On the Rush, February 2016

By HF Staff

Photo: Dmitry Zhukenov had trouble maintaining his lofty offensive pace during the month of January. (Courtesy of Francois Laplante/FreestylePhoto/Getty Images)

Photo: Dmitry Zhukenov had trouble maintaining his lofty offensive pace during the month of January. (Courtesy of Francois Laplante/FreestylePhoto/Getty Images)

 

Trailer

Pro

Morgan Klimchuk, LW, Stockton Heat (AHL)
Drafted by the Calgary Flames
1st round (28th overall), 2013

Klimchuk has not been a disappointment overall. There have been a lot of good things in his game, notably his defensive play and overall thinking of the game. Where it has yet to translate is the offense. Unfortunately, when you have a background of three 30-plus goal and 70-plus point seasons in the WHL, it is expected that you will produce. The young forward had two goals in 11 January games, which is two-thirds of his total for the whole season. He is a heady player, and he is starting to shoot more, but it just has not come together offensively for him yet this season.

Andrey Makarov, G, Rochester Americans (AHL)
Signed as free agent, 2012

Signed back in 2012, Andrey Makarov provided the Rochester Americans with a steady presence in the crease. As his development continued, it was a real possibility that Makarov could have started the year as Buffalo’s backup goaltender. That never occurred as the Russian puck-stopper was returned to the AHL where he got off to a slow start. He has only played in 16 games this season with three starts and two losses in January alone.

In a recent interview on a popular Russian website, Makarov admitted he is disgruntled by the lack of playing time in Rochester, so much so that he asked to be traded, even hinting he might return to Russia. He will be able to make his own decision this summer when he enters free agency.

Junior

Brent Moran, G, Flint Firebirds (OHL)
Drafted by the Dallas Stars
4th round (115th overall), 2014

It would be harder to have a worse month than Brent Moran did in January. The 19-year-old, who was ranked as the third best N.A. goaltender in his draft class, appeared in 13 games for Flint in January. His numbers? A healthy 4.58 goals-against average, coupled with a .873 save percentage. He faced an average of 30 shots a night, so the workload was heavy, but not impossible. He lost in regulation time (0-11-1) in all but one game. Furthermore, he gave up four or more goals in nine of the 13 games, and five or more in four. In some of those games he was facing around 20-25 shots and giving up four or five goals a night. Collectively, it was probably one of the worst months of Moran’s career, and one of the worst months of Flint’s season.

Thomas Schemitsch, D, Owen Sound Attack (OHL)
Drafted by the Florida Panthers
3nd round (88th overall), 2015

It has been a trying season for Schemitsch. Once one of the highest-scoring defensemen in the OHL in 2014-15, the Panthers prospect is far off the mark this year. He broke his wrist in September which required surgery. He would not return to the lineup until October 28th, and he had to play with a brace on his wrist which limited his stickhandling and playmaking.

By the end of January, Schemitsch only had 17 points and a disappointing minus-14. Fortunately for the former forward turned defenseman, the wrist brace was finally removed in January. It is no coincidence then that his offensive mojo is returning. That part of his game will not be a concern but his development as a reliable defenseman is going to make or break him as he strives to reach the pros.

Amateur

Louis Belpedio, D, University of Miami (Ohio)
Drafted by the Minnesota Wild
3rd round (80th overall), 2014

After coming back from the World Junior Championships, the quick skating Belpedio has flattened out a bit. The turnaround was perhaps too quick for the sophomore. He missed two games against Rensselaer at the start of the month and immediately jumped into some headed conference games. Belpedio had 10 points prior to the WJCs, and had just one goal and one assist in the eight games that immediately followed his return. He has had an understandably busy December and January, and the Redhawks will look for him to bounce back to finish out the year.

Ryan Segalla, D, University of Connecticut (Hockey East)
Drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins
4th round (119th overall), 2013

Ryan Segalla started his college career rather well, notching 14 points in his freshman year with UConn. Despite his early success, the next two years have shown his offensive upside is limited. It was at Pittsburgh’s Development Camp where the undersized two-way defenseman altered his style to be more of a physical blueliner.

This season, the Huskies are a middling team at best but Segalla and the defense have struggled. The defenseman is a good decision-maker, but he has made costly mistakes with the puck and even gotten himself into trouble while trying to intimidate opponents. He was suspended one game for a spearing incident on November 17th, but he would not return until January 16th against Maine. On the season, Segalla has only played in 15 games where he has two assists, 18 penalty minutes and a minus-14 rating.

Europe

Bogdan Yakimov, C, Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk (KHL)
Drafted by the Edmonton Oilers
3rd round (83rd overall), 2013

In the opposite vein of Andrei Mironov is Bogdan Yakimov. Yakimov, who started the year with Bakersfield in the AHL, was loaned to Neftekhimik in late December. Since being there he has barely played. While the hulking forward was playing top six minutes with Bakersfield, he has fallen into a role of a fourth line player, rarely surpassing 10 minutes a night. He has just two points in his nine games in the KHL.

Jesper Lindgren, D, IF Björklöven (Allsvenskan)
Drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs
4th round (95th overall), 2015

Wrapping up this feature is the offensive-minded defenseman Jesper Lindgren. The right-handed shooter brings a boast of skill and has earned comparisons to Erik Karlsson for his style of play and looks on the ice. Leading up to this season, he has stood out in the MODO Hockey program in Sweden. This year was no different as he scored 12 points in 14 games with the J20 team in the SuperElit league. That earned him a promotion to the top-tier MODO squad in the SHL. It was here where Lindgren hit a wall as his performance became inconsistent on both sides of the puck. With ice time dwindling and the healthy scratches starting to build, MODO felt it best to loan him out to IF Björklöven in the second tier in Sweden for the rest of the season.

Article written by John Iadevaia and Jason Lewis

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