Clearing the air on Jake DeBrusk

Editor’s note- I originally intended to include this post on Jake DeBrusk in the 2nd deep dive I did on B’s prospects, but went on several tangents and so as not to create so ponderous a single post on Frank Vatrano, Jakub Zboril, JFK and Malcolm Subban, pulled this entry out to make it a separate post.

I do this for several reasons- one, I want you to stay with it to understand my logic. I can say honestly that this year, the fact that the Bruins passed on Mathew Barzal and Kyle Connor, has been the single most polarizing issue I have had to deal with on Twitter. I realize that there are a lot of folks whose minds are already made up that the B’s blew it and I have to respect that. I hope that those who are in that boat will read this and perhaps at lease acknowledge the other side in this debate. If not, no sweat. For everyone else- this is intended as food for thought. Nothing more, nothing less. Thanks for reading.

Jake DeBrusk, LW

I’m going to say it- I fervently disagree with the criticisms of DeBrusk I see online and in various circles and will leave it at that. This entry will attempt to lay out what I’ve seen from DeBrusk this season and why I have no major problem with the B’s taking him at 14th overall last June.

Context is everything and it isn’t just about pure production when it comes to not only scouting players but making the decision to draft one player over the others. This is the fundamental disconnect that fans who simply read the pre-draft publications and scouting reports have when they approach me on Twitter often times demanding to know why the B’s didn’t draft Kyle Connor or Mathew Barzal.  What the fans don’t see are the interviews, nor are they privy to the discussions that the Boston scouts have with coaches or the discussions that take place behind the scenes that take organizational needs and how well  a player will fit into what the team is doing into account.

Having said that, and in the interest of full disclosure- Barzal and Connor are both having tremendous seasons after the B’s passed on them, so I understand the angst. I took Kyle Connor at 14 for Boston (back when they had just the one 1st-round pick) in a mock draft held by Allan Mitchell aka Lowetide of TSN 1260 in Edmonton, and had Connor not been there, I would have drafted Zboril for Boston, but all of that is beside the point- the Bruins took DeBrusk, so I’m not going to second-guess here. I’ll leave that to others.

In getting back to DeBrusk, a year ago, he scored 42 goals and was one of the big second-half risers in the 2015 draft. Because he was consistently ranked in the 20’s by most public scouting lists and services (at Red Line Report we had DeBrusk at 25th in our 2015 Draft Guide- for the record that was a couple of spots ahead of *both* Zboril AND Connor. Barzal was just inside the top-10 of the RLR final list.) Headed into the draft, the Bruins had finished with one of the worst team offenses in the NHL in 2014-15 and the lack of scoring punch was a major reason for the team missing the playoffs for the first time in Claude Julien’s tenure. However, we’ve learned an important lesson about the NHL and how a team’s strengths and shortcomings ebb and flow from year to year. This season, offense is not the issue but defense is the biggest stumbling block to the B’s securing a playoff spot and then doing anything of substance if they get in.   If the Bruins’ formula for their second of three picks last year was not as much the standard best player available (BPA) and took needs into account as well as fit and how the players came off in the interview process, then DeBrusk makes perfect sense there.

Like Zboril, DeBrusk’s overall numbers are way down from a year ago (he’s at 19 goals and 57 points in 54 games between Swift Current and Red Deer). That admittedly adds fuel to the fire in the debate. DeBrusk missed extended time to a lower body injury (ouch) and wasn’t on his 40-goal pace when he was lost for several weeks. When he returned, he was not even invited to Team Canada’s WJC camp after being there over the summer. Then in late December, he was dealt to the Memorial Cup-host Red Deer Rebels where he started out like gangbusters (hat trick in his third game) only to see his goal scoring production fall off as he got moved around on different lines, away from the red-hot Adam Helewka. But, to point to just the numbers is to miss the larger context which is simple: DeBrusk’s overall game is improved from where it was last year when he was more of a one-dimensional presence.

He’s not a dynamic, explosive skater- which hurts him to a degree because DeBrusk doesn’t wow you the way others do. However, he is one of those players who will suddenly make a key play because he has such a high hockey IQ and has a quick-strike element to his game. I would submit that those who don’t see that in him choose not to see it. The Bruins, however, have recognized it all along. He’s improved his assist-to-60 ratio from what it was a year ago, which is good news even if the goal numbers have plummeted by half. If there is a niggling concern here- we saw a similar drop-off with Jared Knight after the B’s drafted him on the heels of a 36-goal performance only to see him never approach that mark again, even though Knight improved his assist totals and was a better all-around player for London after his draft season. In DeBrusk’s case- the goals drop-off is a valid concern, but it should not be the central driver in the analysis of his overall body of work.

On the other hand, DeBrusk brings the right attitude and effort with him at all times. It’s not difficult to understand why the B’s would have been impressed with him during the interview process. In recognizing the fact that he was trending upwards entering the draft, it’s not just about taking the kid who scores the most or looks the prettiest skating up and down the wing- sometimes the deciding factor is as simple as: do we like this person and can we see him being an ambassador for our organization more so than the other guy who has more bells and whistles? You don’t have to like it, but the game isn’t played by robots and teams are no different than anyone else in life: hard decisions are just that- difficult. Our teams don’t always make the correct ones or at least- the ones we happen to think are right at the time.

Eventually, we’ll know if DeBrusk was a swing and miss or if they were onto something from the get-go. But, as  hard as that seems to be for some to grasp- we don’t know that yet in March, 2016. We just don’t.

Current assessment: DeBrusk is progressing just fine as a more complete winger than he was a year ago. The down scoring is disappointing, but we know one thing for certain: at the end of May, he’ll be playing meaningful games. With the WHL playoffs rapidly approaching, don’t be surprised if DeBrusk takes his goal scoring up a notch and Brent Sutter finds a way to get him involved in the Rebels offense to a bigger degree than we’ve seen. It could be the ol’ rope-a-dope move and I wouldn’t put it past the crafty ol’ Sutter brother to do something like that.

At some point, DeBrusk is going to have to justify what the Bruins saw in him but that time is not now. As good as other players look in comparison, this is a marathon  and not a sprint. Nobody, regardless of how smart or respected they are, is going to settle the debate less than a year after the players were drafted. Jeff Skinner got a lot of buzz in 2010 for scoring 31 goals as a rookie and winning the Calder Trophy in 2011, when Tyler Seguin didn’t, but who would everyone rather have now in 2016?

In a fast food-mentality culture, everyone wants to declare immediate winners and losers. They want to point to an immediate trend and then trumpet that as an undisputed fact now and in the future just so they can say, “See? I told you so!” I get it- this is a product of the Internet and the many keyboard commandos out there who wouldn’t talk to people in person the way they do online. But in DeBrusk’s case, I do think he’s been treated unfairly- much like B’s fans treated Zach Senyshyn in the initial hours after the Bruins drafted him 15th and before he went out and scored 39 goals and counting. Senyshyn is now a prospect darling for a lot of B’s fans these days- but I’d wager a hefty sum that some of the people who are most excited about him now are some of the ones who flooded the internet with “outrage” over what a “reach” he was at 15. It’s the nature of the beast in the modern information age, of course. (wink, wink; nod, nod)

Maybe DeBrusk lives up to what Boston saw in him, maybe he doesn’t. But the jury’s still out. Assuming he plays in Providence full-time next year (and as a late ’96 he’s signed and eligible to do that), we’ll have a better idea of where’s going by this time in 2017.

Bruins key prospect updates: Senyshyn, Heinen, Gabrielle, Carlo

Zachary Senyshyn Photo credit: Aaron Bell/OHL Images

Zachary Senyshyn Photo credit: Aaron Bell/OHL Images

We’re getting down near the end of the CHL regular season schedule, and the NCAA playoffs are firing up around the nation.  This is as good a time as any to do a deeper dive into the progress of some of Boston’s key prospects and where they stand in their development thus far.

Zach Senyshyn, RW

Thursday night served as a reminder of how productive Zach Senyshyn has been in his second full season of OHL play.

He tallied two goals to push his season total to 38 (in 59 games) and added a helper. He’s equaled his assist total from last year (19) in seven fewer games, but he’s also playing more minutes/60 so that statistic needs more context. Bottom line with Senyshyn- he’s scoring more- as to be expected from moving from bottom-line duty and no special teams to first line and first unit power play.

Senyshyn is a powerful skater who has a nifty burst for someone who is 6-foot-2- he gets out of the blocks quickly and can separate in the open ice when he gets to top speed. He’s also pretty agile in that he’ll cut across the grain to shake defenders. His signature move remains the power rush down the right side- he just turns on the jets and will often beat the defender to the corner and then cut straight to the net. I don’t know that he’ll be able to get away with that in the AHL and NHL as consistently as he does in junior, but then again- I thought teams would be able to defend him better this year because they saw him burning them as a rookie, but it hasn’t happened.

He’s taken a big step forward in scoring this year, BUT (there’s always a but isn’t there?)- that does *not* mean Senyshyn is ready to come in and play for the Bruins next season. As most inherently understand- there’s a difference between how well a player scores and whether he is playing the game effectively. I credit hockey analyst and NESN analyst Billy Jaffe on that one, because he recently asked me the same question- he acknowledged Senyshyn was scoring, but wanted to know how well he was playing.

This is not a simple answer. Senyshyn’s offense is dynamic and impressive, but he’s got substantial work to do on the other side of the puck. The good news is- he understands that and his coaches in the Soo (former NHL defender Drew Bannister is in his first year there as the head coach) are working on his shift-to-shift consistency and making sure he moves his feet and commits to his responsibilities in all zones. I’ve been told he has a penchant to disappear over stretches of play by multiple sources and Hamilton Bulldogs play-by-play man/hockey analyst Reed Duthie also said as much in his “Duthie Dish” column posted here back in January. Senyshyn has to do less hanging back and waiting for the next offensive chance and do more in puck support and bringing the same effort levels to each situation that he does when he’s exploding down the ice or forcing turnovers and burying shots into the net as he did last night.

Current assessment: Senyshyn is clearly playing like the top-15 pick he (surprisingly) was last June, but that doesn’t mean fans should expect him to be taking a regular shift in Boston next season. Another year in the OHL will help him to be the better player he’s developing into. Because he was born in 1997 and drafted out of major junior, Senyshyn is not eligible for the AHL next season, so if he doesn’t make the Bruins roster out of camp, he must go back to the OHL. Those are the rules, and unfortunately, a player like Senyshyn might be in that middle ground between being a dominant OHL forward at age 19-20 next season but not being ready for regular duty with Boston, yet unable to be optioned to Providence. This means the B’s coaches and management will have to see how Senyshyn looks at camp next fall and make the decision then. He might get the nine-game look, or he might not, but that’s not something we can predict in March, 2016.

