2018-19 Farm System Report: Calgary Flames

The Calgary Flames are a team driven by their elite young talent. Fortunately for Calgary, more help is on the way, as a number of the franchise’s prospects hold promising futures with the team.

The Calgary Flames did not select a player in the 2018 NHL Draft until the fourth-round, a reality which did very little to strengthen their farm system ahead of the 2018-19 NHL season.

Fortunately for the Flames, they have drafted well in past years and boast a handful of promising prospects within their pipeline. Although a number of which are long-term projects rather than elite young prospects, a number of which should be able to breakthrough and seize roles at the NHL-level regardless.

Franchise Breakdown:

Division: Pacific

Stanley Cups: One

2017-18 Record: 37-35-10; 84 Points

2017-18 Top Scorer: Johnny Gaudreau; 24G, 60A, 84PTS

Farm System Grade: B

Top 10 Prospects:

  1. Jusso Valimaki
  2. Dillon Dube
  3. Rasmus Andersson
  4. Oliver Kylington
  5. Tyler Parsons
  6. Spencer Foo
  7. Jon Gillies
  8. Andrew Mangiapane
  9. Matthew Phillips
  10. Adam Ruzicka

The State of the Flames’ Farm System

Although not overwhelmingly strong, Calgary’s farm system stands in a good place as of the 2018-19 season owing to its depth and the presence of a potentially elite defenceman.

This defenceman of the future is none other than Jusso Valimaki, the Flames’ first round choice in the 2017 NHL Draft who brings size, poise, and offensive flair to the table. A pillar of stability for the Tri-City Americans of the WHL over the past three seasons, Valimaki’s composure and calm demeanour should allow for his successful transition to the professional-level in the immediate future.

In addition to Valimaki, the Flames feature a strong secondary trio of prospects in Dillon Dube, Ramsus Andersson, and Oliver Kylington. In Dube, Calgary holds a persistent offensive force who shone at the World Juniors with Team Canada and has been remarkably consistent throughout his career to date. Further, in Andersson and Kylington, the Flames boast two defenders of impressive size and ability who should see substantial ice time at the NHL-level during the 2018-19 season.

Outside of these four prospects, Calgary holds decent depth in the likes of Spencer Foo, Andrew Mangiapane, and goaltenders Jon Gillies and Tyler Parsons. Although these four players will need additional seasoning at the AHL-level before ascending to the NHL, all of which hold significant potential and the ability to — one day — become game breaking players for the Flames.

One Flames Prospect to Watch

Of the Flames’ prospect pool, one young talent worth watching this season is Dube — a former second-round selection of the team whose exploits in the WHL have him primed for a substantial NHL career.

A tireless skater and puck-hound who strives for possession of the puck, Dube is a dynamic offensive player once in control and boasts the ability to create and finish plays. A 1.14 points-per-game player during his 203-game career with the Kelowna Rockets, Dube is also remarkably consistent in his play and should add considerable scoring depth to Calgary’s roster once established.

Although his size — or lack thereof — has been of concern to some throughout his development, Dube’s speed, stability, and persistence should outweigh any obstacle placed in his path en route to a full-time role with the Flames. As a mature player who competes on a nightly basis and never takes a shift off, Dube should be able to excel in Calgary after what will surely be a short stint with the Stockton Heat of the AHL.

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2018-19 Farm System Report: Arizona Coyotes

Although the Arizona Coyotes won’t legitimately contend in the 2018-19 NHL season, the franchise is trending in the right direction and boasts a number of talented young players within their farm system.

The Arizona Coyotes haven’t reached the Stanley Cup Playoffs since the 2011-12 season, a campaign in which they were still named the Phoenix Coyotes and reached the Western Conference Final.

In the years since, the Coyotes have struggled to attain both success and consistency. Mired by an inability to prevent and goals as well score them on a regular basis, the Coyotes have stood relatively stagnant over the past six seasons. However, signs of breaking out of this slump have begun to emerge, as Arizona holds solid young players throughout their lineup.

Although they arguably don’t have the pieces necessary to embark on a legitimate postseason run, the Coyotes are trending in the right direction and will be fuelled in the years ahead by their up-and-coming young talent.

Franchise Breakdown:

Division: Pacific

Stanley Cups: One

2017-18 Record: 29-41-12; 70 Points

2017-18 Top Scorer: Clayton Keller; 23G, 42A, 65PTS

Farm System Grade: B

Top 10 Prospects:

  1. Barrett Hayton
  2. Nick Merkley
  3. Pierre-Olivier Joseph
  4. Kevin Bahl
  5. Kyle Capobianco
  6. Tyler Steenbergen
  7. Cam Dineen
  8. Noel Hoefenmayer
  9. Filip Westerlund
  10. Ty Emberson

The State of the Coyotes’ Farm System

Arizona’s farm system is relatively strong, as the franchise holds a number of prospects at varying positions of the ice who should play a role with the team in the years ahead. Unfortunately, the departure of Dylan Strome to the Chicago Blackhawks could sting for quite some time, as the former third-overall selection wasn’t given an adequate chance to breakthrough with the Coyotes at the NHL-level.

With the player once perceived to be the team’s first line centre of the future in the wind, Arizona will need to develop Barrett Hayton into a star centre if they hope to attain meaningful success in the future. Widely compared to Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins, Hayton plays a well-rounded and professional-style of game defined by its consistency at both ends of the ice.

