Friday, March 30, 2018

Late 2018 Season Prospect Class

You know what? With how busy it has been at the office and other things going on, it has been a real shame that I haven't been able to sit down at the blog a little bit more and post a couple more things. I think, most importantly, this post on some of the young talent that is joining the league, in time for either the coast to the finish for non-playoff teams, the stretch run and possibly even a playoff run.  There are a number of young players, that have finally signed some deals, some drafted, some undrafted, but all might have some kind of an impact on the hockey pool, either in the playoffs this year or in the regular season next year.

Here are a few of the players that I'm really excited for and as I'm saying that, I'm wondering why I should even post this.  In all seriousness though, these are probably some of the players I will be highlighting at some point in the off-season or preseason, so even if you've missed this post (which you obviously haven't), there will be more chances for me to possibly spoil my picks in the draft.

Have you seen this Ryan Donato kid yet?  One might have begun to wonder what would have happened, if he had been with the Bruins all season long, because he has gotten off to a great start to his NHL career.  The 21-year old kid finished up at Harvard with a Hobey Baker nomination, played for Team USA at the Olympics and that's just scratching the surface this season. The kid already has 4 goals and 6 points in his first six games of his NHL career and he has really looked like a seasoned vet.  He has earned a spot on the playoff pool selection sheet, for sure.  Any takers?

The New York Rangers have been in rebuild mode since the trade deadline and in that, they have been able to show off a couple of their good young prospects.  Lias Andersson and Filip Chytil, both 2017 1st round draft picks, have entered the team's active roster for the stretch run and both have already registered points for the Rangers, since joining the lineup.  Both players featured in the World Junior Championships this past Christmas holiday season and both looked good in the tourney.  Now, if the Rangers can add some talent around them, they could be very intriguing at the draft next year.

Another one of those college grads and US Olympian, Jordan Greenway, has been highly-touted since his last World Junior tourney, back in 2017, as a big-bodied kid with all sorts of offensive talent.  Greenway finished up at Boston University this year and the Wild kindly made room for him for the playoff push.  The 2015 2nd round draft pick has yet to register his first points of his career in two games, but you know it's coming.  The Wild are almost locked into a playoff spot, but I think the Wild are pretty stacked, so they won't feature the big rookie this year on the playoff pool sheet.

2016 1st round draft pick, forward Henrik Borgstrom, had a couple of very good seasons at the University of Denver, scoring well over a point-per-game in both of his years there and that got the Florida Panthers pretty excited to get his name on the contract sheet.  I think that Hobey Baker nomination also helped with the excitement levels too.  Borgstrom finally made his debut last night against the Senators, playing 17 shifts and played 12 minutes, but didn't register anything.  His was a name that was floated around quite regularly, given his scoring standards in the NCAA ranks, so we'll see how that pans out down the stretch, while they play out the rest of the year.

The biggest college free agent in the late season push was Minnesota State defenseman Daniel Brickley, who finally decided upon the Los Angeles Kings, signing his entry-level deal on Wednesday.  These NCAA free agents are fun to watch, as they are rather hit-and-miss, but there is some excitement around this defender, who had some very good scoring numbers from the back end, including 10 goals and 35 points in 40 games in his third season in college.  He has some matured size already, but according to TSN, there is no rush to get him in the lineup in their playoff push, so he won't feature this year, but will be one to watch.

The third of the Hobey Baker nominees comes from the NCAA's leading scorer this season, Northeastern's Adam Gaudette, who finished with 60 points in 38 games, but his team failed to go anywhere in the year end tournament.  Fortunately for the Canucks, he signed his entry-level deal and made his debut on Thursday night against the Edmonton Oilers.  The kid has reasonable size, plays down the middle and his college scoring numbers are certainly worth going back to time and time again.  His debut might not have been flashy, but he's one to watch.

After blasting off onto the scene at this past year's World Junior Championships, 11 points in 7 games and a bronze medal, Casey Mittelstadt was likely being pushed hard by the Buffalo Sabres, to immediately bring his talents out of the college ranks, playing for the University of Minnesota, and get a leg up on his NHL career.  Mittlestadt made his debut this week, registering an assist against the Red Wings on Thursday night.  This kid has some decent size at only 19 years old and great vision as well.  The Sabres obviously want this 1st rounder to help compliment their stars with his play-making ability and it probably won't take too long before he does.

Finally, it was a KHL contract that the Nashville Predators were waiting to see expire and when Jokerit in Finland was eliminated from the KHL playoffs, Eeli Tolvanen was set to make the leap over to the NHL.  On Thursday, he officially signed his entry-level deal and he can start playing at any time now.  This would be just another one of a long list of stops for the 18-year old, who scored 19 goals and 36 points in 49 KHL games, played at the World Juniors and the Olympics, just to name a couple more and was a standout in each of those tournaments.  Tolvanen is a natural goal scorer and even without seeing him play at the NHL level, he's going on the playoff pool sheet.

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