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(HFNHL) Blue Jackets 2012 Prospect Update

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07-05-2012, 03:25 AM
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(HFNHL) Blue Jackets 2012 Prospect Update

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin...

The past 24 months have seen a virtual gutting of the Jackets’ farm system, with Andrei Loktionov, Jason Zucker, Mats Zuccarello and Patrik Nemeth joining the exodus since our mid-season update. *And just when it seemed that a post-playoff trade and decent draft had started to turn things around, there GM Emerson went again, dismantling the farm even further to secure help on the HFNHL roster. *On the move are long-time netminding prospect and NHL rookie Leland Irving, the recently acquired and promising David Savard and Christian Thomas, and – most significantly – the team’s top prospect, Dougie Hamilton.

That’s a ton of talent to have to replace in the system, and it’s likely going to take years to do it. *Prospect fans in Columbus are understandably frustrated that yet again the once-proud farm system has taken the brunt of Emerson’s trigger-happy trading style, but the team hopes the return will be worth it. *It had better – their last round of veteran acquisitions at the expense of young talent brought them a first-round exit against the eventual Cup champs from LA.

As usual we rank players based on a combination of their upside and how far away they are from making an impact in the HFNHL, so projects with long development cycles will typically be farther down the rankings, even if they have a greater potential upside. *For example, we’d actually put Stolarz first among our goalie prospects in terms of upside, but the fact that Scrivens saw NHL action last season and Lee is turning pro this year keeps them ahead of him… for now.

Organizational strengths
- Depth on the blueline
- Two-way play

Organizational weaknesses
- Top-six forwards
- Depth at RW

Top 20 at a glance (previous ranking) [acquired]
1. RD Justin Schultz (2) [D]
2. LD Brian Dumoulin (6) [T]
3. RW Devante Smith-Pelly (4) [D]
4. LW Carl Klingberg (7) [T]
5. C/LW Patrice Cormier (11) [D]
6. G Ben Scrivens (NEW) [T]
7. C/LW Blake Geoffrion (10) [D]
8. LW Marcel Mueller (13) [T]
9. G Mike Lee (HM) [D]
10. C/W Nikolai Prokhorkin (NEW) [D]
11. G Anthony Stolarz (NEW) [D]
12. C Chase Balisy (NEW) [T]
13. C Chris Tierney (NEW) [D]
14. LW Jujhar Khaira (NEW) [D]
15. RD Eric Gryba (15) [D]
16. LW Rob Klinkhammer (HM) [UDFA]
17. C Tanner House (15) [UDFA]
18. LD Rob O’Gara (HM) [D]
19. LD Sean Lorenz (HM) [D]
20. RD Rhett Holland (NEW) [D]


Columbus Top 20 Profiles – June 2012

1. RD Justin Shultz (2) – Rating 8.5C
Acquired: 2nd round, 2008 (59th overall)
The loss of Dougie Hamilton in the Staal trade opens the door for Schultz to take over as the organization’s top prospect, although some might have given it to him anyway based on his meteoric ascent through the college ranks and his high-profile free agency this summer. *As a Junior, Schultz owned the NCAA once again – not just leading all blueliners in points but even challenging for the lead among all players throughout much of the season. *In Edmonton, he gets to quarterback a powerplay that boasts budding young superstars in Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Nail Yakupov and Jordan Eberle. *He’ll need to continue to develop the defensive and physical sides of his game, but paired with a steady veteran like Ladislav Smid or Nick Schultz (wouldn’t *that* be fun for the play-by-play guys?), he should have room to learn from his mistakes. *His all-compass speed and skating ability combined with his hockey sense, puck distribution and seeing-eye point shot make for a tantalizing package.
Projects as: Top-pairing PP QB

