Prospect Watch: Finland’s Esa Lindell develops for Dallas

Ryan Kennedy
Esa-Lindell

North American audiences haven’t seen much of Esa Lindell and if you ask the Swedes, they would have preferred not to have seen him at all this year.

Lindell, an offensive defenseman, scored thirty seconds into the gold medal game at the world juniors in Malmo, staking underdog Finland to a lead in a hotly-contested match that they would never trail.

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Three of the top 10 picks in the OHL draft haven’t signed yet

Ryan Kennedy
Victor-Mete

Minor ripples were made the other day when a Michigan news outlet reported that center Tye Felhaber was unlikely to report to the Saginaw Spirit, the Ontario League team that drafted the talented youngster 10th overall in the spring.

As I found out in talking to insiders, Felhaber didn’t just decide this; the team had quietly known for some time. But since it’s officially out there now, Felhaber becomes the third top-10 pick from the 2014 OHL draft to express reticence in joining the franchise that selected him.

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Jordan Subban sounds like an incredibly fun teammate

Ryan Kennedy
Jordan-Subban

When the Vancouver Canucks tabbed defenseman Jordan Subban with the 115th overall pick in the 2013 draft, they knew they were getting a bundle of skill with great bloodlines. After all, older brothers Malcolm and P.K. were both in the game and P.K. had just won the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top blueliner.

But along with sharing a position, Jordan also seems to have P.K.’s gift of gab, as evidenced by this recent video of the Belleville Bulls blueliner going through the paces at Canucks development camp with a hot mic on:

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Nylander and Toninato soar at Toronto Maple Leafs rookie camp

Ryan Kennedy
Dom-Toninato

Yes, it’s July and yes, it was only a scrimmage, but do you like hockey or don’t ya? The Toronto Maple Leafs, like many NHL franchises, held their rookie development camp this week and the festivities ended with a scrimmage. Far from orthodox, the game featured a 15-minute period of 4-on-4 with players changing every 45 seconds, followed by a similar format but 3-on-3 (there was also a “normal” 15-minute period to begin with).

One player who looked pretty sharp was center Dakota Joshua. A member of the United States League’s Sioux Falls Stampede, the Dearborn, Mich., native was great on the forecheck, dogging defensemen and keeping plays alive in the corners.

“That helps me out a lot in the USHL, to make plays and help put points on the board by winning puck battles and finding the open teammate,” Joshua said.

The growing pivot will have an expanded role on the Stampede next season, as the team is losing a bunch of veterans. After that, he’ll head to Ohio State.

“It was a perfect overall fit for me,” he said. “It’s in the Big 10, which I felt was one of the best conferences in college hockey and it’s close to home. I know I’m going up against the best talent in America every night.”

Here’s who else stood out to me on the day:

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St. Louis Blues prospects don’t fit the Russian stereotype

Ryan Kennedy
Ivan-Barbashev

When T.J. Oshie ended a classic Olympic showdown by outduelling the Russians in the shootout, he became an instant hero back in the United States. And while most of the host nation was crestfallen by his derring-do, Oshie had at least one Russian on his side: Maxim Letunov thought the American was great.

As luck would have it, Letunov was selected by Oshie’s NHL team, the St. Louis Blues, mere months later at the draft. He went later in the second round after the Blues had taken countryman Ivan Barbashev 33rd overall. Both players may be Russian, but they shatter stereotypes.

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The Toronto Maple Leafs are stocking up on Swedes

Tom-Nilsson

Two of the most prominent Toronto Maple Leafs of the past half-century were Borje Salming and Mats Sundin. And while neither could deliver a Stanley Cup to the franchise, they are beloved to this day. Scanning the roster of Toronto’s rookie development camp roster, it’s easy to see the infatuation with Swedes has only grown over time.

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