Danton Heinen, RW/LW/C

Playing the right side of Denver University’s top scoring unit- the Pacific Rim line- comprised of three forwards from Washington, California and Heinen’s native British Columbia, he’s exploded for 21 points in his last 10 contests after the Pioneers offense struggled as a whole for much of the season.

This versatile forward can play every position. He was a center in the BCHL but then shifted to the left wing as a freshman under Jim Montgomery. In his second NCAA season, he’s been the right wing with center Dylan Gambrell and Trevor Moore. Every team loves a forward who is adaptive and can play in multiple situations, but it sure looks like the B’s are projecting him to be a wing at the pro level, and one who can slide in to take faceoffs and will understand his responsibilities at the position if needed.

On the plus side, Heinen’s vision and offensive creativity is elite- he currently has 15 goals and 35 points in 32 games, which is significant because at one point he was hovering around a .5 points/game pace. He’s really turned it on, and the lack of production was not for effort- he has been creating scoring chances throughout the season, but pucks weren’t going in for him and his line.

Heinen isn’t a blazing-fast skater, but he’s fast enough and has good quickness and directional change. He gets his share of breakaways not because he outskates a lot of the opposition but because he reads the developing play so well and anticipates, getting an extra step and then being quick enough to maintain that separation. He did that beautifully in what was the best NCAA game I saw all season last month against the University of North Dakota.

Soft hands and an underrated shot round out Heinen’s skills package and make him a forward that could project in a top-6 NHL role one day. If nothing else, he looks like a higher-end third-liner, which is not a bad thing. He’s put on weight and looks bigger out on the ice- he’s only about 6-foot in height, but the extra weight has helped him win puck battles along the boards and establish a net-front presence.

Additionally, he’s a more polished and refined three-zone player than Senyshyn is at this stage (and at two years older, he probably should be). He’s not a shutdown type of defensive forward, but he back checks diligently and uses his hockey sense and instincts to break up plays and transition back to offense.

Current assessment: I ranked Heinen Boston’s No. 2 amateur prospect in the January issue of New England Hockey Journal and he looks even better now than he did because the numbers have come up. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Bruins look to sign him and put him into the system, but that will largely depend on what the organization’s priorities are and whether they see him pushing for an NHL job in the next three years. At this point, you can go either way and returning to Denver for a third year wouldn’t be a bad thing for his development, though based on what I see, he’s ready to turn pro.

Jesse Gabrielle, LW

Wow! Where did this season come from?!

Actually, for those who charted Gabrielle’s progress in previous years and right up until the second half of 2014-15, it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise because when it came to his talent and hockey ability, the Saskatchewan native (who played some Minnesota HS hockey in there too) was projected as an early second-round pick in some circles (Red Line Report had him there as late as March 2015, for example), and that was in a strong draft class.

Gabrielle’s stumble down to the mid-fourth round allegedly had to do with commitment and effort questions, but it’s hard to question what he’s done for the Prince George Cougars this season, as he began the year like he was shot out of a cannon and has been a top performer in the WHL all season long.

His 39 goals and 72 points in 65 game tie Gabrielle with overager Chase Witala for the team lead, but he’s shattered his previous season best of 23 goals and 44 points set last season. He’s producing a high rate of P/60 and he’s playing his patented rugged, agitating style. Gabrielle is commonly compared to Brad Marchand, who also happens to be his favorite player, but he’s a taller, thicker player than Marchand and while not quite as dynamic or fast, brings the same kind of goal scoring upside as No. 63 has.

Not afraid to drop the gloves either, Gabrielle can pick fights and then will answer for his chippy play unlike other agitators. He’s not a feared heavyweight, but he’s can be a nasty opponent who plays on the edge but has the toughness to fight his own battles. He finishes his checks and hits to hurt, a widely disliked opponent but respected for how dangerous and productive he’s been. In other words- teams hate playing against him, but would embrace him on their club for his sheer effectiveness. Much like Marchand.

Now, the question I most often get on Gabrielle is- how did he end up being a fourth-round pick last June?

Well, without being in the various war rooms, I can only go by what I’ve been told in snippets here and there, but there was some obvious concern with Gabrielle, or else he would not have slipped down past 100 as he did. However, the Bruins can be glad that happened. The draft sometimes works out that way- we hear about players who rise and fall, but sometimes, the fallers aren’t indicative of the larger picture.

Based on the way Gabrielle is playing, he’s motivated to prove the teams who passed on him wrong, and at the end of the day- he’s a Bruins fan, so he was probably relieved and elated that the B’s of all clubs called his name, even if it came later than he thought.

Current assessment: Like Senyshyn, Gabrielle is in all likelihood not ready to make the NHL right away, even though he’s scoring plenty and playing a heavy, effective game on the whole. As a June 1997-born player he’s in the same boat in terms of the requirement for him to return to major junior next season if he doesn’t make Boston’s opening night roster. He’s a better fit for lower line duty at the NHL level, but the B’s have a lot of guys knocking on the door- fans should resist the “shiny new toy” urge to get Gabrielle plugged in right away. Either way, we won’t have a good handle on his situation at this point- we’ll have to reevaluate how he looks at the July development and then main training camp next fall.

Brandon Carlo, D

Boston’s best shutdown defense prospect is heading towards a possible AHL debut in Providence shortly, as his Tri-City Americans are in danger of missing the WHL playoffs, which would make him eligible to sign an amateur tryout option (ATO) and join the Baby B’s for the final games of the regular season.

Unlike Senyshyn and Gabrielle (and Jake DeBrusk is in the same boat as Carlo) he was a late 1996-born player which means he *can* spend the 2016-17 season in the AHL as opposed to going back to the WHL if he doesn’t make the Boston roster. The team could still send Carlo back to the Dub as an overager, but I would be surprised to see that. He looks to be on track to see his first AHL action here in the spring and then benefit from spending time in Providence next year in a full-time role (assuming he doesn’t crush it in camp to the point that the big club doesn’t put him in their top-six).

The biggest things (no pun intended) with Carlo are his size/reach and fluid skating for a guy so large. His 6-5 height is one thing, but he has long arms, which give him the reach of someone closer to 6-7. We see this effect often when players try to carry the puck by him on the rush- Carlo is deft with the poke check, and his active stick creates a significant advantage for him defensively. Because he’s so mobile, he’s able to square up with the puck and put himself in position to block the shot or disrupt the puck carrier’s speed and path to the net.

Carlo is not a vicious or intimidating open-ice hitter, but he does effectively use his size/strength to pin opponents to the boards and move forwards out from the front of the net and his goaltender’s sight lines. He’s not looking to crush people but he will initiate contact and will fight to defend teammates, even if he’s not someone to be feared. He’s a rugged defender but doesn’t play with that natural kind of mean streak that other more physical, tough players have made their bones doing over the years.

Offensively, he can chip in, but is not the kind of instinctive, push the pace kind of two-way threat who projects to thrive in a top 1 or 2 NHL defender role. He handles the puck well enough to make the first pass and gets a good amount of points by getting shots on net for tips or rebound scoring plays. Carlo is not a classic puck-mover who joins and even leads the rush and is capable of making nice offensive contributions but is not a player with the natural offensive hockey IQ or vision to be a regular point producer at the pro level.

Current analysis: The Colorado native gets a lot of buzz for his impressive physical package and smart, lockdown defensive acumen. There is certainly a place for him on Boston’s blue line and that time might not be too long in coming. However, fans should temper their expectations- and not view him as someone who will come in right away and stabilize the Boston defense corps. Once upon a time Zdeno Chara was not seen as a future Norris Trophy winner either- otherwise no team would have allowed him to get to the third round. So, it’s not a complete stretch to say that Carlo could develop into something more than I currently see, but it shouldn’t be expected.

That about does it for this post, I will make this a series and go down the line on other Boston prospects if you like what you’ve read.

 

Bruins prospects update 2/15/16

Frank Vatrano continued his goal scoring blitzkrieg in the AHL since being returned to Providence late last month. He’s only a few markers off the AHL lead, but in far fewer games. The kid is a keeper.

Unfortunately for Providence, Malcolm Subban suffered a fractured larynx during warmups in Portland eight days ago. He had successful surgery but faces a minimum eight-week layoff before he’ll even be able to be an option to return to the nets. That prompted a recall of Jeremy Smith from the Iowa Wild and both Smith and Zane McIntyre have done well to keep the P-Bruins rolling.

Jesse Gabrielle leads all Bruins prospects with 35 goals and 67 points for the Prince George Cougars of the WHL. Zach Senyshyn is second in goal scoring with 33 tallies for the Soo Greyhounds.

Ryan Donato notched his first career NCAA hat trick over the weekend, while Ryan Fitzgerald continues to produce for BC- he now has 16 goals and 35 points- a new career best in points and just one off to Colin White for the team lead. Notre Dame RW Anders Bjork scored a highlight reel goal over the weekend as well- he continues to add to his breakout sophomore season.

On the defensive side of things, Jakub Zboril’s play is steadily improving and he’s now getting some production to go with his physical, edgy play. Jeremy Lauzon is back in action after dealing with a nagging groin injury that has limited his participation since January. Harvard sophomore Wiley Sherman did not find the back of the net at all during his freshman season, but already has four goals and has tripled his points totals. He’s raw but with his 6-foot-6 size and good mobility, he’s an intriguing project player to watch for the long term.

And now for the update:

AHL

Seth Griffith, RW Providence Bruins

GP- 40 Goals- 16 Assists- 35 Points- 51 Penalty Min- 22 +/-   5

Alex Khokhlachev, C Providence Bruins

GP- 38 Goals- 15 Assists- 26 Points- 41 Penalty Min- 8 +/-  -6

Austin Czarnik, C Providence Bruins

GP- 41 Goals- 13 Assists- 23 Points- 36 Penalty Min- 14 +/-  3

Frank Vatrano, LW Providence Bruins

GP- 19 Goals- 20 Assists- 10 Points- 30 Penalty Min- 8 +/-   7

Four goals and four assists in his last five AHL games for Vatrano to keep his stick red hot.

