5.18.2007

Next year's rookies

If you're a draft hound, you probably love The Hockey New's Future Watch and Draft Preview, and www.hockeysfuture.com in general, and so do I. The following report is for those of you who don't necessarily want to know who is rated to go 50th (Akim Aliu for THN) in the draft, but you would like to know more about prospects. Some of these players might not have rookie eligibility, but haven't yet secured a spot.

First, a team report of who I think could crack their respective rosters. I will acknowledge www.hockeysfuture.com, www.hockeydb.com, and The Hockey News Draft Preview and Future Watch, as the sources for my information.

Anaheim- To name just one, Bobby Ryan has given every indication that he can be a top-line scorer for the Ducks. He scored 8 points in 19 games and had 22 penalty minutes with Portland Pirates (AHL) in the playoffs last year, and scored 9 points in 8 regular season games with the Pirates this year. He should at least start out on the third line. Other prospects: Tim Brent (AHL, 30 points, 15 NHL games, 1 goal, Rookie), Ryan Shannon (AHL, 9 points in 14 games, NHL, 11 points in 53 games, hasn't secured spot). Draft Expectations: The Ducks likely won't pick until the second round, unless they trade that one too, so don't expect anyone huge to be acquired.
Atlanta- Brett Sterling had a 55-goal rookie AHL year, but his expectations are wide-spread. Some will look at his stats and believe that he can join the top two lines. But, Sterling is a natural left-winger, where the Thrashers already have Ilya Kovalchuk, Slava Kozlov, and possibly Keith Tckachuk, although he is a UFA. Other prospects: Boris Valabik (AHL, 9 points, 184 PIM's in 50 games), Jordan LaVallee (AHL, 34 points, 16 goals, 79 games). Draft Expectations: The Thrashers too will not pick until the second round, so look for the team to snatch a USHL or BCHL center without too much notoriety. The Thrashers have a desperate need for a scoring center, and Bryan Little is not yet fully developed.
Boston- The Bruins have many prospects that were spectacular this year. Mark Stuart and Matt Lashoff appear to be ready to break in at the start of next season. Stuart had 20 points and 64 PIM's in 49 AHL games, and had an assist and 10 PIM's in 15 NHL games. Lashoff had an outstanding rookie year in the AHL, scoring 36 points and 60 PIM's in 64 games, and even got 2 assists in 12 NHL games. Other prospects: Petr Kalus (AHL, 13 goals, 30 points in 43 games, NHL, 4 goals, 5 points in 9 games), David Krejci (AHL, 31 goals, 74 points, 69 games, NHL, 6 games, no points.). Draft Expectations: The Bruins pick 8th this year, and according to The Hockey News, they could get anyone from a Jeremy Roenick or Derian Hatcher player, to a Terry Ryan or Jason Herter player. Karl Alzner, who has been said ready to make the NHL, is rated to go 8th this year.
Buffalo- The Sabres have several prospects who could step in next year, but their most exciting one has already played half a season. Drew Stafford (41 NHL games, 13 goals, 27 points) would have had a great rookie season had he kept that pace up all year. Those stats pro-rate to 26 goals and 54 points over an 82 game season. Expect a big season from the versatile winger next year. Other prospects: Clarke MacArthur (AHL, 21 goals, 63 points in 51 games, NHL, 7 points in 19 games), Marek Zagrapan (AHL, 17 goals, 38 points in 71 games). Draft Expectations: The Sabres don't pick until either the second or third round, so the scouts will be focused on getting a lower-round gem.
Calgary- The Flames want Dustin Boyd to secure a spot on the roster next year. Boyd's rookie AHL year included 27 goals and 60 points in 66 games. He also scored 2 goals and 4 points in 13 NHL games with Calgary. Other Prospects: Andrei Taratukhin (AHL, 17 goals, 60 points in 89 games), Brandon Prust (AHL, 17 goals, 27 points in 63 games, NHL, 10 games, no points). Draft Expectations: The Flames pick 18th, and according to THN, they could get anyone from a Glen Murray or Jason Smith type player, or a Jesper Mattson or Jason Miller type player. Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, last seen with the U.S. U-18 team, is rated to go 18th.
Carolina- Brett Carson appears to be the best AHL performer right now. A D-man in his rookie AHL year, Carson managed 2 goals and 17 points. But beyond that, he showed a strong natural offensive sense, able to move the puck well in any situation. Other Prospects: Justin Peters (AHL, 10 wins, 17 losses, 30 games, rookie AHL year), Mark Flood (AHL, 44 games, 12 points, 22 PIM's). Draft Expectations: The Canes pick 11th this year, and, according to THN, they could get anyone from a Jarome Iginla or Mike Sillinger player, or a Chris Govedaris or David Cooper type player. Big D-man Keaton Ellerby is rated to go 11th this year.