Barrett Hayton of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. Photo by Terrry Wilson / OHL Images.
Hayton could be the first-line centre which the Coyotes have been searching for. (Photo Credit: Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

In addition to Hayton, the Coyotes hold a trio of prospects in Nick Merkley, Pierre-Olivier Joseph, and Kevin Bahl who should see significant playing time in Arizona. In Merkley, the Coyotes hold a somewhat undersized yet incredibly capable offensive threat who can create plays with ease as well as blast the puck into the net. Further, in Joseph and Bahl, Arizona features two sizeable defenders highly regarded for their respective two-way games.

Outside of these four prospects, the Coyotes’ farm system dwindles rather quickly. Sure, the team’s #5-10 prospects could certainly become NHL players, however, their paths to hockey’s highest level will be longer and much more difficult in the long run. Due to this lack of depth within their system, Arizona’s prospect pool receives a “B” ranking this season.

One Coyotes Prospect to Watch

Considering we all know of Hayton’s exploits very well, let’s take a moment to highlight one of the Coyotes’ lesser known prospects who continues to make a name for himself in the OHL.

A second round choice of Arizona in the 2018 NHL DraftBahl is a 6-foot-6, 235-pound defender who can play a lethal game at both ends of the ice. Defensively, Bahl is an overwhelming presence who can punish attacking players owing to his physicality or dis-possess an opponent through the use of his active stick.

Bahl_BT3
Kevin Bahl of the Ottawa 67’s is a towering defender who play doesn’t receive enough credit. (Photo Credit: CHL Images)

Moreover, Bahl is becoming a solid player in the offensive zone as well. As a defender who skates incredibly well for his size, Bahl can traverse the blue line with ease and frequently enjoys ice time on the power play for the Ottawa 67’s. Although his agility and maneuverability will increase with time, Bahl stands as one of the Coyotes best yet underrated prospects.

2018-19 Farm System Report: Anaheim Ducks

The Anaheim Ducks are a perennial contender in the NHL’s Pacific Division, and will be strengthened in the coming years by a talented and deep pool of young prospects.

The Anaheim Ducks have been a model of consistency in the Western Conference’s Pacific Division of late, surpassing the 100-point mark as a team in each of their past five campaigns.

Depth has long been a critical component of the Ducks’ on-ice approach and resulting success, as seemingly every member of the roster has come to play a particular and important role. Fortunately for Anaheim and the team’s slowly yet steadily growing fanbase, the Ducks have shown very few signs of slowing down and stand poised to receive young and talented reinforcements in the near future.

Franchise Breakdown:

Division: Pacific

Stanley Cups: One

2017-18 Record: 44-25-13; 101 Points

2017-18 Top Scorer: Rickard Rakell; 34G, 35A, 69PTS

Farm System Grade: A

Top 10 Prospects:

  1. Sam Steel
  2. Isac Lundestrom
  3. Jacob Larsson
  4. Troy Terry
  5. Maxime Comtois
  6. Josh Mahura
  7. Antoine Morand
  8. Max Jones
  9. Benoit-Olivier Groulx
  10. Blake McLaughlin

The State of the Ducks’ Farm System

Similar to the team’s roster itself, the Ducks’ farm system is deep and comprised of a number of highly talented and promising prospects. Leading the way is Sam Steel, a centre who has dominated the WHL since his first round selection by Anaheim in 2016. In his 120 regular season games played for the Regina Pats following his selection, Steel totalled 83 goals and 214 points alongside a Four Broncos Trophy as WHL MVP and Stafford Smythe Trophy as Memorial Cup MVP.

Sure to aid Steel at the NHL-level in the future are all of Jacob Larsson, shoot-out savant Troy Terry, and 2018 first round choice Isac Lundestrom. In Larsson, the Ducks boast a mature defender of ample size whose experience in the SHL should allow him to jump to the NHL-level with little issue. Further, in Terry and Lundestrom, Anaheim holds two potential star forwards defined by their fine pucks skills and general potency.

Providing even greater depth to Anaheim’s prospect pool are Maxime Comtois, Benoit-Olivier Groulx, and Blake McLaughlin — three players who need greater seasoning yet will surely play a role for Anaheim in the semi-distant future. In Comtois, the Ducks downright stole a sizeable and highly skilled winger who is arguably ready for the NHL. Further, in Olivier-Groulx, Anaheim nabbed a rugged centre who can produce offence to boot.

https://twitter.com/AnaheimDucks/status/969798862851289088

In short, the Ducks’ farm system features impressive depth alongside a slew of highly talented players who should seize full-time roles with the team in the near future. Although lacking a high-end prospect so-to-speak, Anaheim is flush with players of tantalizing skill who should lead the team at both ends of the ice for years to come.

One Ducks Prospect to Watch

Of the Ducks’ top prospects, the one player to watch in particular is none other than Terry. 

A lethal offensive force for Team USA at the WJC, Terry is a slick puck-handler who can produce offence with remarkable consistency. A steal for Anaheim given the fact that he was nabbed by the franchise in the fifth-round of the 2015 NHL Draft, Terry could and should develop into a top-six forward at the NHL-level in the years ahead — providing the Ducks with a greater level of scoring depth within their lineup.

