Prospect of the Month, October 2009

By Chris Roberts

The hockey season has been underway for one month and it has not taken long for prospects to rise above and stand out from the rest. Whether it’s in the CHL, NCAA, the AHL, or overseas, there have been a number of top NHL prospects leading their respective teams with an impressive first month of the season.

Hockey’s Future will reveal the top prospect of each month throughout the season. The winner for the month of October is Regina Pats forward Jordan Eberle, owned by the Edmonton Oilers.

Eberle, a 22nd overall pick in 2008, is famously known for the goal that helped extend Canada’s streak of World Junior gold medals to five. He established his ability to play at the pro level by scoring nine points in nine games with the Springfield Falcons of the AHL last season, but the Edmonton draft pick was unable to crack the club’s NHL roster this season.

Clearly not letting it slow him down, Eberle has been a force thus far for the Pats. He missed the first five games of the WHL season due to being a late cut from Oilers training camp, but he has taken the league by storm since then. In just 12 games, the 5’11 forward has recorded 25 points, including 12 goals. No other Regina Pat is in the top 25 of league scoring while Eberle sits seventh with at least five fewer games than most.

He has added 10 pounds to his frame since being drafted by the Oilers and continues to mature physically. He is not the most physically dominant player on the ice, but Eberle’s offensive skills are superior. 

Eberle will gladly participate in the 2010 World Juniors where he’ll get to represent Canada in front of his home province of Saskatchewan. He’ll likely achieve another dream come next September: making an NHL roster.

Honorable Mention

Brandon Kozun

Kozun developed into an impact player last season for the Calgary Hitmen. His goal production increased to a total of 40 goals while his point total was over 100. Kozun is a small player at 5’9 and his stature may affect his ability to be a regular NHL’er, but his tremendous offensive output last season could not be overlooked as he was selected in the sixth round by the Los Angeles Kings. Kozun currently leads the WHL in scoring with 31 points in 18 games. The most impressive note on Kozun’s numbers is the fact that he has been a consistent point getter and is currently riding an 11-game point streak in which he has totalled 20 points. While Kozun isn’t high on the Kings prospect depth chart, another dominant season will go a long way in determining his future. Kozun will also be considered for Team Canada at this year’s World Junior Championships.

Luke Adam

After a season-ending injury last year, in part due to playing with mononucleosis, Luke Adam has rebounded and proven himself as a dominant power forward, however, with a new team. Adam was traded to Cape Breton in the off-season and he has fit in nicely. His 6’2 frame creates a lot of room in the corners and in front of the net, and with his offensive output, Adam looks to be quite the asset. Like Kozun, Adam is also currently riding a lengthy point streak. In the last seven games of October, Adam recorded seven goals to go along with four assists. He doesn’t just finish strong either. Adam began the month with nine points in his first four games for the surging Screaming Eagles.

Alexander Salak

The signing of undrafted free agent goaltender Alexander Salak went almost unnoticed in the off-season, however, it is paying immediate dividends for the Florida Panthers. The 22-year-old product of the Czech Republic played last season in Finland for TPS Turku posting a 2.40 GAA and a .923 save percentage. In his first year in North America, Salak has split time with Tyler Plante in the AHL. Plante has played admirably, but the rookie Salak has performed well beyond expectations. He appeared in seven games in October and posted a record of 6-0-0 with one shutout and an impressive 1.66 GAA. With his excellent start, Salak has opened some eyes in the Panthers organization. Tomas Vokoun is nearing 34 years of age and if Salak can maintain his level of play there is no doubt that he’ll be in the mix as the heir to Vokoun.

Corey Tropp

Like Adam, Tropp missed a significant amount of time last season, however, it wasn’t an injury that plagued him. The Michigan State Spartan and Buffalo Sabres draft pick was suspended for the remained of the season after swinging his stick at another player. Tropp, anxious to get back on the ice, has been a star in the early going for the Spartans, who only have two losses. Though he only has 28 points in 63 previous games at the collegiate level, Tropp has started this year with 13 points in eight games, including seven goals. He has already bettered his goal total from the previous two seasons. Tropp’s suspension last year was enough to push him back on the Sabres prospect chart, however his hot start this year has caught the attention of many.