Chicago- The Hawks are hoping Jonathan Toews and/or Jack Skille can step in next year. Toews is the more likely, with 18 goals and 46 points in 34 games with North Dakota in collegiate play. Skille, on the other hand, has been inconsistent. His talent lives up to his name, but his stats don't. However, Skille appears ready for the pros after scoring 4 goals and 8 points in his first 9 AHL games. He only had 8 goals and 18 points in 26 college games. Other Prospects (and boy does Chicago have others!): Cam Barker (AHL, 15 points, 53 PIM's, 34 games, NHL, 8 points, 44 PIM's, 34 games), Dave Bolland (AHL, 17 goals, 49 points, 64 games, NHL, 1 game, no points), Troy Brouwer (AHL, 41 goals, 79 points, 66 games, NHL, 10 games, no points), Kris Versteeg (AHL, 26 goals, 72 points, 70 games), There are many others, but I have to keep going. Draft Expectations: The Hawks have a wonderful opportunity, being able to pick 1st overall. So many superstars (Crosby, Ovechkin, Modano, Thornton, Lecavalier, to name hardly any) have been there, and only three instances have come where the player should not have been picked in that position. Even then, Patrik Stefan has been a good role player, Alexandre Daigle had a few good years, and Bryan Berard should have only been a lower first-rounder. Patrick Kane is rated to go first overall, by THN's standards, although Jakub Voracek, Alexei Cherapanov, and Kyle Turris all fit along with Kane's style of play. Kane, Voracek, and Cheraponov could step in next year.
Colorado- The Avalanche will give three players, T.J. Hensick, Ryan Stoa, and Chris Stewart, every opportunity to make the team. Hensick is the strongest contender, coming off a 23-goal, 69-points-in-41-games year in college. Stoa, also in college, is coming off a year where he dropped in production (25 points in 06, 24 in 07) but showed a more impressive all-around game. Stewart also shows lots of offensive talent. He scored 36 goals and 82 points in 61 OHL games, then went up to the AHL, and scored 3 points in 5 games. Other Prospects: Johnny Boychuk (AHL, 28 points, 125 PIM's, 80 games), Tyler Weiman (AHL, 54 games, 27 wins, 2.99 GAA). Draft Expectations: After their first playoff-less season, the Avs will pick 14th. According to THN, they could get anyone from a Sergei Gonchar or Adam Deadmarsh player, or a Patrick DesRochers or Michel Reisen type player. Offensive Russian winger Maxim Mayorov is expected to go 14th.
Columbus- The Blue Jackets want Derick Brassard and Kris Russell to crack the roster in training camp. Brassard was injured for a majority of this season, however, he still managed 25 points in 14 games. Last season, he went at a two-points-per-game pace. Russell is the surprise of the two. Never getting much attention until recently, the young defenseman scored 69 points in 59 games, showing tremendous potential. Other Prospects: Steve Mason (OHL, 62 games, 45 wins, 3.20 GAA), Geoff Platt (AHL, 28 goals, 49 points, 53 games, NHL, 3 goals, 9 points, 26 games). Draft Expecations: The Blue Jackets have the opportunity to snap up another difference maker with the 7th pick in the draft. THN reports that they could get a Jason Arnott or Shane Doan type player, or a Ryan Sittler or Alex Stojanov type player. Playmaking center Logan Couture is rated to go 7th overall.
Dallas- The Stars will want Niklas Grossman to make the team next year. He played 67 AHL games with Iowa, and scored 10 points, however, his niche as a defensive defenseman helped him into 8 NHL games, where he was scoreless. Other Prospects: Perttu Lindgren (FNL, 43 games, 4 goals, 26 points), Vojtech Polak (AHL, 67 games, 17 goals, 45 points, NHL, 2 games, no points). Draft Expectations- The Stars won't draft until the second or third round, so don't expect a big name to appear. A late round gem is possible, though.
Detroit- The Wings have a couple of players that can make it next year. Jimmy Howard is in his second AHL season, and got 21 wins and a GAA of 2.70 in 49 games. Kyle Quincey played 65 AHL games and scored 22 points from the blueline. Now he is with the Wings in the playoffs, where he has 2 PIM's in 11 games, and no points. Other Prospects: Jakub Kindl (OHL, 55 points, 142 PIM's, 54 games, AHL, 7 playoff games, 2 assists), Igor Grigorenko (Russia, 49 games, 14 goals, 27 points). Draft Expectations: The Wings actually kept a first round pick this year, and will either pick 30th if they win the cup, 29th if they come in second for it (their actual place too), or 28th if they get out in the conference finals. This means they won't likely get a superstar, although they could find a surprise. Bill Sweatt, a project forward, is rated to go 28th, John Negrin, a two-way D-man, is expected to go 29th, and Ryan McDonagh, another two-way defender, is rated to go 30th.
Edmonton- The Oilers have a lot of work to do before they get back on the road to respectability, and that involves young guys such as Robert Nilsson, Rob Schremp, and Denis Grebeshkov making the team and making an impact. Nilsson is more likely to make it, after an 18-goal, 66-points-in-69-games year. He played 4 games with the Oilers, scoring 1 goal. Schremp also should make the team, although, after only being recalled for 1 scoreless game, despite a 17-goal, 53-points-in-69-games year, he may not even re-join the team. Grebeshkov is more of a mystery. He's had success in the AHL, and even played in 33 NHL games over 3 seasons, yet, he returned to Russia and only had 16 points in 47 games. Other Prospects: Andrew Cogliano (NCAA, 24 goals, 50 points, 38 games), Ryan O'Marra (OHL, 26 goals, 51 points, 46 games). Draft Expectations: Edmonton actually gets to pick 3 times in the first round. Their own pick comes 6th, a pick from the Islanders at 15th, and a pick from Anaheim at 28th or 27th. They can get a wide variety of key players. At 6th, playmaker Sam Gagner is rated. Two-way defender Nick Petrecki is rated to go 15th, and forward Mike Hoeffel is rated 27th.

I'll leave it at that for now, and work on getting the rest of the teams soon. I only do this because I hate not publishing something for a while.