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HFNHL Blues Top 20 Prospects – Spring 2014

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04-02-2014, 02:12 PM
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HFNHL Blues Top 20 Prospects – Spring 2014

With my Blues on a horrendous losing streak, time to shift gears and look into the future with an updated prospect list.

The Blues have only seen a few graduations from their prospect list this year (Reilly Smith, Ian Cole & Erik Gustafsson), but with several trades and another year of development under their belts, a new top 20 is in order.

The strength of the list remains the same – this is a very deep forward group, who dominate the top 10 once again. But the acquisition of a few defenders this season added a few more rearguards to this list, with six d-men in the second half of the list.

Mountain “Due” awards are noted – with three just missing due to late season call-ups and injuries, but the maximum of four was exceeded regardless.

1/ Mark Stone, RW (2).
Stone has been flip-flopping with Larsson for the top spot for over a year now, but his slightly better production at the NHL and AHL levels has him inch past the Swedish pivot. Stone’s upside is also likely a higher as an all-around scoring forward. Multiple injuries since turning pro last year are really the only thing holding him back. Key Stat: 38 points in 35 AHL games before call-up (Mountain Due miss – Ouch!)

2/ Johan Larsson, C (1)
1A, Larsson has been extremely productive at the AHL level, while seeing 4th line spot duty for the Sabres in his 20+ NHL games thus far. He remains a buzzsaw at both ends of the ice and a sure-fire NHLer. Whether he can be a 2nd liner or an elite 3rd liner is the real question. Key Stat: 39 points in 45 AHL games (double ouch!)

3/ Kerby Rychel, LW (5)
Rychel’s production took a notable uptick this year, which is impressive after successive 40 goal years. He had well over a 100 point pace, only slowed by a lengthy absence due to his making the Canadian WJC team. He is on loaded Guelph team trying to make a Memorial Cup run, and will begin his professional career as early as this spring if Guelph doesn’t advance far. Nothing left to prove in junior. Key Stat: 90 points in 58 OHL games.

4/ Nic Kerdiles, C/W (4)
Kerdiles elevated his game even further this year with Wisconsin after a terrific freshman season. After switching to center, he finished in the top 10 in the NCAA in ppg. He also led Team USA in scoring at the WJC (Mountain Due!). Key stat: 38 points in 28 NCAA games.

5/ William Karlsson, C (7)
The SHL rookie of the year last year continued his strong play, leading HV71 in scoring, and improving his all-around game. The highly skilled offensive center has an under-rated two-way game, having also led HV71 forwards in both hits and blocked shots this season. He has recently arrived in North America and will begin his AHL career this week. Key Stat: 37 points in 55 SHL games.

6/ Anthony Duclair, LW (15)
No other Blues prospect rose as far as Duclair this season, after his spectacular season with Quebec. He simply exploded offensively, challenging for the Q scoring title, before a late season concussion. Not surprisingly, Quebec were eliminated in the 1st round without his services. Duclair was also recently nominated as a finalist for league MVP, alongside Mantha and Drouin. Good company. Key stat: 50 goals and 99 points in 59 QMJHL games (Mountain Due triple ouch!!)

7/ Matt Puempel, LW (11)
Puempel’s rookie AHL season started slowly on a deep Binghampton squad, but he has worked his way up from a 4th line roll to first line by season’s end. Not only is he close to the AHL rookie goal scoring lead, but his six fights and nearly 100 PIM’s are an indication of the grit he can also bring to the table.A potential future NHL sniper. Key Stat: 26 goals in 65 AHL games – one back of the rookie lead. 40+ points qualified for Mountain Due.

8/ Shane Prince, LW (8)
Prince has seen his production increase in his second AHL year, but is still learning how to apply his rather considerable offensive talents on a consistent basis. Like Puempel, he has also surpassed 40 points, qualifying him for Mountain Due as well. Key stat: 40 AHL points in 60 AHL games.

9/ Charles Hudon, LW (10)
Hudon has the makings of swiss-army knife like forward, able to fill in a varierty of different roles, as shown in his WJC performance. In the Q, he remains a dominant forward with offensive flair, but projects more as a utility winger at the NHL level, albeit with the potential to a key top 6 player. Key Stat: 76 points in 57 QMJHL games.

