Dave Bolland, C, London Knights
Bolland was drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks near the beginning of the second round last year and enjoyed a fine season for the eventual Memorial Cup champion Knights. With much of the veteran, top talent graduated from juniors this season, Bolland was expected to pick up the slack and he has. Bolland has a gaudy 62 points (25 goals, 37 assists) in 24 games, placing him second in league scoring behind teammate Rob Schremp.
Clearly one of the elite players in junior hockey, Bolland plays with passion and extremely high-end skill. While a bit slight in terms of physical frame by NHL standards at 6’0, 175, everything else about Bolland is encouraging. He is part of Team OHL for the ADT Canada-Russia Challenge, and stands a good chance of making the Canadian WJC squad.
Michael Blunden, RW, Erie Otters
Blunden at 6’3, 208 lbs, is a quintessential power forward. Drafted this year in the second round, Blunden was a bit of an enigma. Some teams saw the combination of size and talent and other teams saw an inconsistent performer who didn’t show improvement last year. As it turns out, Blunden had back problems that limited his play. Offseason surgery appears to have helped him greatly as he exploded out of the blocks and has continued to be one of the highest scorers in the OHL. In 24 games, Blunden has 23 goals and 19 assists, tying him for seventh in the league with 42 points. He is part of Team OHL for the ADT Canada-Russia Challenge.
Adam Berti, LW, Oshawa Generals
It would be interesting to see what kind of numbers Berti could put up playing with better talent and on a better team. Nevertheless, Berti has churned out 16 goals and 18 assists for 34 points in 22 games this year for Oshawa who are 5-18-1 and is clearly the leader on the Generals. Berti is someone who, when agitated, can elevate his game and at times physically dominate. The knock on Berti, like fellow 2004 draftee, power forward Bryan Bickell, was inconsistency, but he appears to have made progress towards improvement in that area.
Evan Brophey, C, Plymouth Whalers
Brophey was the leading scorer for Belleville when traded just this week along with defenseman Wes Cunningham and a fourth round draft choice in 2006 from the Belleville Bulls in exchange for center Cory Tanaka and Plymouth’s second round draft choices in 2006 and 2007. While lacking a strong supporting cast with Belleville, Brophey has still managed to put up better than a point a game (9 goals, 17 assists in 22 games). Since the trade, he has one assist in two games with Plymouth.
Brophey can be inconsistent and needs to work on his even strength defensive play. Regardless, he is a smooth skating center who has excellent hands and is an intriguing prospect.
Bryan Bickell, LW, Ottawa 67’s
Bickell had 54 points in 66 games last year which was a bit of a disappointment from a player who has all the tools including great size at 6’4 220 lbs. His production is up in 2005-06, with 25 points in 26 games, but he still hasn’t eradicated his inconsistencies. Third on the 67’s in scoring, Bickell was named the OHL Player of the Week for the period of Nov. 15 to 21. He scored five goals and three assists in three games during that period as the 67’s went 2-1-0-0.
Bickell can dominate on occasion, but he needs to kick his overall game into high gear so that other forwards in the system don’t pass him by.
Ryan Garlock, LW, Windsor Spitfires
Garlock is a strong-skating, hard-working center who plays a spirited two-way game. He is scoring at almost point per game pace (9 goals and 15 assists in 25 games) on a struggling team. With fellow Hawks prospect Mitch Maunu back in the lineup for Windsor, Garlock should be able to improve his numbers as his season progresses. He is part of Team OHL for the ADT Canada-Russia Challenge.
David Kuchejda, RW, Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds
Kuchejda is a rookie out of the Czech junior leagues, and has played well for the Greyhounds. Currently leading the team in plus/minus at +5, Kuchejda has scored 15 points in 24 games, placing him fifth in scoring. No doubt the 2005 seventh rounder is still in the acclimation process to his new surroundings in North America, but possesses a lot of raw talent.
Trevor Kell, RW, London Knights
Called upon to be a checking forward for the Knights, Kell nevertheless puts up decent numbers for this high-powered team. Kell is scoring at a point a game (24 games, 7 goals, 17 assists) as he tries to prove he is a multi-dimensional player. Kell is a strong skater with a strong work ethic — a perfect example of the type of player the Hawks have focused on – especially in the later rounds.
Mitch Maunu, D – Windsor Spitfires
At 6’1, 220 lbs, Maunu is an average sized defenseman. He started the year with a shoulder injury, but has come back to record 3 goals and 6 assists in 15 games. Windsor struggled early, and head coach Bob Mancini noted that the return of Maunu had a major effect on the Spitfires.
“Their improved play has a lot to do with his leadership and play,” Mancini told The Saginaw News.
This will be Maunu’s last year in juniors and he’ll be looking to show improvement in order to get a chance to play at Norfolk next year.
Cam Barker, D, Medicine Hat Tigers
The Blackhawks were eager to see whether this very talented defenseman, drafted No. 3 overall in 2004, could make the leap from juniors to parent club. While appearing in one game and having the opportunity to play preseason games and practice with the Hawks, it was grudgingly determined that Barker was better off going back to Medicine Hat, but also playing for Canada at the World Junior tournament.
In junior, Barker has been dominant pretty much every time he’s on the ice. He appears to be in complete control, an obvious veteran who plays with high level of confidence. He has great anticipation, and seldom appears close to being out of position. He does not give up space in the defensive zone and makes it very difficult for opponents to set up in front of the net. Barker also blocks lots of shots.
With 5 goals and 9 assists in 17 games, Barker is part of Team WHL for the ADT Canada-Russia Challenge, and will anchor the Canadian defense in the WJC.
Troy Brouwer, RW, Moose Jaw Warriors
Brouwer had an excellent prospects camp in Chicago and has used the confidence to dominate the WHL in the early going, named WHL Player of the Month for September/October. This tough, power forward has scored 24 goals and 21 assists in 26 games. He’s playing great hockey at even strength as well, posting a +14. He’s just two points away from his total from last season, in 45 fewer games. For a seventh round pick, Brouwer could be a diamond in the rough.
Karel Hromas, LW, Everett Silvertips
Hromas is a strong-skating Czech in his second season with Everett. He has 7 goals and 8 assists in 26 games. While only having two minutes in penalties, Hromas plays more of a North American game than most Euros. Since Hromas doesn’t have high-end skills, it will be important for him to demonstrate improvement this year to be included in the Hawks plans.
Adam Hobson, C, Spokane Chiefs
Hobson plays a very physical game and does it well. Hobson is a character player who must bring energy every night and do the little things to help a team win. Registering 8 goals and 6 assists in 24 games, Hobson is tied for third in scoring on his team.
Brent Davies and Glen Erickson contributed to this report. Copyright 2005 Hockey’s Future. Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.