Come the 2018-19 season, Terry will suit up for the San Diego Gulls in his first full season of professional hockey. However, owing to his remarkable skill-set, it would come as no surprise to see Terry earn a handful of games at the NHL-level with Anaheim. While he may not be the biggest player on the ice, Terry’s creativity and raw lethality should afford him a long and successful career at hockey’s highest level.

OHL Prospect Profile: Dylan Hudon

– Dylan Hudon –

Guelph Jr. Gryphons (SCTA) | Centre/LW | 2019 OHL Draft Eligible

Ontario, Canada | 5-foot-7, 150-pounds | 2003-born

Although his personal point totals from the 2018-19 SCTA season weren’t necessarily overwhelming, Dylan Hudon of the Guelph Jr. Gryphons stands as a potent offensive player ahead of the 2019 OHL Draft.

Despite his diminutive size, Hudon is a tireless skater who brings energy and an unwavering work ethic to the ice on a nightly basis. A strong passer as well as player who can score goals, Hudon drives the pace of play while in possession of the puck and can keep opposing defenders on their toes owing to his speed and overall crafty nature.

Strengths:

  • Skating Speed and Agility
  • Pace Dictation
  • Offensive Creativity
  • Work Ethic

As mentioned above, Hudon is a tireless skater – his engine rarely ceases to relent. It is this speed upon which Hudon’s game is founded, as the youngster can blaze his way through the neutral zone and dart into the offensive end before establishing a well-conceived attack. Once set in the attacking zone, Hudon will utilize his quick feet and agility in order to keep opposing defenders guessing.

Related: 2019 OHL Draft Rankings

It is this ability to dictate the pace of play which makes Hudon such a valuable component of his team’s attack. Owing to his creativity and endless work-ethic, Hudon can directly influence the play each and every time he takes to the ice and is consistent in his ability to do so. Now, while his offensive output wasn’t sparkling with the Jr. Gryphons, Hudon’s skill set should translate well at the next-level where speed and skill are at the forefront of today’s game.

Weaknesses:

  • Shot Power
  • Skating Balance
  • Personal Strength

While he is no stranger to scoring goals, Hudon would do well to improve to velocity of his shot in the coming years. Although accurate, adding greater power to his shot would make Hudon a far more versatile offensive threat, as opposing defenders would be forced to respect Hudon’s ability to pass the puck as well as shoot it.

Related: 2019 OHL Draft Prospect Profiles

Alongside improvements related to Hudon’s shot, there is the youngster’s balance on his skates. Due to his stature, Hudon can be knocked off of the puck and his feet at times and would be well served to focus on strengthening his lower body in the days ahead in the weight room. However, it goes without saying that Hudon’s personal strength will improve with time – at such a young age, Hudon like most continues to fill out his frame.

Future Potential:

Ultimately, Hudon has the skill set necessary to develop into a lightning-quick and lethal offensive player. While he may not play in the OHL next season, Hudon could certainly arrive at the major-junior level in the years ahead once he has added greater size and strength to his frame.

In short, there is a great deal to like with respect to Hudon’s game. As a natural playmaker who can dictate the pace of play, the OHL franchise which selects him could be in store for a pleasant surprise.

2018-19 Farm System Report: Winnipeg Jets

The Winnipeg Jets are one of the NHL’s strongest and most dynamic teams. However, with more young prospects en route, we could be staring down the NHL’s next great dynasty.

The Winnipeg Jets are quickly developing into one of the Western Conference’s most lethal and intimidating teams.

Boasting a whack of highly skilled young players as well as size throughout their lineup, the Jets can attack in a variety of while playing a heavy, shut-down style of defence. Led by their young forwards in Mark Scheifele, Patrik Laine, and Nikolaj Ehlers while defended by young stars in Jacob Trouba and Josh Morrissey, Winnipeg stands poised to enjoy a wealth of postseason success in the years ahead.

Related: Prospect Pipeline’s Central Division Coverage

Adding further fuel to the Jets’ growing fire is the franchise’s bustling farm system. Although it doesn’t feature an elite level prospect per se, Winnipeg’s organization features a handful of promising young players who should come to play a substantial role with the Jets in the immediate future.

Franchise Breakdown:

Division: Central

Stanley Cups: None

2017-18 Record: 52-20-10; 114 Points

2017-18 Top Scorer: Blake Wheeler; 23G, 68A, 91PTS

Farm System Grade: B

Top 10 Prospects:

  1. Jack Roslovic
  2. Kristian Vesalainen
  3. Sami Niku
  4. Mason Appleton
  5. Dylan Samberg
  6. David Gustafsson
  7. Brendan Lemieux
  8. Logan Stanley
  9. Eric Comrie
  10. Michael Spacek

The State of the Jets’ Farm System

As mentioned above, Winnipeg does not boast a high-end prospect within their farm system. However, what the Jets do gloat is an impressive level of prospect depth at the forward and defence positions of the ice.

Up front, the Jets own the likes of Jack Roslovic, Kristian Vesalainen, Mason Appleton, and Brendan Lemieux — four forwards of varying size, skill, and potential who have all played an impressive brand of hockey of late.

In Roslovic, Winnipeg holds a smooth-skating and agile forward known for his creativity and well as composure with the puck. A first round choice of the Jets in the 2015 NHL Draft, Roslovic enjoyed a stellar beginning to his NHL career last season during which time he potted five goals and 14 points in 31 games played. Although off to a somewhat slow start in 2018-19, Roslovic retains the innate skills necessary to succeed at the NHL-level.

