A cold, hard reality for hockey fans is that every single NHL team has prospects. I’m sorry to drop that on you like that. They may not all be A-grade, but somewhere in their farm system is a kid they drafted and have big hopes for, and for the large majority of the teams, it’s someone they drafted high. It allows fans to look at their struggling team and say “But we have Granlund on the way!“, “Once Kadri is ready...” and “Scheifele will save us.” We call it “prospect porn,” or “rosterbation,” or as Jake Goldsbie just came up with, “auto-eroster asphixiation” (sorry, that was too funny to not include). Anyway, the point is, ALL teams have prospects, but not all are created equal.
This year is a particularly bright and shiny one for those hard-mined pieces of gold to become polished, ready-to-wear jewelry, so I figured we’d take a look at some of the Calder contenders heading into the 2013 NHL season.
New York Islanders: Ryan Strome
I think it’s unlikely that he makes the Islanders, but he’s tearing up the OHL right now, with 62 points in 32 games. If he does make the squad and is given the right opportunity…who knows what he could do.
New York Rangers: Chris Kreider
He jumped into playoffs with the Rangers last season and tallied seven points (five goals), and has high expectations on him as a big-bodied dude who was a point-a-game college player. His AHL stats this season, however, have been concerning – 33 games, only 12 points.
Ottawa Senators: Jakob Silfverberg
22 years old, over a point-per-game in the Swedish Elite League last year, and is threatening a point-per-game in the AHL this year.
Boston Bruins: Dougie Hamilton
A 6’5″ defenseman with 113 points in his last 82 OHL games is kinnnnda noteworthy. And since the Leafs traded the pick to the Bruins, he’s bound to tear it up.
Montreal Canadiens: Alex Galchenyuk
OHL stud who was drafted 3rd overall in last year’s entry draft, currently has 61 points in 33 games. Just won gold at the World Juniors, and has a lot of Habs fans pretty damn excited.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Morgan Rielly
Taken two picks behind Galchenyuk in last year’s entry draft, Rielly is another near PPG WHL defenseman.
Buffalo Sabres: Mikhail Grigorenko
Just had an impressive showing at the World Juniors as well, and already has 50 points in 32 QMJHL games.
Florida Panthers: Jonathan Huberdeau
This 6’1″ center went third overall in 2011 and currently has 45 points in 30 QMJHL games. I like his body control, think he can contribute at the NHL level.
Winnipeg Jets: Mark Scheifele
6’2″. 50 points in 30 OHL games. Already has some NHL experience. Heading to a weak team. You’ll be hearing his name.
Anaheim Ducks – John Gibson
Who owwwwwnns the World Juniors? (Hint: It’s Gibson.) .930 save percentage and 2.27 GAA in the O for Kitchener this season. He’s really, really good.
Minnesota Wild: Mikael Granlund
So good he had paparazzi following him in Finland (apparently). Over a PPG in the SM-Liga, and has 21 points in 21 AHL games this season. Won’t face top d-pairs w/ Wilds quality top forwards, should fare pretty damn well.
Calgary Flames: Sven Baertschi
Coming off 94 points in 47 WHL games, he’s 20, and has 18 points in 21 AHL games. Guaranteed to stick in Calgary.
Edmonton Oilers: Nail Yakupov
Your number one overall pick from the 2012 entry draft put up 18 points in 22 KHL games this season, including 10 goals. Not bad for a 19 year old.
St. Louis Blues: Vladimir Tarasenko
This six-foot 21 year old put up 31 points in 31 KHL games this season, and frankly, from watching him, I will add “is nasty good at hockey.”
Detroit Red Wings: Damien Brunner
For context: Joe Thornton put up 36 points in 33 games in the Swiss-A League this year. Brunner put up 57 in the same number of games, and he’s about to get thrown alongside Datsyuk and Zetterberg, according to Mike Babcock. Zetter had 32 points in 23 games as Brunner’s linemate in Switzerland, and was likely a help. Also, he’ll be facing top d pairings now, but still: he’s been getting no love. Could be because he’s 26.
Gustav Nyqvist (36 points in 36 AHL games, left wing, 23 years old), Brendan Smith (20 points in 32 games, defenseman, 23 years old), and Tomas Tatar (32 in 36 AHL games, left wing 22 years old) are all pretty decent too.
Chicago Blackhawks: Brandon Saad
A 6’1″ 20 year old who saw a couple games with the Blackhawks last year, and will likely get more this year.