Archive for the ‘Hockey’ Category

prospects2015

Credit:www.sportsnet.ca

Here we are the last leg of the draft and picks 16-30, not as deep as the first 15, but still make for an interesting draft for the bottom 15 teams.

16.Detroit Red Wings- Dante Fabbro (D) Penticton Vees – 6’0″ 172lbs
Skills: Powerplay QB, great transition game, aggressive in his zone at getting possession back. Dependable in both zones. Good shot. Mobile and intelligent when he has the puck.
NHL Comparison: Tyson Barrie
Why he’s a fit: With the horrible Mike Green contract coming off the books in 2 years and a Niklas Kronwall getting older, along with a few UFA’s and only two real good defensive prospects in Xavier Ouellet and Joe Hicketts, now is the time to add someone who can be a real game changer and help lead the charge alongside Brendan Smith who is poised to take this defensive group over. Fabbro will take the typical Detroit development route and will come out guns a blazing when he’s ready. Could be a real steal for Detroit, who needs to retool their defense.

17. Nashville Predators- Jake Bean (D) Calgary Hitmen – 6’1″ 170lbs
Skills: Good positionally, Good skater, work ethic. Intelligent with and without the puck, strong offensive game, puts himself into the play and creates that 4th forward effect and can be a minute munching defenseman. Deadly first pass and transition game.
NHL Comparison: TJ Brodie
Why he’s a fit: What better team to be drafted to as a defenseman, who’s had such a rich history of producing some of the best defensemen in the NHL today (Weber, Suter, Hamhuis). Obviously, right now there is a logjam of solid top 4 defensemen there, but that won’t last for long, in the likes of Ellis being moved eventually and he should surpass Ekholm eventually. As Weber gets older, they can only lean on Josi for so long to create offense from both zones of the ice, and Bean will be a welcome addition to eventually take some pressure off him and just make that defensive group better, and with a freewheeling head coach, makes an even better fit.

18. Philadelphia Flyers- Max Jones (LW) London Knights – 6’3″ 205lbs
Skills: Strong, Physical, aggressive, speedy. Has that grit factor and isn’t afraid of the front of the net or dirty areas, power forward who has a strong finishing ability. Strong possession skills, hard to knock off the puck.
NHL Comparison: Brandon Saad
Why he’s a fit:  There isn’t much to be said, he fits the Flyers model to a T. A team rich in defensive prospects, they are lacking a power forward who has the game Jones has. He’s much more rounded and smarter than given credit. Especially with almost none to zero depth at LW other than centers playing both positions and no real high-end prospects at the position, this seems like a match made in heaven. He does have to make sure to keep his on straight as he is always looking to make an impact each and every shift.

19.New York Islanders-Julien Gauthier (RW) Val d’Or Foreurs – 6’4″ 225lbs
Skills: Size, Strength, Exceptional speed for a kid his size. Has Elite finishing talent and pure goal scorer. Gritty with a hard work ethic. Soft hands, an underrated vision of the ice.
NHL Comparison: Rick Nash
Why he’s a fit: They have some aging forwards who are smaller at that, and with them all but 100% losing the big bodied Kyle Okposo to free agency. This appears to be a good time to draft a replacement, a kid that will eventually be able to play alongside John Tavares. Gauthier has all the tools to become a premier player on this team, spend a year or two refining his game and bettering his skating and he will be a force alongside the captain.

20.Arizona Coyotes(2nd selection)-German Rubtsov (C) Vityaz Podolsk – 6’1″ 190lbs
Skills: Big strong mobile center, has been said to be arguably the best two-way player in the draft. Elite vision and playmaking abilities and shutdown skills as a center. At 17 years old has adult like strength.
NHL Comparison: Ryan Getzlaf
Why he’s a fit: Almost all the centers are getting older, and will eventually need a replacement for Antoine Vermette and other than Strome and Domi they don’t have the prospect depth at center. Arizona would just be adding to the excellent crop of young talent they have already, center and could surprise come camp if he decides to come over from Russia and turn some heads.

