In this week’s Prospect Faceoff, two OHL players who were traded for each other go one-on-one against their old teams for the first time . We’ll check in with Daniel Sprong and Mikko Rantanen, who both enjoyed valuable time in the NHL this year. The “Battle of Pennsylvania” gets a glimpse of the future when prospects of the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins go head-to-head, and two of the WHL’s finest defenders are heading in different directions.
Robbie Burt (Oshawa) vs. Michael Dal Colle (Kingston) – OHL
In this week’s Feature Faceoff, two players who were traded for one another clash in an important Eastern Conference matchup. Michael Dal Colle was arguably the most sought-after player at the OHL trade deadline, and the Kingston Frontenacs ponied up enough draft picks to acquire him, but Robbie Burt is working hard to show he is worthy of attention early in his career.
The only other player involved in the trade, Robbie Burt joined the Oshawa Generals in the middle of a rebuild and has already made an impact. The power forward was selected with the 10th overall pick by Kingston, and found himself in the team’s bottom-six. The move to Oshawa has afforded the 16-year-old with more playing time and additional chances on special teams. Despite his young age, Burt isn’t afraid of mixing it up with his competition, and has quickly become a fan favorite in Oshawa with his energetic play. In half of the games, Burt matched his season total of two goals and two assists, and even has a shootout game-winner against the Peterborough Petes on his resume.
It was a pretty happy New Year’s Day for Michael Dal Colle, who found out he was headed from nearly last-place Oshawa all the way up to the first-place Kingston Frontenacs. The acquisition has already paid off in spades as Dal Colle was exactly the elixir that the defense-first Frontenacs needed. After tallying 25 points in 30 games with Oshawa, Dal Colle exploded with Kingston, scoring 11 times and assisting on 13 others in just 12 games. Installed alongside of Warren Foegele (CAR) and Spencer Watson (LAK), Dal Colle has been dangerous so far and should be fired up to face his old team for the first time since the trade.
Daniel Sprong (Charlottetown) vs. Evgeny Svechnikov (Cape Breton) – QMJHL
When Mike Sullivan was installed as the new Head Coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins, that essentially signaled the end of Daniel Sprong’s NHL tenure this season. With two goals in 18 games, Sprong performed admirably well, though he was widely considered to be a better bet to return to junior. Sprong was returned to Charlottetown just before the holidays, and his impact on the team has been huge. He immediately went on an 11-game point streak that saw him pick up eight goals and nine assists during that stretch, but he has no points in three of his last four games.
If the month of January is any indication of what the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles can expect from Evgeny Svechnikov, the remainder of the season should be a successful one. After returning from the IIHF World Junior Championship in the middle of January, Svechnikov scored five times and assisted on 10 others in an eight-game stretch. Playing on a line with Maxim Lazarev and Pierre-Luc Dubois (2016), Svechnikov has looked every bit of the first round pick he is. Taken by the Detroit Red Wings 19th overall last year, the young Russian forward has been a consistent scoring threat and a major player to watch down the stretch.
Terrance Amorosa (Clarkson) vs. Jeff Taylor (Union) – ECAC
Philadelphia Flyers prospect Terrance Amorosa might get a glimpse into the future when he faces off against Union College defenseman Jeff Taylor. The “Battle of Pennsylvania” could have a future entrant if Amorosa can eventually make it to Philadelphia. He was selected in the fifth round of the 2013 NHL Draft, and since then has become a physically punishing defender with a penchant for laying thunderous checks. Amarosa is rounding into form offensively, and has enjoyed increased playing time and a deployment on Clarkson’s second power play unit. He comes into the game riding a three-game point-streak, where he logged back-to-back game-winning goals over Cornell and Colgate.
On the other side of the ledger is Pittsburgh Penguins prospect Jeff Taylor, who was selected in the seventh round of the 2014 NHL Draft. As a freshman, Taylor was blessed to have joined a deep group of upperclassmen and achieved an NCAA Championship with Union College in his first collegiate year. Somewhat of a late bloomer, Taylor came out of nowhere last year to post four goals and 27 assists in 34 games. While Taylor enjoyed a coming-out party, Union graduated a number of older players and are engaged in a rebuilding process currently, with Taylor’s numbers having taken a hit as a result. With just eight points this season, Taylor will hope a younger Clarkson defense will be the fix to his woes.
Noah Juulsen (Everett) vs. Ethan Bear (Seattle) – WHL
There is no doubting that Noah Juulsen is one of the Montreal Canadiens best defensive prospects, but this year is a bit of an anomaly on the offensive side of the puck. The drop-off is staggering as, just one season ago, Juulsen notched nine goals and 43 assists. This year, Juulsen’s production is far from normal, with only four goals and 14 assists with just over 30 games to go. Even with his offensive struggles, Juulsen is still an accomplished defenseman who is handling the opponents much better this year. Sitting at the top of the U.S. Division, the Everett Silvertips are just five points ahead of Seattle, who they face this weekend.
