Prospect Impressions: Neil Doef appearance, Declan Farmer guides U.S. to gold again, trio of AHL and international highlights

By David Hahn
Steve Moses - Team USA - 2015 IIHF World Championship

Photo: Nashville Predators prospect Steve Moses (#14) is competing for the United States at the 2015 IIHF World Championship (courtesy of Robert Hradil/EQ Images/Icon Sportswire)



While the game of hockey originated with two 1/8th inch blades of steel strapped to two feet, it has evolved to welcome generations of different types of athletes that deserve recognition in their own right. In this week’s Prospect Impressions, Neil Doef makes a heartwarming surprise appearance, while Declan Farmer and the United States sledge hockey team vied for another medal. The United States is also participating in the World Championship, and a former defector showed why he recently earned an NHL contract. In the AHL, a trio of prospects produced must-see individual efforts. concluding a fantastic week of highlights!

Two organizations who are rebuilding have stockpiled quality prospects with their AHL affiliates, producing an opening-round series to remember. The Grand Rapids Griffins overcome a two-games-to-one deficit to defeat the Toronto Marlies in a best-of-five series. The deciding game five saw two highlight quality plays produced, one by Antoine Bibeau, Toronto’s goalie who kept the game within reach in a tremendous display of desperation.

Just minutes after the save by Bibeau, Griffins’ winger Andreas Athanasiou streaked down the ice and unleashed a wicked shot, putting Grand Rapids ahead for good. It was his fourth of the series, and he finished as the first star of the game.

Niagara IceDogs winger Brendan Perlini shrugged off the disappointment of finishing his season in the OHL, as the Oshawa Generals ousted Niagara in five games. Perlini took his talents to Portland and made his professional debut for the Pirates this week. Playing in his third AHL game, Perlini scored his first professional goal in a 5-0 win over Manchester.

At this point, it might be unfair for opposing defenseman to have to handle the Erie Otters trio of Remi Elie (DAL), Connor McDavid (2015), and Alex DeBrincat (2016). Through three rounds of the OHL playoffs, they have combined for 64 points in 15 games, gaudy numbers for any teammates to have accrued. They have all contributed in different fashions, with McDavid’s possession, Elie’s speed and physical nature, and DeBrincat’s goal scoring ability. With that said, it doesn’t get much prettier than what these three young men created together to finish off the Otters’ 7-3 victory in an elimination game, sending the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds into the offseason.

The Nashville Predators recently completed a transaction, signing Steve Moses to a one-way contract. It was an under-the-radar acquisition, especially when you consider that Moses, a native of Massachusetts and a four-year collegiate forward for the University of New Hampshire, recently led the KHL in scoring. That’s right, the diminutive forward fled North America and embraced life with Jokerit, who moved from Liiga into the KHL for the first time. Moses scored 36 goals this season with Jokerit, added five more in the playoffs, and is currently participating with the United States at the 2015 World Championship. The Predators took a gamble on Moses, but if this goal is to be believed, that transaction could be one of the most talked about offseason moves come next season.

On the long and winding road to the 2015 Sled Hockey World Championship, a youngster by the name of Declan Farmer scored an incredible goal from center ice to secure one game for the United States. At just 17 years old, Farmer has already won a gold medal in the Paralympic Winter Games, received an ESPY as 2014’s Best Male Athlete with a Disability, and holds multiple scoring records for the U.S. team. The team advanced to the finals, and Farmer’s third period goal sparked the scoring en route to another gold medal, finishing off a 3-0 victory over Canada. Farmer is a special talent and one of the brightest young sled hockey players in the world.

Among Canada’s many prestigious junior hockey trophies, the Fred Page Cup may not be a household name. The prize, awarded to the winners of Eastern Canada’s Junior A hockey championships, went to the Carleton Place Canadians, who defeated the Dieppe Commandos, 3-2, to win their second straight Fred Page Cup. The Canadians will head off to participate in the RBC Cup, the National Junior A Championships. While that was a great story, one special player stole the spotlight after making a surprise appearance.

Just four months removed from his spinal cord injury, Neil Doef is continuing to make progress. Doef was injured when he was checked into the boards while playing in the World Junior A Challenge. Since then, he has been able to walk with limited assistance, inspiring and tremendous progress for Doef, who had the support of an entire province thanks to initiatives to help the family with rehabilitation costs and moving to a wheelchair-accessible home. Insistent upon enrolling at Princeton in 2016, it was great to see Doef drop the puck for the Fred Page Cup.

More Prospect Impressions coming your way next week!

Follow Dave Hahn on Twitter via @DHahnHockey