HF Prospect of the Month, February, 2015: Bjorkstrand piling up the points for the Winterhawks

By Chris Roberts
Oliver Bjorkstrand - Denmark - 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship

Photo: Portland Winterhawks forward and Columbus Blue Jackets prospect Oliver Bjorkstrand scored four goals in five games for Denmark’s surprising squad at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship (courtesy of Dennis Pajot/Getty Images)

 

With playoffs underway in the KHL and the second season soon to start in all major North American leagues, February is the start of hockey’s stretch drive. And while new candidates for the month’s top NHL prospect emerged, the continued consistency from top stars is what stood out most in the month of February.

Hockey’s Future Prospect of the Month – February, 2015

Oliver Bjorkstrand, RW (CBJ)
Currently playing with the Portland Winterhawks (WHL)

After receiving honorable mention in last month’s conversation, Oliver Bjorkstrand has continued his assault on the WHL scoring race in February. He is now second in league scoring with 91 points – six behind Trevor Cox, who has played 11 more games. Bjorkstrand’s 48 goals in 49 games is enough for first in the league and in February the Danish winger added 13 in just nine games.

Most impressive about Bjorkstrand’s month is the fact that he found the back of the net in all nine games, four of which were multi-goal games. His goal streak, now standing at 11 games, dates back to January 30th. Twelve of his 13 goals in February came five-on-five, and, playing on a high-powered Portland team, he was a minus player in just one game.

Honorable Mentions

Anthony DeAngelo, D (TBL)
Currently playing with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)

Since being traded from Sarnia to Sault Ste. Marie, Anthony DeAngelo has found the scoresheet on a ridiculously consistent basis. The offensive defenseman, selected in the first round of last year’s NHL Draft, was held pointless in his first game with the Greyhounds, but has recorded points in 19 consecutive games since. Fueled by a strong February, albeit on a loaded-up Greyhounds team built for a lengthy playoff run, DeAngelo is the OHL’s top-scoring defenseman with 77 points through 49 games. In February, the American defender had five goals and 14 assists in just 10 games.

Ivan Barbashev, C/LW (STL)
Currently playing with the Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL)

A slick finisher himself, Ivan Barbashev has had plenty of help in putting up a spectacular month of February. Playing alongside QMJHL leading scorer Conor Garland, the St. Louis Blues‘ second round pick scored a league-leading 15 goals in the month, including a pair of hat tricks. The Russian had 22 points total in just 11 games. A third-year player in the league, Barbashev now has 81 points in 50 games.

Matt Murray, G (PIT)
Currently playing with the Wilkes-Barrie/Scranton Penguins (AHL)

Despite playing just four games in the month of February, Matt Murray deserves recognition both for his performance this month and on the season as a whole. In the last day of the month, the 20 year old goaltender posted his third straight shutout, his fourth in five games and his fifth in his last seven starts. Murray had a 4-0 record in the month; this season, he is 16-8-2 with a 1.65 goals against average and a .936 save percentage.

Mike Reilly, D (CBJ)
Currently playing with the University of Minnesota (NCAA)

The NCAA’s top scoring defenseman, Mike Reilly already has a career-high 37 points in 32 games this season, including 11 in eight February games. Often playing on the team’s second defensive pairing with ample power-play time, the 6’1, 182-pound defender has a high offensive skill level and currently leads the Golden Gophers in scoring, four points ahead of senior Travis Boyd.

Follow Chris Roberts on Twitter via @ChrisRoberts_7