Sometimes good prospects play well on bad teams. Sometimes good prospects struggle to make good teams. Then you have Mikko Rantanen, who has played poorly on an altogether downtrodden Colorado Avalanche squad. Selected at 10th overall in the 2015 draft, Rantanen played six relatively poor games for the Avs before getting reassigned to the San Antonio Rampage of the AHL.
During his six-game NHL stint, the Finnish forward and his linemates averaged zero goals and only 23 shots per 60 minutes. On the defensive side, teams were putting up almost 40 shots per 60 minutes and scoring at a rate of 5.48 goals per 60 minutes of his prorated ice time. He was playing alongside Jarome Iginla and Matt Duchene to boot. Perhaps Rantanen can put it together in the minors before giving the NHL another go.
It is now or never for the 24-year-old Landon Ferraro. Entering his fifth pro season with the Red Wings organization, he has bounced up and down between Detroit and Grand Rapids for the past three seasons. With Jeff Blashill in charge at Motown, Ferraro was able to earn a roster spot out of training camp. He has mainly been featured on the wing on the fourth line, averaging 9:33 of ice time. However, Ferraro has not stood out during his 10 appearances. He has been scratched for two games and has failed to register a single point. While his game revolves around his two-way play, the Red Wings are struggling to score goals and need a spark to get the team going. Ferraro is expected to return soon from a knee injury picked up in early November.
The big, yet shifty Russian looked like a good second-round swipe for the Predators at the 2015 draft. He has the size of a good North American forward, and had a great year of offensive output with Gatineau in 2014-15. A shift from center to wing seemed to help the Russian look more comfortable overall. This year he is off to a rough start, and will have to push hard to top his 67-point campaign of 2014-15. While he is still showing excellent face-off numbers, winning nearly 64-percent of his draws on the year, the offense that made his stock rise in the draft has gone a bit cold. He had just five points in the first 13 games with the Olympiques.
It was not a good month for the Islanders’ first-round draft pick. With only one goal and eight assists in the first 13 games of the season, Michael Dal Colle has not performed to his potential. In fact, he has been slumping before the season began. During Islanders training camp, the forward failed to impress management in Brooklyn and was returned to junior. That is not a good sign for a high prospect many considered close to NHL ready. As a result of Dal Colle’s early slump, the Islanders sent a representative to talk to him. They urged him to not rely as much on his tremendous natural talent and put in the work off the ice, an area they need him to improve upon before he turns pro. With Hockey Canada now voicing their concern and the potential of missing the World Junior Championships , the Oshawa captain appears to be getting back on track as November moves along.
A.J. Greer, LW, Boston University (NCAA)
Drafted by the Colorado Avalanche
2nd round (39th overall), 2015
At 39th overall in the 2015 draft, Greer seemed like a reach. He was ranked at 69th among North American skaters on the CSS 2015 list, and he was nowhere to be found among TSN’s Top 75 Draft Prospects list at the end of last year. Nevertheless, Colorado used their early second-round pick on the hulking BU Bulldog. In eight games thus far he has registered a solitary assist. His points-per-game rate last season was at 0.19, as he put up seven points in 37 games. At this point, he has just 0.12. He is also dealing with a pretty young and talented Boston University team, and Greer does not exactly have a skillset that screams “top 6.” His slow start is not all that surprising.
Collin Olson, G, Western Michigan (NCAA)
Drafted by the Carolina Hurricanes
6th Round (159th overall), 2012
Collin Olson has had a rollercoaster amateur career thus far. Originally at Ohio State for two years, he left school in 2013 due to a lack of playing time. Olson would spend the next year and a half with USHL Sioux City before he completed his transfer to Western Michigan for this season. After a good season in the USHL, there was optimism that the 6-foot-4, 205-pound goaltender would provide a steady presence for the Broncos.
That has not happened as the Minnesota native finds himself in another goaltender competition. There was potential he could have built off a 31-save performance and win over then top-ranked Nebraska-Omaha. Unfortunately he dropped the next two games and has been splitting starts with senior Lukas Hafner. Olson has played in six games and has a 2-3 record with a 3.38 goals-against and .904 save percentage. While his size is a clear advantage in goal, Olson has been caught scrambling or out of position, something that needs to improve if he wants to help turn around Western Michigan’s season.
It is very hard to put a player on the trailing list due to injury, but that is the case with Hintz. Of all the European players with high expectations that were sampled, almost all are performing up to standards so far in 2015-16. Hintz, who is still a fine hockey player, had his start delayed until just last week due to an offseason back injury. The HIFK winger missed the entire first month of the season and is going to have to work his way back into shape right in the midst of the season. If it is any consolation, he registered an assist in his first game back. With the second round tag pinned on him, and having just been drafted not four months prior, it had to be disappointing for Hintz to start on the IR. Hopefully he gets back into top shape as soon as possible.
As Djurgardens have tried to replace Mattias Janmark, Lukas Vejdemo has been moved all over the line-up. He has bounced between the third and fourth lines as either a center or winger, depending on the team’s needs on game day. Part of this has been due to a variety of different circumstances, but the Swedish native has had to gain the confidence of his coach to earn more ice time. Through 11 games, he only had two points and received as little as 5:53 total ice time during one game. As November has come along, Vejdemo has gotten better. He is starting to contribute on the scoresheet and his improving play has grown the confidence between him and his head coach, resulting in more ice time for Vejdemo.