In short, Roslovic stands as the Jets’ top prospect.

Closing in on Roslovic for this distinction, however, is Vesalainen.

After a stellar season with HPK in the Liiga in 2017-18, Vesalainen made the jump to the NHL to begin the 2018-19 season and secured a place with the Jets to begin their campaign. However, after recording a single point in five games played alongside limited playing time, Vesalainen was sent to the AHL — where he instantly became a point-per-game player. Headed back to his native country of Finland and the KHL to round out the current campaign, Vesalainen’s potent playmaking abilities and lethal shot will undoubtedly improve in time for his return to Winnipeg.

In addition to Roslovic and Vesalainen, the Jets also feature a pair of unique forward prospects in Appleton and Lemieux. Although widely regarded for their creative and lethal offensive production, both Appleton and Lemieux love to play an intense physical game and can irritate their competition with relative ease. Both high-scoring forwards at the AHL-level, it would appear to be only a matter of tie before both come to claim a consistent role with the Jets at the NHL-level.

Then, there is Winnipeg’s blue line of the future.

Although the Jets already feature one of the NHL’s deepest and most skilled blue lines, the team’s back end stands to strengthen in the years ahead owing to the impending arrivals of Sami Niku and Dylan Samberg. An absolute steal for Winnipeg in the seventh-round of the 2015 NHL Draft, Niku has quietly progressed into a stellar two-way defender at the AHL-level and is fresh off of a 54-point rookie campaign with the Manitoba Moose — a season which earned Niku the Eddie Shore Award as the AHL’s Best Defenceman.

On the opposite end of the spectrum stands Samberg, a stay-at-home style of defenceman whose offensive game has grown steadily in recent years. Currently in his second season of play with the University of Minnesota-Duluth, Samberg is a former second-round choice of the Jets who represented Team USA at the 2018 WJC. With not only great size but ample mobility, Samberg will surely be an NHL-ready defender once his residence in the NCAA comes to an end.

Lastly, there is Winnipeg’s future in-goal.

Presumably, it is Eric Comrie who is projected to make a push for the Jets’ starting role in the years ahead. While of average size, Comrie is extremely athletic and as competitive as they come. However, one Winnipeg netminder who has become increasingly impressive is Mikhail Berdin. Currently competing in his first professional campaign in North America, Berdin boasts solid size and features a game founded upon his stellar positioning.

Ultimately, Winnipeg’s prospect pipeline is one bustling with promising young players eager to make their mark at the NHL-level. With depth across the board, the Jets’ next wave will add yet another level of skill and capability to an already dominant roster.

One Jets Prospect to Watch

Of Winnipeg’s farm system, one particular prospect worth keeping an eye on is Appleton of the AHL’s Moose.

A former sixth-round choice of the Jets in the 2015 NHL Draft, Appleton boasts solid size given his 6-foot-2, 200-pound frame as well as a lethal offensive skill set. A pass-first player, Appleton features excellent on-ice vision and a level of composure typically reserved for the NHL’s elite. Alongside a growing shot, Appleton is not afraid to drive hard to the net and can collect more than his fair share of rebounds as a result.

In 2017-18, Appleton enjoyed a tremendous AHL campaign and one which established his presence as a dynamic NHL prospect. As a rookie, Appleton notched 22 goals and 66 points in 76 regular season games played. In fact, not only were Appleton’s 66 points the most of any AHL rookie, but his overall play was good enough to earn him the Red Garrett Memorial Award as the AHL’s Rookie of the Year.

Throughout the 2018-19 season, look for Appleton’s play to not only improve but remain remarkably consistent. With a frame built for the NHL-game and the skill-set to match, Appleton should command a call-up to the Jets as the year progresses — he is simply that good despite being a relative unknown in the world of hockey.

Compuware Defeats Don Mills to Claim Silver Stick Championship

The 2018 Gloria Hints Memorial Silver Stick Tournament has come to a close, with Detroit Compuware claiming the championship over the Don Mills Flyers — their first loss of the season.

The 2018 Gloria Rints Memorial International Silver Stick Tournament has officially come to a close, and what a weekend of hockey it was.

In the minor midget age group, 30 of the world’s best teams gathered to do battle in what proved to be a highly competitive and entertaining tournament. Over the course of the four day event a number of highly skilled teams fell early, while others not expected to legitimately compete pushed their way into the elimination rounds through tactile team play.

Related: 2019 OHL Priority Selection Prospect Profiles

However, come the final game of the tournament, the two teams left standing were the clubs which everyone had travelled to Whitby, Ontario to see: Detroit Compuware of the HPHL and the Don Mills Flyers of the GTHL.

Led by two dynamic scorers and an arsenal of reliable defenders, Compuware’s roster presented a significant challenge for the Flyers from the outset of the tournament given its remarkable depth and offensive potency. On the other hand, Don Mills arrived in Whitby in possession of a perfect record, having yet to lose a single game in league or tournament play in 2018-19.

Unfortunately for the Flyers, their sparkling record would be dinged by Compuware.

The Championship Game

Although they had suffered a tie to the Brantford 99ers in round-robin play, Don Mills’ perfect record was technically intact given the lack of a loss within their record. However, Compuware stood determined to hand the Flyers their first defeat of the season, and relied upon each and every member of their roster in order to do so.