Colton Hargrove, LW Providence Bruins

GP- 41 Goals-12 Assists- 9 Points- 21 Penalty Min- 49 +/-   7

Colby Cave, C Providence Bruins

GP- 49 Goals- 10 Assists- 10 Points- 20 Penalty Min- 10 +/- -6

Chris Casto, D Providence Bruins

GP- 45 Goals- 5 Assists- 12 Points- 17 Penalty Min- 35 +/- -5

Tommy Cross, D Providence Bruins

GP- 38 Goals- 2 Assists- 13 Points- 15 Penalty Min- 61 +/- -4

Zack Phillips, C Providence Bruins

GP- 39 Goals- 5 Assists- 9 Points-14 Penalty Min- 8 +/- -14

Noel Acciari, C Providence Bruins

GP- 36 Goals- 6 Assists-7 Points- 13 Penalty Min- 15 +/-  5

Anton Blidh, LW Providence Bruins

GP- 47 Goals- 9 Assists- 3 Points- 12 Penalty Min- 27 +/- -3

Anthony Camara, LW Providence Bruins

GP- 29 Goals- 0 Assists- 5 Points- 5 Penalty Min- 37 +/- -1

Justin Hickman, RW Providence Bruins

GP- 39 Goals- 3 Assists- 2 Points- 5 Penalty Min- 36 +/- -4

Linus Arnesson, D Providence Bruins

GP- 35 Goals- 0 Assists- 3 Points- 3 Penalty Min- 4 +/- -3

Brian Ferlin, RW Providence Bruins

GP- 4 Goals- 1 Assists- 0 Points- 1 Penalty Min- 2 +/-  2

Ferlin is back from a concussion after missing all but one of the previous games on Providence’s schedule- he tallied his first goal of the season last week.

Malcolm Subban, G Providence Bruins

GP- 27 MIN- 1635 GA- 67 GAA- 2.46 Spct- .911 W- 14 L-8 OTL 5 SO- 1

Zane McIntyre, G Providence Bruins

GP- 20 MIN- 1146 GA- 55 GAA- 2.88 Spct- .892 W- 8 L- 6 OTL- 5

Jeremy Smith, G Providence Bruins

Iowa: GP- 23 MIN- 1326 GA- 65 GAA- 2.94 Spct- .911 W- 5 L- 14 OTL- 3

Providence: GP- 2 MIN- 120 GA- 4 GAA- 2.00 Spct- .925 W- 2 L- 0 OTL- 0

 

OHL

Zach Senyshyn, RW Saulte Ste Marie Greyhounds

GP- 52 Goals- 33 Assists- 16 Points- 49 Penalty Min- 20 +/- 3

 

QMJHL

Jeremy Lauzon, D Rouyn-Noranda Huskies

GP- 33 Goals- 5 Assists- 32 Points- 37 Penalty Min- 56 +/- 28

He’s back in action and has played 4 games (2 assists) since the last update as he works through constraints of a nagging groin injury.

Jakub Zboril, D Saint John Sea Dogs

GP- 35 Goals- 4 Assists- 12 Points- 16 Penalty Min- 36 +/- 9

With four assists in his last five games, Zboril is getting more done on the score sheet after a brutal statistical start.

 

WHL

Jesse Gabrielle, LW Prince George Cougars

GP- 57 Goals- 35 Assists- 32 Points- 67 Penalty Min- 86 +/- 8

With 11 points in his last six games, Gabrielle has elevated his overall game at the right time.

Jake DeBrusk, LW Red Deer Rebels

SCB: GP- 24 Goals- 9 Assists- 17 Points- 26 Penalty Min- 15 +/- -5

RDR: GP- 21 Goals- 8 Assists- 16 Points- 24 Penalty Min- 13 +/-  13

With eight points (seven assists) in his last six games, DeBrusk is often a forgotten player in major junior this year, but his more balanced offensive game is a good sign for the future, even if his goal numbers are way down from a year ago.

Brandon Carlo, D Tri-City Americans

GP- 35 Goals- 2 Assists- 17 Points- 19 Penalty Min- 69 +/- 0

 

NCAA

Ryan Fitzgerald, F Boston College Eagles (HEA)

GP- 29 Goals- 16 Assists- 19 Points- 35 Penalty Min- 39 +/-  21

Anders Bjork, LW University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish (HEA)

GP- 28 Goals- 11 Assists- 18 Points- 29 Penalty Min- 4 +/-  24

Danton Heinen, RW Denver University Pioneers (NCHC)

GP- 28 Goals- 12 Assists- 15 Points- 27 Penalty Min- 4 +/-   8

Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, C Boston University Terriers (HEA)

GP- 30 Goals- 7 Assists- 16 Points- 23 Penalty Min- 16 +/-   1

The scoring has cooled a bit for the BU freshman, but he’s still a high riser and strong bet for eventual NHL success as a top two-way center.

Sean Kuraly, C Miami University Redhawks (NCHC)

GP- 28 Goals- 6 Assists- 13 Points- 19 Penalty Min- 31 +/-   4

Matt Grzelcyk, D Boston University (HEA)

GP- 18 Goals- 8 Assists- 8 Points- 16 Penalty Min- 28 +/-  11

Ryan Donato, C Harvard University Crimson (ECAC)

GP- 23 Goals- 10 Assists- 6 Points- 16 Penalty Min- 18 +/-   5

Four goals in five games including a hat trick for Donato since last update.

Cameron Hughes, C University of Wisconsin Badgers (Big Ten)

GP- 23 Goals- 3 Assists- 13 Points- 16 Penalty Min- 12 +/- -10

Matt Benning, D Northeastern University Huskies (HEA)

GP- 30 Goals- 4 Assists- 9 Points- 13 Penalty Min- 25 +/- -6

Wiley Sherman, D Harvard University Crimson (ECAC)

GP- 25 Goals- 4 Assists- 5 Points- 9 Penalty Min- 8 +/-   8

Rob O’Gara, D Yale University Bulldogs (ECAC)

GP- 23 Goals- 1 Assists- 7 Points- 8 Penalty Min- 39  +/-  2

 

 

Europe

Peter Cehlarik, LW Lulea (Sweden)

GP- 36 Goals- 9 Assists- 8 Points- 17 Penalty Min- 2 +/-   4

Cehlarik established a new personal season high for  goals  in the Swedish Hockey League (formerly the elite league) to date, eclipsing his 6 goals in 46 games last year.

Emil Johansson, D HV71 (Sweden)

GP- 40 Goals- 0 Assists- 5 Points- 5 Penalty Min- 12 +/-  2

Maxim Chudinov, D St Petersburg SKA (Russia)

GP- 54 Goals- 8 Assists- 9 Points- 17 Penalty Min- 87 +/- -9

 

USHL

Daniel Vladar, G Chicago Steel (USHL)

GP- 19 MIN- 1106 GA- 39 GAA- 2.11 Spct .922 SO- 3; 6-7-4

Played one game since last update- a shutout.

Jack Becker, C Sioux Falls Stampede (USHL)

GP- 40 Goals- 5 Assists- 8 Points- 13 Penalty Min- 12 +/- -11

Senyshyn continues to march ahead

What a difference a year makes.

In the case of the 15th overall selection in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, Zach Senyshyn is himself taken a little aback at how rapidly things have come together for him since the Boston Bruins made him the first real controversial choice last June in Florida. In the some eight months since, Senyshyn has gone from being a polarizing discussion point between draft enthusiasts to a source of genuine excitement with hockey fans who follow the entire organization and not just the goings on with the NHL roster.

Senyshyn, who is in just his second full OHL season with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, has already blown by his goal total of 26 as a rookie in 66 games during the 2014-15 campaign. He currently leads the time (by a wide margin) with 33 goals in 50 contests, on pace to exceed the 40-goal plateau if he can keep finding the back of the net.

“I’ve always kind of been a goal scorer,” Senyshyn told the Scouting Post blog before practice today. “When I got here, I was able to watch guys on the first line like  (Jared) McCann and (Nick) Ritchie. I saw how they were able to dominate and establish themselves at this level, and I think that by being around them it helped me to take the reins more this year and take on more of a role with the offense than I did in my first season.”

The B’s went off the board to grab Senyshyn with the third of three consecutive first-round selections. The pick immediately raised eyebrows given that it officially closed the door on a pair of forwards who were still available when Boston made its final choice in Mathew Barzal and Kyle Connor, both of whom were immediately snapped up by the Islanders and Jets respectively at 16 and 17. For Boston to pass on those two, both of whom have gone on to post outstanding offensive seasons themselves, it said more about what the team felt about Senyshyn’s long-term potential than it did any misgivings the scouts might have had about the ones they didn’t select.

“He is easily one of the fastest players in the CHL,” said one league insider with close ties to the OHL. “He’s super athletic, which helps with his explosiveness. Zach’s dad, Paul, was a quarterback at Queen’s (University) in the late 80’s and I’ve heard (Zach) equated to a wide receiver in football- you get him the puck in the right spot so to speak- and he’s gone.”

(Video posted by HockeyVidz)

Senyshyn’s 33 goals represent a smorgasbord of different looks: the classic rebound cleanup while standing just outside the paint? Check. An impressive tip-in from the slot? Check. A quick bang-bang one-timer from between the hashmarks? Check. But it’s the signature Senyshyn goals that have tended to capture the imagination and excitement of fans…you know the ones I’m talking about?

Like when he intercepts a bad pass in the high slot of his own end and then explodes down the ice with a powerful, explosive stride, accelerating away from hapless, helpless, backpedaling defenders who can only chase him as he goes in alone and often finishes off the breakaway with a snap release on a twine-tickling laser beam?

(Weekend at Bergy’s)

Yeah, that’s the one. The ones. He keeps doing it, and nobody (at least at the OHL level) seems to have a formula down for stopping him consistently. 2016 top prospect and Sarnia defenseman Jakob Chychrun was the latest victim of a Senyshyn cutback and short side snipe in a February 10 game. As Chychrun came across his own blue line to try and staple a charging Senyshyn into the right wing boards, Senyshyn changed direction at the moment Chychrun lost his balance and went tumbling into the wall. The Soo Greyhound, with a clear path to the net, fired home his 33rd tally of the year.

Here’s a nice Vine compliments of Kathryn Jean (@msconduct on Twitter- give her a follow, mates) giving you the closer look:

If you watched Senyshyn last year, he did it more than a few times, often rocketing down the right side and beating scrambling defenders to the spot along the boards where they might have sealed him off. He would then often cut to the net and bury his shot, which was a big reason he went inside the top-15 selections, because Senyshyn played bottom-line minutes and virtually no special teams on a veteran-laden club built to contend for a league championship and chance at the Memorial Cup. It didn’t happen for the Greyhounds, and so as multiple key veterans left the team for pro hockey this season, Senyshyn was elevated to the top line and plenty of power play and penalty killing work- situations he barely sniffed a year ago.

