Jets prospect Nikolaj Ehlers switches handedness with must-see moves

Josh Elliott
Nikolaj Ehlers

The Hockey News scouting report on Nikolaj Ehlers describes him as “supremely skilled and talented with the puck, able to create plays and finish on his own.”

Maybe it’s time we add “with either hand” to the end of that description.

The left-shot, left wing Dane put on an incredible show against the QMJHL’s Shawinigan Cataractes on Friday, switching handedness in the middle of heavy traffic in the neutral zone.

Yes, Ehlers switched handedness, as in suddenly started playing as a right-shot forward.
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Jets/Sabres blockbuster: Who are the prospects in the trade?

Matt Larkin
Joel Armia. (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

Evander Kane!

Tyler Myers!

Zach Bogosian!

Drew Stafford!

Connor McDavid!

Shock and awe! Wednesday’s blockbuster between the Winnipeg Jets and Buffalo Sabres was among the biggest in-season swaps in years. The average fan has a strong sense of what Buffalo received in Kane and Bogosian and what Winnipeg has in Myers and Stafford. But what about the other names involved in the trade? Here’s a scouting report on each.

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Prospect Watch: A pair of aces for 2015 in Swift Current

Ryan Kennedy
Glenn Gawdin (Photo by Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)

Swift Current, Saskatchewan is home to around 15,500 people, making it the smallest market in all of major junior. But that hasn’t stopped the local Broncos from forging an illustrious history in the Western League, with alumni such as Joe Sakic, Geoff Sanderson and Brent Sopel, plus two playoff titles and a Memorial Cup championship in 1989.

The town has a movie theater and that’s the main source of non-hockey entertainment for the Broncos. Draft prospects Jake DeBrusk and Glenn Gawdin both cited Dumb and Dumber To as their favorite recent flick, but these kids have shown a lot more promise than Harry and Lloyd.

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Prospect Hot List: Christian Fischer’s connection to the Tkachuks

Team USA's Christian Fischer (Photo by Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images)

Well, I’m writing this week’s Hot List in Toronto because the Beanpot tournament in Boston was postponed due to weather. Not fun, but at least I can try again in two weeks. In the meantime, the Five Nations tournament just wrapped up in the Czech Republic, with Russia winning and Team USA boasting the highest scorers in Matthew Tkachuk (Keith’s kid) and Jack Roslovic. Below you’ll find some of the best performers from that shindig plus other prospects from around the hockey world.

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Shades of “Semi-Pro”: New OHL team in Flint could be called The Tropics

Adam Proteau
Will Ferrell (George Pimentel/WireImage)

The Ontario Hockey League last week approved the sale and relocation of the Plymouth Whalers to Flint, Michigan. And it looks as if the team’s new name might be a giant nod and wink to a Will Ferrell comedy movie.

According to the Flint Journal, the team’s new owners have registered a number of potential new franchise names with the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, including “Flint Pride”, “Flint Phoenix”, “Flint Sparks”, and “Flint Vikings”. But the one that’s resonating most with fans so far is “Flint Tropics” – a name first heard in Ferrell’s sports comedy film “Semi-Pro“. In that movie, a pro basketball team in the old American Basketball Association is known as the Flint Tropics – and in an interview with Sports Illustrated, the former Saturday Night Live superstar explained why the movie’s creators selected such a curious name: Read more

Prospect Hot List: Meet the D-man filling Aaron Ekblad’s skates in Barrie

Rasmus Andersson (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

After a one-day weather delay, Boston’s famed Beanpot tournament kicks off tonight with Northeastern vs. Boston College and Harvard vs. Boston U. I’ll be heading out to cover the final of the college classic next week, so in the meantime, here’s a look at a couple recruits for future Beanpots, plus more prospects making noise around the hockey world right now.

Rasmus Andersson, D – Barrie Colts (OHL)

When Andersson decided to leave his home in Sweden for North America, one of the reasons was that he would get more ice time than he had received last year with Malmo. But there was also some trepidation, as the Colts would need a lot of minutes filled due to the loss of another defenseman: Aaron Ekblad, who was headed to the NHL after Florida selected him first overall in the summer. Luckily, the pressure hasn’t been an issue.