2. LD Brian Dumoulin (6) – Rating 8.0C
Acquired: Trade 2012
Picked up for hard-hitting Habs blueliner Alexei Emelin, Dumoulin is a player I’ve coveted since before his draft year, and he fits nicely into my preference for strong, skilled two-way play from the back end. He capped off a remarkable college career as Hockey East’s Defensive Defenceman of the Year (again), an All-American, a Hobey Baker Finalist and a National Champion with Boston College. He had already decided to forego his Senior year to turn pro when the Carolina Hurricanes sent him to Pittsburgh at the draft in a package for Jordan Staal. *The move could pay big dividends for Dumoulin – where the Canes already had a number of young blueliners playing significant roles, the Penguins’ blueline offers a lot more opportunity (it doesn’t hurt that they also sent veteran Zbynek Michalek back to Phoenix). *Even if Dumoulin starts next season at Wilkes-Barre Scranton, there’s a good chance he’ll be playing regular minutes with the big club by the All-Star Break. *He’s a horse who can play in all situations and make life unpleasant for opposing forwards.
Projects as: Top-4 two-way defender

3. L/RW Devante Smith-Pelly (5) – Rating 7.0B
Acquired: 2nd round, 2010 (56th overall)
Despite getting injured in just his first game wearing the “A” with Team Canada at the WJC, DSP as he is known has been very consistent in his projection: a wrecking ball on skates, a hard-skating north-south guy with surprisingly decent hands to finish plays in close. His true raison d’etre is to crush opposing players with big (hopefully clean) hits. Smith-Pelly’s first taste of the NHL as a 19-year-old showed that he has more to learn in all three zones, but he can’t be faulted for work ethic. He didn’t look out of place averaging 12 minutes per game over 49 contests with Anaheim, posting 7g 6a 13p 16 pims. *We expect modest increases in icetime and production this season as he continues to acclimatize, but he looks to be very much on track in his development.
Projects as: Top-9 destroyer with upside

4. L/RW Carl Klingberg (7) – Rating 7.0C
Acquired: Trade, 2009
Klingberg continues to deliver as promised: a big, impressively fast skater with powerful acceleration and an enthusiasm for playing the body in all three zones. His first full season in the AHL has come in St. John’s as the parent NHL club moved to Winnipeg, but he’s made the adjustment to North America smoothly. *He had a hot first half, potting 23 points in 29 games, but cooled off to finish with 37 points in 67 regular season games. *He continued to struggle in the post-season with just 1 goal and 2 points in the Ice Caps’ 12-game playoff run, but that may be attributed partly to injuries and fatigue. *A summer of therapy and conditioning should have him ready to play a more prominent role next season. *It’s been suggested he’ll have a decent shot at winning a roster spot in Winnipeg, but we expect he’ll spend most of the year back with St. John’s before making the NHL full-time in 2013-14.
Projects as: Versatile power forward capable of playing anywhere in the lineup

5. C/W Patrice Cormier (11) – Rating 6.5B
Acquired: 2nd round, 2008 (58th overall)
Cormier joined Klingberg in the move to St. John’s, and is quietly (for him) and gradually adjusting to the pro game, posting 18g 33p 75 pims in 56 games, along with 3 goals in 15 post-season matches while making big hits and winning key faceoffs, especially in the defensive end. *He has the size and strength that NHL teams covet down the middle, and won a remarkable 73.3% of his draws over 9 games with the big club. *With Tanner Glass moving on from Winnipeg, the door’s wide open for Cormier to win the 4th line job this Fall. *The blindside hit and resulting suspension that ended his Junior career is now hopefully far enough in the rearview mirror that he can just focus on being the most effective player he can be – which should be pretty effective indeed.
Projects as: Shutdown power pivot with upside

6. G Ben Scrivens (NEW) – Rating 7.0B
Acquired: Trade, 2012
Columbus flipped Swedish D prospect Patrik Nemeth (3rd round 2012) to the Flyers for Scrivens in an effort to improve the goaltending stable – a deal that enabled them to move Leland Irving to Washington shortly afterwards. *Scrivens will turn 26 prior to the start of next season, so he’s not technically a prospect any more (at least by HF terms), but he’s still very much in career development mode, so it seems appropriate to include him. *He was extremely solid in his sophomore pro season, posting a league-best 2.04 gaa in the regular season, and then improving on it as he carried the Marlies to the Calder Cup Finals only to lose in 5 games to a dominant attack by Norfolk. *His 1.92 gaa and .935 save% in 17 post-season contests made it easy for the NHL Leafs turn the page on Jonas Gustavsson, confident they have a capable backup in the system if the much-rumoured Luongo trade does not materialize and they are left to start the season with James Reimer as their #1 netminder again.
Projects as: Good backup or middle-tier starter