“It’s been great, it’s a great time,” Senyshyn said of the expanded role and his chemistry with power play linemates Blake Speers and Gabe Guertler (the team’s top three scorers for the record). “They’re terrific players who do a great job of moving the puck in space and setting us up for good scoring chances. I’m lucky to have a chance to play with them in any situation, but on the power play, when we have that added time and space, we can work together and make a lot of plays.”

Making plays is something that Senyshyn has excelled at this season, though his assist totals are nothing to write home about- he has less than half (16) helpers than goals, but it is clear from watching the ‘Hounds in action that when No. 9 is on the ice, his teammates are looking for him to be the finisher and at least with more than 2/3 of the regular season in the books, he’s delivered.

“As good as he is, he could be better,” said the CHL insider. “Ideally, you’d like him to be more creative, but that’s not his game.”

Senyshyn’s game is played in direct lines- the shortest distance from point A to B. Sometimes, too much might be made of a “lack” of creativity, however. If you watch closely, you can tell that he sees the ice well and will make good reads and passes but if the puck doesn’t end up in the net, there is no accompanying point to validate a nifty play in distribution.

This is not to say that Senyshyn is ready to step in next season and start terrorizing NHL goalies with his big league shot and exciting but as-of-yet-not-realized potential.

“He goes through lulls in his play where he is ineffective and for a lack of better terms- is invisible,” the source said. Those observations jive with what Bruins player development director Jay Pandolfo told me back in December when I interviewed him about the organization’s top prospects.

Here’s what Pandolfo had to say about Senyshyn: “He just needs to round out some of the other parts of his game- his play away from the puck and making sure he’s engaged all game long and not just kind of waiting for one opportunity. He can do more and I think he’s learning to do more- he’s a young kid so he’s really raw. As he gets older and stronger and more mature, he’s just going to get better and better.

“He’s off to a real good start and he’s got a bright future. Just being in the OHL for one year, you’re already seeing some of the improvements. The coaching staff in Sault Ste. Marie is doing a good job with him and trying to help him in those areas away from the puck and in the d-zone and he’s doing a much better job with those things and he’s coming around in all areas of the game, so it’s promising.”

The improvement in shift-to-shift consistency is probably the biggest area that Senyshyn needs to address in his game before he’ll be ready to stake a claim to an NHL job.

“I think the (lack of) consistency is the frustrating part at times,” said the source. “But that’s what you get with scorers. You have to accept that, but it still could be better. Defense is always something (most) every player could be better at. It mainly comes from working harder, because most forwards don’t like playing defense- it doesn’t come naturally to a lot of them.”

In other words, we have to remember that Senyshyn is still a pretty raw prospect, even with the impressive goal totals. He’s a full year behind many of his peers who spent their 16-year-old seasons in the OHL in terms of major junior experience. He played for the Smith’s Falls Bears of the CJHL, and openly admits that it was a good thing that it took him a little longer to reach his current level.

“It was a great developmental year for me,” said Senyshyn. “I loved the coaching staff (led by head coach Mark Grady; assistants Walt Dubas and Tom MacLaren) and they really helped me in my development, because I wasn’t ready to make the jump to the OHL at 16. I realize that and am thankful for what I learned at Smith’s Falls- the experience really made me a better player when I got here than I would have been otherwise.”

Senyshyn parlayed that readiness into 26 goals as a rookie and selling one of the NHL’s 30 clubs that it wasn’t worth risking losing him to anyone else who saw him similarly. Boston pounced early, and things are looking pretty good in retrospect.

“It was a little bit of a surprise,” Senyshyn says in a voice that seems to betray a smile from the other end of the phone. “Your heart drops (soars?) when you hear your name called in the draft, no matter when it happens. But the reality is- I had a great connection with the Boston Bruins. They talked to me a few times before the draft and told me that they liked my game. That was a team that I had a real good feeling about, and I was hoping, I was hoping…they would pick me.. When they did, it was a dream come true.”

(LGT91)

If you watch the above video and listen to the analysts on draft day express concern over the choice of Senyshyn with other “better” options on the board, that’s the rub and until he breaks through and makes an impact with the B’s, this will be the proverbial sword of Damocles that hangs over the player and franchise. In the end, we have to remember that drafting players is not an exact science, though with the use of metrics and analytics, we’re getting closer to making the process more predictable than ever before.

The road to the NHL is shorter for some, longer for others. Others, yet, never even get there.

In Zachary Senyshyn’s case- he seems to have all the tools, character and moxie to live up to his billing as a top-15 pick. The Bruins certainly appear to have gotten their gut instinct right on this one. There’s no need to rush him into the fray- they say all things in good time.

The payoff could be big with this one.

 

TSP Bruins Prospects of the Month: Gabrielle & Subban

Gabrielle

We have a tie for Scouting Post Bruins Prospect of the Month for January: With eight goals and 16 points in 14 games and seven wins in eight starts and a .935 save percentage and 1.84 GAA, Prince George Cougars left wing Jesse Gabrielle and Providence Bruins goaltender Malcolm Subban are your top honored players. Both played so well- it would be a shame to elevate one at the expense of the other, and since one is currently playing in the pro ranks and the other still in junior, it made sense to give the nod to both.

Gabrielle’s 20 goals and 41 points in the last 31 games is the best offensive output of any B’s prospect in the season thus far, but the 2015 fourth-round pick is also getting it done in myriad other ways. He plays a chippy, agitating game and is contributing on the power play and as a dangerous penalty killer. His six short-handed markers leads the WHL. His 86 penalty minutes in 55 games are a testament to his ruggedness and willingness to play a physical game.

Gabrielle has been a revelation this season as a player who certainly had the tools to be an NHL prospect, but who has put things together nicely and is playing with a burr up under his saddle. As a fan of the Bruins and Brad Marchand, he was thrilled to get the call from Boston last June, even if he did have to wait a little longer for it, and is ringing the bell with a flourish.

His 34 goals is tied for second in the WHL right now behind Dryden Hunt (35) and is just one short of tying his entire output for the previous *two* seasons with Brandon and Regina.

Subban, who is currently sidelined indefinitely with a fractured larynx after taking a puck to the throat during warmups in Portland Saturday (Zane McIntyre played his best game of the season in relief, making 35 saves in a 3-1 win), won seven of eight games for the month, losing just one overtime contest to Portland by a 2-1 score.

Subban turned things around after a brutal start to the season. He missed most of October with a lower body injury and then went just 1-5-2 in November with a bloated 2.99 GAA and .869 save percentage. The 2012 1st-rounder then spent the months of December and January getting his totals back to a respectable mark, sitting with 14-8-5 record, 2.46 GAA and .911 save percentage.

With Subban out for the time being, veteran Jeremy Smith has been summoned to Providence from the Iowa Wild and it will be interesting to see how much of a split he and McIntyre take on in terms of the workload going forward. For now, we wish Malcolm the absolute best for a speedy recovery from a scary situation and injury.

Malcolm_Subban

Malcolm Subban (Photo courtesy of Alison M. Foley)

Bruins prospects update 2/2/16

Just in time for the AHL All-Star festivities- Seth Griffith leads the league in scoring, while Frank Vatrano posted his 2nd AHL hat trick of the season (3rd this year) in an 8-1 drubbing of Springfield. Griffith and Koko were the Providence representatives at the All-Star affair.

With Jonas Gustavsson on IR, Malcolm Subban was brought up to Boston this week, but the team has been pretty mum on the veteran backup’s status and what that means for Subban in terms of whether he will see any NHL action.

Jesse Gabrielle and Zach Senyshyn have both broken the 30-goal plateau in their respective junior leagues as we enter the stretch run for the CHL regular season. A good chunk of B’s NCAA prospects are competing in the annual Beanpot Tournament, with Ryan Donato scoring a nice goal against BC in Harvard’s 3-2 loss yesterday. Sean Kuraly is quietly creeping up the NCAA scoring list after a brutal offensive start.

 

And now for the update:

AHL

Seth Griffith, RW Providence Bruins

GP- 35 Goals- 14 Assists- 32 Points- 46 Penalty Min- 20 +/- 3

Alex Khokhlachev, C Providence Bruins

GP- 33 Goals- 12 Assists- 24 Points- 36 Penalty Min- 4 +/- -7

Austin Czarnik, C Providence Bruins

GP- 37 Goals- 12 Assists- 21 Points- 33 Penalty Min- 12 +/- 1

Frank Vatrano, LW Providence Bruins

GP- 14 Goals- 16 Assists- 6 Points- 22 Penalty Min- 6 +/- 3

With six points in two games, Vatrano continues his torrid scoring pace at the AHL level.

Colton Hargrove, LW Providence Bruins

GP- 36 Goals-12 Assists- 8 Points- 20 Penalty Min- 42 +/- 6

2012 7th-rounder continues to contribute during impressive rookie pro season.

 

Colby Cave, C Providence Bruins

GP- 44 Goals- 9 Assists- 10 Points- 19 Penalty Min- 10 +/- -5

Two goals, three points this past week for the undrafted free agent.

Chris Casto, D Providence Bruins

GP- 40 Goals- 4 Assists- 11 Points- 15 Penalty Min- 26 +/- -7

Zack Phillips, C Providence Bruins

GP- 38 Goals- 5 Assists- 9 Points-14 Penalty Min- 8 +/- -14

Tommy Cross, D Providence Bruins

GP- 35 Goals- 1 Assists- 11 Points- 12 Penalty Min- 53 +/- -6

Anton Blidh, LW Providence Bruins

GP- 42 Goals- 9 Assists- 3 Points- 12 Penalty Min- 27 +/- -2

Noel Acciari, C Providence Bruins

GP- 32 Goals- 6 Assists-5 Points- 11 Penalty Min- 13 +/-  2

Anthony Camara, LW Providence Bruins

GP- 27 Goals- 0 Assists- 5 Points- 5 Penalty Min- 37 +/- -1

Justin Hickman, RW Providence Bruins

GP- 35 Goals- 2 Assists- 1 Points- 3 Penalty Min- 34 +/- -5

Linus Arnesson, D Providence Bruins

GP- 30 Goals- 0 Assists- 2 Points- 2 Penalty Min- 4 +/- -4

Malcolm Subban, G Providence Bruins

GP- 26 MIN- 1570 GA- 64 GAA- 2.45 Spct- .913 W- 14 L-8 OTL 4 SO- 1

Zane McIntyre, G Providence Bruins

GP- 18 MIN- 1026 GA- 52 GAA- 3.04 Spct- .884 W- 6 L- 6 OTL- 5

Injured- Brian Ferlin (upper body)- 1 game played.

