Two CHL regular seasons went into overtime this week – one controversial, one compassionate. In the Ontario League, the Saginaw Spirit had a game rescheduled in the wake of center Terry Trafford’s death, while a knot in eighth place in the Western League set up a tiebreaker between Red Deer and Prince Albert. Red Deer got two points in the Rebels’ final game against an Edmonton team that rested stars Curtis Lazar, Griffin Reinhart and Tristan Jarry. For more from the prospect world, here’s a look at some of the players we’re excited to see in the NHL one day.
Alex Tuch, RW – U.S. NTDP (USHL)
Coming in at 6-foot-3, 215 pounds with a heavy power game, Tuch may have had the oddest choice for favorite player growing up: finesse pivot Tim Connolly. Of course, it makes a bit more sense when you know that Connolly’s parents lived next door to Tuch outside of Syracuse, N.Y. and seeing Connolly suit up for the Islanders and Sabres had an effect on young Tuch. And while Connolly played major junior, Tuch is looking forward to playing at Boston College next season.
“I had my official visit two weekends ago,” he said. “I love Boston College, it was my dream school and I wanted to play for a winning program.”
Everything is happening right now. NCAA conferences are either in or close to the playoffs, while major junior squads aren’t far behind. In Minnesota, the Edina Hornets claimed back-to-back state high school titles with an 8-2 thrashing of Lakeville North and Wild draft pick Avery Peterson was named Mr. Hockey as the state’s top senior player. Here’s a look at some of the other prospects making noise around the hockey world.
Keegan Kanzig, D – Victoria Royals (WHL)
The Royals are 9-1-0 in their past 10 games and sitting pretty in the standings – though they still have two of the best teams in the nation (Kelowna and Portland) ahead of them in the Western Conference. But Victoria will never get pushed around thanks to Kanzig, a monster 6-foot-5, 242-pound defenseman who is one of the toughest players in the league and has nine tilts to his credit this year. But he doesn’t want to be known as a goon and does have a plus-18 rating this season.
“Fighting isn’t the only thing I do,” Kanzig said. “A lot of my focus is on playing smart defensively. There are times when I need to stick up for my teammates and I’m certainly comfortable doing that.”
The NHL trade deadline is tomorrow, which means a flurry of future draft slots and prospects themselves will likely move around the league. Whether teams are more willing to give up first and second round picks for 2014 rather than 2015 (which is seen as a stronger draft headlined by Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel) will be something to watch. In the meantime, watch out for these names – they could be coming to your favorite NHL team in a few years.
Nikolaj Ehlers, LW – Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
Gird yourself if Ehlers is coming down the wing against your favorite team anytime soon. The Danish phenom has put up back-to-back hat tricks, plus an assist in each of those contests, to push his points total to 91 with 43 goals through 57 games.
“It’s been a great season so far,” Ehlers said. “I definitely do not regret coming over and it’s not just the hockey, but the city of Halifax, too.”
Born in Denmark, Ehlers is the son of a hockey coach who moved the whole family to Switzerland when Nikolaj was 11 years old. That helped the burgeoning winger turn into the prospect he is today.
Hard to believe how quickly this season is going, as the NCAA is almost entering the playoffs already. But before the college boys get at it, the prep ranks will gun for titles. As mentioned last week, the Minnesota high schoolers are in their sectional playoffs, while the New England prep schoolers kick things off this week. There’s a lot to cover before the NHL draft in Philadelphia, so let’s look at some of the prospects we’re excited to see in the pros one day.
Josh Jacobs, D – Indiana Ice (USHL)
Jacobs has all the attributes you could ask for in a modern-day defenseman. The kid is already 6-foot-2, 193 pounds, he plays at both ends of the rink and he can move.
“I think my skating is very good,” he said. “I have a big, long stride and I can switch up from backwards skating pretty quickly.”
While the Olympics get to the good stuff, playoffs are also coming up in the prospect ranks. First and foremost are the Minnesota high schoolers, who now know the brackets for the regionals and what hopefully will be a trip to St. Paul and the Xcel Center for the state final. Elsewhere, the first 12 of 16 teams in the Quebec League have clinched post-season berths, with Blainville-Boisbriand and Baie-Comeau duking it out for the top seed. With prospects in mind, let’s take a look at some of the kids we’re excited to see in the NHL one day.
Anton Karlsson, LW – Mora (Swe.)
Karlsson is looking like one of those juniors who is just a little too good for the kid’s table, but can’t quite make an impact at the men’s level. The youngest player on Sweden’s silver-medal world junior team, he saw very little ice time by the end, but will be an important piece next year in Canada.
“I am a very physical player and I love to take the positive energy to my team,” he said. “I like my role in the game.”
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.”
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
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