NHL Prospect Hot List: Baillie battles haters

Ryan Kennedy

It may be an Olympic break for the NHL, but all the prospect circuits are still playing and some of the games are biggies. First and foremost, Boston College beat Northeastern 4-1 Monday night to clinch the school’s fifth straight Beanpot tournament, with Harvard taking a 6-2 consolation win over Boston University in the other match. Also, Sweden’s Farjestad team will take on the American League’s finest at the AHL All-Star Game in St. John’s this Wednesday. With all that in mind, here’s a look at some of the players we’re excited to see in the NHL one day.

Tyson Baillie, C – Kelowna Rockets (WHL)

You would think the second-highest scorer on the best team in the nation would get a little more love, but Baillie has fought an uphill battle for respect all season long. Central Scouting has him ranked just 90th among North American skaters for the draft and he wasn’t included in the CHL Top Prospects Game. But he won’t let the snubs get him down.

“My coaches have talked to me about it,” he said. “I just use it as motivation to work harder.”

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The NHL Prospect Hot List: Gustav Olofsson helping Colorado through tough season

Ryan Kennedy
Gustav Olofsson

The big prospect news of the week is Boston’s Beanpot tournament, where the four schools from the city compete for one coveted trophy. Harvard, Northeastern, Boston U. and Boston College take this very seriously and with the semifinals finished, Boston College and Northeastern will meet to win the prize. Boston College has won the past four Beanpots. Here’s a look at some of the key players from there and all around the world of prospects.

Gustav Olofsson, D – Colorado College Tigers (NCHC)
Swedish born, but having spent many of his past few years living in Colorado, Olofsson had a unique take on this year’s world juniors in Malmo, where he helped the hosts to a silver medal.

“Off the ice it was really nice, just the food and stuff,” he said. “Chocolate, ice cream…just so much to choose from. Maribou chocolate.”

Hopefully the smart, puck-moving defenseman stocked up, because back in Colorado his Tigers have gone through a tough season, where they’ve been pushed around in the first year of NCHC conference play, winning just three games out of 24 in regulation.

“It’s been up and down,” Olofsson said. “Individually it’s been good, but for the team we’ve struggled. But we’re getting on track and all the guys are nice and I’m developing well.” Read more

The NHL Prospect Hot List: Brendan Perlini all over the map

Ryan Kennedy
Brendan Perlini

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

The NHL Prospect Hot List: Julius Honka golden for Broncos

Ryan Kennedy
Dallas pick Julius Honka (LUDVIG THUNMAN/AFP/Getty Images)

With major junior trade deadlines behind us, teams are heading into the home stretch and the Ontario League in particular is looking crazy. Memorial Cup hosts London are in a rough patch and just lost starting goalie Anthony Stolarz for a month to a bad leg injury. With Erie and Guelph in the same conference, that second OHL bid for the final tournament might be gone before the Eastern teams even get a sniff. Here’s a look around the world of prospects and some of the prospects we’re excited to see in the NHL one day.

Julius Honka, D – Swift Current Broncos (WHL)

Honka arrived in Swift Current this fall and immediately went to work, piling up points from the blueline thanks to his puckhandling skills and excellent skating ability. His vision and escapability make him a prototypical offensive defenseman and his 12 goals and 39 points through 38 games put him second among all Western League rookies. Needless to say, the move from Finland has worked out.

“It’s been great, the culture is awesome,” Honka said. “It’s a little bit different, Swift Current is a small town but it doesn’t matter: I play hockey there. There’s a lot of nice people there.”

A newly-minted gold medalist thanks to his Finnish team’s shocking victories over Canada and Sweden at the world juniors, Honka was more of a depth player on the squad, but will be key to any chance of a repeat next year. In the meantime, heading over to the ‘Dub’ for his draft year has opened his eyes and helped his study of the game.

“I’ve learned about how to play Canadian hockey, like North American style,” he said. “The rink is a little different from Europe so that’s the biggest thing. But it hasn’t affected my game. I try to play my game no matter what kind of rink I’m in.”

And that’s a high skill game. Expect to see Honka taken in the first round of a draft that isn’t flush with blueliners. His physicality is a work in progress, but playing over in Canada has at least given him some basics to go off.

“Maybe a little,” Honka said. “But I still keep my focus on my strengths and how I can play hockey.”

That tends to be with a lot of skill and confidence. When the defensive side of the game catches up, he’ll be a load to handle. Draft eligible in 2014.

Shane Eiserman, LW – Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL)

With his 6-foot-2, 200-pound frame, Eiserman is shaping up to be a potent power forward and sometimes those kids take a little longer to get going. The University of New Hampshire commit had a slow start to the campaign, but now he’s buzzing with five points in his past three games. Draft eligible in 2014.

Scott Kosmachuk, RW – Guelph Storm (OHL)

As part of a murderers’ row of forwards in Guelph, Kosmachuk has more than pulled his weight, leading the attack with 33 goals and 63 points in 46 games. Skilled and quick, Kosmachuk has been held off the scoresheet just three times in the past 20 games. Drafted 70th overall by Winnipeg in 2012.

Josh Archibald, RW – University of Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks (NCHC)

A hardworking player with nice speed, Archibald has been a great offensive producer in Omaha, as well. He’s ahead of his sophomore point pace right now and a hat trick that paced the Mavs to a recent win over Miami didn’t hurt. Drafted 174th overall by Pittsburgh in 2011.

Jack Glover, D – U.S. NTDP (USHL)

Size and skating ability are two of Glover’s best attributes and the 6-foot-3, 190-pounder has also been a prime playmaker for the NTDP. A University of Minnesota commit, Glover is a right-shot ‘D’ who can rush the puck and just needs to let the game come to him. Draft eligible in 2014.