7. C/LW Blake Geoffrion (10) – Rating 6.5B
Acquired: 3rd round, 2006 (78th overall)
Holding steady to round out the top 10 is Boom-Boom's grandson, now a member of the storied Habs franchise that has retired the numbers of Bernie Geoffrion and Howie Morenz (Blake’s great-grandfather and grandfather, respectively). *The former Hobey Baker winner’s adjustment to the pro game has been somewhat frustrating, confounded by depth in Nashville and a banged-up arm. *Whatever the reason, Blake has struggled to find his role in the bigs – which explains why Nashville threw him into the Hall Gill deadline deal. *He did manage to pot 12 points in 9 games with Hamilton to earn a look in Montreal, and scored a couple of goals in limited action over 13 games there. *He’ll start with a clean slate in the Fall – new GM, new coaching staff – and we’ll see if his size, two-way game and timely scoring (not to mention name recognition!) is enough to earn him a spot on the starting roster.
Projects as: Third-line two-way grinder

8. LW Marcel Mueller (13) – Rating 6.5B
Acquired: Trade, 2011
Mueller had a strong start for the surprising Toronto Marlies before his production cooled off in the spring, missing most of the Calder Cup run with an injury. *He still managed 52 points, 75 pims and a +22 in a combined 81 regular season and playoff matches, so hopefully that experience and a summer conditioning program help him to remain effective through a full season. *The imposing winger (6-4/212) goes to the net and displays good hands combined with a feisty style and strong skating stride, but needs to continue to develop his work effort in all three zones to earn greater ice-time. His place in the NHL Leafs’ organization is up in the air given the development of players like Nazem Kadri and Matt Frattin, but may look clearer as Burke continues to shake up the Leafs’ roster in an effort to make the playoffs sometime this decade.
Projects as: Third line power forward

9. G Mike Lee (HM) – Rating 7.0C
Acquired: 2nd round, 2006 (56th overall)
Lee makes a big jump back up these rankings following a terrific Junior season at St. Cloud State. Not only did he put up terrific numbers in the tough WCHA (2.23 gaa, .930 save%), but he wore the Captain’s “C” as well. He signed with Phoenix at the end of the school year, so will compete for the starting job with their AHL affiliate in Portland this Fall. *Prospect netminders are always hard to project and rank, but if Lee can make a smooth adjustment to the pro game we could see him backing up in the NHL in a couple of years.
Projects as: Backup with upside

10. C/W Nikolai Prokhorkin (NEW) – Rating 8.0D
Acquired: 4th round, 2012 (94th overall)
Little-seen Russian prospect has good size, skating and three-zone play, along with a good offensive toolkit. *He skated with CSKA’s feeder team in the MHL this season, where he played well enough (11g, 37pts, 61 pims, +14 in 31 games) to earn a spot with the big club for the end of the season and playoffs. *Both Los Angeles (NHL) and London (OHL) think he has top-6 potential, as he was selected by the Knights in the CHL Import Draft and is being encouraged by Kings brass to come over. *We believe he has all the tools to be a significant offensive producer so long as he adapts well to the North American style of play. *He’s shown he doesn’t mind playing through traffic and contact to make a play, and will even drop the gloves if necessary, so the biggest hurdle may be the reduced decision time on smaller ice, but it’s an adjustment we think will go well. *A textbook example of the so-called “Russian factor” overly impacting a guy’s draft position – we expect he’ll climb in this ranking significantly in the next two years.
Projects as: Top-nine two-way playmaker with significant upside

11. G Anthony Stolarz (NEW) – Rating 8.0D
Acquired: 3rd round, 2012 (61st overall)
The Jackets’ first pick in the 2012 draft wasn’t until the third round, and they gambled it on a thinly-scouted netminder from a very low circuit. *The only team hoping harder that he pans out is Philadelphia, graveyard of goalies, who took him at 45th overall in the NHL draft. *It’s hard to get a read on him based on playing in the NAHL, but how he earned that job speaks to his character and determination. *He seems to have great athletic tools, focus and basic positioning, but his fundamentals – and in particular his glove hand – will need work and refinement over the next few years. *He’s committed to the University of Nebraska (Omaha), where we’ll get to gauge him against a better level of competition, but expect him to be many, many years out.
Projects as: Long-term project with home run potential