 

OHL

Zach Senyshyn, RW Saulte Ste Marie Greyhounds

GP- 46 Goals- 30 Assists- 14 Points- 44 Penalty Min- 16 +/- -3

 

QMJHL

Jeremy Lauzon, D Rouyn-Noranda Huskies

GP- 29 Goals- 5 Assists- 30 Points- 35 Penalty Min- 52 +/- 26

Injured- (lower body) no games since last update.

Jakub Zboril, D Saint John Sea Dogs

GP- 30 Goals- 4 Assists- 8 Points- 12 Penalty Min- 32 +/- 8

 

WHL

Jesse Gabrielle, LW Prince George Cougars

GP- 51 Goals- 31 Assists- 25 Points- 56 Penalty Min- 71 +/- 6

Jake DeBrusk, LW Red Deer Rebels

SCB: GP- 24 Goals- 9 Assists- 17 Points- 26 Penalty Min- 15 +/- -5

RDR: GP- 16 Goals- 7 Assists- 9 Points- 16 Penalty Min- 13 +/-  6

Brandon Carlo, D Tri-City Americans

GP- 29 Goals- 2 Assists- 13 Points- 15 Penalty Min- 61 +/- -5

 

NCAA

Ryan Fitzgerald, F Boston College Eagles (HEA)

GP- 25 Goals- 14 Assists- 17 Points- 31 Penalty Min- 35 +/- 23

Anders Bjork, LW University of Notre Dame (HEA)

GP- 24 Goals- 10 Assists- 16 Points- 26 Penalty Min- 4 +/- 22

Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, C Boston University Terriers (HEA)

GP- 26 Goals- 7 Assists- 15 Points- 22 Penalty Min- 14 +/- 2

Danton Heinen, LW Denver University Pioneers (NCHC)

GP- 26 Goals- 10 Assists- 10 Points- 20 Penalty Min- 2 +/- 1

Sean Kuraly, C Miami University (NCHC)

GP- 25 Goals- 4 Assists- 11 Points- 15 Penalty Min- 27 +/- 1

Matt Grzelcyk, D Boston University (HEA)

GP- 14 Goals- 8 Assists- 6 Points- 14 Penalty Min- 22 +/- 8

Cameron Hughes, C University of Wisconsin (Big Ten)

GP- 21 Goals- 3 Assists- 11 Points- 14 Penalty Min- 12 +/- -8

The 2015 sixth-rounder has a goal and three points on the offense-challenged Badgers since the last update

 

Ryan Donato, C Harvard University (ECAC)

GP- 18 Goals- 6 Assists- 6 Points- 12 Penalty Min- 14 +/-  4

 

Matt Benning, D Northeastern University (HEA)

GP- 26 Goals- 4 Assists- 7 Points- 11 Penalty Min- 23 +/- -6

 

Rob O’Gara, D Yale University (ECAC)

GP- 21 Goals- 1 Assists- 7 Points- 8 Penalty Min- 20 +/- 0

O’Gara netted his first goal of the season for Yale; it’s been a statistical disappointment for the senior given expectations, but he still figures prominently into Boston’s future plans.

Wiley Sherman, D Harvard University (ECAC)

GP- 20 Goals- 3 Assists- 4 Points- 7 Penalty Min- 8 +/- 6

 

Europe

Peter Cehlarik, LW Lulea (Sweden)

GP- 33 Goals- 8 Assists- 6 Points- 14 Penalty Min- 0 +/- 2

Emil Johansson, D HV71 (Sweden)

GP- 37 Goals- 0 Assists- 4 Points- 4 Penalty Min- 12 +/- 1

Maxim Chudinov, D St Petersburg SKA (Russia)

GP- 52 Goals- 8 Assists- 9 Points- 17 Penalty Min- 85 +/- -11

 

USHL

Daniel Vladar, G Chicago (USHL)

GP- 18 MIN- 1046 GA- 39 GAA- 2.24 Spct .917 SO- 2; 5-7-4

Jack Becker, C Sioux Falls (USHL)

GP- 36 Goals- 4 Assists- 7 Points- 11 Penalty Min- 10 +/- -10

Bruins prospects update: 1/24/16

 

Frank Vatrano was returned to the AHL from Boston last week, and he wasted little time re-establishing himself as a scorer at that level.

Seth Griffith continues to lead Providence in scoring, and Koko and Austin Czarnik have done well to keep pace.

Malcolm Subban continues to play well as the team’s undisputed No. 1 this season, and while Zane McIntyre has had his ups and downs, there is plenty of positive raw potential with him going forward.

In the amateur ranks, Zach Senyshyn and Jesse Gabrielle have 29 goals apiece- good for the best goal totals of all Boston prospects at any level. Jake DeBrusk’s offensive play has tailed off after a hot start in Red Deer, but is not a major cause for concern, as he’s still creating chances- they just aren’t going in.

Ryan Fitzgerald remains atop the NCAA scoring list for Boston prospects with 30 points for BC- second on the team in scoring to Sens 2015 first-rounder Colin White. Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson continues his impressive, mature two-way play, while Danton Heinen had a big weekend production-wise, as did Sean Kuraly, who lit it up against University of Nebraska-Omaha. Otherwise- it’s been a pretty forgettable year for him production-wise.

Now, here’s the update:

AHL

Seth Griffith, RW Providence Bruins

GP- 33 Goals- 13 Assists- 28 Points- 41 Penalty Min- 20 +/- 0

Griffith had a great month in December and has continued his scoring into the new year.

Alex Khokhlachev, C Providence Bruins

GP- 31 Goals- 12 Assists- 22 Points- 34 Penalty Min- 4 +/- -6

 

Austin Czarnik, C Providence Bruins

GP- 35 Goals- 11 Assists- 20 Points- 31 Penalty Min- 10 +/- 1

 

Colton Hargrove, LW Providence Bruins

GP- 34 Goals-11 Assists- 8 Points- 19 Penalty Min- 40 +/- 3

Three goals and four points in five games since the last update- Hargrove continues to be a pleasant surprise as a rookie pro who is producing well above where most projected him.

Frank Vatrano, LW Providence Bruins

GP- 12 Goals- 12 Assists- 4 Points- 16 Penalty Min- 4 +/- 0

Colby Cave, C Providence Bruins

GP- 42 Goals- 7 Assists- 9 Points- 16 Penalty Min- 8 +/- -8

Chris Casto, D Providence Bruins

GP- 38 Goals- 4 Assists- 11 Points- 15 Penalty Min- 24 +/- -9

Zack Phillips, C Providence Bruins

GP- 37 Goals- 5 Assists- 9 Points-14 Penalty Min- 8 +/- -14

 

 

Tommy Cross, D Providence Bruins

GP- 34 Goals- 1 Assists- 11 Points- 12 Penalty Min- 49 +/- -10

Anton Blidh, LW Providence Bruins

GP- 40 Goals- 9 Assists- 2 Points- 11 Penalty Min- 20 +/- -5

Blidh finally added some totals to the assists column in his scoring line, but it took him more than 35 games to do it. He is a grinding, agitating bottom-line type- fans should not expect much more than that if he reaches the NHL.

Noel Acciari, C Providence Bruins

GP- 30 Goals- 5 Assists-5 Points- 10 Penalty Min- 13 +/-  0

 

Anthony Camara, LW Providence Bruins

GP- 25 Goals- 0 Assists- 3 Points- 3 Penalty Min- 37 +/- -3

Justin Hickman, RW Providence Bruins

GP- 34 Goals- 1 Assists- 1 Points- 1 Penalty Min- 32 +/- -7

Linus Arnesson, D Providence Bruins

GP- 28 Goals- 0 Assists- 1 Points- 1 Penalty Min- 2 +/- -4

Malcolm Subban, G Providence Bruins

GP- 24 MIN- 1450 GA- 61 GAA- 2.52 Spct- .911 W- 12 L-8 OTL 4 SO- 1

Zane McIntyre, G Providence Bruins

GP- 18 MIN- 1026 GA- 52 GAA- 3.04 Spct- .884 W- 6 L- 6 OTL- 5

Injured- Brian Ferlin (upper body)- 1 game played.

 

OHL

Zach Senyshyn, RW Saulte Ste Marie Greyhounds

GP- 43 Goals- 29 Assists- 12 Points- 41 Penalty Min- 12 +/- -3

 

QMJHL

Jeremy Lauzon, D Rouyn-Noranda Huskies

GP- 29 Goals- 5 Assists- 30 Points- 35 Penalty Min- 52 +/- 26

Injured- no games since last update.

Jakub Zboril, D Saint John Sea Dogs

GP- 28 Goals- 4 Assists- 6 Points- 10 Penalty Min- 30 +/- 6

Zboril’s play has picked up since his return from the WJC, but he is well off his offensive pace from a year ago. He has, however, embraced a more physical edge with better attention to the defensive side of his game, but is still prone to stretches without urgency.

 

WHL

Jesse Gabrielle, LW Prince George Cougars

GP- 48 Goals- 29 Assists- 21 Points- 50 Penalty Min- 71 +/- 3

Jake DeBrusk, LW Red Deer Rebels

SCB: GP- 24 Goals- 9 Assists- 17 Points- 26 Penalty Min- 15 +/- -5

RDR: GP- 14 Goals- 5 Assists- 9 Points- 14 Penalty Min- 13 +/-  5

After erupting for five goals in his first four games with the Rebels after being traded, DeBrusk’s offense dried up considerably with just three assists in his last six games. He’s far too talented a player to be held without a goal for long, but he’s nowhere close to the 42-goal season he had a year ago.

Brandon Carlo, D Tri-City Americans

GP- 26 Goals- 2 Assists- 13 Points- 15 Penalty Min- 59 +/- -5

 

NCAA

Ryan Fitzgerald, F Boston College Eagles (HEA)

GP- 23 Goals- 14 Assists- 16 Points- 30 Penalty Min- 35 +/- 22

Anders Bjork, LW University of Notre Dame (HEA)

GP- 23 Goals- 10 Assists- 16 Points- 26 Penalty Min- 4 +/- 22

The 2014 5th-rounder has been on a tear since returning from the WJC, notching three goals and eight points in his last five games. He’s blown by his freshman season scoring totals (23 points) in half the games.

Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, C Boston University Terriers (HEA)

GP- 24 Goals- 7 Assists- 15 Points- 22 Penalty Min- 10 +/- 2

Danton Heinen, LW Denver University Pioneers (NCHC)

GP- 24 Goals- 9 Assists- 9 Points- 18 Penalty Min- 0 +/- -4

Had four points over the weekend in a two-game series.