The First Period:

The championship game of the Whitby Silver Stick Tournament began well for Compuware, who netted the game’s opening goal as the direct result of a stellar rush put forth by MVP Sasha Pastujov — the tournament’s leading scorer with nine goals and 16 points in seven games played.

However, the Flyers responded quickly, scoring a goal on the very next shift of the game which reinforced their standing as arguably the top minor midget team in the world.

The Second Period:

Deadlocked at one goal apiece, penalty trouble began to brew for both teams to begin the second period — a reality which ignited both electrifying offences.

The first to strike was Compuware, as lethal goal-scorer Redmond Savage blasted home a power play goal from the slot to create a 2-1 advantage for his squad. Then, after killing a long 5-3 penalty kill, yet another penalty — this time a double-minor — opened the door for Don Mills to pounce, and pounce they did as Cole Eichler fired home his fifth goal of the tournament to knot the game at 2-2.

Shane Wright
A second period goal by top 2019 OHL Draft prospect Shane Wright afforded Don Mills with a 3-2 lead. (Photo Credit: Max Lewis)

With momentum swinging in favour of the Flyers and their offence operating at full capacity, Shane Wright fired the puck five-hole on goaltender Will Fox to regain a 3-2 lead for his team. Dominating Compuware in the offensive zone and limiting scoring opportunities against, Don Mills appeared to be in excellent shape to secure the Championship as both teams headed to the locker room.

The Third Period

The final stanza of the Whitby Silver Stick Tournament proved to be a wildly entertaining 15 minutes of hockey.

Slow out of the gate to start the period, the Flyers were ambushed by an energetic and determined Compuware team. Seemingly exhausted from the expectations placed upon them this season, Don Mills endured a rough period of hockey mired by moments which lacked both confidence and creativity. As a result, Compuware blasted home two quick goals to seize a 4-3 lead — one of which Flyers goaltender Anson Thornton would surely love to have back.

Related: 2019 OHL Priority Selection Rankings

Trailing for one of the very few times this season, Don Mills put their heads down and went to work. Although it was extremely difficult for the Flyers to generate lethal scoring opportunities given the stellar defending of Tyler Duke and Ty Gallagher, Don Mills drew even owing to a rebound goal from Brennan Othmann with a mere 19 seconds remaining — a tally which brought the Iroquois Park Sports Centre to its feet.

Having forced overtime despite being outplayed for portions of the third period, it appeared as though the Flyers might be able to maintain their impressive perfect record after all.

Overtime:

It didn’t take long for Compuware to re-establish its tenacious forecheck in overtime, as the team’s fleet-footed and highly competitive forwards set to work in their attacking zone.

Forcing turnovers while dominating puck possession, Compuware drove the Flyers to make a number of uncharacteristic mistakes which resulted in excellent yet unproductive scoring opportunities. However, it would prove to be only a matter of time for Compuware, who cliched the Whitby Silver Stick Tournament championship on a goal from Noah Laba — a strong two-way player who blasted home a loose puck from the slot.

In short, the championship game between Don Mills and Compuware was one for the ages.

Riddled with exciting moments and jaw-dropping displays of skill, both teams put forth a tremendous effort — and especially so given it was each squad’s seventh game played in a four-day span. Saturated with elite young prospects and immensely promising youngster, the championship game displayed the very best which the 2003 and 2004 age groups have to offer.

IceDogs Nab Robertson in Blockbuster OHL Trade

The Niagara IceDogs and Kingston Frontenacs made a significant splash on Nov. 20th, executing an OHL trade with involved a total of 15 assets.

The Niagara IceDogs and Kingston Frontenacs combined to create a massive earthquake within the Ontario Hockey League on Nov. 20th, swapping a handful of elite prospects and assets in a trade of immense proportions.

As one of the OHL’s weakest teams during the 2018-19 season, the Frontenacs realized their need to embark upon a rebuilding process within the league’s Eastern Conference.

In order to kick-start the process, the Frontenacs have packaged superstar sniper Jason Robertson and defenceman Jacob Paquette to the Niagara IceDogs in return for a wealth of quality players and draft picks in the years to come. Making the move to Kingston are Billy Constantinou and Ian Martin — two 2001-born players eligible for the coming 2019 NHL Draft.

In addition, Kingston also secured a small arsenal of draft picks — 11, to be exact. Of these draft picks, four of which are highly valuable second-round selections while three of which will also fall in the third-round of coming OHL Priority Selections.

Given the sheer magnitude of this trade, let’s take a moment to analyze each of the assets acquired by both the IceDogs and Frontenacs in greater detail.

Niagara IceDogs Receive:

  • Jason Robertson (2017 NHL Draft: DAL, 2nd Round, 39th Overall)

The IceDogs have quickly proven to be a team to beat within the OHL this season, and have dramatically strengthened their roster through the acquisition of Robertson. A two-time 40-goal scorer for the Frontenacs who was on-pace for 65 goals at the time of this trade, Robertson boasts terrific size and skating ability and is remarkably consistent in his ability to produce offensively.

Jason Robertson of the Kingston Frontenacs. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images
Robertson is on-pace to smash his previous career-high goal total of 42. (Photo Credit: Aaron Bell/OHL Images)

However, it would appear as though Robertson is skating in his final season of OHL competition. In his fourth-season of major junior play, Robertson will be eligible to play in the AHL next season — a reality which makes him an expensive yet lethal short-term rental player for the IceDogs. If able to embark upon a long postseason run, the stockpile of picks surrendered by Niagara in order to acquire Robertson will prove to have been well worth it.