21.Carolina Hurricanes(second pic- Luke Kunin (C/LW) Univ. of Wisconsin – 6’0″ 173lbs
Skills: Versatility to play center and left wing. Good Hands, with an accurate but not quick release to his shot.An offensive player who battles and has the puck skills necessary to come out on top of those battles.
NHL Comparison: Cam Atkinson
Why he’s a fit: The Hurricanes need to take advantage of this

22.Winnipeg Jets (2nd selection)  Riley Tufte (LW) Fargo – 6’5″ 210lbs
Skills: Big body, tough to move off the puck, mobile for his size. Elite release, able to find the open areas whether looking to pass or shoot. Excellent hands and skating ability.
NHL Comparison: Blake Wheeler
Why he’s a fit: He is certainly a work in progress and a project player for the Jets, but this is a good chance to add some size and skill. He is a unique player and just needs to learn to his size and speed to get to the scoring areas more and needs to add some maturity to his game. But other than that, he has a chance to be a real good addition to the Jets who already added Patrik Laine, and could have Blake Wheeler 2.0 on their hands.

23. Florida Panthers- Pascal Laberge (C/LW) Victoriaville Tigres – 6’1″ 175lbs
Skills: Another versatile forward who can play both wing and center. Playmaker, two-way forward, a good set of hands. Plays with energy doesn’t shy away from the rough stuff to get possession.
NHL Comparison: David Krejci
Why he’s a fit: As we get to the nitty gritty near the end of the draft, the more the players are development projects, adding Laberge just adds more versatility to the forward group and with the right development will slide nicely in behind Barkov at center or Crouse at left wing in the future. Adding size and skill with defensive upside this late is always a bonus.

24.Anaheim Ducks- Alex Debrincat (RW) Erie Otters – 5’7″ 165lbs
Skills: Pure sniper and goal scorer, nasty and physical for being so small. Shifty and vigorous on the puck. Has a nose for the net and a rare ability to find chemistry with anyone.
NHL Comparison: Martin St. Louis
Why he’s a fit: I think it’ll be too hard for the Ducks to pass up on someone this good, on such a pure goal scoring sniper. He may be undersized, but he doesn’t play like it and surely won’t be backing down from the bigger Western Conference. Showed he could score 50 goals in back to back seasons and one of them without Connor Mcdavid. He plays with an edge and its something the Ducks lacked at times, honestly could be drafting the next Martin St Louis.

25.Dallas Stars-Tage Thompson (RW/C) Univ. of Connecticut – 6’5″ 185lbs
Skills: Physical, Size, powerplay presence, has a hard shot and another versatile forward who can play both positions. All around game.
Why he’s a fit:  He is adding, even more, size and speed and skill to an already highly skilled and big forward group. After a few years at Uconn, he should be able to show up to camp 15 lbs heavier, with better skating and work on his defensive awareness, which would certainly be welcome in this run and gun offense.

26.Washington Capitals- Rasmus Asplund (C) Farjestad BK – 5’11” 176lbs
Skills: Hard forechecker, relentless on the puck, fast skater, smart with a great all around game, another player with an accurate but not fast release. Has a knack to be around the net at the right time.
NHL Comparison: Henrik Zetterberg
Why he’s a fit: Severly lack at the centre position in their prospect pool, or at least higher end talent on the depth chart in that aspect. He’s going to continue to play and develop against men in arguably the 2nd best league in the world. Will be a great project player for the Capitals as they move forward and don’t have a player like him, who even though his numbers aren’t quite there, is still getting high praise especially being trusted to play along fellow top end pick Alex Nylander at the World Juniors in which his head coach said they were his best line.

27.Tampa Bay Lightning-Samuel Girard (D) Shawinigan Cataractes QMHJL-5″9 161lbs
Skills: Offensive Defenseman, great passer, and vision for passing lanes, not afraid to shy away from being physical, exciting puck mover.
NHL Comparison: Sami Vatanen
Why he’s a fit: Other than Hedman and Stralman and prospect Anthony D’Angelo, the defence looks bleak and is only getting older as I type this. He is offensive style fits well into the way the offence transitions and moves the puck, as well as Jon Cooper allowing his defence to jump into the play. He is undersized but certainly adds a different element to a defence that in a few years is going to need some homegrown talent to step up and help.