Matt Grzelcyk, D Boston University (HEA)

GP- 12 Goals- 8 Assists- 5 Points- 13 Penalty Min- 20 +/- 7

Senior D and 85th overall pick in 2012 continues to find the back of the net- he is just three markers shy of passing his season best set a year ago (in 41 games).

Ryan Donato, C Harvard University (ECAC)

GP- 16 Goals- 5 Assists- 6 Points- 11 Penalty Min- 14 +/- 2

Cameron Hughes, C University of Wisconsin (Big Ten)

GP- 19 Goals- 2 Assists- 9 Points- 11 Penalty Min- 12 +/- -9

Matt Benning, D Northeastern University (HEA)

GP- 25 Goals- 4 Assists- 6 Points- 10 Penalty Min- 21 +/- -5

Curious statistical inversion- a year ago, Benning did not score in 36 games, yet posted 24 assists. This season,  he has four goals but just six helpers. He’s still seeing considerable minutes and power play time, but without several key scorers in the lineup, NU’s scoring is down.

Sean Kuraly, C Miami University (NCHC)

GP- 23 Goals- 3 Assists- 10 Points- 13 Penalty Min- 21 +/- -6

The former San Jose prospect went on a tear with 1g and 6 points in his last three games. He’s not a high-end scoring player at the next level, but it’s a good sign for him after a rough senior season statistically speaking.

Rob O’Gara, D Yale University (ECAC)

GP- 19 Goals- 0 Assists- 7 Points- 7 Penalty Min- 20 +/- -1

Wiley Sherman, D Harvard University (ECAC)

GP- 18 Goals- 3 Assists- 3 Points- 6 Penalty Min- 8 +/-  6

 

Europe

Peter Cehlarik, LW Lulea (Sweden)

GP- 30 Goals- 8 Assists- 6 Points- 14 Penalty Min- 0 +/-  2

Emil Johansson, D HV71 (Sweden)

GP- 34 Goals- 0 Assists- 3 Points- 3 Penalty Min- 12 +/-  1

Maxim Chudinov, D St Petersburg SKA (Russia)

GP- 48 Goals- 8 Assists- 9 Points- 17 Penalty Min- 77 +/- -11

His goal total is the highest it has been since joining St. Petersburg and just one away from his career high of 9 in a season set in 2011-12 with Cherepovets.

USHL

Daniel Vladar, G Chicago (USHL)

GP- 16 MIN- 928 GA- 34 GAA- 2.20 Spct .920 SO- 2; 4-6-4

Jack Becker, C Sioux Falls (USHL)

GP- 35 Goals- 4 Assists- 7 Points- 11 Penalty Min- 8 +/- -9

Bruins Prospects Update 1/11/16

Jesse Gabrielle continues to be a revelation with Prince George out west.

Boston’s fourth-round pick in 2015 is currently tied for the WHL lead in goals with 27 (in 42 games) with Jon Martin and Dryden Hunt, with seven of those goals coming in his last six games, and one goal in four of his last five. In addition to the scoring, Gabrielle makes his presence known by playing an aggressive, high-energy style. He’s not ready to be thought of as an NHL option in the next year or so, but it looks like the Bruins may have struck gold again out West one year after drafting BC native Danton Heinen in the same round in 2014.

Speaking of Heinen, after posting about his down production earlier this week, he posted 1 goal and an assist in a Denver win over the University of Nebraska-Omaha. It was good to see him get off the schneid, because he’s such a smart and gifted player. Going on the record right now in saying that three years from now, Heinen will be contributing in Boston and he’s got 50-point NHL potential in my view.

Boston’s NCAA prospects went off this weekend: Ryan Fitzgerald had a four-point night Friday (1g, 3a) then added a helper the next night, but Saturday night was all right for scoring as Matt Grzelcyk potted a natural hat trick in BU’s trouncing of Mass. NU defenseman Matt Benning also got into the act, scoring a pair of goals to establish a new career-high for goals (and for the record- he went the entire 2014-15 season without finding the back of the net once). Also scoring goals Saturday night were: Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, Ryan Donato and Anders Bjork. In fact, when you factor in David Pastrnak’s second period goal against Ottawa, all of Boston’s 2014 draft picks save defenseman Emil Johansson (seventh round) tallied on the same night.

Providence rolled this week, scoring 6 out of 6 points and getting superb play up front and in net from Malcolm Subban.

Now, here’s the update:

AHL

Alex Khokhlachev, C Providence Bruins

GP- 26 Goals- 11 Assists- 20 Points- 31 Penalty Min- 2 +/- -6

He didn’t get credit on the stats line, but Koko was the only player to register a shootout goal Sunday against the Falcons, earning Providence its 9th consecutive home win.

Seth Griffith, RW Providence Bruins

GP- 28 Goals- 10 Assists- 21 Points- 31 Penalty Min- 20 +/- -3

 

Austin Czarnik, C Providence Bruins

GP- 30 Goals- 10 Assists- 17 Points- 27 Penalty Min- 10 +/-  0

Colton Hargrove, LW Providence Bruins

GP- 29 Goals- 8 Assists- 7 Points- 15 Penalty Min- 34 +/- -2

Zack Phillips, C Providence Bruins

GP- 33 Goals- 5 Assists- 8 Points-11 Penalty Min- 6 +/- -11

Chris Casto, D Providence Bruins

GP- 33 Goals- 3 Assists- 10 Points- 13 Penalty Min- 20 +/- -7

Good NHL tools here for the undrafted free agent out of the University of Minnesota-Duluth. If the B’s blue line depth takes a hit, he’s earned a recall at some point. Unfortunately for Casto, he’s the same type of defender that Boston has no shortage of, which works against him for obvious reason. He should win an award for best Twitter handle, though- “@FidelCrusto”scores major creativity points.

Colby Cave, C Providence Bruins

GP- 37 Goals- 7 Assists- 6 Points- 13 Penalty Min- 8 +/- -8

Tommy Cross, D Providence Bruins

GP- 29 Goals- 1 Assists- 11 Points- 12 Penalty Min- 45 +/- -11

 

 

Noel Acciari, C Providence Bruins

GP- 25 Goals- 4 Assists-4 Points- 8 Penalty Min- 11 +/-

Anton Blidh, LW Providence Bruins

GP- 35 Goals- 8 Assists- 0 Points- 8 Penalty Min- 18 +/- -5

The 2013 seventh-rounder posted his first two-goal game over the weekend but is still looking for a North American helper.

Anthony Camara, LW Providence Bruins

GP- 20 Goals- 0 Assists- 2 Points- 2 Penalty Min- 33 +/- -3

Justin Hickman, RW Providence Bruins

GP- 31 Goals- 1 Assists- 1 Points- 1 Penalty Min- 27 +/- -7

Former Seattle Thunderbirds captain scored his first pro goal this past week.

Linus Arnesson, D Providence Bruins

GP- 24 Goals- 0 Assists- 1 Points- 1 Penalty Min- 2 +/- -4

Malcolm Subban, G Providence Bruins

GP- 21 MIN- 1266 GA- 56 GAA- 2.65 Spct- .907 W- 10 L-8 OTL 3 SO- 1

Subban had a tremendous outing Sunday against Springfield, stopping 41 pucks and surrendering just one goal in a 2-1 shootout win (he stopped all three Springfield shooters for good measure).

Zane McIntyre, G Providence Bruins

GP- 16 MIN- 902 GA- 44 GAA- 2.93 Spct- .887 W- 6 L- 6 OTL- 3

Injured- Brian Ferlin (upper body)- 1 game played.

 

OHL

Zach Senyshyn, RW Saulte Ste Marie Greyhounds

GP- 39 Goals- 26 Assists- 11 Points- 37  Penalty Min- 12 +/- -5

Two goals this week and he’s already reached his entire 2014-15 goals output with 26 (in 27 fewer games). Spending a top-15 selection on this natural scorer and character kid now looks like a pretty forward-thinking (no pun intended) move for the Bruins.

QMJHL

Jeremy Lauzon, D Rouyn-Noranda Huskies

GP- 28 Goals- 5 Assists- 29 Points- 34 Penalty Min- 52 +/- 24

Injured- no games since last update.

Jakub Zboril, D Saint John Sea Dogs

GP- 23 Goals- 3 Assists- 6 Points- 9 Penalty Min- 26 +/- 1

 

WHL

Jesse Gabrielle, LW Prince George Cougars

GP- 42 Goals- 27 Assists- 18 Points- 45 Penalty Min- 61 +/- 9

Jake DeBrusk, LW Red Deer Rebels

SCB: GP- 24 Goals- 9 Assists- 17 Points- 26 Penalty Min- 15 +/- -5

RDR: GP- 8 Goals- 5 Assists- 6 Points- 11 Penalty Min- 0 +/- 6

Brandon Carlo, D Tri-City Americans

GP- 22 Goals- 2 Assists- 12 Points- 14 Penalty Min- 57 +/- -5

Has yet to get back into the Tri-City lineup since his standout performance for Team USA at the WJC, winning a bronze medal.

 

NCAA

Ryan Fitzgerald, F Boston College Eagles (HEA)

GP- 19 Goals- 12 Assists- 14 Points- 26 Penalty Min- 35 +/- 20

Anders Bjork, LW University of Notre Dame (HEA)

GP- 19 Goals- 7 Assists- 11 Points- 18 Penalty Min- 4 +/- 19

After scoring a highlight reel goal against Sweden in the bronze medal game at the WJC, Bjork scored in both games/wins against WMU over the weekend.

Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, C Boston University Terriers (HEA)

GP- 20 Goals- 5 Assists- 13 Points- 18 Penalty Min- 10 +/- 0

1 goal and 4 points in 2 games since JFK returned from the WJC.

Danton Heinen, LW Denver University Pioneers (NCHC)

GP- 20 Goals- 6 Assists- 8 Points- 14 Penalty Min- 0 +/- -3

Matt Grzelcyk, D Boston University (HEA)

GP- 8  Goals- 6  Assists- 4  Points- 10  Penalty Min- 16 +/-  5

One word to describe Grzelcyk’s weekend for BU after missing three weeks with a LBI: Wow! The 2012 third-rounder posted the first hat trick for a BU defenseman since 2003.

Ryan Donato, C Harvard University (ECAC)

GP- 12 Goals- 5 Assists- 5 Points- 10 Penalty Min- 12 +/-  5

Scored two goals in the bronze medal game against Sweden, and followed up with a goal in his second game back with Harvard.Steady as she goes is the mantra for the 2014 2nd-round pick.

