Darnell Nurse (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Our prospect expert delves into the development of a pair of Edmonton blueline hopefuls, tackles the short-term potential of Nashville's Swiss sniper and more as he answers questions from you, the readers.
Welcome back to the Futures mailbag. We're only one week away from real, regular season hockey being played in the Quebec League and other junior circuits will follow after that. In the meantime, here are more prospect and draft questions from you, the readers. If you have a query for me, hit me up on Twitter at @THNRyanKennedy and attach the hashtag #thnfutures to make sure I see it. Let's get to the questions!
What do you see Darnell Nurse and Griffin Reinhart developing into for the Edmonton Oilers, potential No. 2 defensemen?
– Suril Shah (@thrillsuril)
In the case of Nurse, I can definitely see him as a top-pairing guy in a few years. He's got the size, the mobility and the physicality to play big minutes, plus an offensive component to justify the work load (maybe not a first unit power play man, but I could see second unit eventually). Reinhart is just on the cusp of a No. 2 for me, but more likely a really good second-pairing defenseman. In his short stint with the New York Islanders, the speedier teams of the NHL gave him trouble and his offense needs a little more time. He could very well rectify both those issues as he grows more accustomed to the big leagues, I just think his ceiling is a shade lower than with Nurse.
Will Kevin Fiala make the Nashville Predators, and if so, will he put up points right away?
– Tom Fox (@tfox275)
Obviously Fiala has to earn it, but Nashville has put him on the fast-track for a roster spot, so it's his to lose this fall. The Swiss national has proven himself against men in both Sweden and the AHL with Milwaukee, where he made a great first impression on Admirals coach Dean Evason.
As for how many points he'll put up, I would proceed with caution. The Preds have a pretty even offense to begin with and leading scorer Filip Forsberg topped out at 63 points last season. Assuming Fiala plays on a bottom-six line (he's not likely usurping Forsberg, James Neal, Colin Wilson or Craig Smith on the wings), it wouldn't be fair to expect more than 35 points from him as a rookie, as talented as he is. Once he gets a couple seasons under his belt, however, that number will go way up.
What is the ceiling for Kirill Petrov of the New York Islanders? Did he stay too long in the KHL and hurt his chances?
– James Fernandez (@therealjames20)
I'd be surprised if Petrov ever ends up making an impact with the Islanders. He hasn't cracked New York's Future Watch top 10 in years and that first-line scoring potential certainly hasn't been apparent recently with Ak Bars Kazan – and the Isles don't need checkers. Considering how deep the Isles are up front right now and with mega-prospects such as Michael Dal Colle waiting in the wings, I'd say the window is closed. Did he stay too long in the KHL, or was he just smart enough to know that he had a better chance of success back home?
What impact do you see Toronto Maple Leafs pick Martins Dzierkals having with Rouyn-Noranda this year? How does his game translate?
– Jamie Neugebauer (@Neugsie)
I figured I should answer this before the regular season started for Rouyn-Noranda – only fair, right?
The Huskies will be one of the better teams in the QMJHL this season and scoring depth will be a strength. Dzierkals is a fast and talented left winger who will bring one more offensive threat to the table and complement other drafted forwards such as Julien Nantel (Colorado), Francis Perron (Ottawa) and J-C Beaudin (Colorado).
Dzierkals translates as a top-six forward, though we're talking long-term potential here. He's still learning about conditioning and needs to get stronger, while the Leafs have also helped him with his stride early on. The offensive tools are there, so now it's about reps and development. Plenty of time for that, of course, so in the meanwhile, the Huskies will welcome his playmaking acumen.