Prospect Impressions: Ruck’s save that has the NCAA talking, plus goals from Kapanen, Nylander, McDavid

By David Hahn
Kasperi Kapanen - Toronto Maple Leafs

Photo: Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Kasperi Kapanen (L) five points in seven AHL playoff games for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins back in April, then was traded by the parent Pittsburgh Penguins to Toronto in the offseason (courtesy of Tony Ding/Icon Sportswire)

 

 

Kasperi Kapanen and Alexander Nylander are up to their old tricks this week, making appearances in this week’s Prospect Impressions. Joining them are a trio of plays from the NHL, including Connor McDavid yet again. Goaltenders get in on the action too, including one “glove save” with a blocker that has the college hockey world talking.

When the Toronto Maple Leafs traded away Phil Kessel, Kasperi Kapanen’s name was immediately trending in Canada as fans attempted to learn more about the marquee name that was coming the other way. Kapanen’s early-season success is notable, as he already has two goals in his first three games and is looking every bit the top prospect Leafs’ fans expected. There’s no doubt that Kapanen has quite a shot – take a look at these two examples.

Leafs’ fans are already acquainted with his brother, William, who is a top prospect in his own right. Youngest brother Alex Nylander is playing for the Mississauga Steelheads, and is making goalies look silly on an almost nightly basis in the OHL. With 19 points in his first 13 games, Nylander is just three points short of the league lead and a full seven points ahead of the next highest rookie competitor.

In the NHL, Tyler Toffoli scored one of the best goals of the year with a creative approach to attacking the net. He is already earning his new contract with six goals through seven games and is a big part of the Los Angeles Kings‘ top-six forward group.

At this point, would it be surprising if Connor McDavid didn’t make an appearance here? He was quiet to begin the season, but is warming up and finding chemistry with Nail Yakupov. The duo combined for a fantastic play this week, and the formerly disasterous Edmonton Oilers franchise are suddenly looking much-improved thanks to McDavid’s addition.

When the Minnesota Wild took Matt Dumba with the seventh overall pick in 2012, it signaled a change in direction on the blueline. In junior, Dumba was a physically imposing defender who was a threat to score at any time. After a difficult 2014-15 season where Dumba was demoted to the AHL for short stretches to regain confidence, Dumba is finally putting it all together and just finished off a fantastic week where he scored on the backhand and later went on to finish a game almost by himself.

Merrimack College graduate Rhett Bly went straight to the ECHL last season after his phone never rang for a professional opportunity with an NHL-affiliated team. He put up respectable numbers and was a decent forward, but if he continues to score goals like this, perhaps the dream isn’t quite over for the Indy Fuel forward.

Forwards can’t have all the fun, right? Attempting to revive his career playing closer to home, Columbus Blue Jackets draft pick Oscar Dansk is statistically one of the best goalies in the SHL this season. He passes the eye test as well, as Dansk has a number of highlight-reel saves to his credit, including these two beauties.

If you thought those two saves from Dansk were good, wait until you get a look at what Northeastern University’s Ryan Ruck pulled off. The former Des Moines Buccaneers’ standout is in his freshman year and may just end up getting more playing time than orginally thought if he keeps doing things like this.

I’m not sure whether this was a case of sportsmanship, or simply a player protecting his goalie. What do you think?

 

Last week’s Prospect Impressions highlights

Follow Dave Hahn on Twitter via @DHahnHockey