One of my favourite players is without a doubt defenseman Nicklas Grossman, in Iowa Stars. I hope (and belive) that he will become a player in the Mattias Norström mold. Does anyone here know how highly regarded he is by the Stars? Has he received praise for his play? I read recently here at HF that he had faired rather well with Iowa. Do you see a roster spot open possibly for him next year, assuming he has a good camp?
To preface I have not seen him play but follow the stars closely. Grossman is in abit of a tough position because he is at the deepest position in the organiziation. The stars have seven quality d-men : Nimimaa, Zubov Boucher Robidas Skoula Daley and Klemm . All but Boucher are signed fornext year but they want Boucher back. Skoula could be dealt however as he makes too much for a 6/7 d-man his current role.
In Iowa, they have many young d-men: Jancevski who has been the first call-up has been good although at 25 he may be looked at as a 6/7 type . Belle who like Grossman is stay at home type, Scalzo, a smaller Robidas type. Coming on board next year is likely Fransson, who some say is having a disappointing year while others say he has been very good in his own end , Fistric, a former #1 big guy and maybe Waugh a former second rounder defensive d-man playing in college. That's alot of d-men who are young. No one seems to have separated themselves from the pack other than Daley who is a regular in Dallas so he has a chance but likely not until 2007-2008 when Klemm Nimaama Skoula and Robidas will be gone.
Thanks for the insight. I guess he has his work cut out for him then.
As for Johan Fransson, he has improved throughout the season.. after a very poor start. Still, he has not improved that much the last two years and hopefully he will move to the NA next season. I got the feeling recently that he wants to stay in Luleå, but that Luleå has not indicated they want to extend his contract. That might further open a move to North America... I guess.
I don't know...Niskanen isn't an overly flashy player. Mario Scalzo will probably continue to be a better puckmover than Niskanen. Niskanen can move the puck reliably, if that's what you mean.
I guess I see Niskanen as a strong two-way defenseman. Scott Sandelin told me early in the season that many UMD fans were disappointed in Niskanen, they expected more flash because of the hype and his draft position, but that's not Niskanen's game. Niskanen may have scored a lot of points in Minnesota High School, but so do a number of players who move to the USHL and are just average players there.
I guess I'm personally expecting Niskanen to become more like Jordan Leopold, maybe not so much this season in particular, but in comparing him to successful WCHA defensemen.
Grossman: I don't think he'll be NHL worthy full-time next season. He may see some emergency action. I'd like to see him become more consistent in his offensive game. Not that he'll ever be an offensive defenseman, but seeing his potential from time to time, I'd like to see him develop that possibility to his game. Needs to improve his backwards acceleration a bit, but overall I'm pretty impressed Grossman. I think any NHL organization would be happy to have him as a prospect.
Fransson: I hope he comes to North America. He needs to continue to develop his offensive game and be another puckmoving defenseman for Iowa next season, along with Scalzo and maybe Patrick Traverse again. As far as defensive defensemen, they will have Grossman and Fistric, and maybe Jancevski again. Then there's Shawn Belle, who's looking better and better, and the possibility of Matt Nickerson!!!
I think Belle needs to realize he's not going to be an offensive defenseman in the AHL or the NHL. However, he's been playing more physical recently, playing his angles better when standing people up. Belle has so much power in his game. He can really contribute by being a punishing defenseman, it doesn't have to be on the scoresheet. He really likes joining the play low and crashes the net harder than most forwards. He has a pretty hard shot...
Don't forget Mario Scalzo...he's extremely skilled and is improving his defensive game.
Kevin How would you rank the prospects in terms of NHL readiness-
Leaving out jancevski who I think should be given a shot somewhere maybe just not in Dallas.
Potentially are Belle and Fransson still have the highest top end? How does Nickerson fit in? There are reports he has been very good in Finland although Finland as a league in down I believe.
On an unrelated note, do you think the Stars will sign Hisey after his success in Finland to fill an offensive void in Iowa next year especially if Peterson is somewhere else. Don't see any other playmakers to sign unless they get Lindgren over.
Among the defensemen, I would say that Grossman probably edges out Scalzo ever so slightly. I don't think either will crack Dallas out of training camp next season. I think both are having successful rookie season in the AHL. Scalzo is working on his defensive play, especially one-on-one battles. Scalzo is already NHL caliber in skating and stick skills.
Grossman is pretty good in one-on-one battles. He could improve his backwards acceleration. He also needs to use his offensive potential more often. If they both keep progressing, I would expect Scalzo and Grossman to be NHL ready after another season of AHL development. I know Grossman wants to be like Mattias Norstrom, and I think that's a fair goal. Grossman has a huge shot though. Grossman still has some filling out to do, which doesn't bode well for opponents.