The Seattle Thunderbirds counter with an offensive-minded defenseman of their own in Ethan Bear. The Edmonton Oilers prospect has already surpassed his career-high of 38 points, and is currently third among WHL defenseman in scoring with 12 goals and 34 assists. In the running for the Bill Hunter Trophy as WHL Defenseman of the Year, Bear has been excellent on both sides of the puck. Possessing one of the hardest and most accurate shots from the point, Bear is a dangerous asset on Seattle’s power play and is a player to watch with the man advantage.
Jason Dickinson (Texas) vs. Mikko Rantanen (San Antonio) – AHL
Former Guelph Storm captain Jason Dickinson is enjoying a successful rookie campaign with the Texas Stars, providing them with a capable scoring threat every time he is on the ice. Taken by the Dallas Stars 29th overall in 2013, Dickinson enjoyed a brief cup of coffee with Texas last year before joining the team full time this season. They are sure glad to have him, and with 10 goals and 18 assists so far this season, Dickinson’s impact is being felt throughout the lineup. He currently sits eighth in AHL rookie scoring, and is one of three young Stars to watch alongside of Devin Shore and Esa Lindell.
Sitting four points ahead of Dickinson in AHL rookie scoring, Mikko Rantanen is among the youngest players in the AHL, joining the Rampage after a successful career in Finland’s top professional league. Rantanen, taken 10th overall by the Colorado Avalanche at the 2015 NHL Draft, was able to join the San Antonio Rampage since he was drafted out of Europe where he was already playing professionally. After a brief stint with Colorado, Rantanen was allowed to participate in the World Juniors for Finland, where he captured a gold medal. Upon his return, Rantanen has at least one point in four of his last five games and will hope to stay hot against Texas.
Eric Brassard (Halifax) vs. Conor Garland (Moncton) – QMJHL
The main question coming into this game was whether or not anyone could keep Conor Garland (ARI) off the scoresheet. The Halifax Mooseheads failed, allowing an unassisted goal by Garland, his 31st of the year, but shut the door after that to come away with a surprising 4-1 victory. With Eric Brassard taking a rare night off, Kevin Resop took the reins in net, stopping 34 of 35 shots to earn first star honors. Andrew Shewfelt and Maxime Fortier each had one goal and one assist in the victory.
Max Jones (London) vs. Brendan Lemieux (Windsor) – OHL
In what ended up being a stereotypical hard-fought game between the London Knights and Windsor Spitfires, the Spitfires four-goal second period opened up the scoring and ended up being the difference in Windsor’s 8-3 win. Brendan Lemieux (WPG) picked up a pair of assists, and Bradley Latour took first star honors with his first OHL hat trick. For London, Max Jones was arguably their best player, scoring once and adding an assist as the Knights first line was overmatched for most of the game.
Danton Heinen (Denver) vs. Jack Roslovic (Miami) – NCAA
Denver University and Miami University split a pair of games this weekend, with Danton Heinen (BOS) and Jack Roslovic (WPG) both providing a driving force for their respective teams. On Friday, Denver’s unbeaten streak came to a conclusion when Jack Roslovic’s power play goal held up as the game-winner. Danton Heinen responded with a goal of his own, his 10th, but the Pioneers fell by a final score of 3-1. The next night, Heinen assisted on a Trevor Moore goal, but it was DU’s Quentin Shore (OTT) that stole the show, finishing with two goals and an assist as the Pioneers rebounded in a 5-3 win. Roslovic picked up another assist for Miami in defeat.
Jansen Harkins (Prince George) vs. Brayden Point (Moose Jaw) – WHL
The Prince George Cougars made the trip into Moose Jaw, they scored early, scored often, and came away with two points. Like fellow Winnipeg Jets prospect Jack Roslovic in Miami, Jansen Harkins picked up a game-winning goal of his own, then went on to add another one to finish with a +2 rating in the Cougars 6-2 win. Chase Witala had one goal and three assists to pace Prince George. Brayden Point (TBL) normally finds a way to hit the scoresheet in some capacity, but the only thing Point will read his name on is a -2 rating and one minor penalty, a big let-down for Canada’s WJC Captain.
Gustav Forsling (Linkoping) vs. Emil Johansson (HV71) – SHL
Two of the hottest and most productive young players in the SHL clashed this weekend, with Gustav Forsling’s (CHI) Linkoping squad coming out ahead in a convincing 5-1 victory. Forsling got on the scoresheet himself, assisting on Jakob Lilja’s 10th goal of the season. Linkoping’s Niklas Persson scored one goal and one assist, his third multi-point game in a row. Boston Bruins prospect Emil Johansson helped get HV71 on the board by adding his sixth assist of the year in the loss.
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