12. C Chase Balisy (NEW) – Rating 6.5C
Acquired: Trade 2012
Columbus was hot on Balisy in last year’s draft, but the Panthers beat us to him. Fortunately a year later we were able to pry him away. *Balisy had a strong Sophomore year as the on- and off-ice leader for a somewhat challenged Western Michigan squad. He led the team in scoring with 13 goals and 37 points in 41 games, and earned raves from the Broncos new Head Coach, former NHL bench boss Andy Murray. Like fellow NCAA prospect pivot Destry Straight (see Honourable Mentions), Balisy’s slight frame does not necessarily project well to the pro game, but with a couple of years to fill out – not to mention learn from Murray – we hope for him to become a Tyler Bozak-like player for the Preds, whose system depth at center is pretty limited.
Projects as: Top-9 playmaking pivot

13. C Chris Tierney (NEW) – Rating 6.5C
Acquired: 4th round, 2012 (108th overall)
Came out of nowhere after Christmas to play a key two-way role for the Memorial Cup Finalist London Knights. Managed 34 points in 65 games, most of them in the second half when London’s fourth line started making its presence felt. Smart, hard-working, responsible and a great skater, he brings everything to a two-way third-line role except size, but he has plenty of room and time to grow. Got picked up in the second round in the NHL draft by San Jose. We see him following a Chris Kelly-like development path, and filling a similar role in the pros, but for now we’ll be happy with him continuing to produce and earn more icetime as London seeks to defend their OHL title. *Hopefully he and Prokhorkin get along well. J
Projects as: Two-way third line pivot with leadership

14. C/W Jujhar Khaira (NEW) – Rating 7.5D
Acquired: 4th round, 2012 (120th overall)
Vancouver-area prospect (friends with Kevin Sundher) has an awesome name (“Joo-jar Cara”) and an intriguing blend of size, talent and toughness to the table. *Potted 29 goals and 79 points in 54 games to finish 10th in the BCHL in scoring. An extremely aggressive forechecker, he digs in the corners and comes out with the puck more often than not, usually while the opposing player is trying to figure out what decade he’s in (yes, he hits hard). Khaira was a late bloomer who was overlooked for the 2010 WHL Draft and made the Spruce Kings as a walk-on two years ago. *The first-generation Canadian hopes to be the first player of Punjabi descent to make the NHL, and we see no reason why he couldn’t (neither do the NHL’s Oilers, who drafted him 63rd overall). *He’s committed to Michigan Tech where he’s been promised tons of ice-time as a freshman, but there’s talk of the Oilers trading Everett for his WHL rights and encouraging him to play for the organization’s Junior franchise. *Either way he’s a long-term project with his physical development, first step and play away from the puck, but there’s no questioning his attitude and work ethic.
Projects as: Top-9 power forward with upside

15. RD Eric Gryba (15) – Rating 6.0B
Acquired: 2nd round, 2006 (56th overall)
In his second full season of the pros Gryba spent the entire season in Binghampton, and continued to be a solid stay-at-home defender who blocks shots, makes big hits and drops the gloves when necessary. His footspeed and agility continue to hold him back, however. *He provides the Sens with an option as a depth defender/middleweight now that Carkner has signed with the Isles. *O’Gara and Lorenz might have more upside, but Gryba’s on the doorstep of NHL action.
Projects as: Tough depth stay-at-homer with a chance at regular third pairing duty

16. LW Rob Klinkhammer (HM) – Rating 6.0B
Acquired: FA, 2009
Technically too old for this list, but if Scrivens makes it on, so does Klink. *Exploded after being traded from Rockford to Binghampton, becoming a point-per-game power forward for the Baby Sens. Will never be more than an energy-line player in the NHL, but should be very useful depth for Phoenix who signed him to a free agent deal today.
Projects as: Energy-line contributor or AHL leader

