Thrashers junior prospects update

By Holly Gunning

The Atlanta Thrashers have seven prospects in the CHL, including three Europeans. Three more play in the USHL, all of whom were 2006 draft selections.

CHL

Bryan Little, C – Barrie Colts (OHL)
1st round, 12th overall in 2006

Little is third in scoring in the OHL behind Sam Gagner and Pat Kane of the London Knights (both 2007-eligible). Little’s scoring pace of 2.09 points per game is an improvement from last year’s 1.70. He was named OHL Player of the Month for October after leading the league in scoring during the span with 25 points in 12 games. His recent linemates have been Hunter Tremblay and Kris Sparre.

Little is expected to play for Canada in the World Junior Championships in Sweden a month from now. Given his November birthday, not to mention four years of service in the WHL, he will be able to play in the AHL next year if he doesn’t make the NHL lineup.

Ondrej Pavelec, G – Cape Breton Screaming Eagles (QMJHL)
2nd round, 41st overall in 2005

Reports that Pavelec had begun the 2006-07 season with some extra pounds are true, but he’s lost the weight now and has improved his statistics. In 18 games, Pavelec has an 11-6 record, .892 save percentage and 3.22 goals against average. The places Pavelec 11th among goaltenders in the save percentage category in the high-scoring league. Pavelec remains inconsistent, however, giving up three goals in about five minutes of play on Friday night and being pulled. Backup goaltender David Davenport has played 12 games with a .901 save percentage.

Pavelec has the inside track to be the starting goaltender for the Czech team in the WJC.

Tomas Pospisil, RW –- Sarnia Sting (OHL)
5th round, 135th overall in 2005

Pospisil has improved his scoring rate with the Sarnia Sting, going from .92 points per game in 2005-06 to 1.38 this season. His 33 points in 24 games tie him for the team lead with defenseman Ryan Wilson. Sarnia, after a dismal 2005-06 season, is much improved this year, posting a 13-7-2-2 record. Pospisil’s +3 is about average on the team.

The skilled winger is being looked at for the Czech WJC team. Last year he was likely to play for the team but could not participate due to injury.

Chad Denny, D – Lewiston (QMJHL)
2nd round, 49th overall in 2005

After dramatically increasing his scoring last season, Denny is doing it again this year. He has gone from .76 points per game in 2005-06 to 1.17 this year. He ranks third on his team with 28 points in 24 games and is sixth among QMJHL defensemen. Denny was named the QMJHL’s Defensive Player of the Month for September, registering nine points in six games. Not just offensively-minded, Denny is also a solid +12.

Denny played for the QMJHL team for the Canada-Russia Challenge, but is not considered a contender for the Canadian WJC team, which is stacked at defense.

Riley Holzapfel, C – Moose Jaw (WHL)
2nd round, 43rd overall in 2006

Holzapfel has increased his scoring rate slightly from last year and leads the Moose Jaw Warriors with 22 points in 23 games. His goal scoring has increased quite a bit, however, and his current 11 goals put him on pace for 34 goals this year.

The Warriors trail the WHL with a record of 6-16-1-0, even worse than the expansion Chilliwack Bruins.

Arturs Kulda, D – Peterborough Petes (OHL)
7th round, 200th overall in 2006

Kulda moved across the pond from the Russian system to play for the OHL champion Peterborough Petes this year. He got off to a bit of a late start thanks to a minor injury from the Traverse City tournament. He now has two points in 19 games, but is a team-worst –14.

Kulda will likely play for Team Latvia in pool B of the WJC.

Myles Stoesz, RW – Chilliwack Bruins (WHL)
7th round, 207th overall in 2005

In June 2006, Stoesz was exposed in the expansion draft that welcomed Chilliwack to the WHL. The move turned out to be a good one for him, as Chilliwack is relying on him to do more than fight, which gives him a chance to work on his skills. The Bruins’ third line of Stoesz, Partik Bhungal and Colby Kulhanek provides strong forechecking and brings a physical dimension. Stoesz has three goals on the year in just 24 games, compared to just two total goals in three years in Spokane. He’s even seen some power-play time. Stoesz has also decreased his PIMs per game from 4.64 to 4.04.

USHL

Alex Kangas, G – Indiana Ice
5th round, 135th overall in 2006

Last year Kangas helped Sioux Falls to an Anderson Cup title and the 2006 USHL rookie goaltender of the year is having another solid season. He’s ranked sixth in save percentage with .906, having posted a 4-5-1 record for his new team, the Indiana Ice. Kangas will attend the University of Minnesota next fall.

Jesse Martin, C – Tri-City Storm
7th round, 195th overall in 2006

Martin got off to a slow start in his rookie year in the USHL, having come from the AJHL. But he now has 12 points in 15 games and ranks third on the Tri-City Storm in scoring, seeing time on the power play. Martin is bound for the University of Denver next fall.

Will O’Neill, D – Omaha Lancers
7th round, 210th overall in 2006

O’Neill has two points and 24 penalty minutes in 10 games with the Omaha Lancers. He is headed to the University of New Hampshire in 2007.

Copyright 2006 Hockey’s Future. Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.