28. St Louis Blues-Vitali Abramov (LW) Gatineau Olympiques QMJHL 5″9 175 lbs
Skills: Explosive speed and agile, elite playmaking abilities with NHL like vision and timing on his passing, great hands, underrated scoring ability with a deceiving quick release.
NHL Comparison: Mike Ribiero
Why he’s a fit: With the likes of a few players leaving this offseason, and the higher end talent of their prospect pool, not the fullest. He eventually could be a great addition to the other wing of fellow Russian Vladimir Tarasenko. He has the tools and skills there become an everyday NHL player and really did explode on the QMJHL scene in his rookie year, this past season. Another team where the forwards will be sliding out of their primes by the time he’s ready to step in. Hopefully, the Russian connection can be a nice draw.

26.Washington Capitals- Rasmus Asplund (C) Farjestad BK – 5’11” 176lbs
Skills: Hard forechecker, relentless on the puck, fast skater, smart with a great all around game, another player with an accurate but not fast release. Has a knack to be around the net at the right time.
NHL Comparison: Henrik Zetterberg
Why he’s a fit: Severly lack at the centre position in their prospect pool, or at least higher end talent on the depth chart in that aspect. He’s going to continue to play and develop against men in arguably the 2nd best league in the world. Will be a great project player for the Capitals as they move forward and don’t have a player like him, who even though his numbers aren’t quite there, is still getting high praise especially being trusted to play along fellow top end pick Alex Nylander at the World Juniors in which his head coach said they were his best line.

27.Tampa Bay Lightning-Samuel Girard (D) Shawinigan Cataractes QMHJL-5″9 161lbs
Skills: Offensive Defenseman, great passer, and vision for passing lanes, not afraid to shy away from being physical, exciting puck mover.
NHL Comparison: Sami Vatanen
Why he’s a fit: Other than Hedman and Stralman and prospect Anthony D’Angelo, the defence looks bleak and is only getting older as I type this. He is offensive style fits well into the way the offence transitions and moves the puck, as well as Jon Cooper allowing his defence to jump into the play. He is undersized but certainly adds a different element to a defence that in a few years is going to need some homegrown talent to step up and help.

28. St Louis Blues-Vitali Abramov (LW) Gatineau Olympiques QMJHL 5″9 175 lbs
Skills: Explosive speed and agile, elite playmaking abilities with NHL like vision and timing on his passing, great hands, underrated scoring ability with a deceiving quick release.
NHL Comparison: Mike Ribiero
Why he’s a fit: With the likes of a few players leaving this offseason, and the higher end talent of their prospect pool, not the fullest. He eventually could be a great addition to the other wing of fellow Russian Vladimir Tarasenko. He has the tools and skills there become an everyday NHL player and did explode on the QMJHL scene in his rookie year, this past season. Another team where the forwards will be sliding out of their primes by the time he’s ready to step in. Hopefully, the Russian connection can be a nice draw.

29.Boston Bruins- Tyler Benson (LW) Vancouver Giants – 6’0″ 195lbs
Skills: Powerful skater, Excellent vision, and passer. Soft hands and can create space in tight areas. Leader and mature above his years.
NHL Comparison: Jonathan Huberdeau
Why he’s a fit: Amidst the fact, he’s been battling injuries ever since he was touted so highly. He is built well and built to be an NHL player, maybe not top 6, but can be a special teams specialist and be versatile to move up and down the lineup in the top 9. He would be an excellent addition to the likes of Seth Griffith, Jake Debrusk,  and if he stays healthy and fills out his frame a little more, he should slide nicely into Bostons lineup in a few years. This late in the draft, it won’t hurt Boston to take a bit of a flyer on him, if he fills up to his potential he will be a great pick up, and possible future captain?

30. Toronto Maple Leafs (2nd selection)-Will Bitten (C) Flint Firebirds – 5’`10″ 170lbs
Skills: NHL level hockey sense, excellent positionally, two-way game. Solid in all 3 zones and is always looking to create something offensively. Creative, hard work ethic, great vision.
NHL Comparison: Derrick Brassard
Why he’s a fit: Why not add another two-way offensive centre when you’re about to add Auston Matthews right? While this team may be in a rebuild, they will be in no hurry to rush Bitten,he has the potential to be a real player  at the NHL level that can produce. The Leafs have really lacked solid centre prospects until picking Marner in 2015 and Nylander in 2014 and now this draft should give them two first round centers.But as we have seen with many teams, they aren’t afraid to use centres as wingers.