Michael Prapavessis, D –Toronto Lakeshore Patriots (OJHL)

A two-way blueliner with decent size, Prapavessis is a deft playmaker, particularly on the power play. The RPI commit leads the Ontario Jr. A League in scoring by a defenseman with three goals and 41 points in 38 games and has six points in his past five appearances. Draft eligible in 2014.

John Quenneville, C – Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)

A point-per-game player for the Wheaties, Quenneville is riding a five-game streak that has seen the pivot pick up eight points. Detail-oriented, Quenneville is big, strong and has a nose for the net. He distributes the puck and sees the ice well, meaning second cousin Joel Quenneville, the Chicago coach, should keep tabs on the kid. Draft eligible in 2014.

Fabrice Herzog, RW – Quebec Remparts (QMJHL)

Switzerland’s top goal-scorer at the world juniors with three in five games, Herzog is a big, power forward-type with a nice offensive touch and a solid battle level. He’s heating up in the Quebec League, with eight points in his past five games for the Remparts. Drafted 142nd overall by Toronto in 2013.

Oscar Dansk, G – Erie Otters (OHL)

Dansk just had a 10-game winning streak snapped by the Guelph Storm and even in defeat, he surrendered only one goal. Fantastic at the world juniors for the silver medal-winning Swedes, Dansk can really take away the bottom of the net and his 1.97 goals-against average is tops in the OHL. Drafted 31st overall by Columbus in 2012.

Miles Gendron, D – Rivers Red Wings (Mass. HS)

A converted forward now playing defense, Gendron is a great skater with a fluid stride playing for former NHLer Shawn McEachern. The University of Connecticut commit has three goals and 12 points in 15 games, meaning he has been in on nearly half of Rivers’ goals. Draft eligible in 2014.

NHL Prospect Hot List: Kevin Fiala, plus the rise of Sam Bennett

Ryan Kennedy

The NHL’s Central Scouting bureau made waves this week, naming Kingston’s Sam Bennett and Prince Albert’s Leon Draisaitl its top two North American skaters, despite the fact this year’s No. 1 overall debate had centered around Aaron Ekblad and Sam Reinhart. The latter two will captain the CHL’s Top Prospects Game Wednesday in Calgary. Now, Central Scouting has missed on two of the past four No. 1 selections overall (They had Tyler Seguin and Seth Jones), so take the listing with a grain of salt. But it is an interesting debate point. Let’s take a whirl around the world of prospects to catch up with some of the players we’re excited to see in the NHL one day.

Kevin Fiala, LW – HV 71 (Swe.)

A Swiss national playing in Sweden, Fiala is a dogged competitor who was one of the more noticeable players in Canada’s world junior win over Switzerland in the quarterfinal. It was interesting to see him stand out, particularly since he also played well against the Canucks in the summer’s Ivan Hlinka tournament.

“I was pretty good, but I can always be better,” he said. “Gotta keep on going.”

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NHL Prospect Hot List: Ivan Barbashev and World Junior Championship wrap

Ryan Kennedy

Another world juniors is in the books and no one could have guessed how this one would wrap up. When I began writing this at the Copenhagen airport, members of the champion Finnish team were dining a few tables away at a pizza restaurant. They came in with golden hockey helmets on and yes, they had their gold medals (wonder if they had to take them off to go through airport security) around their necks.

The Finns would lose just one game in the tourney, while Canada dropped three in the end. Sweden lost only once, but it was on the wrong day. Here’s a look at some of the players from the tournament we’re excited to see in the NHL soon.

Ivan Barbashev, LW – Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL)

The youngest player to suit up for the bronze-medal Russians, Barbashev had to adjust his game from the one he usually plays in the Quebec League, where he’s the go-to guy on the Wildcats.

“Coach told me I need to play much better in the defensive zone because I was on the third line,” Barbashev said. “I didn’t get a chance to be on the power play much, so I played on the penalty kill.”

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The Hot List: Canadian world junior hopeful Taylor Leier

Ryan Kennedy

This will be the last Hot List until I touch down in Sweden for the world juniors and there’s a lot to cover. First off, Carolina has lent Elias Lindholm to the Tre Kronor for said tournament, making the Swedes even more of a favorite. Toronto is still on the fence about sending Morgan Rielly to play for Canada, but either way it’s going to be a star-studded affair. Meanwhile, the CHL named its rosters for the annual Top Prospects Game in Calgary, so there’s a lot to get to on our look at players we’re excited to see in the NHL one day.

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The Hot List: Answering Dal Colle

Ryan Kennedy

For a second there, it looked like Team Canada was cursed. First, defender Chris Bigras was hit hard in a game against Guelph, then Jonathan Drouin was concussed when U.S. hopeful Adam Erne of the Quebec Remparts slammed him into the boards from behind. But Bigras recovered from his bump and Drouin sounds like he’s in decent shape, even if he needs a bit more recovery time. Bullet dodged? Canadian brass probably just hopes things don’t come in threes this time. Here’s a look at some of the other players we’re excited to see in the NHL one day.

Michael Dal Colle, LW – Oshawa Generals (OHL)
The Ontario League has been a bastion for high draft picks in recent years and the Greater Toronto Area has done more than its fair share of producing talent, from John Tavares and Steven Stamkos to Sean Monahan. Dal Colle is part of this year’s wave and coming from the northern Toronto suburb of Woodbridge, he’s obviously keen on the idea of the NHL expanding to nearby Markham.

“That would be pretty awesome, they’d get a great fan base,” he said. “When you look at Connor McDavid and Sam Bennett coming out of that area, there’s some pretty good players being developed up there.” Read more