All is not well in Leaf Land, as Toronto has sunk into a funk that has eclipsed the cataclysmic slumps of the recent past. As reported by Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston yesterday, Maple Leafs assistant GM Kyle Dubas has publicly stated that if the team needs to start from scratch, that’s what they’ll do in order to make things right.
Luckily, this is a great time to do so.
Weather permitting, Boston’s NCAA Beanpot tournament will end next week and hopefully I’ll be there. In the meantime, some more important dates were established when the CHL announced the hosts of next year’s Super Series with Russia: Kamloops, Kelowna, Owen Sound, Windsor, Rouyn-Noranda and Halifax. With that out of the way, let’s take a trip around the world of prospects.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year if you’re an NHL scout, as all-star games for draft hopefuls are in full swing. Last week, the United States League held its Top Prospects Game, while this week the CHL takes its turn. Though the USHL game was a bit lopsided (a 7-4 contest that was never close), many players stood out. And injuries in the CHL have given some previously overlooked players a second chance. Let’s take a look at some of those kids and more in our weekly wrap-up of players we’re excited to see in the NHL one day.
Timo Meier, RW – Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
You could say that Meier has been lucky to line up beside two of the most dynamic teenagers in the world this year – Kevin Fiala on the Swiss world junior team and Nikolaj Ehlers with Halifax – but there’s a reason the talented right winger earned those plum assignments: He’s pretty good in his own right, as evidenced by the 25 goals and 56 points he has put up for the Mooseheads in 37 games.
“I had a good start to the season, it’s going pretty good,” Meier said. “We’re a young team and we’re improving every day. It’s been fun so far.”
The Swiss may have bombed out at the world juniors, but Meier showed a lot of great attributes and he’ll be back to defend his country’s honor next year as well. In the meantime, the late 1996 birthday is honing his skills in the Quebec League as he prepares for the NHL draft.
“It’s a fast league, with a lot of fast players,” he said. “It’s really intense. I can improve my game a lot in this league.” Read more
When Boston University needs a boost, the Terriers know where to find it. Freshman Jack Eichel has been money for the team all season long, leading the Terriers in scoring and coming through in the clutch. The latest example came this weekend with B.U. facing off against UMass-Lowell in a game that would decide first place in Hockey East.
The Terriers got a power play in overtime and that’s when Eichel went to work. Fast-forward to 1:45 in the clip below to see Eichel win the faceoff and then moments later blast home the winner:
There have been a lot of proposed names bandied about for Flint’s new Ontario League team that will hit the ice next season. I’m kind of partial to Hurricanes. After all, that’s what the team was named the last time Peter Karmanos played a key role in a city losing its Whalers.
The Plymouth Whalers, who began their life as the Detroit Compuware Ambassadors in 1989, then became the Detroit Jr. Wings, then became the Detroit Whalers and have been in Plymouth since 1997, were sold today to a group that plans to move the team to Flint in time for next season. The purchase still has to be approved by the OHL, which is expected to do so at its next board of governors meeting Feb. 2. Read more
The United States League holds its Top Prospects Game in Dubuque tonight, with draft dandies such as Kyle Connor, Brock Boeser and Tom Novak leading the charge. And with the world juniors in the books, it’s interesting to look back at the CHL and see which players upped their games with extra responsibility and opportunity. So that’s part of what we’re doing this week in our weekly look at prospects we’re excited to see in the NHL some day.
William Nylander spent a lot of time in Toronto over the holidays thanks to the World Junior Championship and now, he’s heading back to suit up for the American League’s Marlies.
More than two decades ago, with his team sitting on top of the NHL standings, New York Rangers GM Neil Smith made three blockbuster trades on deadline day that moved three core players out and brought four veterans into the fold.
“And how did that all work out?” asked Kyle Raftis, the first-year GM of the Ontario League’s Soo Greyhounds.
Like Smith did in 1994, Raftis has a team that’s in first place. Like Smith, Raftis saw that his team was good, but probably not good enough to win a championship. And like Smith, Raftis swung for the fences at the trade deadline. Read more