17. C Tanner House (15) – Rating 6.0B
Acquired: FA, 2011
Also a bit long in the tooth for a prospect, but with only one year of pro under his belt, he slides for one more list. As a 25-year-old rookie, House played a critical shutdown role in OKC’s stellar season and playoffs, posting 23 points, 38 pims and a +16 rating in 82 regular season and playoff games. *His defence and faceoffs are terrific as are his intangibles, so if he can step up his offensive game next year, he has a shot at winning an NHL spot as a checking centre for 2013-14.
Projects as: Checking line pivot

18. LD Rob O’Gara (HM) – Rating 7.0D
Acquired: 7th round, 2011 (197th overall)
Won All-New England and New England Defenceman of the Year honours with Milton Academy in the USHS, and is packing his bags for Yale this fall. It will be interesting to see how the lanky defenceman’s game develops at the college level as he fills out – he has a real chance to rise on the list over the next few years, and who could ask for more from a 7th round pick?
Projects as: Big-bodied two-way 4/5 defender

19. LD Sean Lorenz (HM) – Rating 6.0C
Acquired: 7th round, 2008 (193rd overall)
Like O’Gara, Lorenz is a 7th round selection who made good. *This second-team All-American’s Senior year was nearly a carbon-copy of the year before, when he won CCHA Best Defensive Defenceman honours. *He’s signed with the Wild and will play next season for Houston, where he’ll probably require a couple of years of seasoning before trying to carve out an NHL career.
Projects as: 5/6 stay-at-homer.

20. RD Rhett Holland (NEW) – Rating 6.0C
Acquired: 5th round, 2012 (134th overall)
It’s never a good sign when scouts say “Body is built out of granite… head, too” (Redline). *But the same scouts say he’s one of the toughest guys in hockey, a huge hitter that loves to initiate contact and hits to hurt and intimidate. Respected both on and off the ice, not just as a hitter but as a no-nonsense character guy. *He needs to keep his feet moving for better gap control. *Joining Michigan State this fall, Holland will have lots of time to round out his game.
Projects as: Bottom-pairing crease-clearer


The Rest…

RD Collin Bowman [Trade, 2012]
Showed some improving puck movement in his final two years of junior, but if he makes the show it will be as a no-nonsense, tough stay-at-home blueliner who will drop the gloves when necessary. He earned an invite to Rangers training camp last fall, but with most prospect camps shut down with the possibility of a lockout, he’ll have to hope for an ATO contract with an AHL team for his first real taste of pro hockey next year.

LD Constantin Braun [Drafted 2006, 4/118]
Converted winger is a consistently strong performer in the DEL, but is no longer part of the NHL Kings’ organization, so if he ever does come to North America it will be as a free agent signed with another club. *Odds are slim.

C/W Gabriel Dumont [Drafted 2009, 6/152]
After his second pro season was once again underwhelming on the scoresheet, the pressure will be on the feisty little agitator to find the twine more in Hamilton this year, or else risk being considered a career-AHLer. *After being a point-per-game player in his Q career, he should have the hands to step it up.

RD Corey Fienhage [Drafted 2008, 3/90]
Average two-way defender nevertheless ranks relatively high among Sabres’ prospects given their shallow pool on the blueline. His first pro season was split between the ECHL and AHL, and he showed enough to think that in a few years he might make a serviceable bottom-pairing tweener if he continues to develop.

LW Jerome Flaake [Drafted 2008, 5/147]
Had a breakout season in the DEL offensively, and played on the German National Team at the World Championships, but early indications are he won’t be coming over to North America next season. *Too bad – with Mueller and Holzer progressing well in the Leafs’ system, he might have felt more at home.

RW Andrej Nestrasil [Drafted 2009, 3/84]
Rookie pro spent a mediocre year mostly in the ECHL. Big-bodied winger is not expected to be more than a complimentary scorer as a pro, but with a physical edge and the ability to make plays at speed, he could prove to be a good two-way contributor if he can continue to work on his skating. *Detroit will need to be patient – fortunately patience is their hallmark.

C Destry Straight [Drafted 2011, 6/167]
Very quietly won a National Championship as a Freshman with Boston College. Didn’t receive much icetime on a stacked team of upper-classmen, but still managed 10 points and a +9 rating. Hopefully the natural playmaker will make some more noise as his college career progresses – and at 6-0/165, it’s probably best he takes his time while he fills in his skinny frame.