As I mentioned before I said I’d list who I thought the Oilers would pick with their 2nd round pick( if it is not traded).

32. Edmonton Oilers- Sam Steel (C) Regina Pats WHL 5″11 180lbs
He’s a homegrown boy, and I believe he’s just too good to pass up especially if management feels like drafting a local product. He may be a tad smaller, but his playmaking abilities,leadership and his continuing to grow and develop cant be ignored. But I’m sure there will be plenty of other options others will have.

Thanks for reading everyone, let me know what you think @madi39.

 

Credit to http://www.eliteprospects.com
http://www.futureconsiderations.ca
For helping out with some of the scouting profiles.

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prospects2015

Credit:www.sportsnet.ca

 

It’s the first post in a VERY long time, and of course, it is something as original as a mock draft of the first round, I mean really who does these right?I figured that with the draft only being a week away, I might as well give my opinion on what team selects who and where, and why they fit.

Here goes my first ever mock draft and of course we start with the dreaded Maple Leafs

    1. Toronto Maple Leafs-Auston Matthews(C) Zurich Lions 6″2 215 lbs
      Skills: Great Skater, Strong two-way game, confidence, quick hands and mature beyond his years with a high-level scoring ability.
      NHL Comparison: Evgeni Malkin
      Why he’s a fit: He is the big bodied franchise center the organization has lacked and needed for years.
    2. Winnipeg Jets-Patrik Laine(LW)Tappara 6″4 201 lbs
      Skills: NHL level release, Excellent shooter, Large frame, high hockey IQ, can create chances for himself all over the ice, Pure scorer.
      NHL Comparison: Alexander Ovechkin/ Mario Lemieux
      Why he’s a fit: He is the pure scorer and game changing player they need to push them forward, not to mention him on the wing alongside Little or Schiefele is just the boost the 21 ranked scoring team needs.
    3. Columbus Blue Jackets- Jesse Puljujarvi(RW) Karpat 6″3 200 lbs
      Skills: Big body, strong two-way game, smart with and without the puck, great work ethic, and great attitude.Fantastic speed, soft hands, elite playmaking ability and uses skill, size, speed all together to be a great all-around player.
      NHL Comparison: Jamie Benn
      Why he’s a fit: It will be tough to see Finnish GM Jarmo Kekalainen, not draft this high flying finn, that just adds an element the team doesn’t have in that core group of players and adds a for sure player this team can build around, alongside the likes of Ryan Murray and Brandon Saad.
    4. Edmonton Oilers- Matthew Tkachuk (LW) London 6″1 200 lbs
      Skills: Work Ethic, Leadership, no limit to his offensive creativity, plays with a bit of an edge and grit and has an NHL ready two-way hockey game, putting defense first.
      NHL Comparison: Who other than his Dad Keith Tkachuk
      Why he’s a fit: After a gutsy showing at the Memorial Cup, playing on one leg basically, he is 100% the prototypical player that GM Peter Chiarelli looks for when building a team. There isn’t much he does wrong, and the game he brings would change the complex of that forward group in a heartbeat.
    5. Vancouver Canucks-Logan Brown (C) Windsor Spitfires – 6’6″ 220lbs
      Skills: Big body and uses it to his advantage, takes care at both ends of the ice, a pro like vision when passing.Finishes his checks and with an underrated release.
      NHL Comparison: Joe Thornton
      Why he’s a fit: With the lack of size down the middle, and lack of depth and skill down the middle. The aging Henrik Sedin is on his last legs and the jury I believe is still out on Bo Horvat, this gives them a big strong centre who can match up with the biggest in the west and starts to give them more overall skilled forward depth.
    6. Calgary Flames-Pierre-Luc Dubois (C) Cape Breton Screaming Eagles – 6’2″ 200lbs
      Skills: Plays both Centre and wing, incredible two-way game, the most complete player in the draft, defensive awareness. Agile, work ethic. Puck protection.
      NHL Comparison: Anze Kopitar
      Why he’s a fit: Aside from Monahan they don’t have anyone at centre like him, they don’t have a player at all like him. He’s going to be able to take some pressure off Monahan with defensive duties as he develops and will create a great 1-2 punch almost immediately. He adds size and speed and a good work ethic to an already hard working Flames team.
    7. Arizona Coyotes: –Mikhail Sergachev (D) Windsor Spitfires – 6’2″ 221lbs
      Skills: High compete level, dominates both ends of the ice, creates the rush with his skating, calm and poised game. Smooth skater, offensive touch, high hockey IQ.
      NHL Comparison: Roman Josi
      Why he’s a fit: This team lacks defensive depth, they have two d men signed, OEL and Zbynek Michalek. Everyone else is an RFA, and none is of the caliber this player is. This gives them a second option other than having to rely on OEL to constantly move the play and move the puck, another threat at both ends of the ice. Can’t see them passing up on the best D-man in the draft.
    8. Buffalo Sabres: Jacob Chychrun (D) Sarnia Sting – 6’2″ 194lbs
