Ryan Kennedy is the associate senior writer and draft/prospect expert at The Hockey News. He has been with the publication since 2005 and in that span, Don Cherry, Lil Jon and The Rock have all called his house. He lives in Toronto with his wife and kids where he listens to loud music and collects NCAA pennants.
Finland is golden again thanks to the under-18s in North Dakota and all the international usual suspects came through at the tourney. Jesse Puljujarvi was huge, Clayton Keller took home MVP honors and Tyson Jost led the tourney in scoring. European scouts are basically done watching games now and the CHL playoffs are getting to the big stages, so you can feel the draft combine coming on the horizon. With the AHL starting Calder Cup proceedings, there is still a lot of good hockey left, though. So let’s take a trip around the prospect world again, shall we?
Finland has won gold again – get used to it.
Led by superstar 2016 draft prospect Jesse Puljujarvi, the Finns dusted off archrival Sweden in the final of the World Under-18 Championship in North Dakota on Sunday. Puljujarvi scored a hat trick in the 6-1 demolition, while the home-side Americans earned bronze with a 10-3 walloping of a disorganized Canadian squad.
If it sounds like the Finns have been on the podium a lot lately, it’s because they have. This is the third junior-level gold in three years for Suomi, when the 2016 and 2014 world junior titles are added in. So how are they doing it?
We’ve all seen the video by now, right? We all know that Chicago’s Andrew Shaw bowled over Jay Bouwmeester for no reason, cost his team a chance to come back in a crucial game and then blew up at the refs. He flipped them off with both middle fingers and it really looks like he swore and directed a homophobic slur towards someone more than once – even tapping his stick on the penalty box glass to make sure the object of his derision was paying attention.
So what should happen to Andrew Shaw?
The world under-18s are going full-bore in North Dakota right now and there is some fantastic talent assembled. Sure, Russia’s under-18s were pulled out because of a drug scandal, but youngsters such as Klim Kostin and Andrei Svechnikov just get to make their impressions a year earlier. And with Jesse Puljujarvi joining Finland, the Americans will have several rivals to fend off if they want to defend their gold medal from last year. We’ve also got CHL playoffs getting serious and a special guest star from the coaching ranks in this week’s prospect round-up.
Flyers fans (#notallFlyersfans) like to fancy themselves as an intimidating bunch. When your team identity was founded on the brawn and menace of the Broad Street Bullies, it only makes sense – especially in a town known for passionate fans of all local sports. But what may have worked in the 1970s doesn’t work as well today and once again Philadelphia fans found themselves at the center of a bad behavior controversy last night.
First Ryan McDonagh, then Dan Girardi. The New York Rangers are living the “war of attrition” storyline that often dominates the Stanley Cup playoffs and they’re doing it right away. With those two regulars sidelined, the Rangers have called up defenseman Raphael Diaz from the AHL. When will he play?
When famed pirate Edward ‘Blackbeard’ Teach went into battle, he did so as the most intimidating man of the seas. As noted in the essential text General History of the Pyrates by Captain Johnson, Teach grew his beard out to frightful lengths and a bushy depth that saw the hairs come up to his eyes. To top things off, he would stick lit matches under his hat, so that his eyes would glow and “made him altogether such a figure, that imagination cannot form an idea of fury, from Hell, to look more frightful.”
Blackbeard may have acted like a lunatic, but the man knew what he was doing to strike fear into his foes. Brent Burns isn’t allowed to stick lit matches in his helmet, but like Blackbeard, he is one hell of an intimidating force. His beard may appear wild, but just as Teach fastened black ribbons to his facial hair, Burns is meticulous with his growth. “It takes a lot of beard oil and tender loving care to keep it tight,” he said. “Guys are always teasing me about getting food stuck in it, but I keep it clean. I’d rather eat off this beard than some dinner plates.”
Over the years, this season in particular, the beard has become synonymous with the player. On the ice, Burns plays with his hair on fire. Calling it reckless wouldn’t be far off. Burns himself describes it as “off-the-wall.” As with his beard, however, what might seem crazy is actually well thought out. Although Burns may look like a wild man on the ice – all 6-foot-5, 230 pounds of him, teeth missing, scruff threatening to engulf his face – he is a marauder on a mission. There is purpose, calculation, strategy, planning behind the player, and even the man himself. Dare we say, there’s a method to his madness. Read more
Welcome to the third installment of my 2016 draft rankings. I will do one more ranking before the actual festivities throw down in Buffalo, but with the CHL playoffs getting serious and the influential world under-18s about to start, this seemed like a good time for a snapshot. Here are a few notes to frame things:
My rankings are based off numerous conversations with NHL team scouts/executives. They’re the only ones with skin in the game, so I value them the most. From those conversations, I’ve been told that this year’s crop is pretty good for about 20-23 picks and then the field is wide open. This is a sneaky way of me telling you the latter half of my first round may turn out to be off when all is said and done.
For now, my rankings are based off “best player available.” This is pertinent because we would assume that Edmonton – guaranteed a top-five pick – will take a defenseman, based on organizational need. But anything can happen on draft day, so let’s just go with BPA for now.
With that being said, here’s my updated top 30: