Welcome to the November edition of On the Rush. There is definitely a bit of variety in this month’s outing. We have a burgeoning mobile defenseman from the Philadelphia Flyers, a collegiate standout at Harvard, a pair of struggling first round selections from Dallas, two league-leading scorers, and even a Latvian winger out of the lesser known Norwegian league. From the Ivy League to Norway, it is quite an assortment. That happens to be right up our alley here at On the Rush. So let’s get down to the nitty gritty, and take a look at last month’s leaders and trailers from around the prospect world.
Shayne Gostisbehere, D, Philadelphia Flyers
Drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers
3rd round (78th overall), 2012
The insertion of Shayne Gostibehere into the Flyers lineup has turned the team’s fortune around. While he is being protected when the team has the lead, he has been a catalyst for improving Philadelphia’s offense. This is best seen in the neutral zone where the Flyers are now generating more rushes and scoring chances while shutting down the opposition’s own breakouts. Another area that has improved is the Flyers power play, which has featured the undersized defenseman on the first unit. The squad is finding more success and has been able to build on Gostisbehere’s positive results. In his first 13 NHL games, ‘Ghost’ scored four goals, eight points, three on the power play, two game-winning goals and 28 shots. More importantly, Philadelphia is 7-3-3 since Gostisbehere entered the lineup on November 14th and are back in playoff contention.
Devin Shore, C, Texas Stars (AHL)
Drafted by the Dallas Stars
2nd round (61st overall), 2012
After an outstanding career at the University of Maine, Devin Shore has kicked the doors in on his rookie pro campaign in style. As of December 10th, Shore was tied for second overall in AHL scoring behind the highly touted William Nylander. With 26 points on the year and 15 goals, he is not only the leading rookie point scorer in the AHL but tied for first overall in goals amongst all players. His month of November was equally strong to the eight goal, 11 points October. In November he tallied 12 points, 7 goals, and 23 shots in 10 November games. Alongside Brendan Ranford and Travis Morin, he has helped lead the baby Stars to an offensive start their parent club could be proud of. The team currently sits in fourth in the Pacific Division, but second overall in offense.
Radel Fazleev, C, Calgary Hitmen (WHL)
Drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers
6th round (168th overall), 2014
One of the surprises of the Flyers farm system is Radel Fazleev. Taken in the 6th round of the 2014 draft, the forward recovered from an injury plagued 2013-14 season to score 51 points in 71 games for the Hitmen in 2014-15. This year he has stepped it up and is the catalyst for Calgary with his playmaking skills and scoring touch. Known for his two-way play at the time of the draft, Fazleev has continued to develop his offensive skills and it is paying off this year. While his linemates changed throughout November, the Russian native capitalized on transition chances and cashed in around the net on opportunities. Through 13 games, he tallied six goals, 18 points and a +11 rating. Overall on the season, he leads the Hitmen in scoring with 1.27 points per game (42 points in 33 games), which is on pace to shatter his career mark from last season.
You want to talk about stupid offensive numbers? Just take a look at what the Arizona’s fifth-round pick in 2015 did with Moncton this past month. In 10 games, Garland posted 26 points. Four goals and 22 assists. Nine of those 10 games were multipoint games, in three of them he had three or more assists, and in one he had a hat-trick. He also averaged almost seven shots a game during that stretch (6.6 per game to be exact). If you thought it was impossible for him to top his 94-assist, 129-point 2014-15 campaign, guess again. The 5-foot-8 firecracker is now sitting at 69 points in 29 games as of December 10. While he might be small, he also has a little bit of jam to his game which helps. Despite his unreal numbers, Garland was not invited to the U.S. National Team Selection Camp. Concerns about his size have always followed him, but his numbers are godly even for a high scoring QMJHL.
The high powered St. Cloud State Huskies have been an exciting team to watch. They are ranked in the national top-ten rankings with the second-best offense behind Boston College with 66 goals and shooting 13% on the year. One of their go-to scorers is rising sophomore Judd Peterson. As a freshman, he scored four goals and three assists. He matched that all in the month of November as he received extra ice time for his improved play. The Minnesota native leads St. Cloud State with 10 goals and has 14 points on the year while shooting well over 17-percent with a plus-9 rating. Peterson has made the biggest impact for the Huskies on special teams—where he has four of his 10 goals. Peterson has netted both of the team’s shorthanded goals, and his two power-play tallies came on November 29th at Minnesota.
Vesey was on the scoresheet every game in November except for one. In total, that is 10 points in seven games on the month, bringing his season total to 16. While his pace has been down a little bit from last year’s outstanding showing, he is still showing an NHL caliber game. While a lot was made earlier in the season about Vesey’s family connections to the Leafs and his impending limbo status with the Preds, he has pledged allegiance to the team in interviews and could sign with them after his springtime graduation. The Predators and their fans are hoping they are rewarded, as the 22-year-old continues to be one of the best players currently going in NCAA hockey.
The New York Rangers have been hurt over the years by a lack of high draft picks, but give them credit for finding talent in the middle and late rounds. Case in point is the recently drafted Aleksi Saarela. The Rangers value speed and the Finnish forward has plenty of it. He uses it to protect the puck and create chances with his playmaking skills. Saarela’s 2015-16 season got off to a slow start, but he has been a man possessed over the last month. In a 10-game stretch, he scored eight goals and two assists. Overall, he has 15 points through 27 games which has surpassed last year’s point total of 12. Saarela’s confidence is a big factor as he never looked down during his early slump. It seems everything is clicking for him now. Saarela will also attend Team Finland’s camp for the World Junior Championships.
We do not discriminate here at Hockey’s Future. A good season is a good season no matter where you are playing. With that in mind, we go all the way from the bitter fringes of the Norwegian league, where Rudolfs Balcers has had a heck of a year so far. If you do not know much about the GET Ligaen, do not feel bad. What you should know is that the San Jose draftee is currently sitting at 20th overall in points, and tied for 5th overall in goals with 19 and 12 respectively. His team, the Stravanger Oilers, are currently first overall in the league with a record of 17-4-3. The most impressive thing about this is that the Latvian is almost five to ten years younger than most other players on his squad. It may not be the most competitive or noteworthy league in the world, but he is playing exceptionally well against grown men in a professional league.