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07-05-2012, 02:19 PM
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Hmm, on review looks like I need to update those organizational strengths - without Hamilton and Savard, "depth on blueline" no longer really applies (unless you count marginal prospects who one day might make a third pairing somewhere?).

Now I guess you could say it's... umm...

I sense a bottom-third finish in the org rankings this fall.

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07-05-2012, 03:45 PM
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nice report! feel free to do one for my team too ;-)

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07-06-2012, 10:59 PM
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Aside from Schultz, we're not looking at a list with a ton of heavy hitting names but quite a few guys that could develop into really strong NHL players. Dumoulin could be a fixture on the Penguins blueline for quite some time. His game seems to have turned a bit from a two way point producer into more of a shut down guy, but it wouldn't shock me if the points came back at the professional level. When I think about his upside, he has always seemed to me as a tougher more responsible but worse skating Ryan Whitney. Great pedigree from winning two national championships.

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08-21-2012, 09:32 PM
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Columbus added three more prospects to the fold by way of tonight's UDFA lottery.

Hamilton's Spencer Abbott joined the Maple Leafs (NHL) organization after earning Hockey East's Player of the Year title as a 24-year-old senior with the Maine Black Bears. The slight (5-9/170) forward led all college scorers in 2011-12 with 62 points, and his offensive flair will be a welcome addition to a surging Marlies team that hopes to take the AHL Calder Cup in 2013.

Fellow collegian Torey Krug signed with the Boston Bruins (NHL) following a junior season that saw the blueliner score at nearly a point-per-game pace. He'll need to continue to produce, since at 5-9/180, the Lavonia, Michigan native will have a hard time trying to contain pro skaters. Still only 21, he'll be given lots of time to develop on the Bruins' farm in Providence.

The gem of Columbus' lottery windfall may be another Bruins prospect, netminder Niklas Svedberg. The lanky (6-2/180) Swede signed a two-year deal with Boston expecting to start in the AHL, but with controversial lightning rod Tim Thomas' announcement that he's "taking a year off from hockey", Svedberg finds himself thrown into a dogfight with Anton Khudobin to be Tuukka Rask's backup in Beantown. The 22-year-old Svedberg, who carries a strong resume from the Elitserien, should be one to watch over the next couple of seasons.

We'll see where these guys shake out in our top 20 at the mid-season update, but the added depth is certainly welcome!

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08-21-2012, 09:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ohio Jones View Post
Svedberg finds himself thrown into a dogfight with Anton Khudobin to be Tuukka Rask's backup in Beantown.
K H U D O B I N

That is all.


(nice pick-ups btw)

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08-21-2012, 10:08 PM
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I watched Krug at Carolina's developmental camp prior to last season and he was a stand out there. Not sure what events transpired that caused him to sign elsewhere, but it was clear that his puck handling ability and skating were NHL quality. Watching him alongside Ryan Murphy was a good barometer. He wasn't nearly up to Murphy in either regard, as few are, but he was close enough to make you wonder. I think he'll end up fast tracking to the NHL with Boston.

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08-21-2012, 10:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MatthewFlames View Post
K H U D O B I N

That is all.


(nice pick-ups btw)
Better to be lucky than good. If I'm REALLY lucky, one of them will even turn out to be an NHL player.

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08-21-2012, 10:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vagrant View Post
I watched Krug at Carolina's developmental camp prior to last season and he was a stand out there. Not sure what events transpired that caused him to sign elsewhere, but it was clear that his puck handling ability and skating were NHL quality. Watching him alongside Ryan Murphy was a good barometer. He wasn't nearly up to Murphy in either regard, as few are, but he was close enough to make you wonder. I think he'll end up fast tracking to the NHL with Boston.
Thanks - interesting insights. It will be intriguing to see what happens in their camp - I would expect Dougie Hamilton to get the inside track to joining the Bs next season, but it would be fortuitous indeed if Krug beat him out for the spot.

Not counting on it myself, though - no matter how much the "new NHL" has changed the game (and there's a conference going on right now to look further at obstruction fouls), you still need to be able to play defence against men, and I'm not certain Krug will make the grade. We'll see - there's no hurry.

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