      Skills: Physical, strong defensive awareness. A two-way defenseman, excellent vision, makes a great first pass, can slow the game down. Composed, underrated shot from the point.
      NHL Comparison: Brent Seabrook
      Why he’s a fit: With a few contracts expiring in Buffalo and the talks that Bogosian is being shopped, the Sabres prospect pool on defence is running thin. He adds something that no other prospect brings, and is a player who can make a large, heavy impact on a softer defence and will make it very hard for teams to play against him as he grows older and stronger.
    9. Montreal Canadiens-  Mike McLeod (C) Mississauga Steelheads – 6’2″ 185lbs
      Skills: Size, Excellent skater, highly skilled, highly competitive, excellent puckhandling, physical.
      NHL Comparison: Ryan Kesler
      Why he’s a fit: The Montreal Canadiens are in some dire need to get bigger down the middle with some skill, especially with a centre group that’s aging and not the largest group of guys. He has some weight to grow into as he develops, but he brings a hard, skilled, in your face game that’s hard to play against. He is someone who could make a real significant impact in a few years and take some heat off the emerging Galchenyuk.
    10. Colorado Avalanche- Olli Juolevi (D) London Knights – 6’2″ 185lbs
      Skills: Well rounded, calm under pressure. High-level playmaking abilities, good vision to rush the puck. Offensive awareness, versatile in all situations, hockey sense.
      NHL Comparison: Kris Letang
      Why he’s a fit: I think the Avs would be lucky to have him fall into their lap at number 10, they do have some older players contracts expiring, and more or less they are 5/6/7 d men. They have a chance to add one more reliable puck mover to an offense that could use some kickstarting with the talent it as. He has size and furthermore helps in the bigger division and conference, along with his versatility that lacks on the back end in the Colorado.
    11. New Jersey Devils-Alex Nylander (LW) Mississauga Steelheads – 6’1″ 178lbs
      Skills: Dynamic scorer, can score from anywhere on the ice, accurate and deadly shot. Soft, quick hands. Excellent skater, playmaking abilities.
      NHL Comparison: Mike Cammalleri
      Why he’s a fit: With the drafting last year of an already dynamic centre in Pavel Zacha, this team needs to start loading up on some highly skilled players. So that they can develop them properly. Having those two in the lineup together in a few years is going to cause some problems for other teams, especially on the 30th ranked goal scoring team, adding some skill and scoring is never a bad thing.
    12. Ottawa Senators- Clayton Keller (C) USNTDP – 5’10” 190lbs
      Skills: Highly skilled, offensive machine, Magnificient vision and offensive awareness, quick feet, patience with the puck, smart hockey sense, great in the faceoff circle.
      NHL Comparison: Tyler Johnson
      Why he’s a fit: While the Sens are deep at centre, Keller is committed to Boston University, so there is no rush to get him into the lineup, and they can take their time with him. Anytime you can add a highly skilled player like this, who all he does is put up points to an already potent offence. He will fit nicely in with this group, and brings a nice set of versatility to the lineup when he’s eventually ready.
    13. Carolina Hurricanes- Tyson Jost (C) Penticton Vees – 6’0″ 190lbs
      Skills: Energy player, pure goal scorer, offensive catalyst, great in all 3 areas of the ice.
      NHL Comparison: Joe Pavelski
      Why he’s a fit: Once again another player committed to the NCAA at North Dakota, so this is a player that although the team lacks centre depth, they don’t need to rush him and can let him develop. He adds scoring and offense and the ability to make the rest of the guys around him better, something the Canes need if they want to build this team right again.
    14. Boston Bruins- Charlie McAvoy (D) Boston University – 6’0″ 198lbs
      Skills: Solid all around Defenseman, defensive awareness, loves joining the rush, moves the puck with elite vision, strong skater, powerplay specialist with a heavy shot.
      NHL Comparison: Drew Doughty
      Why he’s a fit: Zdeno Chara is on his last legs, and the loss of Dougie Hamilton on the backend hurt them. They have stop gap D-men for the time being, but no one other than Torey Krug that can move the puck, and create havoc in the transition game. He’s going to add that all round, 200-foot game that the Boston Bruins back end is missing.
    15. Minnesota Wild- Kieffer Bellows (LW) USNTDP – 6’0″ 185lbs
      Skills: Hard forechecker, strong skater, smooth puck handling, plays a hard game and goes to the dirty areas. All around finisher, physical, accurate shooter.
      NHL Comparison: Corey Perry
      Why he’s a fit: This team has an aging top 6, with not much help on the way in the prospect pool, he is an elite sniper, and although he’s committed to Boston University, it’ll be tough for the Wild to keep him away from the main roster for so long. He plays a heavy game on top of scoring, mix that in with a team that was 29th in hits, he’s going to add something fresh to a stale Wild lineup.Thanks for reading everyone! I will have 16-30 as well who the Oilers pick in the second round, and third round, or what they possibly do with the three third round picks.