After that, Shawn Belle is a ways off. Although, I've seen him start to assert himself more physically and angle off opponents better and stand them up. He just MAY be able to be next year what Matt Greene was, physically, this year. (Matt Greene was just in his own caliber, as in, NHL caliber, probably why he's there.) Belle has potential, he's very powerful. I'd just like to see him concentrate on defense and not crash the net like he's a forward. He has a hard point shot, although he needs softer hands to handle passes to the point. Small refinements.
Dan Jancevski: It's great for him that he was recalled, and his confidence is high. He just isn't fast enough to play in the NHL, I don't think. He's very valuable as an emergency recall and an AHL leader. It's important to have that veteran leadership on AHL teams, I think.
At forward, I suppose Lessard is the most NHL ready, just because of his age and experience. There are younger prospects that are better than him at each aspect, but Lessard is pretty decent all-around. He'll compete for pucks and battle around the net. He has a nice shot.
After Lessard, I would say Loui Eriksson is next. Eriksson has second line potential. His confidence has improved, and he's somebody the Stars COULD keep on the team next year if they want. But, another year of AHL seasoning, or a split season, wouldn't be bad.
After Eriksson, it's a drop off. Vojtech Polak is a sniper, but without Petersen as his center...I'd like to see Polak improve his skating too. (Unless maybe they're just sharpening his skates poorly here, I do see more I-Stars fall than I should.) Yared Hagos is starting to assert himself physically, which is what he'll have to do to succeed. He has to venture into traffic. A month ago Valtteri Filppula was coming to check Hagos while Hagos had the puck by the net and Hagos leveled Filppula and then proceeded with the puck again. (It could be a defining moment in Hagos' career, that he chose the path he needed.) Hagos has the potential to be a third line center. I'd like to see him skate with a more powerful stride. He has fairly quick feet, but moving your feet a real fast doesn't always translate to velocity.
Holtet is probably next in line. He's pretty good, and very willing defensively, he just doesn't always go where he needs to defensively. At least the effort is there. He finishes his checks, fairly hard, but he has a great shot and decent speed too. Holtet isn't that far away from being worthy of NHL fourth line duty. Janos Vas is becoming more and more like Holtet. Vas is just a year behind Holtet in North American development. The similarities are striking. (Vas is taller.) B.J. Crombeen is just young, he mainly needs experience, either ECHL or AHL. He's a legitimate fourth line prospect.
Francis Wathier is a hard call because of the injury. Prior to the injury, he was more developed that Zach Stortini. Wathier could become a depth NHL forward who is played when a fighter is needed, but Wathier is pretty responsible defensively. His hands aren't a disaster either. Hopefully Wathier can be healthy all of 2006-07.
Lastly, David Bararuk just isn't an NHL prospect at this point. He can keep up in the AHL, but he doesn't make an impact like Jamie Johnson has or Krys Barch is now doing.
As for the goalies...Mike Smith is the more talented. His crease movements are excellent and he can really handle the puck. However, he creates more work for himself than he has to. Dan Ellis doesn't run around too much, but he can create more work for himself too, especially with rebounds. Don't get me wrong though, they both have been extremely vital to Iowa's success, and I hope one of them gets a shot next year as Turco's back-up.
Likewise, I hope Tobias Stephan is brought to North America, along with Lindgren, Fransson, and Nickerson.
Ron Hisey: It's possible. Without Petersen, Dallas would need to sign another veteran center, I think. Having David Oliver on the team is helpful, so is Jancevski, the team would need at least one more vet of the Toby Petersen caliber, a guy with some NHL experience who is comfortable in the role of Top AHLer helping guys develop. So, does Hisey potentially become the second line center after that player to be acquired? Maybe. But if Lindgren is brought over, it's probably Perttu instead.
Iowa Stars 2005-06 (Assuming no Edmonton affiliation)
G: Smith/Ellis and Stephan
Scratch: D Nickerson, D Waugh,
Jamie Johnson and Krys Barch COULD figure in, but they may not necessarily. They're both proving to be AHL caliber. But, Dallas would probably be more interested in developing their drafted players instead. Obviously, one would want a couple of extra forwards.
Thanks Kevin that is worthy of an article. I also figure on Lammers Fransson Nickerson. Guyer gets a shot only because of lack of depth although Lundqvist may be a better player. I suppose and for the same reason maybe McKnight gets a shot. I think Ellis could be gone . he is 25 I think already. Clearly Center is an issue as is scoring forwards. I hope they concentrate on forwards in the draft with a goalie mixed in the later rounds. Won't Fistric be in Iowa which may cost Jancevski,waugh or Traverse. Otherwise sounds like a solid young team in search of offense