HFNHL Blue Jackets prospect update
Okay, it's not mid season anymore, but what the he'll...
The recent trade of Devante Smith-Pelly and Eric Gryba has left the Jackets' prospect cupboard even more bare than it was to start the season... And t was oretty bare then. Say hello to the bottom third of the next HFNHL prospect handbook...
1. D Justin Schultz - has cooled somewhat after a hot start with the Oilers, but his absolute dominance of the AHL as a rookie blueliner says this is a special player, and his overall game should improve with time.
2. G Ben Scrivens - after being one of the top goalies in the AHL again this season, answered the bell for the Leafs when James Reimer went down, posting a 2.56 gaa and .921 save% in 14 appearances. Needs to work on puck handling and rebound control, but looks like a legit 1B starting option for a middling team, with potential upside.
3. G Niklas Svedberg - 23 year old has been a revelation since arriving for his rookie season in the AHL. he's paced Providence as one of the circuit's top netminders, posting a 2.26 gaa and .922 save% in 40 games. Will push Khudobin next season for a chance to back up Tuukka Rask, but is definitely benefitting from the starts for now.
4. D Brian Dumoulin - Rookie pro still has a ways to go to prove he can bring his Hobey-nominated play to bear as an impact player in the AHL. He's looking like he'll need more time to develop, but the potential upside as a top-4 two-way blueliner is definitely still there. Could stand to show a more assertive physical presence. The Penguins' trade of Joe Morrow opens up more opportunity for him.
5. C Patrice Cormier - not producing on the scoresheet, but doing everything else right. Has lost games to injuries and suspensions in recent years so is not as far along as we'd like, but a recent call-up suggests the Jets are aware of what he brings to the party. Should hopefully be full time next season.
6. G Anthony Stolarz - stepped up his game since leaving the University of Nebraska Omaha to join the OHL London Knights. Has posted a sparkling 2.29 gaa and .920 save % in 20 games, which is encouraging for the NHL Flyers who hope they might finally have an eventual successor to Bryzgalov in net.
7. C/LW Jujhar Khaira - Big Riser. Put up 25 points as a freshman at Michigan Tech in the tough WCHA, looking like a legit top-6 power forward down the road. He's learning to pick his spots physically because he can be a nasty customer. He's shown good vision and touch, and has held his own in faceoffs as a freshman. Hopefully he follows the arc of former Jackets PF selections James Neal and Max Pacioretty...
8. LW Rob Klinkhammer - Riser. Leads his team in scoring at a near point-per-game clip. His size, hands and intangibles are promising, but his head and feet would appear to be a bit slow for the NHL. Looked like a career AHL All Star with occasional garbage time in the show, but his latest stint with Phoenix suggests he might just have the jam to stick.
9. C Gabriel Dumont - Riser. Feisty bug leads the Bulldogs in scoring, and while that's a low bar, he's proving he can contribute playing meaningful minutes. Likely energy line guy at the NHL level, but slim possibility of more. Currently on an NHL call up.
10. L/RW Carl Klingberg - Big Swede's development seems to have stalled in the AHL, and he may head home to the Elitserien after this season wraps up. He has good wheels, decent hands and a willingness to lay the body, but he has not been able to make a consistent impact, and may soon fall victim to veteran limits on foreign players.
11. C Chris Tierney - continuing to steadily improve his production while bringing the same tenacity and defensive smarts, he has a decent shot at being a valuable contributor to the inevitable Sharks rebuild in a few years. Upside is likely as a two-way third-line pivot capable of playing in a shutdown role. High marks for discipline.
12. D Torey Krug - This short but stocky defender is proving that skating, puck movement and smarts can be enough to succeed at the AHL level, as the rookie pro has potted 9 goals and 33 points in 53 games to lead all Baby Bruins blueliners. But at just 5-9/175, can that production translate to the NHL? Maybe - he got an assist last night in his first call-up to Boston.
13. RW Spencer Abbott - 24-year-old AHL freshman is having a good first pro season as one of the Marlies' top scorers following the resumption of NHL play. His slight frame will make it hard for him to play an impact role in the NHL, but people have said the same about talented players before...
14. G Mike Lee - solid play with Gwinett in the ECHL earned Lee a call up to Portland, where he's come back to earth somewhat after a torrid start, but has still posted solid overall numbers over 10 games (2.76 gaa, .915 save%). He remains on the radar for the NHL Coyotes and the HFNHL Blue Jackets as a long-term project.
15. C/W Nikolai Prokhorkin - Had a brief audition with Manchester, but returned to Russia where he's biding his time with Red Army. Rangy long-term project has second line playmaking potential.
Balisy - plateauing as a Junior with Western Michigan, may need a change of scenery to grow his game further.
Bowman - Drayson's younger, bigger brother is having a good rookie pro season with Colorado in the ECHL. Long term project.
Fienhage - a strong sophomore pro season with Gwinett (ECHL), but will need to make the jump to the AHL soon as he's a long way from Buffalo.
Flaake - continues to develop in Germany, at age 22 has become one of the top scorers in the DEL, and remains a possible option for the NHL Leafs going forward.
Holland - punishing defender has only had a brief taste of icetime as a freshman with Michigan State. Long term project.
Lorenz - rookie pro season with Orlando in the ECHL has been interrupted by injury. Project defender.
Mueller - Playing decently for Modo, but nothing indicates he's likely to return to North America.
Nestrasil - earned a call-up to Grand Rapids once the NHL resumed and dipped into the Griffins' depth. Hasn't looked out of place in a grinding forward role, might yet carve out an NHL career. Detroit will continue to be patient with him.
O'Gara - getting limited minutes as a freshman with Yale. Long term project.
Straight - has doubled the production rate from his freshman season, but that still leaves him well short of being an impact player at the NCAA level, which leaves a pro future in doubt.
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