      You can follow me @madi39 on Twitter and let me know what you think.

Today I am going to switch it up, I originally planned to do 2 players here, but I’m going to give each guy respectively their own piece. I cover Anton Lander today, a guy who’s had a complex journey to where he is now, and a guy who is on the hot seat.

 

#3 Anton Lander

lander journal

Where do we start with this man, who’s career has been full of question marks. Well for starters he was drafted 40th overall in 2009 NHL entry draft by the Oilers. He was a second round pick, but there was plenty of expectations throw on his shoulders when he was drafted. He was always known has a solid two way centre, being drafted from Timra of the SHL, he progressively got better as he got more mature and developed. But unfortunately he was handled poorly after he made the decision to come across the pond and come to Oilers Training camp in 2011-2012, that year he only played 14 games with the OKC barons putting up mediocre numbers: 1 goal 5 points, before being rushed into the Oilers line up that very same season putting up 2 goals and 6 points in 56 games. The handling of him, and rushing him into the lineup was just awful management, and terrible decision-making in general, he wasn’t ready and it look as if his confidence was gone, he needed to develop.  That’s when the question marks started to arise, was he going to be an NHL player or a career AHL guy? Was he going to be able to produce even at the AHL Level?Do the Oilers even resign him?

For the next 3 years he spent time bouncing back between the AHL and the NHL, not really doing much till the 2013-2014 season when he became over a PPG player in the AHL, putting up an impressive 18 goals and 52 points in 46 games. It started to appear that maybe he was coming around, that keeping him in the AHL to develop properly and become a professional was paying off. Then he got called up to the Oilers again with high hopes from everyone, and was seemingly squandering his opportunity again, 1 assist in 27 games, nothing to call home about. I will say in all fairness to Landers struggles, wasn’t all his fault, the handling of him was terrible and the Oilers, well as we all know were not the greatest of teams at the time with average to below average coaching. Then comes the 2014-2015 season he is now the captain of the Barons, carrying a lot bigger of a weight on his shoulders, and he is producing once again putting up 9 goals and 31 points in 29 games with that barons. Then came Todd Nelson after the firing of Dallas Eakins, and Lander was almost immediately called up for some help. You could see this wasnt the same player squandering his chances before, this was a player who had confidence built in him, who was using his skill set to his advantage and was finally looking like he was becoming the centre we have all been waiting for. He was a man changed, a man on a mission to prove he belonged in the NHL every way possible.