Cameron Hughes, C University of Wisconsin (Big Ten)

GP- 15 Goals- 1 Assists- 8 Points- 9 Penalty Min- 6 +/- -6

Matt Benning, D Northeastern University (HEA)

GP- 21 Goals- 4 Assists- 5 Points- 9 Penalty Min- 19 +/- -11

Sean Kuraly, C Miami University (NCHC)

GP- 20 Goals- 2 Assists- 5 Points- 7 Penalty Min- 21 +/- -6

Rob O’Gara, D Yale University (ECAC)

GP- 15 Goals- 0 Assists- 5 Points- 5 Penalty Min- 20 +/- -5

 

 

Wiley Sherman, D Harvard University (ECAC)

GP- 14 Goals- 2 Assists- 2 Points- 4 Penalty Min- 6 +/- 4

 

 

Europe

Peter Cehlarik, LW Lulea (Sweden)

GP- 26 Goals- 8 Assists- 6 Points- 13 Penalty Min- 0 +/- 0

Emil Johansson, D HV71 (Sweden)

GP- 30 Goals- 0 Assists- 2 Points- 2 Penalty Min- 12 +/- -1

Maxim Chudinov, D St Petersburg SKA (Russia)

GP- 42 Goals- 6 Assists- 8 Points- 14 Penalty Min- 77 +/- -10

 

USHL

Daniel Vladar, G Chicago (USHL)

GP- 13 MIN- 737 GA- 26 GAA- 2.12 Spct .925 SO- 2; 3-5-3

No games since last update.

Jack Becker, C Sioux Falls (USHL)

GP- 31 Goals- 4 Assists- 7 Points- 11 Penalty Min- 6 +/- -2

The Duthie Dish- top OHL player in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft Pt. 2

Earlier this week, the Scouting Post published Hamilton Bulldogs’ play-by-play announcer Reed Duthie’s recap on the top OHL candidates for the June NHL Entry Draft in Buffalo. You can click here to read Duthie’s thoughts on Jakob Chychrun, Matthew Tkachuk, Mikhail Sergachev and Alex DeBrincat.

Now, we’ll continue through the list of impressive names and talents in the second part of the Duthie Dish- as he provides some firsthand insights into the key players from the late ’97/98 birth year group in the OHL.

Alex Nylander, RW Mississauga Steelheads- The second of former NHL star Michael Nylander’s sons, the Steelheads winger is an exceptionally skilled player who made some positive inroads as a member of Team Sweden at the 2016 World Jr. tourney. He’s a human highlight reel who can push the pace and shows off tremendous offensive creativity. Here’s a look at what Nylander can do from earlier this season posted by DRL Productions:

GP- 33 Goals- 21 Assists- 28 Points- 49 PIM- 6

Reed Duthie: Along with his brother, undersized but tremendously talented player with a great skating stride, but he’s more of a playmaker than a shooter. He has tremendous passing hands and he can find guys through lanes and angles that you just don’t believe the puck is going to make it through there. When you watch Mississauga play, there are a couple of occasions where it seems each game that there should be a certain goal off a Nylander pass and there will be a double-clutch on the shot because the receiver of the pass can’t believe he could get it through in the situation he did. On the power play, he’s positively dynamic. Two things that burn me a little bit about Nylander are effort and defensive positioning. He’s just as likely to cover the point as he is to fly the zone and he will disappear for stretches in a game. I know his brother and his dad would do that at times, but Alex is almost to an extreme- where you wonder where Alex Nylander is and when is he going to show up? And when he does show up, the game changes entirely, but for long stretches of the game, you can be frustrated with him and unless he can sort that out I could see his draft spot falling a bit.

Olli Juolevi, D London Knights- Legitimate two-way defenseman has high-end skating and overall ability with a high potential NHL ceiling in time. He can skate and move the puck effectively and has a real cannon of a shot that he’s uncorking more and more. Juolevi needs refinement in his defensive game and in working on the little things as he adjusts to the North American game, but he could end up being the most productive defenseman to come out of the class of ’16. A look at Juolevi’s 1st OHL goal from this season posted by Hokinaittii:

GP- 28 Goals- 4  Assists- 19  Points- 23 PIM- 6

RD: He was really impressive against Hamilton and anytime I’ve watched the Knights he’s been a real standout player. When he was against Hamilton is when I got the best look at him obviously- being in the arena for those games- but watching him skate is something fun to see. He’s the kind of player that you can put on the ice in any situation. One of the knocks I’d heard on him coming into the season was that his defensive ability could be questionable- maybe not to an Erik Karlsson extent- but he’s definitely an offensive defenseman. Against the Bulldogs we saw him on the penalty kill and I honestly- maybe against your Sarnias or Kingstons you wouldn’t see him on the kill- but he didn’t look out of place whatsoever. He made some nice clears, was in position, wasn’t screening his goaltender, wasn’t trying to look for the offense every time, got it down the rink. Offensively- he’s just a standout. He might be the smoothest defenseman in the draft with the puck, and has a great shot and will find lanes at even strength to get it through to the forwards out in front of the net for good chances. I thought his compete level was right on point- he didn’t take any shifts off. I was very impressed with Juolevi.

It’s the little things- the stick position and the tendency to make himself vulnerable at times and using the wheels to get back into plays at times…those things will have to be addressed. But, I think as people start to see Alex Nylander or even Max Jones, unless there’s an improvement from them, you could see him jump over them at the draft as the season progresses if they aren’t able to address the shortcomings in their respective games.

Max Jones, LW London Knights- Talented winger with good size and pro tools as the son of former NHL forward Brad Jones. He gets lost a little bit in London’s galaxy of stars at times, and he’s struggled to generate consistent offense the way Tkachuk has in his first OHL season. Where Jones showed off potential to be a dynamic scoring forward coming out of the U.S. National Team Development Program, he might project more as a complementary kind of forward and a third-line option than a legit scorer at the next level.

GP- 33 Goals- 17 Assists- 17 Points- 34 PIM- 59

RD: When he played the Bulldogs (at the beginning of the season) he wasn’t getting a whole lot of ice. What I’ve seen of him- he’s a nice shooter and you can teach his size at 6-2, 200-plus. When he’s on his game, he can play in any situation- you can put him on the power play or penalty kill, he’s got decent defensive awareness, he’s a solid skater- I don’t have a whole lot of issues with him, except that against the Bulldogs, he just disappeared and wasn’t a factor.  He reminds me a little of Matt Fraser with better wheels.

Michael McLeod, C Mississauga Steelheads- Playmaking center with size and ability- superb skater for his size who can push the pace and is showing an improvement in his all-around game. His play away from the puck is showing signs of improvement, and while not considered a high-end pivot with elite skills, he looks like a safe pick with the potential to develop into something more.

GP- 38  Goals- 16  Assists- 28  Points- 44  PIM- 45

RD: We’ve seen a lot of Mike McLeod in Hamilton and a lot of that has to do with the fact that Mississauga has absolutely haunted the Bulldogs- Hamilton has not beaten the Steelheads yet and McLeod usually plays on that top line with (Nathan) Bastian and (Alex) Nylander and this is not some sort of Nylander making him better thing- McLeod would be just as effective if you put you and me on the wings with him. Super creative player- very quick feet. He’s got quick acceleration, but I don’t think he has top-end speed like you see with Nylander. He’s got quick feet to start the stride but he almost maxes out at a certain level, but especially at the OHL level, it’s not holding him back at all and I don’t think it will at the higher levels either. His vision is right on, and he has a great back check as well. He’s breaking up plays, he’s in the zone, he’s in that center of coverage and he’s forcing everything away from the middle of the ice- you can’t play through him and Mississauga’s got some good defensemen as well that will work along in concert with that. But, you just can’t find your way through the middle of the ice when McLeod is there- his stick is too good, and I think that is only going to benefit him at the next level because he’s not just a one-way player.

Logan Brown, C Windsor Spitfires- Huge center is the son of former NHL defenseman and current Ottawa 67’s GM/coach Jeff Brown. He’s still pretty gangly with his big body and long limbs/skating and foot speed, but there are a lot of impressive raw talents here for NHL teams to ponder. The bigger knocks on him right now are consistency and intensity, so those concerns might drop him a little further than his natural talent would normally dictate, but if the light ever comes on, he could pay off in a big way. Major boom-or-bust potential with this one.

GP- 31 Goals- 6 Assists- 29 Points- 35  PIM- 18

RD: I’m not as bullish on Brown. I think you’re looking at a guy that has a lot of skills but there are some things that have stuck out to me about him that I don’t necessarily think are going to translate at the next level. Obviously, the size is outstanding, at 6-6/215-220- you’re looking at a player that has a little bit of Jimmy Hayes to him or even Joe Thornton if you want. Doesn’t really use the size- tremendous size- and is not really effective with it. It could be that he hasn’t learned how to properly use it yet and I hope for him that’s the case. His numbers are impressive in that he’s a set-up man and anytime you can have his size down the middle, that’s a positive, but his skating stride is probably not where it needs to be, his compete level isn’t  where it needs to be, the use of his size isn’t where it needs to be, but that said- I think he has outstanding offensive skills and vision when he gets set up. I think he could be a real asset if he improves his all-around.

Adam Mascherin, C Kitchener Rangers- Short (5-9), but stout (200+ pounds) and packs a wallop with his NHL-caliber shot and refined offensive game for one so young. He uses his natural tools and high-end instincts to find seams against defenses and has raised his production to an impressive level. He’s not a complete player, but his offensive dimension is so tantalizing that he could be similar to another former undersized but dangerous Kitchener player who went a lot earlier in the draft than projected in Jeff Skinner– a top-10 selection in 2010.

GP- 34 Goals- 19 Assists- 28 Points- 47 PIM- 8

RD: Mascherin’s going to be an NHL player. That’s a guy who every time you watch the Kitchener Rangers, he makes an impact. There’s no way to watch that team and not notice him. You’re looking at a team that’s loaded up for more- they want a Memorial Cup in that building and they really want to take a big run and show London that the Knights aren’t the only ones that can compete year in and year out. So, I think you get a better look at him as the playoffs come along and where does he slot in when the games mean the most. He’s got a world of skill, but I don’t think we’ve seen him in a pressure situation yet and that’s where I’m interested in seeing him the most.

Victor Mete, D London Knights- Small defender who is a top-end skater with jets strapped to his skates. Wheels the puck out of his own end so fast that he’d have his hair on fire if he served on a ship with black sails back in the day. Has the vision, passing ability to make an impact offensively at the next level, but like most undersized players on defense, struggles with handling the bigger, stronger forwards he goes up against.

