The following article is part of a continuing series this season, where MayorsManor correspondent David Hofreiter provides commentary on prospects playing in the Canadian-based major junior leagues and US-based college hockey programs. He’ll usually spend time tracking a player, then offer some opinions and observations based on a single game or multiple games, depending on the points being presented. However, this week, he provides updates to the progress reports published last month – with a full look at the plethora of Kings’ talent playing outside the AHL. As you’ll see, some prospects have hit a hot streak, others a cold spell, and a few are experiencing major turnarounds after getting off to a slow start…
Forward Nikolai Prokhorkin, Moscow CSKA (KHL) – He has, in more ways than one, become a lot more fashionable over the past six weeks. CSKA recently traded for former Kings’ player and sweater aficionado Alexander Frolov. From a statistical standpoint, Prokhorkin continues to lead the team in scoring, while also placing himself in a tie for 16th overall in the entire league. He’s also tied for fourth overall in goals scored. Since last month’s update, he has kept himself at almost a point-per-game clip with 13 points (six goals, seven assists) over the past 15 contests.
People are taking notice too. Prospect guru Corey Pronman even thumbed out this tweet a few weeks back:
LAK prospect Prokhorkin having a tremendous year in KHL. 20 year old has 23 points in 31 games. Burmistrov 23 in 30. Kovalchuk 29 in 25.
— Corey Pronman (@coreypronman) November 26, 2013
And Prokhorkin has added to those numbers since.
Stats: 33 games played, 26 points (15G, 11A), plus-8 rating and 41 penalty minutes (PIM)
Forward Tomas Hyka, Färjestad (SHL) – The smaller winger has run a little on the cold side, recently. Overall, his team is in the bottom-half of league standings and he’s dropped to seventh in team scoring. Hyka missed a few games recently and has just one point in the last nine games played.
Stats: 24 games played, eight points (3G, 5A), plus-6 rating, six PIM
QUEBEC MAJOR JUNIOR HOCKEY LEAGUE (QMJHL)
Forward Valentin Zykov, Baie-Comeau Drakkar – Zykov has had some extra hockey in the past several weeks. On top of his regular contributions for the Drakkar in the QMJHL, he also participated in the Super Series, an annual friendly contest between Russia’s top junior-age prospects and the top young players from the three major junior leagues. In the series, Zykov had two assists in two games. Back in the Q, he’s increased his general scoring pace up to about 1.20 points per game since the last article, and is now second in team scoring. Finally, he was also named to Russia’s preliminary World Junior Championship (WJC) roster. That tournament features the hockey players in the world under 20 years old and will kick off on December 26 in Sweden.
Must-read feature on Zykov from LAKings.com – click here
Stats: 29 games played, 34 points (15G, 19A), plus-15 rating, 36 PIM
ONTARIO HOCKEY LEAGUE (OHL)
Froward Justin Auger, Guelph Storm – Since missing fifteen games due to mononucleosis at the beginning of the season, Auger has managed to put points on the board and hats on his head. The towering forward netted a hat trick a few weeks back, to go along with his other three points (one goal, two assists) recorded over the last month. His scoring pace has gone down compared to last year, but a lot should be attributed to him recovering from illness.
Stats: 16 games played, six points (4G, 2A), plus-6 rating, 22 PIM
Defenseman Zac Leslie, Guelph Storm – Leslie had perhaps one of the most impressive showings in recent history, scoring eight points (six goals, two assists; including four goals in one game) in less than 24 hours. Since missing eight games due to injury, he has produced at a 1.15 points-per-game pace and is tied for sixth overall among all defensemen in OHL scoring.
Stats: 23 games played, 24 points (8G, 16A), plus-15 rating, 23 PIM
Leslie reflected on his recent play:
Defenseman Nick Ebert, Guelph Storm – Ebert was just traded last week, joining Columbus Blue Jackets prospect Kerby Rychel, as they were both sent to the Guelph Storm. Adding to the turnaround mentioned above, Ebert has made a major change in his plus/minus statistic, going from minus-39 last season (third-worst in the OHL) to plus-28 (now ranking him second overall). Since last month’s reports, he has been scoring at a point-per-game pace, with 16 points in 16 games. He’s also tied with now-teammate Zac Leslie in the scoring race amongst defensemen.
Stats: 30 games played, 24 points (5G, 19A), plus-28, 20 PIM
Defenseman Kurtis MacDermid, Owen Sound Attack – MacDermid’s play has dropped a little from a statistical standpoint, recording just one goal and one assist in the 16 games since his last progress report, while more than doubling his penalty minutes in the same time span (he now leads the league in PIM). On the other hand, he’s the resident tough guy who’s not counted on for scoring anyway. Look for him to have a role similar to Matt Greene as he tries to progress in the professional ranks.