The player we saw in the 2014-2015 season is the same one we want to see this upcoming season,putting up 6 goals and 20 points in 38 games (career highs all around for him). He was a player who was sticking up for teammates, wasn’t shying away from the scrums or the physical stuff. He was battling hard in the corners, he was battling for every puck, no matter who it was and obviously Lander isn’t the biggest guy out there, but there was an intensity and a ferocity to his game that was lacking each of the previous years. He was known for being a solid two way player when being drafted, and he finally started to show that he could excel at both ends. His hockey intelligence was finally on display, his smart and mature decisions that he was drafted for were being shown…a comfortable, confident Anton Lander showed up. Even though he wasn’t looked to as one of the leaders, he was making sure that his presence was known, he was vocal, his actions were speaking louder than his words were on the ice. Everything Lander was drafted for, was on display and his greatest weakness being his skating, was much improved and could tell there was work put in strengthen his weakness.

This is Anton Landers time to shine, with the shipping of Boyd Gordon back to Arizona for winger Lauri Korpikoski, that #3 spot has opened up and his for the taking, whether he takes it and runs with it will be seen. Training camp is just around the around corner, and he’s going to have some competition with that being the #3 overall pick from 2014 Leon Draisaitl, who took his demotion back to Kelowna of the WHL as something positive and destroyed the WHL on his way to becoming the Memorial cup MVP. With that said this job isn’t going to be handed to Lander, he’s going to have to work even harder now, and show his new coach Todd Mclellan that he’s ready to go, he’s ready to prove what he did last year wasn’t a fluke. But there is a positive to him having to show his worth to yet another coach, is that his new coach has a history of putting centres of the wing, so even if he doesn’t win the job as the centre, putting him on the wing isn’t ruled out as an option for him. This is Anton Landers year, here is to hoping he’s ready and shows up.

Projections:82 games, 13 goals, 27 assists-40 points.

Feel free to follow me on twitter at @madi39 and let me know what you think!

To start off, its been ages since I last wrote something and I’m excited to get things started again. This has been a long gruelling off-season for me, and I can only imagine for everyone else. We have had a lot of exciting things happen this off-season for us as fans, Mcdavid, Talbot, Sekera, the emergence of Nurse, Chiarelli and Mclellan and company. A lot to look forward to this upcoming season, creating a different buzz around the city and fan base. I can sense there is a genuine excitement this year, genuine optimism, not just throwing up a hail mary of optimism and hoping you’re at least somewhat close to the outcome of the season.

I’m going to look take a look at the 4 players to watch this upcoming season, all for varying reasons, a couple of players on the hot seat and two emerging stars within our team. I’m going to do this in two parts, as each player overview is rather lengthy.

 

#1 Cam Talbot

Cam-Talbot-Rangers2-e1385305411391

He is coming from the New York Rangers in a deal Chiarelli made on day 2 of the draft. It seemed as if he had missed the boat on Talbot on day 1 and nothing was going to get done, but come early Saturday morning the Oilers traded a 2nd round pick, a 3rd round pick and swapped 7th rounders with the Rangers to get the deal done. The deal is a good one, it was a patient one and the Oilers didn’t have to give up much for what could be their future starter for the coming years.

In New York he climbed his way up from the AHL after being signed out of college in 2010. He progressively got better and better as each year has gone including his college days. He took over the starting job in the AHL after only a year in a half and didn’t look back after being brought up to the NHL. He had an ideal situation coming in, knowing he wasn’t going to play a lot behind the workhorse in Henrik Lundqvist, but it gave him an opportunity to watch and learn from arguably the best goalie in the world.His rookie season he started 21 games, went 12-6-1 3SO with a 1.64 GAA and a .941 SV%. Those are pretty solid numbers to put up coming into your first season in the NHL, he took each game he started in stride and made sure to take advantage of the opportunities he faced, getting better as he went along.

I’m of the belief there were some quiet eyes on Talbot this year, similar to Jonathan bernier a couple of years back. Everyone wanted to see if this guy had what it took, if he could take the ball and run with it if he had the chance. Did he ever take that ball and go, thanks to an unfortunate injury to his mentor, his starter in Lundqvist, Talbot was going to be given the opportunity to start a large stretch of games while the King healed up. He started 23 games in a row, taking hold of the starter position temporarily, he started off a bit slow in the first 4 games going 2-1-1 but picked it up and finishing with a 16-4-3 record during that time with a .931 sv% and a 2.08 GAA, that was during one of the toughest stretches coming down late in season, not an easy stretch when your starter goes down. But he did more than just fill in, he made sure the team didn’t miss a beat and played excellent. He finished that year going 21-9-4 .926 sv% and a 2.21GAA, obviously a drop off from the year before but that was expected, but again still solid numbers for a backup.

