The Kings are suddenly full of quality young defenseman. At the top of that list right now may be Joe Rullier. Rullier is having a tremendous season in the QMJHL with Rimouski. Joe has 2 goals, 22 assists and 112 PIM’s in 32 games. He also is 10th in the league in plus-minus with a +19. Rullier has great size (6’4) and is turning into the top young defenseman in the system. While Richard Seeley (Lowell- AHL) and Jason Crain (Ohio State University) have not had spectacular seasons, their promise is still encouraging. Combine those with Kaberle, Berg and Karalahti and their are some solid blueliners waiting.
Justin Papineau is having another solid season. Papineau continues to be the most promising forward in the Kings’ system. He has 21 goals(which ranks him 5th in the league) and 15 assists in 26 games while posting a +8. While Papineau is excelling like the Kings expected, perhaps teammate Kevin Baker is playing even better than the organization hoped. Baker has 14 goals, 13 assists and is a +4 while racking up 39 PIM’s. Baker leads the team and is second in the league with 4 game winning goals and has been solid. Both of these players need to grow physically, but they are incredibly skilled and are playing well. Another Belleville Bull, goaltender Corey Campbell has 12 wins, but has 8 losses and a 3.44 GAA. Campbell has struggled with inconsistency but is still 4th in the league with wins.
In Halifax, Andrei Shefer and Alexey Volkov are part of the first place Mooseheads. Shefer is second on the team in goals with 22 and third in points with 37 (in 30 games) and already has a pair of hat tricks and a three assist game. Volkov is 11-9-1 with a 3.74 GAA, but the fact they are in first place is the most positive news about any starting goalie. Halifax has two studs in Ramzi Abid and Brandon Reid, so it is encouraging to see Shefer prosper even though is really the third option on the club.
As for the muscle in Sudbury, Brian McGrattan is tenth in the league in PIM’s with 79, followed closely by teammate Kip Brennan with 72. As Sudbury continues to struggle both will have ample opportunity to hone their skills. Brennan is a -11.
Eric Belanger continues to battle back from injuries with Lowell. In 16 games, Belanger has 3 goals, 5 assists and is a 0 (+/-).
In Long Beach, Pavel Rosa is putting up solid, if upspectacular numbers. He has 8 goals and 16 assists in 29 games.
In search of…Scott Barney, to the best of my knowledge, is still injured. Anyone who knows his whereabouts is welcome to contribute. Please email comments or questions.