How good is Connor McDavid? He’s not draft eligible until 2015 and he’s already at the center of the prospect world. If he was available to NHL teams this summer, he very well could still go first overall. And he’s the No. 1 reason (Jack Eichel being No. 2) why the Islanders may be wise to give Buffalo their first round pick this year to consummate the Thomas Vanek trade, despite the fact it could be a top five selection, and not risk losing next year’s. The entire draft is supposed to be deep, but McDavid stands as the ultimate prize.
And it’s plays like these that draw comparisons between McDavid and Sidney Crosby or any other quick and elite NHL scorer. Read more
I’m not buying the malarkey Daryl Katz is shoveling.
In a recent letter posted on the Edmonton Oilers’ website, the team owner acknowledged an eighth consecutive season outside the playoffs is likely and asked fans for more patience.
But in the process, Katz added this comment that didn’t sit right with me: “The good news, if you can call it that, is that other teams that committed to fundamental rebuilds went through the same kind of droughts over the same kind of time frames, or longer.”
I immediately called cow patty on that.
A Hot List road trip took me to Niagara last week to see the IceDogs host Mississauga and the hosts were all over the Steelheads, winning an easy one 4-1. Meanwhile, the Quebec League’s Moncton Wildcats got a lot more dangerous thanks to the addition of Ivan Barbashev’s buddy from back home, while there’s a new goalie to know over in Sweden. Here’s a look around the world of prospects and some of the players we’re excited to see in the NHL one day.
Brendan Perlini, LW – Niagara IceDogs (OHL)
One of the highest-scoring draft prospects in the Ontario League, Perlini has been making magic on a line with Toronto Maple Leafs pick Carter Verhaeghe. Ironically, that’s the franchise his father, Fred Perlini, had a couple cups of coffee with back in the early 1980s before becoming a star in Great Britain. So that’s where Brendan spent his winters until age 11, falling in love with both Manchester United soccer and the world of puck.
“Obviously it’s not the biggest hockey market,” Perlini said. “But growing up there gave me an international perspective to my game, playing in Sweden, Finland and Russia. It definitely contributed to my play today.”
Unorthodox, sure. But very effective. Perlini has 28 goals and 61 points through 46 games and has really come along after getting traded to Niagara from Barrie midway through last season.
“My skill sets are the biggest part of my game: skating, stickhandling and shooting,” he said. “I’m a big guy out there and I bring a lot of speed. I tend to create a lot of plays and I try to make my linemates better.” Read more
We’re just starting work this week on our annual Future Watch issue, which lists the top 10 prospects in each organization, then ranks the top 50 league-wide.
The process takes just over a month to complete because there’s a lot of back-and-forth communication between ourselves, a large network of NHL scouts and our web of NHL writers. It will be available to subscribers and on newsstands in early March, right around trade deadline time.
We soon realized the list of young NHL players who completely bypass the Future Watch project is rather large this year. They are, of course, the players who go directly from the 2013 draft to NHL duty the same year, with nary a sniff more time in development leagues. It’s typically three or four players every year, but this season it’s six.
They include fab freshmen Nathan MacKinnon (first overall to Colorado), Aleksander Barkov (second to Florida), Seth Jones (fourth to Nashville), Elias Lindholm (fifth to Carolina), Sean Monahan (sixth to Calgary) and Valeri Nichushkin (10th to Dallas). We’re kind of sad they don’t pass through the Future Watch turnstile, but their fast track to the big league is obviously well-earned and better for the player, team and fans.
By Josh Elliott
The game of goaltending musical chairs in Edmonton is more than just a sign the Oilers grew tired of waiting for Devan Dubnyk to figure it out. It’s a sign that drafting high – as the Oilers have been doing for years now – doesn’t guarantee success.
Especially when it comes to goalies.
On paper, Dubnyk should have been a solid starting goaltender by now. He’s got the size (6-foot-6, 210 pounds) and the pedigree (drafted 14th overall in 2004). But goalie talent is notoriously tough to judge at 18 years old.
Just look back at Dubnyk’s draft year. In 2004 – back when the draft went for nine rounds, not the current seven – 34 goalies were selected. Of those goalies, the undeniable home run almost a decade later has been eighth-rounder Pekka Rinne, a steal for Nashville at 258th overall. Outside him, the next best has been first-rounder Cory Schneider (26th overall), who became a 1A goalie in Vancouver and is only now starting to push Martin Brodeur out of the way in New Jersey. The Rangers missed on Al Montoya (6th overall) but he still became a decent backup, as did Justin Peters (38th), Thomas Greiss (94th) and Anton Khudobin (206th). Karri Ramo went to Tampa in the sixth round (191st overall) and is basically splitting duty in Calgary today. That’s eight goalies out of 34 chosen who are seeing NHL action in 2013-14. Read more
The CHL held its annual Top Prospects Game in Calgary last night, with Team Orr winning 4-3 over Team Cherry in thrilling fashion on a goal by Sault Ste. Marie’s Jared McCann. This was a showcase game for 2014 draft prospects and because it’s so packed with future picks, not everybody has a chance to shine. Talk to scouts and they’ll tell you the game can’t hurt a kid’s stock, but it can help. So who did themselves a solid last night? Here’s a rundown.
Nikolay Goldobin, RW – Sarnia Sting (OHL)
Goldobin was buzzing all night, showing off an array of weapons in his offensive arsenal. That included excellent playmaking vision and quick hands. He scored on a nice wraparound and drew two penalties due to his speed, one resulting in a penalty shot that he rang off the post.
For me, the most important opinions on the NHL draft come from the team scouts and execs, the people who will actually be making the picks come June 26 in Philadelphia. To that end, my mid-term pick for No. 1 overall may shock you, but this is based on input from the decision-makers themselves. There’s still a lot of hockey to be played, but here’s a look at how the draft may pan out.
1. Leon Draisaitl, C – Prince Albert Raiders (WHL)
The German pivot is blowing scouts away right now. One thought the kid had some Anze Kopitar in him thanks to a combination of size and playmaking. The latter is where Draisaitl really shines. A complete player with great awareness, he makes players around him better and has great anticipation. Makes plays equally strong on both his forehand and backhand.
Tim Murray was roundly seen as the heir apparent to take over the Ottawa Senators hockey department from his uncle, Bryan. But he took the Buffalo Sabres job for two reasons. First, the was no guarantee 71-year-old Bryan would step down after this season. Second, Tim Murray is walking into a great situation with the Sabres.
The Sabres are a 30th place team whose immediate prospects look bleak, but they have a bevy of prospects and picks, commodities that will be bulked up if Murray decides to trade Ryan Miller and Matt Moulson before the trade deadline. And if they can repeat the feat (?) next year, guess what? They’ll stand the best chance of anyone of getting Connor McDavid. The also have the Islanders first pick either this year or next as a result of the Thomas Vanek trade.
So what the Sabres need least in their GM is a guy who can just draft and develop hockey players. Truth be told, that has never been the problem with the Sabres, who earned high marks through the Darcy Regier tenure for their prospect list. No, what the Sabres need now is a talent evaluator who can spend owner Terry Pegula’s many millions wisely and, most importantly, make bold decisions.