“I thought it would be a lot of worse, but it’s been nothing at all,” Andersson said. “Guys have been taking care of me and no one has said anything about him.”

Andersson wasn’t content with his start in Barrie, but after an initial 15-game trial period, he has been producing at more than a point-per-game rate. Familiarity helps and it only makes sense that a kid raised on the European game would need time to adjust, even though his father Peter played a couple seasons in the NHL with the New York Rangers and Florida Panthers.

“I have really good billets and a really good coach who has taught me about the Canadian style of hockey,” Andersson said. “I’m comfortable in Barrie and they’ve taught me a lot.”

Scouts would like to see his conditioning and lateral movement improve, but they also like Andersson’s tools. A great offensive weapon on the back end, he uses his shot, playmaking ability and smarts on the point to make things happen. On the power play, he and Buffalo pick Brendan Lemieux have been lethal together, with Lemieux leading the OHL in power play goals and Andersson tied for third in assists.

“We work a lot on shot tips,” Andersson said. “We try to keep it positive between each other and not too fancy. Get a lot of shots, tips, criss-cross here and there. And we score a lot of goals.”

And while Barrie fans won’t forget Ekblad, that kind of production certainly serves as a nice consolation prize. Draft eligible in 2015.

Ryan Shea, D – B.C. High Eagles (Mass. HS)

A polished blueliner with an offensive bent, Shea is a converted forward, which explains why he’s pretty comfortable putting up points. The Northeastern commit has four points in his past two games for the Eagles and his skating is also a great asset. Draft eligible in 2015.

Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, C – Omaha Lancers (USHL)

A smart pivot with a good worth ethic, ‘JFK’ has been hot for the Lancers, notching six points in his past three games. The Boston University commit is one of the highest scorers in the United States League and put in a good effort for the losing side at the USHL Top Prospects Game last month. Draft eligible in 2015.

Jeremy Bracco, RW – U.S. NTDP (USHL)

Team USA will play at a Five Nations tournament in Russia this week and the other teams better pay attention to Bracco, a scintillating offensive talent who has been hot lately. The Boston College commit has speed to burn and his 54 points in 38 games is best among 2015 prospects on the team. Draft eligible in 2015.

Oliver Bjorkstrand, RW – Portland Winterhawks (WHL)

He was incredible for Denmark at the world juniors and Bjorkstrand has continued his excellence back in Portland, where he has always been a big producer. Fast and blessed with sizzling hands, the right winger has nine points in his past two games and is up to 70 through 40 contests. Drafted 89th overall by Columbus in 2013.

Samuel Montembeault, G – Blainville-Boisbriand Armada (QMJHL)

While guessing which goaltenders will become NHLers has become a grisly task for scouts, Montembeault is at the top of the list for this year’s crop. The lanky 6-foot-3 stopper won seven of his 10 starts in January and has become a lot more confident in the crease this season. Draft eligible in 2015.

Adam Tambellini, C – Calgary Hitmen (WHL)

One of the top snipers in the ‘Dub,’ Tambellini boasts great size and a sick shot release, which gives fits to defenders trying to thwart him in the offensive zone. He moves well for a big guy and is riding a seven-game point streak where he has put up four multi-point games. Drafted 65th overall by the New York Rangers in 2013.

Roope Hintz, LW – Ilves (Fin.)

Big and fast, Hintz looked pretty good for the underwhelming Finns at the world juniors, but he has really been solid on the local scene. Playing against men back home in Finland’s top league, the 6-foot-2 teenager has 15 points in 33 games, putting him second among all rookies. Draft eligible in 2015.

Dante Salituro, C – Ottawa 67’s (OHL)

Between Travis Konecny and Salituro, the 67’s are getting good things out of small packages. The 5-foot-9, 178-pound Salituro just had a seven-game point streak snapped, but he had 15 points during that span. A lethal shooter with great quickness, Salituro leads Ottawa in scoring. Draft eligible in 2015.

Zach Hyman, RW – University of Michigan Wolverines (Big Ten)

The Wolverines have awoken from their early-season slumber and are wrecking the Big Ten now. Hyman, an alternate captain, has been a big part of that success. The two-way senior (who is also a children’s author) leads the conference in scoring with 36 points in 23 games. Drafted 123rd overall by Florida in 2010.