With the calendar turned to March, the hockey season is beginning to wind down, and we have seen plenty of surprises and disappointments in the NHL and at other levels of hockey. Some prospects have seen their stocks rise, which have their respective general managers drooling for their arrivals to the show; while other prospects have some heads of amateur scouting preparing their resignation letters. Here is a list of some prospects who have had a great hockey calendar year, and those who would rather have a do-over for the past season:
Nikita Filatov, Left Wing, Columbus Blue Jackets, 2008 6th overall:
While many left the World Juniors in Saskatoon/Regina underwhelmed by Filatovís performance, mainly due to some questionable decision-making and lack of offensive production (despite obtaining six points in six games), his KHL team isnít that concerned. In CSKA Moscow, the dynamic left winger has potted 9 goals and 23 points in 24 games. Despite all of the drama from earlier this season in Columbus, Filatov is getting what the Jackets wanted, good ice-time in a scoring role so that he will be developed enough to slide into their top six if he should choose to return.
P.K. Subban, Defense, Montreal Canadiens, 2007, 43rd overall:
In his first professional season, Pernell Karl Subban has taken the bull by the horns in Hamilton, amassing absolutely staggering numbers for the Bulldogs with 13 goals and 45 points in 62 games in the AHL which is good for 5th in rookie scoring. Subban displays great skating ability and is extremely creative with the puck. While his defensive play has come a long way since he was drafted, it could still use some work but not as much as his hockey sense that may keep him from being a top pairing defender as opposed to a power play specialist. Either way, it wonít be long until Subban is putting up NHL points.
Logan Couture, Center, San Jose Sharks, 2007, 9th overall:
Couture has the luxury of being in an organization with depth, allowing him time to develop. However, Logan has forced the Sharks hand on numerous occasions into considering calling up the talented forward up, as he has lit up the AHL this season. Averaging well over a point per game with 52 in 40 games to go along with 19 goals, while he hasnít produced much in the NHL with very limited ice time; itís only a matter of time for the twenty year old top prospect before he has a spot locked down on the Sharks roster as a 2nd line center with the ability to excel on the penalty kill.
Taylor Beck, Left Wing, Nashville Predators, 2009, 70th overall:
The third round pick of the Predators last year has quickly vaulted to the top five of the OHL scoring race, going neck and neck with top pick Nazem Kadri from Toronto with 37 goals and 87 points in 58 games for the Guelph Storm. The big, strong left winger is constantly in the high percentage areas and kills himself for every point. Smart and determined, Beckís skating may ultimately hold him back at the next level, but for the moment heís showing people a reason to believe he could fit into Nashvilleís top six at some point.
John Carlson, Defense, Washington Capitals, 2008, 27th overall:
A name all too familiar to hockey fans, the overtime hero of Team USA at the recent World Juniors made quick work of the OHL last season, and has brought his offensive dominance to the pro ranks of the AHL with 4 goals and 39 points in 48 games. Carlson shows no fear to jump into the rush, which is debatably a downfall of his when he gets caught, but when he doesnít he shows a very high-end skill set that should guarantee him a spot on the Capitals roster as soon as next year. Always a starting point to much of Hersheyís created offense, Washington may soon have an embarrassment of riches to pick from for their power play unit.
Karl Alzner, Defense, Washington Capitals, 2007, 5th overall:
Contrary to Carlson, Alzner is more of a defensive defenseman who was drafted a year prior, is two years older, and was taken fifth overall. Much more has been expected of the Burnaby native who has yet to secure a spot on Washingtonís roster and could soon be labeled with the bust stamp. Even though he is a good skater and a decent defender, being selected at such a high draft slot will haunt his stock. Not much offensive skill in terms of puck movement, Alzner is hoping to crack the third pairing at the moment instead of becoming an impact player for Washington.
Tyler Cuma, Defense, Minnesota Wild, 2008, 23rd overall:
Tyler Cuma has had a rough season, with a knee injury causing him to miss the World Juniors, but heís also struggled in his final season in the OHL. While 4 goals and 21 points in 50 games isnít terrible for a defenseman, much more was projected for Tyler back when he was drafted in 2008. The multiple injuries this season and last have caused him to lose a step, but hopefully this doesn't derail the prospect who looked primed to turn into a two-way stud in the past.
Zach Kassian, Right Wing, 2009, 13th overall:
Kassian has had an interesting year. Starting his third season with the Peterborough Petes, Kassian was getting into constant penalty trouble and the offensive production wasnít where the Sabres would have liked it to be. So, the Peterborough Petes decided to deal him to the powerhouse Windsor Spitfires, only to see him in his first game with his new team deliver a vicious headshot to Matt Kennedy of the Barrie Colts, which resulted in a 20 game suspension. A dangerous power forward when heís on his game and armed with large skill and grit, this season has resulted in a few steps back for Zachís development.
David Fischer, Defense, Montreal Canadiens, 2006, 20th overall:
The patient project in Montrealís system who is entering his senior season at Minnesota, Fischer had every opportunity to seize the reigns as the teamís best defender and give Habs management a reason to look forward to him donning their uniform. Instead, Fischer has managed a measly 2 goals and 6 points in 36 games this year in the NCAA. If his stock hadnít fallen before, itís officially faded out of sight now. While David is a smooth skater, the rest of his game lags so far behind itís hard to see him as anything but a journeyman at the pro level.
Kyle Turris, Center, Phoenix Coyotes, 2007, 3rd overall:
19 goals and 47 points in 62 games in the AHL as a 20 year old is usually considered solid production and a sign that a player is well on the way to becoming a top six forward in the NHL. For a former elite prospect and third overall pick, that to say the least, is underperforming. Lost in the Coyotes major success this season has been the disappointing step-back of what they hoped was their next big star on a team without a true offensive star. Itís not too late for Turris as he is a great skater, has soft hands and can score goals. Heís not a bust yet, but one more season like this and that stamp may soon come out.
Stay tuned over the coming months at Puck Prospectus as I'll be writing on topics such as:
- NHL Top 100 Prospects
- Team by Team Top 10 Prospects
- Organizational Farm Rankings
See you soon!
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Corey Pronman is a contributor to Puck Prospectus and runs the statistical hockey site The Hock Project. You can contact him at CPronman@fau.edu.
Corey Pronman is an author of Hockey Prospectus.
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