Prospect Impressions: Pair of AHL forwards debut, strange shootout save, more prospect highlights

By David Hahn
Patrik Bartosak - Manchester Monarchs

Photo: Manchester Monarchs goaltender and Los Angeles Kings prospect Patrik Bartosak is a nephew of former NHL forward Radek Bonk (courtesy of Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire)


In this week’s Prospect Impressions, take a look as two players score their first professional goals in spectacular fashion. Meanwhile, two young AHL goaltenders produce “Save of the Year” candidates, and one of them wasn’t even paying attention during the play. Finally, all three CHL leagues are in the playoffs and highlight-reel goals abound from some of the top prospects from around the globe.

As dangerous as any prospect near the net, Nikolay Goldobin enjoyed a successful season with HIFK in Finland. In 38 games, Goldobin scored 11 goals and 10 assists, often showcasing his tremendous offensive ability. Goldobin featured for Russia’s silver medal WJC team, where he added two goals and three assists in seven games. After his season with HIFK concluded, Goldobin returned to North America and played his first AHL game, scoring his first goal and assist.

The Minnesota Golden Gophers’ loss is the Florida Panthers gain, as former Minnesota captain Kyle Rau debuted for the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage this week. Rau was a consistent performer for the Gophers, posting four consecutive 40-point seasons. He finished his NCAA career with 164 points in 160 games. The former third round pick for the Panthers scored his first professional goal this week, perhaps a sign that Rau can carry over that consistency to the next level.

Swiss standout Kevin Fiala stood 10 feet away with a gaping cage to shoot at. Then, Calvin Pickard‘s glove whipped across the crease and suddenly, a “Save of the Year” candidate was born. Pickard, who made his NHL debut this season, has finally started to earn some of the adulation normally given to a top goaltending prospect. Pickard has a career-high .919 save percentage with the Lake Erie Monsters, and posted a .932 save percentage during a two-month stretch in Colorado.

Former Red Deer Rebels standout Patrik Bartosak is in his first full AHL season with the Manchester Monarchs. Bartosak has complemented AHL veteran J.F. Berube nicely, running up an 11-7-5 record with a 2.12 goals-against average and a .920 save percentage. Oddly enough, during a game this weekend against the Hartford Wolf Pack, Bartosak made a save while he wasn’t even looking. It was a strange sight, as the Czech Republic native didn’t hear the whistle to begin the play. Even stranger is the fact that he ended up losing the shootout while he was actively trying to make a save on the next shooter.

As a late round pick of the Philadelphia Flyers, expectations for Radel Fazleev‘s season were a bit higher heading into his second WHL season with the Calgary Hitmen. Fazleev didn’t disappoint, running up 51 points in 71 games while also taking a stride forward in the defensive zone. The Russian forward is a shifty forward full of offensive tools – take a look at this nifty play that kicked off the scoring for Calgary.

The New Jersey Devils may have themselves a gem with Barrie Colts forward Joe Blandisi. The overage center scored 51 goals and 60 assists in 67 games with Barrie, and was instrumental in helping the Colts advance out of the first round of the OHL playoffs. Part of the reason why Blandisi had a successful season is his ability to use his hands to put the puck into prime scoring position. Take a look at one example here, as Blandisi works around a diving defender before releasing an accurate backhand shot for a goal.

The Halifax Mooseheads’ season was on the line in a difficult opening round QMJHL playoff series against the Shawinigan Cataractes. Luckily, one of the best draft-eligible forwards from the QMJHL has been a dynamic and enigmatic playmaker for Halifax. Swiss native Timo Meier nearly tripled his output from his rookie season, scoring 44 goals and 46 assists in just 61 games. Late in Game Five of their series, Meier put his squad ahead in the series with a one-time rocket.

More Prospect Impressions coming your way next Monday!

Follow Dave Hahn on Twitter via @DHahnHockey