Prospect Need to Know: Alex Nylander is ripping it up in Mississauga

Alex Nylander (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

Canada’s world junior camp roster is out and there weren’t a lot of surprises. The biggest was previewed by TSN’s Bob McKenzie, who revealed on the weekend that St. Louis Blues prospect and star Providence College defenseman Jake Walman was deemed ineligible for Team USA by the IIHF. Walman is a dual citizen and will now try his luck with Canada.

“We’re excited to have him,” said Ryan Jankowski, Hockey Canada’s director of player personnel. “It gives us another element on the blueline, with his ability to score goals. He’s got a nice shot.”

Otherwise, the Canucks are once again going with just two goalies at camp – New Jersey pick Mackenzie Blackwood and Calgary prospect Mason McDonald. With no other competitors, these two can now spend camp fighting for the starter’s role. This is the third year in which Canada has gone into camp with just two netminders, but it’s not a snap decision – rather a strategic one.

“We take their whole body of work into account from the past two or three years,” Jankowski said. “Historically it’s been tough to make decisions on goalies based on the CIS (exhibition) games, so this streamlines the process.”

Canada is always deep in terms of talent, so there will be hard decisions to make, though I also believe there are plenty of roster spots yet to be locked up here, making for an interesting camp (which begins next Thursday).

With all that in mind, let’s take a look at the world of prospects, as per custom:

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Surprising Devils led by potential Vezina contender Schneider

Jared Clinton
Cory Schneider (Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

For most teams, there’s a transition period from one starting netminder to the next. But when the New Jersey Devils acquired Cory Schneider from the Vancouver Canucks in 2013, they assured they wouldn’t have to deal with searching for a replacement for Martin Brodeur. And while Schneider had already proven himself before coming to New Jersey, few could have imagined just how great he would play as a Devil.

When Schneider was in Vancouver, the signs of a star netminder were there. In just his second AHL season, Schneider became a first-team all-star, was named the league’s goaltender of the year and combined with Karl Goehring and Curtis Sanford to win the AHL equivalent of the William M. Jennings trophy. By 2010-11, Schneider was a full-time NHL netminder and by the 2011-12 campaign he was sharing the workload in Vancouver with Roberto Luongo, one of the best goaltenders in league.

Then came the 2012-13 season in which Schneider and Luongo were set to split time, but where instead Schneider took the reins and earned the starting gig. Even if Schneider and Luongo were close off the ice, the battle for the crease created one of the most tenuous goaltending situations of the past decade. But with all signs pointing to Luongo being on the outs in Vancouver, the Canucks shocked everyone by dealing Schneider to the Devils for the ninth-overall pick in the 2013 draft, used to select Bo Horvat.

Since getting to New Jersey, Schneider has taken his game to another level. And if he keeps this up, it seems as though it’s only a matter of time before yet another New Jersey netminder is taking home some end of season hardware. Read more

Watch Devils’ Schneider makes insane save on Blue Jackets’ Savard

Jared Clinton
Cory Schneider (Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

Cory Schneider has been one of the best goaltenders in the league since landing the full-time starting job in New Jersey, and he doesn’t appear to be slowing down any time soon. After an absolutely star-making performance with the Devils in 2014-15, Schneider is putting up strong numbers again thanks to incredible saves like his stop Wednesday night.

In the first period of Wednesday’s game, the Blue Jackets were on the power play and worked the puck around the zone before Jack Johnson fired a shot from the blueline. The puck took a crazy hop off the glass and landed right on the stick of Boone Jenner, who made an awesome no-look, between the legs pass to defenseman David Savard.

Savard had almost the whole net to shoot at with only Devils blueliner Adam Larsson appearing to be an obstacle. Savard fired the puck past Larsson, but was robbed by Schneider’s miraculous save: Read more

With Carey Price out, Habs should look at trading for James Reimer

Carey Price  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Montreal Canadiens backup goalie Mike Condon will get the start Friday night when the Canadiens visit the New Jersey Devils, which apparently would have been the case had reigning MVP and Vezina Trophy winner Carey Price not left Wednesday night’s win over the New York Rangers with a right leg injury.

Condon proved that in the short term that he could be almost as good as the No. 1 man, going 4-0-2 with a 1.81 goals-against average and registering a .932 save percentage in the first six games he played after taking over the net when Price went down with an upper body injury in October.

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Prospect Need to Know: Jack LaFontaine is a hidden draft gem in net

Jack LaFontaine (photo courtesy of the NAHL)

The NHL’s Central Scouting Bureau released its latest Watch List today for the 2016 draft and there have been a bunch of movers. This is not surprising, since the early September edition was largely speculative and now the prospects actually have a good sample size of games under their belts, but it is interesting to monitor nonetheless. Also, as I first reported the other day, top 2016 prospect Auston Matthews will return to the ice for Zurich tomorrow in a Swiss Cup game against Ambri-Piotta. Here’s a look at what else is going on in the prospect world:

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First quarter report: What’s up with the Dallas Stars and what’s wrong with Sidney Crosby?

Jamie Benn (left) and Tyler Seguin have been on some kind of tear this season. Photo by Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images)

Monday night’s NHL games marked the official passing of the first quarter of the season and like Nathan MacKinnon, time flies, doesn’t it? It seems like just yesterday we were waiting for the league to rubber stamp the Las Vegas expansion application and allow Bill Foley into the annual owners’ croquet game. We’re still waiting on that and, if Jeremy Jacobs’ comments have any merit – and they do – we’ll be waiting a lot longer.

Off the ice, that was one of the big surprises of the season so far. Between the boards, here are some of the others that have surfaced after the first quarter:

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Getting To Know: Jordin Tootoo   

Mark Malinowski
Jordin Tootoo (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Status:  New Jersey Devils right wing.

Ht:  5-9  Wt: 199 pounds

DOB: February 2, 1983 In: Churchill, Man.

First Hockey Memory: “I think for me growing up in a remote community, we had this kind of an igloo arena. It was kind of, felt like an igloo. And I think I was about four or five years old, I remember going into that dome – we called it The Dome – and putting on my mini skates or whatever that I had. Playing on that.”

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