’t been lit up, so I think he’s doing just fine.
#18: Austin Carroll – Stockton Heat
He was scratched on Saturday.
#19: Garnet Hathaway – Stockton Heat
Hathaway was named an alternate captain for the Heat, but was scratched for the season-opener.
#20: Rushan Rafikov – Lokomotiv Yaroslavl (Stock Falling)
The good news: Lokomotiv is in first place! The bad news: Rafikov has only played seven games (of the team’s 20), and he last played on October 5th and hit the ice for the grand total of 4:30.
Players not in the Top 20 that are making cases so far this season for their future inclusion.
John Gilmour – Providence College Friars
After missing the season-opener, Gilmour had a goal in Providence College’s tie with Miami (of Ohio). He’s a senior this season.
Pavel Karnaukhov – Calgary Hitmen
Karnaukhov missed a weekend game with a lower body issue, but was back in action soon after. He’s got two points in six games thus far.
Matthew Deblouw – Michigan State University Spartans
Deblouw is now a senior and plays right wing on the Spartans’ second line. He had an assist in two games over the opening weekend.
Riley Bruce – North Bay Battalion
Best known as “the tall kid Calgary took in the seventh round,” Bruce has a goal and is -1 through six games. His team is .500, and he’s doing just fine.
Nick Schneider – Medicine Hat Tigers
In six games with the Tigers, Schneider is 2-3-0 with a 4.45 goals against average and a scary .852 save percentage. It’s early, but yikes.
Turner Elson – Stockton Heat (Stock Rising)
A brand-new alternate captain with the Heat, Elson had two primary assists in Stockton’s rout over Rockford.