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HFNHL Canucks Top 20 Prospects 2013

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05-01-2013, 10:44 AM
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Hossa
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HFNHL Canucks Top 20 Prospects 2013

With the HFNHL Canucks now guaranteed to make the playoffs for a seventh year in a row, it seems appropriate to take a look at the future of the organization, particularly those youngsters breaking into the NHL who may soon make an impact in the HFNHL.

The last couple of years have been very good for the Canucks' developmental system, with several high picks, strong player progress and multiple graduations to the NHL. Last year, Justin Faulk, Jeff Petry, and Justin Braun all graduated from prospects to HFNHLers. Faulk and Petry further cemented themselves as top pairing blueliners on their respective NHL teams this year, with Faulk in particular evolving into one of the best young blueliners in the league.

1) Dougie Hamilton - Although he seemed to run out of steam as the season wore on, still put up 16 points in 42 games and played solid third pairing minutes most of the year. Most importantly, Hamilton showed poise and confidence as a rookie, seeming much more at ease in the NHL than at the World Juniors, apparently confirming that he was bored with junior hockey. Massive upside.

2) Beau Bennett - The biggest surprise on this list by far, Bennett showed remarkable in-season progress after a brief, injury-riddled college career. Put up 14 points in 26 games with Pittsburgh, playing almost exclusively on the third and fourth lines, and receiving remarkably high praise for his defensive and boards work. Has offensive skills that cannot be taught and is destined to play with Crosby or Malkin sooner rather than later.

3) Kyle Palmieri - Although Palmieri was not Calder eligible last year, he was for all intents and purposes a rookie. Playing all over the line-up in Anaheim, Palmieri put up 21 points in 42 games, showing in flashes that he has the skill to play a top six role. Oddly enough, Palmieri has mostly left his abrasive, sparkplug style behind, and is primarily suited for a top six role at this point. Very good hands and release, with adequate skating for a player of his size.

4) JT Miller - A very up and down season for Miller, who played well throughout in the AHL, but struggled at times both at the WJC and in the NHL with the Rangers. Put up only 4 points in 26 games as a 19-year old, but consistently earned good ice-time from Tortorella. Should be ready for a full-time role next year.

5) Brenden Dillon - Dillon may be the most anonymous player on this list, but an argument could be made he had the best rookie season of them all. Although he put up only 8 points in 48 games, Dillon's combination of imposing size, superior mobility and reliable puck skills resulted in increased responsibility all year, including leading all rookies in PK ice time. Will now play for Canada at the World Championships.

6) Cory Conacher - A Calder Trophy candidate from start to finish, Conacher put up 29 points in 47 games this year, split between Tampa Bay and Ottawa. His trade deadline move to Ottawa, in exchange for Ben Bishop, confirmed his value as a young player who should have a length career in the NHL after overcoming remarkable obstacles to get there. The offensive ability is legitimate, but the all-round game needs improvement still.

7) Jake Allen - Despite starting the year as the clear #3 behind Brian Elliott and Jaroslav Halak, an argument could be made that Jake Allen was the catalyst for the Blues' turnaround this year. Won 9 games in 13 starts, with a 2.46 GAA and .905 SV%, which included several outstanding games and a few stinkers. Will almost certainly be in the NHL full-time next year.

8) Michael Matheson - The first player on the list to not appear in the NHL last year, Matheson exceeded all expectations as a freshman in Boston College, stepping onto the top pairing immediately and contributing throughout. Put up 25 points in 36 games, to go along with 78 PIMs and a +15. Reports of his offensive game and physical play were outstanding, but mixed in regards to his defence. An underrated prospect who is proving he had first round skills all along.

9) Jake McCabe - The highlight of McCabe's season was certainly the WJC, where he captained the United States to Gold, and was named to the Tournament All-Star team along with Jacob Trouba. McCabe is an all-round prospect who showed more defensive dominance than expected at the WJC, and was strong all year at the University of Winsconsin, putting up 21 points and a +14 as a sophomore. Although he does not have the same potential, McCabe has a bit of a Justin Faulk thing going on, in that he is an NTDP-developed blueliner with strong fundamentals, well-rounded skills and a record of overachieving.

10) Matt Nieto - A San Jose second rounder, Nieto had a so-so season at Boston University, although he played his best hockey down the stretch, finishing with 37 points in 39 games before turning pro. Put up 6 points in 11 games with Worcester of the AHL at the end of the year, and is in position to compete for a roster spot next year. Nieto's skating and hockey sense are very good, but his offensive upside is a source of ongoing debate.

11) Gregory Hofmann - A favourite of the Canucks, Hofmann broke out in a major way this season after moving to HC Davos from HC Ambri-Piotta, putting up 16 goals and 27 points in 49 games in an underrated Swiss league. Plays an up-tempo game and has tons of speed, along with good finish and a flair for creativity. The major concerns remain his lack of physical development, wavering offensive confidence, and his willingness to come to North America. In my opinion, however, he has a ton of upside and could be a top six forward.

12) Johan Sundstrom - It's unfortunate a mid-season injury interrupted his season, because Sundstrom was having a fine rookie year in the AHL, and was heading for a Mountain Dew endorsement to boot. Still put up 32 points in 59 games and is with the New York Islanders for the playoffs. At 6'3" and 200lbs, Sundstrom has many good tools but does not have elite skill and needs to improve his tread-mill stride.

