Currently, 17 of the ECHL’s 25 teams have affiliations with NHL franchises. This article focuses on these organizations and a few of their key prospects that may someday have an opportunity to move up in the ranks.
In Charlotte, goaltender Vitali Yeremeyev struggled in the 5 games he played with the Checkers this year. However, after being recalled to Hartford, he has sparkled with a 1.55 GAA and 0.953 save percentage in 9 games. Wes Jarvis has had an impact physically as the defenceman has tallied 92 penalty minutes to go along with his single goal.
The Dayton Bombers sent Adam DeLeeuw back to St. Mike’s of the OHL early in the season. However, both Jonathan Schill and Kent McDonell have been productive up front with the latter notching 6 goals and 9 points in 12 games. They have both been assessed 35 minutes in penalties.
In Florida, AHL veteran defenceman Shane Belter has been productive with 15 points in 22 games while forward Brent McDonald has gotten a call up to Cincinnati despite marking only 6 points in 21 games.
Vladimir Sicak has struggled offensively with Greenville, notching only 7 points in 23 games. The towering Eric Van Acker definitely knows his role as the defenceman has 68 penalty minutes and no points.
In Jackson, goaltender Derek Gustafson and forward Cory Larose have received call-ups to the Lumberjacks. Gustafson has struggled with the Bandits while Larose has been efficient, recording 9 points in 14 games.
In Johnstown, mammoth defenceman Mark Thompson has served up 31 penalty min Read more»
When trying to determine whether a player will develop NHL calibre skills, we tend to look at how that player is improving year to year. A prospect is just that; a prospect. Only by improving year to year will any player develop the skills necessary to produce at the NHL level. Skating, speed and strength are difficult attributes to measure on a year to year basis. They are far less tangible than raw stats, but in no way less important. The easiest way to measure a player’s improvement is by breaking down their production into a point per game basis. Then comparing that number to the previous year’s total.
When comparing The Montreal Canadiens’ prospects’ point per game totals from this season with those of a year ago, Ron Hainsey shows the greatest improvement. Habs’ scouts seem to have made the right decision when they chose him with the Canadiens’ first pick in last years’ draft. The 6’3″, 194 Lbs. defenseman averaged 0.37 PPG last season. Thirteen games into this season he’s averaging an incredible 1.23 PPG; an improvement of 0.86. Canadiens’ fans will be keeping a close eye on The UML defenseman during the upcoming World Junior Championship. He should see a lot of ice-time as he suits up for the American squad.
A close second to Hainsey is Chicoutimi’s Christian Larrivée. The Habs’ chose Larrivée in the fourth round of the 2000 draft. He has already scored more goals this year than he did during the entire 99-00 season. The 6’3′, 195 Lbs. center averaged only 0.33 PPG last year. Through 33 games this season He’s averaging 1.15 P Read more»
The candidates for Canada’s entry into this year’s World Junior Hockey Championships were announced this past week and if you look closely, you will notice that Kootenay ICE goaltender Dan Blackburn didn’t get an invitation. It is a surprise? In the eyes of many, no. Should last year’s CHL rookie of the year, WHL Playoff M.V.P. and the number four ranked North American player for the upcoming NHL Draft been named as a potential netminder to WJC team? An emphatic yes.
In spite of all aspects pointing toward the reasons that Blackburn was left off the WJC camp roster, his record dictates that Blackburn should have been given the invite, regardless of the circumstances. Critics who have sprang up stating that the super sophomore isn’t at the same level he was in his rookie year only need to look the winning record Blackburn has both this season and as a rookie (34-8-7, last season – 15-5-3 this season). Yes, his save percentage and goals against average are off this season from last year (.893, 3.01 GAA this season – .901, 2.70 GAA at this point last season) but a couple of factors can be attributed to that stat, namely an inexperienced Kootenay ICE defense corps compared to last season and a nagging groin injury that won’t seem to go away. The groin problem combined with the fact that this year there is a bumper crop of stellar goalies to pick from are the overwhelming reasons for Blackburn being left off the list. Blackburn isn’t alone in WHL notables that were kept off the tryout list. Justin Mapletoft, Kyle Wanvig, Ross Lupaschuck (R.D.), Brent Krahn, Jordan Read more»
Power forward is a key position for any NHL team and one that the Kings have needed for some time. With the emergence of Steve Reinprecht, the Kings seems happy with their centermen, but a strong power forward still eludes the Kings wishes.
As most NHL teams know, the power forward with grit and scoring ability is paramount to achieving success in the pro game. With the emphasis moving away from the “goon” and to the power forward, players like Tie Domi, Chris Simon and Darren McCarty are the envy of the league. The Kings have no one in that mold, or at least until this season.
Kings prospect Brian McGratten is making a new name for himself. The former enforcer seemed more likely to punch a face than punch one past a goalie. This season however is another story. McGratten is still one tough hombre. His 57 PIM’s are still impressive, but not as much as his scoring line. McGratten has 17 goals and 6 assists for Missisauga this season. While the team is not what anyone would call a great one, Brian is the leading goal scorer. Perhaps most impressive is the 10 power play goals McGratten has posted.
Going into the season, McGratten seemed to be battling Kip Brennan for the right to be the next enforcer. With Brennan in Lowell still finding his game, McGratten has turned his game into something that the Kings need- a powerful game with a scoring touch around the net. Make no mistake, McGratten is not NHL ready, but the Kings have to be elated with his progress. He has the size and the grit to match this newfound scoring touch and the Kings will g Read more»
The season began not unlike anyother…some questions at the NHL level and some at the AHL level. Vladimir Malakhov went down quickly thus allowing the entry of NHL journeymen Drew Bannister and David Wilkie to get a shot… followed by Jason Doig, Tomas Kloucek and Dale Purinton. Even Mike Mottau was called upon to lighten the offensive workload of Brian Leetch… but to date only Purinton has been able to gain countable ice time due to his toughness and pro-team mentality that the 1999-00 Rangers so lacked. Eric LaCroix then was felled by an injury allowing Johan Witehall to earn some NHL icetime as well as recently acquired pseudo-prospect Bert Robertsson (ex.Vancouver,Edmonton and Columbus-prospect). Let us not forget Mike Richter`s recovery from last seasons knee surgery which thrust Kirk McLean and a host of others into the nets at MSG, see..Johan Holmqvist and Jason Labarbera.
While the players benefit from gaining valuable minutes in the NHL veteran and rookie AHLers in Hartford have been called upon to carry a large, large workload. Jason Dawe joined Jason Doig with long term injuries or season ending… this forcing G.M. Al Coates to search the leagues for players. Bryce Wandler, Goaltender was summoned from nearby New Haven of the UHL to guard the pipes while the Rangers AHL netminders toiled in New York.
The additions of Ryan Bast (ex Islanders), Boyd Kane(ECHL) and Richard Scott added to the Pack`s aggressiveness, however four of the team’s most physical players last season – Dale Purinton(NYR), P.J. Stock(MTL), Chris Kenady and Chris Read more»