  • Jacob Paquette (2017 NHL Draft: NASH, 7th Round, 216th Overall)

Although his game isn’t flashy by any means, Jacob Paquette is a solid stay-at-home defender who can munch significant minutes while shutting down his opponents’ top attackers. Drafted by the Nashville Predators in the seventh-round of the 2017 NHL Draft, Paquette is in the midst of his third season of OHL play and is an intimidating force given his terrific size on the blue line.

While he shouldn’t be counted upon to produce offence from the IceDogs’ blue line, Paquette will provide Niagara with exceptional depth given his ability to play in all situations.

Kingston Frontenacs Receive:

  • Billy Constantinou (2019 NHL Draft-Eligible)

Given the weakness of the Frontenacs’ blue line, it was crucial for the organization to secure a capable young defender in return for one of their most dynamic players. In Constantinou, Kingston acquired a sturdy, puck-moving defender of ample agility and creativity. A smooth and purposeful skater, Constantinou can contribute at both ends of the ice and features a steadily improving offensive game.

Billy Constantinou of the Niagara IceDogs. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.
Constantinou is quickly establishing himself as a premier two-way defenceman. (Photo Credit: Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

One of the OHL’s top defenders eligible for the 2019 NHL Draft, Constantinou will provide the Frontenacs with an added level of skill and security on their blue line as the team reloads its roster in the coming years. Given he is a 2001-born prospect, Kingston should boast the native of Scarborough, Ontario for an additional two seasons during which time he will undoubtedly develop into a high-end OHL defender and leader within a young Frontenacs roster.

  • Ian Martin (2019 NHL Draft-Eligible)

Ian Martin got off to a slow start with the IceDogs in his first season of NHL Draft-eligibility, yet he could bounce-back extremely well as the result of a fresh start with the Frontenacs. A former third-round choice of the IceDogs in the 2017 OHL Priority Selection, Martin has long been buried deep within Niagara’s roster — a fact which will immediately change upon his arrival in Kingston.

A sizeable forward widely regarded for his natural goal-scoring abilities, Martin could prove to be a pleasant surprise for the Frontenacs this season, who desperately need to attain greater depth scoring from within their lineup.

  • Four 2nd-Round Draft Picks (2019, 2021, 2022, 2023)
  • Three 3rd-Round Draft Picks (2020, 2022, 2024)
  • One 5th-Round Draft Choice (2021)
  • One 7th-Round Draft Choice (2019)
  • One 11th-Round Draft Choice (2021)
  • One 13th-Round Draft Choice (2020)

The draft picks received by the Frontenacs are where the true value lays within this mega-trade.

With this plethora of draft picks, Kingston will be able to supplement and strengthen its roster for years to come — stuffing it with unparalleled depth and skill. Although it might have been a good idea for Kingston to wait until the trade deadline to complete this deal, un-loading a number of their top players now allows the Frontenacs to compete with the Flint Firebirds for the opportunity to select Shane Wright in the 2019 OHL Priority Selection.

In short, this trade is a win for both teams teams involved.

In Niagara, the IceDogs now feature one of the OHL’s most consistent goal-scorers as well as impeccable depth throughout their roster. Meanwhile, although their future is blurry, Kingston now boasts the assets necessary to complete a comprehensive rebuild — one which could produce an Eastern Conference powerhouse in the near future.

Tippett, Langan Highlight CHL’s Players of the Week

The CHL has nominated its Players of the Week for Nov. 12-18th, and all three prospects named should come as little surprise given their explosive production.

The Canadian Hockey League’s three member leagues have released their players of the week for the period of November 12-18th, and some of which should come as little surprise.

Of the three, one of which has come to be considered as an elite NHL prospect as well as one of the CHL’s most lethal snipers. In the other two, the CHL features a pair of veteran forwards who have continued to produce offensively in the pursuit of NHL contracts.

WHL Player of the Week

  • Tristan Langan (Moose Jaw Warriors)

A 1998-born prospect and native of Swan River, Manitoba, Tristan Langan is a sizeable and versatile forward who enjoyed a spectacular run of offence this past week. In his three contests with the Moose Jaw Warriors, Langan blasted home three goals and five assists for a total of five points.

Currently in his fourth season of play with the Warriors, Langan has quickly become an offensive catalyst for his team this campaign. Having recorded 15 goals and 32 points in his first 19 games played this season, Langan’s consistency and lethality have come to drive a promising Moose Jaw team.

OHL Player of the Week

  • Owen Tippett (Mississauga Steelheads)

It’s difficult to believe that the 2018-19 OHL campaign mark will Owen Tippett’s second season of CHL play since his selection by the Florida Panthers in the 2017 NHL Draft. Nabbed by the Panthers with the 12th overall selection, Tippett is a devastating goal-scorer who possesses an NHL-calibre shot and lightning-quick release.

In his most recent week of play with the Mississauga Steelheads, Tippett blasted home five goals and added three assists across three games of competition. Named as the first star in all three of his team’s games, Tippett’s recent performances have further solidified the native of Peterborough, Ontario as an elite NHL prospect and remarkably consistent producer within the OHL.