13) Brian Hart - Selected two spots after Jake McCabe in last year's HFNHL Draft, Hart did not have a banner year as a freshman, but was perfectly fine coming out of High School, putting up 18 points in 30 games with Harvard. Got better as the season went along and should move forward next year. Toolsy but raw.

14) Jerry D'Amigo - After breaking out in last year's AHL playoffs, D'Amigo's season was a disappointment this year. Not only did he not push for an NHL job, but his AHL point totals decreased. Has started well in the AHL playoffs again though, and is still young. Another NTDP overachiever who is a safe bet as a possible role player.

15) Mike Hoffman - A frustrating season for Hoffman, who took another step forward in the AHL, but consistently had injuries get in the way of seizing an opportunity in the NHL. The skating, hands and shot were always good, and his all-round game has rounded out, but needs an NHL opportunity.

16) Maxim Sauve - Falling from grace, two years ago Sauve looked primed to break into the NHL, however injuries and inconsistent play knocked him down the depth chart in Boston, and resulted in a trade to Chicago. Very toolsy but needs to stay healthy and seize his next opportunity, as it could be his last.

17) Alexander Urbom - An AHL All-star last year, Urbom struggled this season, not generating any offence and never asserting himself as a dominant AHL blueliner. Another player who next year may either get over the hump or cease to be a legitimate prospect. Like Sauve, has all the tools to be an NHLer.

18) Joakim Nordstrom - Similar to Sundstrom, but only arrived in North America after his season in Sweden finished. A two-way centre with good size and defensive awareness, Nordstrom could become a very good third line centre in the NHL, but has limited upside.

19)Scott Wilson - Matched his 38 points from his freshman campaign, although that came mostly in the second half, as he struggled out of the gate. More importantly, his club won the Hockey East championship, before losing in the Frozen Four to Yale University. Wilson is not big or fast, but knows how to put up points.

20) Harri Sateri - Enigmatic as always, Sateri's play this year was extremely inconsistent. Has all the tools to be a very good goalie prospect, but is absolutely at a cross-roads after two AHL seasons.


Honourable Mention:

Cole Schneider
Justin Holl
Maxim Chudinov
Mitch Callahan
Scott Fogarty
Brian Ferlin

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05-04-2013, 12:36 AM
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Vagrant
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I hope you're right about Gregory Hoffman. Carolina needs to get this kid under contract immediately, but our signing out of Europe has been hit or miss at absolute best. We lost perhaps one of the biggest breakout goaltending prospects in the world in Frederik Andersen just last offseason. I don't want to see history repeated with Hoffman. His numbers did take a hit when the NHL players went home, though.

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05-04-2013, 01:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vagrant View Post
I hope you're right about Gregory Hoffman. Carolina needs to get this kid under contract immediately, but our signing out of Europe has been hit or miss at absolute best. We lost perhaps one of the biggest breakout goaltending prospects in the world in Frederik Andersen just last offseason. I don't want to see history repeated with Hoffman. His numbers did take a hit when the NHL players went home, though.
Hoffman actually put up his best numbers before the NHLers arrived. He got off to an outstanding start and cooled off over the course of the year. Davos in general wasn't that great after the NHLers left anyways, it wasn't just Hofmann, and he rarely played with them anyways.

Regardless, I could be wrong and Hofmann may not pan out, but the games I saw this year he was very impressive. Even when he wasn't scoring, he was making things happen with his speed in all three zones. He has a tendency to play out of control though, but if he tones it down, adds some weight and retains his confidence offensively, he could be a very good complimentary 2nd liner.

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05-04-2013, 02:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hossa View Post
Hoffman actually put up his best numbers before the NHLers arrived. He got off to an outstanding start and cooled off over the course of the year. Davos in general wasn't that great after the NHLers left anyways, it wasn't just Hofmann, and he rarely played with them anyways.

Regardless, I could be wrong and Hofmann may not pan out, but the games I saw this year he was very impressive. Even when he wasn't scoring, he was making things happen with his speed in all three zones. He has a tendency to play out of control though, but if he tones it down, adds some weight and retains his confidence offensively, he could be a very good complimentary 2nd liner.
That is really interesting, what would you say as a player comparison? Poor man's Michael Grabner? Regardless, I think he draws NHL interest if he and the Hurricanes aren't able to reach an agreement. To my knowledge, Carolina hasn't approached him.

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05-04-2013, 10:17 AM
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That is really interesting, what would you say as a player comparison? Poor man's Michael Grabner? Regardless, I think he draws NHL interest if he and the Hurricanes aren't able to reach an agreement. To my knowledge, Carolina hasn't approached him.
I don't have a great feel for Grabner's game, but my sense is he's a bit more one-dimensional and a better natural goal scorer. Hofmann is probably like Mason Raymond, with hopefully better finishing ability.

I haven't kept tabs on Hofmann's willingness to come over really, but I'm sure he's on many radar screens considering the attention the Swiss league received this year. An increasing number of Swiss players are coming over these days. The recent success of guys like Brunner, Diaz and Josi, all of whom established themselves as NLA players before coming to the NHL (in contrast to Baertschi, Nino and Weber) is a good sign for an improving program. Like Brunner, Diaz and Josi, Hofmann is a great skater who is playing for an NLA team that plays an up-tempo game, which is great for his development.


Last edited by Hossa: 05-04-2013 at 10:26 AM.
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