Stats: 29 games played, nine points (3G,6A), plus-2 rating, 78 PIM
Check out a fight he had during a recent game, it’s exhausting just to watch:
Forward Dominik Kubalik, Sudbury Wolves – Kubalik seems to be working his way out of the dry spell he endured over the past month. Scoring just three points in November, he’s already eclipsed that number with five points in three games played thus far in December. He’s also riding a five-game point scoring streak, after recording just one point in the previous 11 games. In his defense, much of the talk around Sudbury has been related to how snake-bitten he’s been, with multiple prime-scoring opportunities during the stretch where he struggled. Sadly, he did not make Czech Republic’s preliminary roster for the WJC.
Stats: 28 games played, 20 points (11G, 9A), plus-1 rating, 31 PIM
WESTERN HOCKEY LEAGUE (WHL)
Goaltender Patrik Bartosak, Red Deer Rebels – Bartosak continues to bear the burden of the struggling Rebels, playing in 27 of Red Deer’s 31 games thus far. While not currently putting up numbers befitting last season’s CHL Goaltender of the Year, he’s doing his best to help Red Deer maintain .500 record - with the team currently sitting at 14-15-2.
Stats: 12-12-2 record, 3.06 goals against average, .914 save percentage
Defenseman Alex Roach, Calgary Hitmen – The newest addition to the list, by virtue of being sent down to the WHL after starting the year with Manchester and then skating in a few games for Ontario (ECHL), Roach is back with the Hitmen now and wearing an ‘A’ – as he provides grit and leadership. The big defenseman has also found his scoring touch again, earning eight points in 12 games since his less than ideal homecoming.
Stats: 13 games played, eight points (1G, 7A), plus-7 rating, 20 PIM
Here is Calgary’s coverage of Roach’s return to the Hitmen.
NCAA (College Hockey)
Forward Hudson Fasching, Minnesota – All good things must come to an end, and so does Fasching’s offensive contributions in every game for the Golden Gophers. Still fourth in team scoring, with 14 points in 16 games, he just went through his first weekend of not getting a point. All things considered, he’s putting up solid points for a first year collegiate player. Fasching also has a bigger stage to prepare for next month, as he’s expected to be part of Team USA at the World Junior tournament.
Must-read update on Fasching here - the LA Kings’ too-cool-for-school prospect.
Stats: 16 games played, 14 points (6G, 8A), plus-16 rating, 12 PIM
Forward Michael Mersch, Wisconsin – Mersch continues to lead the underachieving Badgers in goals and in team scoring. Five of his eight goals have come on the power play, which is more than the rest of the team combined. Sounds like the Kings could use his help on the power play. Since the last set of progress reports, Mersch has scored more than a point-per-game, with five goals and four assists in eight outings.
Stats: 12 games played, 14 points (8G, 6A), minus-1 rating, four PIM
Defenseman Paul Ladue, North Dakota – His introduction to collegiate hockey, via a typically strong team, hasn’t been ideal. UND has a mediocre 7-7-2 record, with only one player (Florida Panthers prospect, Rocco Grimaldi) even sniffing a point-per-game season. Ladue, himself, has decent numbers for a first-year defenseman, earning five more points in 11 games since the last update.
Stats: 15 games played, six points (2G, 4A), minus-6 rating, six PIM
Defenseman Kevin Gravel, St. Cloud State – The steady stay-at-home defenseman on the second-ranked team in the NCAA continues to bring toughness and leadership to the Huskies. He hasn’t set the world on fire offensively, adding just six points in 10 games, but like MacDermid above, he’s not really counted on to be an offensive force. For the past two years MayorsManor has had him ranked as one of the sleepers among LA’s defensive prospects and he’s continued to impress.
Stats: 14 games played, eight points (2G, 6A), plus-11 rating, zero PIM
[UPDATE: St Cloud State is now the number-1 ranked school in college hockey, surpassing Minnesota for the first time this season.]
Forward Nic Dowd, St. Cloud State – The senior is having a very “special” season, with more than half of his goals coming from special teams (four on the power play, two shorthanded). He also makes his goals count, with three of them being game winners. Dowd is leading the team with nine goals, and third in Huskies scoring with 13 points.
Stats: 14 games played, 13 points (9G, 4A), plus-8 rating, 10 PIM
Forward Jonny Brodzinski, St. Cloud State – The sophomore sniper hasn’t lost a step, and is already tied for the team lead in scoring. Brodzinski has an equal balance of goals to assists, making him a dual threat as he physically and emotionally matures through the NCAA ranks.
Stats: 14 games played, 14 points (7G, 7A), plus-12 rating, 10 PIM
Forward Joel Lowry, Cornell – Big Red has been getting steady contributions from Lowry, now in his junior year. While it is unrealistic to expect Lowry to continue the two points-per-game pace he charged out of the gates with on opening weekend, he is tied for the team lead in scoring. Since the last article, Lowry has amassed 11 points in as many games played. While me might be the least talked about player among the Kings college prospects, he’s proved to be a steady contributor to Cornell’s offensive attack since debuting a little over a year ago.
Stats: 13 games played, 15 points (6G, 9A), plus-3 rating, 21 PIM
To see where some of the above players fall on the Kings’ overall depth chart, click here to see the latest version of the team’s 2013 Top 10 prospect rankings.
Getting to know Nic Dowd – he opens up with some great stories
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