QMJHL Player of the Week

  • Peter Abbandonato (Rouyn-Noranda Huskies)

Taking home the QMJHL’s Player of the Week honours for the second time already this season is Peter Abbandonato — a 1998-born prospect who has exploded out of the gate offensively for the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. In his most recent week of domination, Abbandonato recorded a whopping six goals and 10 points across just two games played.

A highly confident and experienced QMJHL centre, Abbandonato’s immense success comes as a direct result of his high-end skill-set and creativity with the puck. Although a natural playmaker, Abbandonato has begun to shoot the puck far more consistently and has broadened his attacking abilities in the process.

Having scored 45 points in just 23 games played at the time of his nomination, Abbandonato is quickly proving himself as a dynamic player worthy of a professional contract.

2018-19 Farm System Report: St. Louis Blues

The St. Louis Blues have become a perennial powerhouse in the NHL’s Central Division and, believe it or not, more help is on the way. Boasting a bustling farm system, the Blues could be one of the league’s most dominant teams for years to come.

Despite clinching a Stanley Cup Playoff berth in six of their past seven seasons, the St. Louis Blues have failed to ascend above the third round. Although a perennial powerhouse in the Central Division, a lack of scoring depth and consistent goaltending in past years has mired the Blues’ playoff aspirations.

However, despite these setbacks, St. Louis continues to boast a strong and deep roster capable of competing within their endlessly competitive division. Led by the arrival of Ryan O’Reilly and paced by superstar sniper Vladimir Tarasenko, the Blues feature a roster which is seemingly strong at each and every position of the ice.

Fortunately for St. Louis, the organization owns a number of promising young prospects who should strengthen the Blues’ torrent play in the seasons ahead. Although lacking an elite prospect per se, the franchise features a handful of dynamic forwards, defencemen, and goaltenders of legitimate NHL potential.

Franchise Breakdown:

Division: Central

Stanley Cups: None

2017-18 Record: 44-32-6; 94 Points

2017-18 Top Scorer: Brayden Schenn; 28G, 42A, 70PTS

Farm System Grade: B+

Top 10 Prospects:

  1. Robert Thomas
  2. Ville Husso
  3. Dominik Bokk
  4. Klim Kostin
  5. Scott Perunovich
  6. Sammy Blais
  7. Jordan Kyrou
  8. Jordan Schmaltz
  9. Jake Walman
  10. Nolan Stevens

The State of the Blues’ Farm System

Depth is the name of the game for St. Louis, who feature a bounty of quality prospects developing at each position of the ice.

Leading the charge offensively for the Blues in the years ahead will surely be Robert Thomas and Dominik Bokk, two former first round draft choices of St. Louis whose developments have been not only steady but significant of late.

In Thomas, the Blues boast a hard-working and extremely competitive centre known for his stellar two-way play. A former star with the London Knights and Hamilton Bulldogs of the OHL, Thomas is a natural leader capable of influencing change at both ends of the ice. Offensively, Thomas is a creative playmaker who loves to distribute the puck to his teammates. In the defensive zone, Thomas plays a responsible role and is sound in the face-off circle as well.

Thomas is an incredibly hard-working player and natural on-ice leader. (Photo Credit: Aaron Bell/CHL Images)

Given his ability to play a sound, professional-style of game, don’t be surprised if Thomas earns significant minutes for the Blues in his rookie NHL campaign. Although his skating requires work, St. Louis could have yet another top-six forward to be on their hands.

Moreover, the Blues gloat Bokk.

The team’s first round choice in the 2018 NHL Draft, Bokk is an immensely skilled winger who loves to challenge his defenders one-on-one and on the rush. Known for his strong shot, Bokk can blast the puck on-goal or meander through his opposition en route to generating a high-percentage scoring opportunity. Skating for the Vaxjo Lakers HC of the SHL this season, Bokk will be afforded with ample playing time against stern competition to improve his craft.

Mix in the likes of Klim Kostin and Jordan Kyrou, and the Blues boast immense offensive depth within their prospect pool.

On defence and in-goal, St. Louis is equally saturated with promising young talent.

Set to man the Blues’ blue line in the future are defenders such as Scott Perunovich, Jordan Schmaltz, and Jake Walman. In Perunovich and Schmaltz, St. Louis features two offensive-minded defencemen who can join the rush as well as defend their own zone with relative consistency. Further, in Walman, the Blues own a well-rounded defender who can contribute to the play at both ends of the ice despite focusing largely on his defensive play.

Then, in-goal, St. Louis holds an intriguing goaltending prospect by the name of Ville Husso. Despite a slow start to his 2018-19 campaign with the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage, Husso has enjoyed substantial success since his arrival in North America from Finland and could push to become the Blues’ goaltender of the future in the years ahead.

Although we will not cover all of St. Louis’ prospects extensively for the sake of time, it remains abundantly clear that the Blues boast a strong, deep, and highly skilled prospect pool potentially capable of sustaining the franchise’s success for years to come.

One Blues Prospect to Watch

Of all of St. Louis’ prospects, perhaps none of which will be more intriguing to watch develop than Perunovich.

Although eligible for both the 2016 and 2017 NHL Draft, Perunovich was not chosen by an NHL organization despite displaying lethal offensive play from the blue line and a willingness to play a sound 200-foot game. So, when the native of Hibbing, Minnesota entered into his first season of NCAA play with the University of Minnesota-Duluth this past season, it is safe to say that Perunovich felt the need to prove himself as a legitimate NHL prospect.