There is a consistency in Talbots game, a calming presence in the net that hasn’t been seen in an Oilers net for a very long time. He comes in with pretty high expectations this year, being given the chance to fight for the starter job. Just from watching him last season, watching highlight packages, he may just have what it takes. He is someone who is always looking to learn more, looking for ways to improve his game any way possible, he knew he had to climb the ranks and now he’s ready. He has learned from the best, and with an improved Oilers defence he’s here to show the rest of the NHL he is the real deal. He is 6″3 200 lbs, he makes sure to use his height to his advantage, there may be times he looks extremely agile in the net, but its cause he uses his size and his excellent positioning in net to make sure he’s there to make the first, second and third save if need be. It has to be seen if he can be a starter for 50 plus games, but he’s going to be given every opportunity this year to take that job. The best thing is to try not to focus on his numbers, and look at the details in his game, the way he plays, how he conducts himself on and off the ice. I for one will be happy to finally see a goalie who’s calm in the net and will instill some confidence in the group of guys in front of him.

Projections: 33-22-2 4SO 2.38GAA .921 sv%

#2 Oscar Klefbom

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Oscar Klefbom was drafted 19th overall in the 2011 NHL draft, and was being praised as the steal of the entire draft. Obviously having praise of that sort means there something special about you. After spending two more seasons in Farjestad playing in the SHL he made the jump to North American style hockey playing for the OKC barons. It didn’t start off to well for Klefbom coming over, there were talks he was having a lot of trouble adjusting to the different style of play, smaller ice surface, it can be quite the adjustment when your time with the puck and the space you normally have to skate it up or pass to an open lane shrinks. But the staff down there did an excellent job in sticking with him, making sure he adjusted and slowly towards the end of the season he was getting more praise than not.

He played 48 games in OKC putting up 1goal and 10 points, which isn’t bad for someone not known for his point producing. He also had the chance to play in the NHL that season, playing 17 games for the Oilers putting up 1g and 3 points. It wasnt the smoothest 17 games you’d ever seen, and questions started to arise if he was going to be able to make the jump. His skating was a little choppy, and he seemed hesitant to make certain plays, whether that’s cause it was nerves or cause the entire group sucked at the time, that there was a little extra pressure on him. Well all that seemed to go away as he started the season with the Oilers but for whatever reason was in and out of the press box, so they sent him down to OKC where he played 9 games and put up 8 points, receiving praise from then head coach Todd Nelson of the barons. He got called up again and he wasnt looking back. He easily became the Oilers best defenseman in just a short period, averaging 22 minutes a night and late in the season was comfortably playing upwards of 25 minutes a night. As each game passed he got better and better, and when Todd Nelson took over behind the bench he was playing with even more confidence and looked to grab hold of that top 4 role and wasnt letting go, showing why he’s a first round pick and why he was considered the steal of the draft.

He was never known for the guy who’s going to put up points for you, but in the 60 NHL games he played last year he put 2 goals and 20 points, which we can only hope increases as he gets older and really comes into his role and himself. Klefbom is a dynamic defenseman, He has the skating ability to skate the puck up and become that 4th forward, but if he doesn’t have that lane he is an excellent puck mover and makes a great first pass coming out of his own zone. Mix that in with his intelligent defensive play in his own zone, he’s really showing he’s capable of becoming that top 4 and even top pairing D man the Oilers are missing. He has evolved himself into the whole package, into being versatile at both ends of the ice, he becomes stronger, smarter, faster and better as he matures, which is more than great news for Oilers fans. This will be the year though, where he will play all 82 games, and will face tougher competition nightly, he’s going to be leaned on heavily this year, but I think he’s more than ready for the challenge.

Projections- 82g 5goals, 25 assists, 33points

Thanks everyone for reading! Keep your eyes open for part 2

Up next in part 2 Anton Lander and the enigma that is Nail Yakupov.