Hockey’s Future Prospect of the Month, January 2012

By David Thicke
Photo: Morgan Ellis has been on an offensive tear since he was traded from the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles to the Shawinigan Cataractes on December 31st. (Photo courtesy of Dave Connell/HF)

On Dec 31st, Morgan Ellis was traded from the bottom dwelling Cape Breton Screaming Eagles to one of the top four teams in the QJMHL, the Shawinigan Cataractes. The Cataractes have decided to stack their team for the 2012 Memorial Cup, which they will host in May. In the month of January, Ellis has scored five goals (four goals on the power play) along with nine assists and a plus-13 rating while taking 13 penalty minutes (one fighting major) in 10 QJMHL games.

The stay-at-home defenseman has helped the team to the top of the league while playing both the power play and penalty killing units as well as on the team’s shut down pairing with Brandon Gormley (PHX) who was also traded to Shawinigan this past month. Most people will see Ellis paired with Gormley and immediately believe his numbers are strictly the benefit of playing alongside such a strong partner but this is not the case. It’s more of Ellis coming out of his shell offensively because he finally has better players and a capable defense partner on his team, unlike in Cape Breton where the 6′-2 205 pounder had to do everything as their captain for the last two-and-a-half years.

In 34 games with the Screaming Eagles, he scored just seven goals (six on the power play) along with 18 assists and a minus-three rating this season. The Montreal Canadiens are finally getting to see just how good their 2010 fourth round draft pick can play offensively and what a solid two-way defenseman that the prospect could be in the near future. This season is most likely the big defenseman’s last season at the junior level.

Honorable Mentions

Charlie Coyle (MIN)
Saint John Sea Dogs – QJMHL

On December 16th, 2011, Charlie Coyle announced he was leaving Boston University to join the QJMHL Saint John Sea Dogs after representing the USA at the 2012 World Junior Championship. He finished the WJC Tournament having scored four goals along with one assist in six games and was considered one of the better forwards for Team USA despite suffering from a flu bug for most of the WJC tournament.

Coyle has continued to shine with the defending Memorial Cup champion Sea Dogs having scored five goals with three assists and a plus five-rating in six games for the month of January. The big winger has found himself on the team’s top line with fellow Minnesota Wild prospect, Zach Phillips and Jonathan Huberdeau (FLA) where they have found pretty good chemistry. He has used his size and speed along with his abilities on the boards to make time and space for his talented linemates. Coyle should continue to put up good numbers and help the Sea Dogs to defend their Memorial Cup Title again this year.

Kevin Poulin (NYI)
Bridgeport Sound Tigers – AHL

Kevin Poulin, a fifth round, 126th overall draft pick in 2008, of the New York Islanders was named the AHL Goaltender of the month for January. The big athletic goalie appeared in seven games during the month and went 6-0-1 with a 1.52 goals against average, a .946 save percentage while posting three consecutive shutouts and allowing just 11 goals on 216 shots. He also received two NHL call-ups during the month of January, going 1-1-0 in two starts for the Islanders.

The 21-year-old netminder has so far this season posted a record of 13-13-1 with a 2.79 goals against average and a .907 save percentage in 27 AHL games for Bridgeport. Poulin has helped take the Tigers from last place to first in their division with a 10-0-1 record for the month of January.