Welcome back to Prospect Need to Know, the gathering formerly known as The Hot List. I’m debuting some new sections this week and there will be a rotation, so don’t worry if things continue to look different from here on out. There’s a lot to cover with the AHL and NCAA getting into full swing, so let’s get to it.
Trading card company Score received a license to make hockey cards in 1990, and it looked to hockey’s future when hiring a spokesman to hype its new product. Instead of opting for a current NHLer, they scooped up junior league phenom Eric Lindros, signing him to an exclusive endorsement deal.
Lindros was still a year too young to be eligible for the NHL draft, and only Score could issue cards of him until he played in the NHL. The last card in their inaugural 1990-91 set was this “Future Superstar” one of Lindros, showing the future first-overall NHL pick with the OHL’s Oshawa Generals. Read more
After ripping 51 goals as an OHL rookie in 2014-15, Alex DeBrincat is proving early in his sophomore season that his scoring ability a year ago wasn’t just a result of playing with No. 1 overall NHL draft pick Connor McDavid.
Through eight games this season, the Detroit, Mich. native has 13 goals – tops in the league. Already, the Erie Otters right winger has enjoyed a five-goal game and a four-goal game. Strictly in terms of goal scoring, he’s currently out-pacing everyone in major junior hockey.
Welcome back to the new iteration of The Hot List, now known as Prospect Need to Know. The NCAA season kicked off in earnest on the weekend and though I’d like a bit more of a sample size before handing out accolades, let it be known that Arizona prospect Maxim Letunov had a hat trick in his first game with UConn. And yes, Calgary Flames fans, Mark Jankowski is off to a hot start with Providence. There’s a lot of goodness to cover off this week, so let’s get right to it:
It’s mailbag time, folks. We’ve got some very interesting questions this week, concerning prospects from many different levels. Most developmental leagues have already begun play (American prep and high schools are still on the sidelines), so there’s actual action to consider, though naturally we’re just at the start of what is shaping up to be a very fun 2015-16 campaign. If you have a question, hit me up on Twitter at @THNRyanKennedy and use the hashtag #thnfutures so I don’t miss it.
Let’s get to it.
Advanced statistics have permeated hockey so much that they now reside on NHL.com in their own category. We don’t need to repeat how many teams have hired experts. But that doesn’t mean the numbers game won’t evolve again. As Toronto Maple Leafs assistant GM Kyle Dubas once told me, hockey’s analytics are 20 years behind baseball’s. Sooner or later, someone will invent a more accurate way to track statistics like possession.
Is Drake Berehowsky that someone?
It’s been a long time since we saw Berehowsky, 43, manning a blueline. He last suited up in the NHL for the Leafs, the team that took him 10th overall in 1990, late in the 2003-04 season. He bounced around the Swedish League, AHL and German League after that and retired in 2006. But Berehowsky stayed busy. He’s spent the better part of the past decade behind various benches, from OHL Barrie to AHL Peoria to ECHL Orlando and WHL Lethbridge, where he was head coach the past two seasons. Now he’s back in the OHL as an associate coach with the Sudbury Wolves.
Along the way, through the ups and downs helming all those different teams, ideas danced around in his head. Was there a better, faster, more accurate way to evaluate his players? Could he pinpoint what data would help him and others make wiser decisions, be they in-game line combinations or even just deciding who should and shouldn’t make the team?
Drake and his sister, Danielle, began work on an idea called StatsTrack, an application that tracks player and team events on the ice in real time. Drake provided the ideas and concepts behind what the program would track, Danielle ran the business side of things, and they worked with a team of digital technology specialists to develop the concept. The NHL Alumni Association also came on board as a partner.
Welcome to the rebirth of The Hot List. From now on, my weekly collection of top prospects will be known as Prospect Need to Know and the format will be a little different. The biggest changes involve star power and flexibility – there will be more of both. If your prospect knowledge is limited, I’ll have you covered with a steady dose of names such as Auston Matthews, Alex DeBrincat and Patrik Laine. If you like to go deeper, there will be categories on sleeper picks, major injury news and, as the season goes on, high risers in the draft rankings. Basically, I wanted to make sure I have a platform that would not limit me in bringing you the most essential prospect news. And for organizational purposes, players will now be listed in groupings, with those already drafted first (after the spotlight player, of course). So let’s get to it and have some fun:
Of all the 18-year-olds to clinch an NHL roster spot this fall, Pittsburgh’s Daniel Sprong is the most unlikely – on paper, at least. Forget the fact the right winger was born and raised in Amsterdam: he was also drafted in the middle of the second round by the Penguins, not hearing his name called until the 46th pick in the 2015 draft.
So how did this all happen?