15.) D Niko Mikkola
14.) F Austin Poganski
13.) D Tommy Vannelli
12.) G Evan Fitzpatrick
11.) F Glenn Gawdin
10.) F Adam Musil
The Captain of the Red Deer Rebels is expected to have a big season, as far as production is concerned. The 6’3 former 4th rounder in the 2015 NHL draft had an improved season last year. He tallied 43 points (19-24–43) in 66 games played for Red Deer. Musil also came up clutch in the playoffs scoring 3 goals and 7 assists, good enough for 10 points in 17 playoff games last season. He is off to a good start to the season as he has 3 assists in the teams forst 5 games.
9.) F Mackenzie MacEachern
As some of you may know, I was very impressed with the former Michigan State Spartan last season. MacEachern was one of my “prospect of the month” award winners in early 2016. He led the Spartans in scoring with 14 goals, 16 assists, and 30 points in 37 games. Like Adam Musil, MacEachern has an NHL frame at 6’2. In the games that I watched last season, three major things I noticed was his ability to see the ice, his great puck control and body positioning on the puck, and his transition game was night and day better than the other players on the ice; something that Mike Yeo will love in the future. Another thing that stands out with Mackenzie is his professionalism off the ice. I interviewed him a few times earlier this year and he truly is a smart, humble individual with a lot of hockey sense.
8.) D Vince Dunn
The speedy offensive defenseman should have a very productive season with the Niagara Ice Dogs of the OHL. Dunn impressed most of last year and his skating is truly elite. Dunn scored 12 goals, 31 assists, and 43 points in 52 games played in 2015-16. What really stuck out to me was his raised level of play in the postseason. He played with more grit to his game and proved to be clutch on the boxscores. In 12 playoff games Dunn had 5 goals, 7 assists, and 12 points. I’m curious to see how much time and how well Vince Dunn’s game transitions to the AHL as he’s set to play his rookie season in the AHL.
7.) F Jordan Kyrou
Jordan Kyrou could potentially be the prospect of the year in 2016-17. He’s off to a great start for the Sarnia Sting with 1G, 7A, 8P in the first 5GP. Kyrou is a fast playmaking center that makes his wingers better by gaining the zone and setting them up for great scoring opportunities. Last season, Kyrou produced 51 points in 65 games played (17 goals, 34 assists). While watching Kyrou, he reminds me of two players. A playmaking version of Robby Fabbri, and a center version on Marty St. Louis. Jordan Kyrou has the potential to be an NHL top 6 forward. I had him ranked as a first rounder in this years NHL draft, but many believe he slid to the top of the 2nd round because of his size… Sound familiar? (See Robby Fabbri)
6.) D Jake Walman
Jake Walman was off to a great start last season, even leading the entire NCAA in goals at a point of time… As a defenseman. An injury cut Walman’s incredible season short as he finished with 13 goals, 15 assists, 28 points, in 27 games played for Providence College. If it wasn’t for the injury, Walman would have made a great case for prospect of the year. Im excited to see if Walman can bounce back after the injury and have another impressive season. He currently has 2 assists in the first two games played.
5.) F Samuel Blais
Samuel Blais, my 2015-16 prospect of the year award winner. Ive gotten to know Blais on and off the ice a lot over the past year. Blais had arguably the best statistical season out of the prospects last season, as in 63 games played, he had 33 goals, 49 assists, 82 points. When i asked him what he thought was leading to his success last season, he said he’s more dedicated in the defensive zone and he felt like it was helping him get better in the transition game into the offensive zone, leading to better chances to stay consistent. Blais will play this season in the AHL with the Chicago Wolves. I suggest watching “Sammy” play a few times this season. His vision is his greatest asset and he can make some incredible plays.
4.) D Jordan Schmaltz
The most NHL ready prospect on this list is defenseman, Jordan Schmaltz. At 6’2, around 200 pounds, the two way defenseman had a surprisingly easy transition to his first year in the AHL. In last year’s 71 games played, Schmaltz produced 6 goals, 30 assists, 36 points and played composed, only getting 24 penalty minutes. I expect we see Schmaltz at some point this season with the Blues. Schmaltz plays tough, pressed defensive game and possesses a smooth, heads up offensive game. He has a good shot and i believe he’ll be able to produce at the NHL level.
3.) F Tage Thompson
The Blues first round pick in this summers past NHL draft was chosen wisely, drafting Tage Thompson. I watched Tage 6 times last season at UCONN and instantly thought he was the type of player the Blues could add to their prospect pool. He’s a big 6’5, 190 center with excellent awareness and finishing ability. Last season in Thompson’s freshman season, tallied 14 goals, 18 assists, 32 points, in 36 games played. He’s off to a productive start to the season, with 3 goals, 2 assists, in just 2 games played. He is likely to make a strong case for prospect of the year and I’m expecting very big things from him this season.
2.) F Ivan Barbashev
Ivan Barbashev took a little time to get used to the professional game last season with the Chicago Wolves. We know how dominant he was in juniors, putting up a ton of points along with leading his team throughout the playoffs. Barbashev had a impressive offseason and it showed during training camp, as he was one of the last to be cut. In his rookie season in the AHL, Barbashev had 65 games played, 10 goals, 28 assists, 28 points. With an increased amount of ice time, I’m interested to see how much Barbashev can improve, especially knowing there is a realistic shot he makes the team next season.
1.) G Ville Husso
Get used to hearing the name Ville Husso. Ive watched the fantastic Finn closely over the past two years, and as you may know, i’m very high on the goalie. Husso was the runner up to Samuel Blais for prospect of the year, but still put-up numbers to prove he was well worthy of winning the award. Husso went 25-8-6 (ties not OTL), with a solid 0.927 save percentage, a 1.91 goals against average, and 5 shutouts. Husso led Helsinki to the championship round of the Finnish Elite League playoffs where he faced the red hot Patrik Laine. Helsinki came up just short of the championship but Husso proved he’s a playoff performer, allowing just 1.51 goals pregame and 4 shutouts. Look for Ville to get some time with the Wolves this season, even though there is a bit of a log jam in goal.