And prove himself is exactly what Perunovich did, as the youngster blasted home 11 goals while recording 36 points in his 42 games played as a freshman — an output which led to his second-round selection by the Blues. In doing so, Perunovich not only certified his standing as an elite young player and excellent NHL prospect but earned the Tim Taylor Award as the NCAA’s Rookie of the Year as a direct result.

Destined for the University of Minnesota-Duluth this season, Perunovich must now prove that his outstanding campaign last season was not a fluke. However, given his stellar skating, tantalizing skill, and impressive confidence and creativity with the puck, expect Perunovich to be nothing short of sensational in his sophomore campaign with the Bulldogs.

2018-19 Farm System Report: Nashville Predators

The Nashville Predators are an NHL powerhouse and Stanley Cup contender this season. Unfortunately, the Predators boast one of the NHL’s weakest farm systems — a fact which must change.

The Nashville Predators are a team built to win.

Boasting a wealth of elite-level talent and depth throughout their entire roster, the Predators will enter the 2018-19 NHL campaign with a legitimate shot to return to the Stanley Cup Final. However, Nashville’s window to win could be relatively short-lived, as the franchise appears to own few prospects capable of making an impact at hockey’s highest level in the immediate future.

In fact, outside of an elite-level forward and an immensely talented defender, the Predators’ prospect pipeline stands remarkably thin.

Franchise Breakdown:

Division: Central

Stanley Cups: None

2017-18 Record: 53-18-11; 117 Points

2017-18 Top Scorer: Filip Forsberg; 26G, 38A, 64PTS

Farm System Grade: C-

Top 10 Prospects:

  1. Eeli Tolvanen
  2. Dante Fabbro
  3. Frederic Allard
  4. Alexandre Carrier
  5. Anthony Richard
  6. Patrick Harper
  7. Yakov Trenin
  8. Rem Pitlick
  9. David Farrance
  10. Emil Pettersson

The State of the Predators’ Farm System

As mentioned above, the Predators’ prospect pool stands relatively thin. Although NHL-caliber players do exist, Nashville will need to focus on drafting and developing young talent if the franchise hopes to attain sustained success.

Leading Nashville’s future is the uber-talented Eeli Tolvanen, a native of Vihti, Finland who was nothing other than a steal in the 2017 NHL Draft.

Nabbed by the Predators with the 30th overall selection in the event, Tolvanen is a highly skilled and lethal winger who — in hindsight — should have been chosen within the top-10 overall. A purposeful skater with electrifying hands and a blistering shot, Tolvanen can devise plays as well as blast the puck on-goal owing to his ample versatility.

Endlessly creative and consistently confident, Tolvanen boasts the potential of a future first-line player at the NHL-level. With one dominant season of professional play in the KHL already under his belt, the biggest question facing Tolvanen and his future will be his ability to adjust to the North American professional game.

Sure, he skated in the USHL for two seasons prior to his selection by Nashville, however, Tolvanen’s inaugural campaign in the AHL this season will serve as a significant indicator of his ultimate potential.

In addition to Tolvanen, the Predators boast an immensely talented and composed defender in Dante Fabbro. Team captain of Boston University this season, Fabbro is a former first round selection of Nashville whose development has been strong and steady. A devastating defensive player, Fabbro also plays a lethal role in the offensive zone and is poised and lethal on the power play, too.

Currently in the midst of his third season of NCAA play, Fabbro plays a professional-style of game with game-breaking potential to boot. Although he could play a full four seasons with the Terriers, it goes without saying that Fabbro will be an NHL-ready defenceman when he signs his entry-level contract with the team.

However, outside of these two studs, the Predators’ farm system is remarkably bare.

Rounding out the best of the team’s top-10 are the likes of Frederic Allard, Alexandre Carrier, and Anthony Richard.

In these three, Nashville boasts two defencemen and a forward all currently competing with the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals. In Allard and Carrier, the Predators feature two QMJHL alumni with track-records of impressive offensive production. Then, in Richard, the Predators gloat a late-round pick from the 2015 NHL Draft whose offensive game has continued to improve on a yearly basis.

Ultimately, while both Tolvanen and Fabbro will play significant roles for the team in the near future, arguably none of the Predators’ secondary prospects are of NHL-caliber. Now, although this reality could certainly change in the coming years as a result of greater development, it is abundantly clear that Nashville must strengthen its prospect pool.

One Predators Prospect to Watch

Given the limits of the Predators’ farm system, one of Nashville’s prospects worth keeping an eye on is also one of its most promising.

In Fabbro, the Predators hold a dynamic defenceman who will undoubtedly play a crucial role in Nashville long into the future.

Standing 6-feet tall and weighing in at 190-pounds, Fabbro is a prospect of decent size who could one day play a game eerily similar to that of P.K. Subban. Although he will need to strengthen his frame, Fabbro’s creativity and confidence with the puck are eerily similar to that of Subban’s, and remarkably consistent too.

As a premier offensive defenceman within the NCAA who has also played a critical role for Team Canada at the annual World Junior Championship, Fabbro boasts a winning pedigree and the determination to ensure team success. A natural leader despite his young age, Fabbro should progress into a pillar of power for the Predators — a franchise which already owns one of the NHL’s strongest and deepest blue lines.