GP- 37 Goals- 4 Assists- 20 Points- 24 PIM- 12

RD: I seem to notice Mete the most on the power play. He has tremendous speed and skill with a good shot, but outside of the man advantage, I don’t notice him as much.If he’s not leading the rush, then he becomes a little bit of a liability on the ice, but then again, he could turn that around pretty quickly. I’m sure it’s something the Hunters are addressing with him and that team produces NHL players like it’s going out of style. I like Mete- he’s the kind of guy that depending on where he goes is going to be key. If he was taken in the third round, let’s say- I would be all over him, but I don’t think he’ll fall down that far. For me with Mete it’s all about the value- when he leads the rush it’s something to watch because he can absolutely fly! When you can skate away from Niki Petti at full speed, that’s impressive., but it will all depend on where Mete is drafted because of some of the other issues.

We segued a bit to talk about one Hamilton Bulldogs player in particular that might not be considered a top-end OHL prospect for the NHL draft but will probably be selected as high as the the third round or more likely in the middle rounds.

Cole Candella, D Hamilton Bulldogs- 

RD: I love the kid. What a player. The recent injury he suffered might hurt him a little because he is going to have a little time out- they’re hoping to get him back some time not too long into the new year- but on night one of the season, Justin Lemcke, captain of the Bulldogs, went down with an injury and it was Candella who stepped into the void and has done so very well. He’s a solid defenseman in every zone. His positioning is good- he can carry the puck, he can run a power play. He may not be a prototypical PP quarterback but he’s capable of it. On the penalty kill, his speed and his quickness to the puck is exciting to watch. The Bulldogs usually end up in their zone long when they’ve got the pair of (Connor) Walters and Candella on the ice. They’re just very good at getting to loose pucks and getting them out of the zone. His compete level is very good-  you never see him take a shift off. He gets into the corners and drive opponents nuts. We’ve seen him go in against Lawson Crouse and drive Crouse off the puck. It’s the kind of thing you get excited about when you watch him because you can see what there is to grow out of Candella and at 17 years old, he’s been one of the better defenders I’ve had a chance to watch night in, night out that very few people are talking about.

GP- 28 Goals- 3 Assists- 13 Points- 16 PIM- 12

 

 

The Duthie Dish: top OHL players in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft Pt. 1

Hamilton Bulldogs (OHL) play-by-play announcer Reed Duthie spent a good deal of time talking to the Scouting Post last week on some of the best options coming out of the Ontario Hockey League for the next NHL entry draft.

Over the weekend I posted Duthie’s background and his thoughts on B’s prospect Zach Senyshyn, who posted a two-goal game last night against Sudbury to tie his 26-goal total from his rookie OHL season a year ago. This time, he did it in 37 games as opposed to 66, so Senyshyn is certainly living up to his 15th overall draft grade from last June. You can go here to read that post.

This coming June, the NHL draft is being held in Buffalo, which is appropriate because there is a lot of high-end talent and depth coming out of the OHL for the late 1997 and 1998-born players. We’ll just jump into it. The players covered are in order of where Red Line Report has them in the OHL’s pecking order at mid-season, which can change a good bit based on key factors such as the World Jr. tournament, second-half of the OHL season and playoffs,and the World Under-18 tourney in April. Out of respect to my employer at Red Line, I am not sharing the actual ranking numbers with you, but this does give you an idea of how our Chief Scout and Ontario scouts saw it over the first half of the 2015-16 campaign.

Reed breaks down the key OHL players in the first of a two-part series that will post this week. We start at the top and will continue in the next post with a couple of significant WJC standouts in Alex Nylander and Olli Juolevi.

Jakob Chychrun, D Sarnia Sting: The son of former NHL defensive defenseman Jeff Chychrun is a different player than his dad was, bringing a mix of high-end mobility, skill and awareness to make him a two-way threat from the blue line and the 2016 draft class’s best bet to one day develop into a No. 1 at the NHL level. Here’s an impressive rookie season goal courtesy of TVCogeco:

GP- 33 Goals- 5  Assists- 19  Points- 24  PIM- 20

Reed Duthie: If he’s not the first player taken out of the OHL, then I think somebody’s gone crazy. He’s an all-around stud defenseman. His positioning is right on, he can skate with the best of them, he can throw the body, he can put up points. I think personally he’s immediately ready to step into the NHL. We haven’t had (the Sting) in Hamilton yet, but I’ve watched him a few times in preparation for other games and Jakob’s just on another level. I think there’s a definite chance he steps right into the National Hockey League. Physically, he’s ready to do it and personally, I was shocked when he got cut from the Canadian team at the World Juniors- I thought he would be a shoo-in for that squad. There are some parts of his game he needs to work on, but I don’t see him being that far off from Aaron Ekblad.

Scouting Post: What are the warts on his game that you alluded to?

RD: I’ve heard people talk about his consistency and it’s a lot like what I said about (Zach) Senyshyn in terms of people just saying he doesn’t have that consistency you want in a top player every single night. But at 17 years old I would challenge you to find a defenseman who does. I remember seeing Aaron Ekblad and thinking at times he looked out of it and at times he looked like a world beater, and I’m seeing the same thing out of Jakob. There’s no reason that people should be overanalyzing his competitiveness and I think they’ll be punished for it eventually if they do harp on that. Jakob is the kind of guy- you’ll get a much better sense of him when the OHL gets to their playoffs and when you see him on an every night basis at a high level against high-end opponents, you’ll get a sense of how good he really is.

Matthew Tkachuk, LW London Knights: Keith’s eldest son has ties to Massachusetts but was born in Arizona and raised in the St. Louis area, now plays junior hockey for Dale Hunter and one of the most storied and successful (over the past 15 years) OHL franchise in London. Like his dad, he’s a power forward who can hurt you in a variety of ways. He’s a better skater and playmaker, but probably not as physically dominant as the 1990 first-rounder for Winnipeg was at the same age. This video posted by “big white 06” will give you an idea of what he can do:

GP- 29 Goals- 14  Assists- 45  Points- 59  PIM- 40

RD: Matt is a tremendous hockey player with high-end hockey IQ, excellent skater, pushes the play- he’s got all the skills you want from somebody in the middle of the ice to make an impact. The downside with Matt is that sometimes you can question the hockey IQ a little, and not so much his smarts in the play but along the lines of a Brad Marchand– he gets called for being a little hot-headed and taking an undisciplined penalty here and there when he likely shouldn’t but the skills far outweigh any downside for him. He’s got the size to do it, he’s got the compete level, which is sometimes a little too high, he’s got all the skills offensively. He could probably use some improvement in his backchecking- he’s on a good enough London team that they score enough that they’re not really going to worry about that at this point. But, there are a couple of things he could work on- he’s a definite NHL player.

Mikhail Sergachev, D Windsor Spitfires: Good-sized frame at 6-foot-2 and already north of 200 pounds at age 17. Has a well-rounded package of offensive skills and defensive prowess. Russian player who brings more of a North American-style game to the rink with him each night. Here are highlights from his first 2-goal OHL game back in November from Hockey U20:

GP- 38 Goals- 10  Assists- 16  Points- 26  PIM- 30

RD: He’s got a lot of the “Russian” skills to him- you’re not going to find a smoother talent in the OHL. Everything he does looks like he’s not making much of an effort, and yet he’s probably exerting maximum effort and I say that because some have felt that he can be lazy, but I don’t see that at all out of him. I think he’s a tremendous hockey player- he’s already got nine goals, I believe, on the season- he’s got just a bomb of a shot. He’s another defenseman like Chychrun- who’s physically ready for the rigors of the NHL, but his game is going to take some refining. I guess I would call it Dennis Wideman syndrome- at times, he’s as likely to pass it to his teammates as he is to pass it to the opponents. It’s all done with the thought of pushing the play (and the pace) forward and making things happen but sometimes he’s a little too over the top with it, but I think if he can get into a team and a system in an NHL situation where they can settle him down a little bit and just let him know that he doesn’t have to push it so hard, he’ll be fine.

Alex DeBrincat, RW Erie Otters: Small but dynamic scorer and natural sniper leads the OHL goals and is deadly accurate between the hash marks, where he does most of his damage. More from bigwhite06 to show you DeBrincat’s scoring ability from earlier this season:

GP- 30 Goals- 33  Assists- 23  Points- 56  PIM- 12

RD: I could talk about DeBrincat for hours. Being a little man myself, I love the kid. I talked about it with Tkachuk- and you saw it at the World  Juniors- he can be a little bit of a hot head at times, but he has a better way of taking it out on people vis a vis the scoreboard.He does not take penalties very often and usually, when he takes a tough hit, he doesn’t take a number, but the number goes up on the scoreboard. Tremendous shot- his size at the next level could hurt him, but his skating will make up for it. I believe he’s a better skater than a lot of people thought he was last year- I thought being overshadowed by Connor McDavid and Dylan Strome had a lot to do with that- he was underestimated. He has a tremendous shot and he can set up plays, he can work in the corners, he can work a point on the power play…just about anything you want him to do he can. Again- as is the case with a lot of these young very talented offensive players, the defensive side of the game is going to take some refining. He’s probably going to have to spend some time in the American Hockey League to used to the physical rigors of the pro game but with his skills and talent- you can’t teach what DeBrincat has.

SP: The big thing with DeBrincat is the concern about the size- you addressed it, but he’s listed at 5-7, 160 pounds- is he so dynamic and talented a la maybe a Johnny Gaudreau style of player that you throw caution to the wind and you look at a Gaudreau or maybe a Brendan Gallagher and say, hey- look, we don’t  need to be as concerned about the size because the skill and creativity is there in spades?

RD: A year ago, I might have wondered if there was more of a concern there with the McDavid effect creating some of the hype around DeBrincat, but this year he’s doing it himself and doing it more even before they sent Dylan Strome back to Erie and being able to produce without that supporting cast around him. It’s kind of funny that you mention Gaudreau and Gallagher because I’ve mentioned both as comparables and I almost see him as a blend between the two. He really gets under people’s skin and I’m not sure it’s that he does a lot of chirping at ice level or what it is, but he really gets people mad at him and he’s got a little more skill than Gallagher- more to the Gaudreau side. If you’re defending him and you get out of position or take a bad penalty because of something he’s done, he’s going to make you pay for it. I think that’s what’s been so valuable for him and why he’s going to succeed at the NHL level as long as he stays away from what he did against the Canadians in the World Juniors.

We’ll be back with more on the OHL and 2016 draft picks with part 2 in the next day or so, so be sure to bookmark the blog and keep checking in.