Prospect Faceoff returns to Hockey’s Future with a pair of recently re-assigned Philadelphia Flyers prospects kicking off their junior season in style. In Ottawa, Travis Konecny goes one-on-one against one of 2015’s breakout stars in Andrew Mangiapane. Another Flyers prospect recently returned to his junior team, Travis Sanheim, goes against a steady performer in Luke Philp. The QMJHL is already underway, and Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Dmytro Timashov’s playmaking abilities will be tested against Nicolas Meloche. Finally, the USHL kicks off their regular season this weekend and two late-round European prospects should see a lot of each other in a prime weekend venue.
Andrew Mangiapane (Barrie) vs. Travis Konecny (Ottawa) – OHL
The Calgary Flames added second-year eligible left wing Andrew Mangiapane in the sixth round of this past June’s NHL Draft, adding to an already deep group of forward prospects. Mangiapane was one of nine players to eclipse the 100-point plateau last year. He did so with the help of fellow underrated prospects Kevin Labanc (SJS) and Joe Blandisi (NJD), the latter of whom graduated from the OHL and will begin play in the AHL this season. It will be interesting to see if Mangiapane’s production was at least in part due to having Blandisi as a pivot, but his production in the Penicton prospect tournament and Flames’ development camp suggests that he is primed for another big year and a potential NHL entry-level contract.
Ottawa 67’s captain Travis Konecny has already acquainted himself with Flyers players, management, and fans alike in just a few short weeks. Earning high praise from many, Konecny’s abrasive style and high skill level appears to have translated well, though not enough to make the team out of training camp. Early returns on the Flyers decision to trade up to take Konecny look positive, as Vinny Lecavalier called Konecny “mesmerizing” in comparison to Tyler Johnson, a breakout star in his own right. The future looks bright for Konecny, who will return for another season in Ottawa, where the 67’s are loaded for a potential run at a championship.
Luke Philp (Kootenay) vs. Travis Sanheim (Calgary) – WHL
Another potential Philadelphia Flyers prospect, Luke Philp, recently was assigned back to the Kootenay Ice after participating in the team’s training camp. While he left camp without a contract, Philp is one of the most consistent performers in the WHL over the last three years and will return for a final “overage” season. Philp impressed at development camp and looked like a top option for the Flyers, who will keep him on their radar for another chance next summer. The Kootenay Ice are reloading for next year, and will rely on Philp to continue to produce offense for the team. With point totals of 77 and 82 consecutively over the last two seasons, Philp will try to topple those totals during his last season of junior hockey.
Also recently released from the Flyers training camp was Travis Sanheim, who is a bit more surprising than Philp. Sanheim, one of the Flyers heralded defense prospects and a 17th overall pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, was the highest scoring defenseman in the WHL last season with 15 goals and 50 assists. With Shayne Gostibehere looking like he’s ready to make the jump, Sanheim and fellow first-rounder Ivan Provovov were returned to junior. The Calgary Hitmen don’t mind the move, who gain one of the most dynamic and efficient players that compete in the WHL.
Nicolas Meloche (Baie-Comeau) vs. Dmytro Timashov (Quebec) – QMJHL
The Baie-Comeau Drakkar recently received a boost to their defense when the Colorado Avalanche sent Nicolas Meloche back to the team. The 40th overall pick in this June’s NHL Draft, Meloche is an exciting prospect who enjoyed a strong finish to 2014-15 and appears poised for a big year. Meloche has tremendous awareness, and constantly anticipates one or two steps ahead of the competition. It is this intelligence that led to a 10-goal, 24-assist season, and those totals figure to improve with additional ice time and frequent special-teams responsibilities.
If not for his slight 5’9” frame, Dmytro Timashov would not have lasted until the 125th pick in the 2015 NHL Draft. The Toronto Maple Leafs added the dangerous playmaker, part of a shift in philosophy and fundamental organizational structure change. Timashov got Quebec Remparts fans out of their seats many times last season, as his 71 assists were good for second overall in that category in the QMJHL in 2014-15. The enigmatic Ukrainian-born Swede ignited a few goals during the Leafs’ prospect development camp, and he will be making his 2015-16 season debut this weekend.
Kris Oldham (Omaha) vs. Nikita Pavlychev (Des Moines) – USHL
Kris Oldham, an Anchorage, Alaska native, was the first pick of the sixth round in the 2015 NHL Draft by the Tampa Bay Lightning. A big, blocking-style netminder, Oldham immediately drew comparisons to Lighting behemoth Ben Bishop, and spent time working with him in the offseason. Oldham led the Omaha Lancers last season with a 2.49 goals-against average and a .908 save percentage in 33 regular season games. Oldham recently committed to play for the University of Nebraska-Omaha, just minutes from where the Lancers play.
It might be off in the distance, but if Nikita Pavlychev suits up with the Pittsburgh Penguins organization, it will represent a serendipitous homecoming. Pavlychev left his hometown of Yaroslavl, Russia in order to play hockey in the United States, and he landed in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania where he played two years of development hockey. A recent expedition to the USHL led Pavlychev to the Des Moines Buccaneers, where the 6’7”, 200-pound power forward scored six times and added 10 assists. The Penguins added the transplanted Pennsylvanian in the seventh round of the 2015 NHL Draft, and he will face a much bigger role and will be asked to take on more responsibility in Des Moises. Pavlychev committed to play college hockey in his new home away from home, Penn State University, beginning in 2016.
Emil Pettersson (MODO) vs. Gustav Forsling (Linkoping) – SHL
As seasons in the Allsvenskan go, Emil Pettersson’s 2014-15 year was one to remember. He led Timra IK in scoring with 12 goals and 23 assists in 52 games, playing in a variety of roles. Most notably, Pettersson’s development in running the power play was impressive, as the young Swede’s ability to pull up and let a play develop in front of him displayed a patience and calm nature not usually seen in players his age. He carried that success over to MODO in the SHL’s relegation tournament, helping them sweep HC Vita Hasten in four games with a four-point performance. This year, Pettersson already has an assist to his name and looks to have earned the trust of Head Coach Larry Huras and the rest of the coaching staff.
It may have gone unnoticed in most front offices, but when the Chicago Blackhawks opted to trade Adam Clendening to Vancouver (since traded to Pittsburgh), the return was a little surprising. Clendening, the 36th overall pick in the 2011 NHL Draft, hadn’t lived up to expectations and the Blackhawks opted to trade for a different type of defenseman. Just weeks before the trade, Gustav Forsling was one of the best players for Sweden during the World Junior Championship, collecting three goals and five assists, resulting in a designation as a tournament All-Star. Forsling is an offensive defenseman that has a slick set of skills, especially with the man advantage. Those skills are on display with Linkoping, where he is playing big minutes and already has two assists in two games.
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