We’re a few days into the month of November now, meaning that the first full month of the hockey calendar is now behind us. We’ve spent a lot of time waxing poetic about the various National Hockey League players in the Flames system, but to a certain extent we’ve been so caught up in the doom and/or gloom in Calgary that we’ve forgotten somewhat about some of the promising youngsters outside of this city.
To that end, here are a few of the strong performances by prospects in the month of October.
Andrew Mangiapane – Barrie (OHL)
Selected in the sixth round of the 2015 Draft by the Flames, Mangiapane was good in camp and turned a lot of heads. After a slow-ish start to the season, he closed out October with five consecutive multi-point games. Over the first 7 games in October, he had 4 points. Over the last 5 games, he had 12 points. He’s getting his legs under him now and generating a lot of chances in the offensive end. He hasn’t scored any game-winning goals yet, and he has a tendency to take a lot of “puck pursuit” penalties such as hooking or tripping. If he can rein those in a bit, he’s going to have a tremendous OHL season.
Mark Jankowski – Providence College (NCAA)
Jankowski has had an excellent start to the season, albeit with one notable exception. Now relied-upon as an alternate captain on the defending NCAA national champions, he’s playing first-line center. He’s only won 44.6% of his draws, which is a problem, but he’s also put up 3 goals and 7 assists through the first 7 games for the undefeated Friars club. (And that’s good.) He’s hit the score sheet in 6 of the team’s 7 games thus far. He hasn’t put up gaudy Gaudreau-esque offensive numbers, but he’s showing progression. Hold off your excitement until he maintains these numbers until Christmas, though.
Mason McDonald – Charlottetown (QMJHL)
McDonald doesn’t have an insane win-loss record so far – he’s 4-4-0 – but the number I’d point to is his save percentage. He’s rocking a .901, which is one of the better ones in the defensively-lax QMJHL, where everyone seemingly focuses on offense above all else. That means he faces a TON of shots, and good ones, which is crucial for a young goaltender’s development. McDonald has faced 30 or more shots in five of his eight October starts and he’s beginning to show a growing ability to hold his team in games when they’re being outshot. That’ll bode well for him as a pro.
Kenny Agostino – Stockton (AHL)
The team’s leading scorer in October – and one of two Stockton Heat forwards that the organization has to show for the Jarome Iginla trade – Agostino put up 4 helpers through 6 games. For him, I’m most impressed with his shots on goal. He and Markus Granlund are both putting pucks on net with regularity and doing so consistently, which is good for an offensively-starved club. Agostino was quietly good last season on the left side of the top two Adirondack lines and he’s continuing this season.
Oliver Kylington – Stockton (AHL)
Defensively he’s not amazing yet, as he’s very much an 18-year-old playing against big, grown-ass men. on the other hand, with 3 points in his first 6 games he’s basically exactly as advertised in the offensive end.
Jon Gillies – Stockton (AHL)
The bad news is that he’s lost four of his first six pro starts. The good news is that his save percentage (.916) is pretty good, particularly when you factor in that he’s a first-year pro playing behind a very young defensive group that’s still learning systems and how to play with each other. And it helps that Gillies is facing a ton of shots – nearly 30 per game. As Stockton’s defensive game improves, look for Gillies’ numbers to have an up-tick. But as it stands now, he’s off to a pretty good start considering the circumstances.
This And That
Rushan Rafikov got out of his KHL deal with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl and signed a new deal with Admiral Vladivostok – on the far, far east coast of Russia. He’s playing regularly already, so he’s gotten some positives out of the move. Brandon Hickey’s got three goals in the first six Boston University games, but the Terriers are still fairly un-even and Hickey’s facing some growing pains to go along with his increased role on the BU blueline. Pavel Karnaukhov is currently out with an injury for the Calgary Hitmen; he’s expected back in 1-2 weeks. With Jake Virtanen not expected back, the hope is Karnaukhov can fill a larger offensive role on the young team.