10/ Stefan Noesen, RW (6)
Noesen’s season was a complete write off when he tore both his MCL and ACL in his 2nd AHL game. As such, he has been passed by a few players who had the chance to further their development. But the team remains high on Noesen in the long-term.

11/ Adam Pelech, D (13)
Pelech projects as a defensive shutdown defender, but his offensive game is under rated, having finished in the OHL’s top 5 in scoring amongst d-men with 54 points in 60 AHL games (Mountain Due). Key Stat: +52 to this season.

12/ Cedric Paquette, C (24)
Like Duclair, Paquette made a major move up the top 20 ranking after a tremendous rookie season in the AHL where he has surpassed 40 points (Mountain Due). He projects as a terrific two-way center with lots of jam to his game. Key stat: 150+ PIM’s.

13/ Mark Borowiecki, D (NR)
Boro-cop was acquired this season to add a steady blueliner to the Blues rather thin pipeline on the back-end. He is a very safe bet to have a lengthy NHL career with leadership potential. He is also as feisty as they come. Key Stat: Captain of his AHL team and 150+ PIMs.

14/ Mikael Wikstrand, D (NR)
In a rather bold move, the Blues moves highly touted Joni Ortio in a swap for Wikstrand, a highly skilled offensive d-man who has produced consistently at all levels in Sweden. Still a few years away, the question is whether he’ll be able to apply those skills on NA ice. Key Stat: 11 points in 19 SHL games.

15/ Stephane Da Costa, C (NR)
Another mid-season acquisition, Da Costa has proven all that is needed at the AHL level and must not seize the opportunity at the NHL level. Has looked good in his brief appearances thus far. Key Stat: 40 assists in 55 AHL games.

16/ Will Butcher, D (14)
Butcher drops in the rankings simply due to the fact several more mature pro prospects were added, pushing him back, but Butcher demonstrated as a freshman in Denver and also with the WJC team, that he has terrific offensive talent and PP QB material. Key stat: 2 goals and 5 points in 5 WJC games for team USA as an 18 year old.

17/ Konrad Albethauser, D (16)
The huge German rear-guard had a rude awakening in his rookie AHL season, but has made leaps and bounced of progress over the season and is now an integral part of his AHL’s team top 4, eating large amounts of minutes and playing key PP time. Key stat: 20 points in 52 AHL games.

18/ Tomas Kundratek, D (12)
Like Noesen, Kundratek has a very short season, suffering a season-ending knee injury in the fall, wiping out a critical year for him in establishing himself at the NHL level. The potential remains, although this could set back his arrival more than a year.

19/ Vincent Dunn, C (18)
Another thorny center from the Q, Dunn scored 30 goals for the first time, which was quite the accomplishment given the time he spent in the penalty box and press box due to suspensions. He is a player that plays on the edge and across it as time, voted the most hated player in the Q by his peers. Key stat: 156 PIMs.

20/ Robert Baillargeon, C (NR)
“The ba$tard son of Westoros” as he is affectionately referred to by Blues scouts, had a terrific freshman year at BU, leading the team in scoring. No small feat. Somewhat raw but immensely gifted, he remains a project, but one with upside. Key stat: 27 points in 37 NCAA games.

Honourable mention: Blake Coleman, Lucas Wallmark, Derek Grant, Michael Houser, Cade Fairchild.

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04-03-2014, 12:49 PM
Ohio Jones
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Originally Posted by Dr.Sens(e) View Post
20/ Robert Baillargeon, C (NR)
“The ba$tard son of Westoros” as he is affectionately referred to by Blues scouts
Heh, nice.

Considering where you typically end up drafting, it's a pretty solid list. The important thing is you've managed to achieve that consistent performance without trading all of your young assets away.

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04-04-2014, 06:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Ohio Jones View Post

Considering where you typically end up drafting, it's a pretty solid list. The important thing is you've managed to achieve that consistent performance without trading all of your young assets away.
Thanks, Douglas. It's always tough to determine how far to go in terms of parlaying young assets for what might be, only a slightly better chance at the Cup. In the end, with no Cups in my cupboard, always feels like I haven't done enough. But of course, feels the same when you've been more aggressive too - no Cups and fewer building blocks.

Irksome, either way.

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