It’s Tuesday, so it’s time for another prospect update! Your weekly escapade from the NHL Sens and their off-ice antics looks at a couple blooming forwards this week, in Filip Ahl and Parker Kelly. And because we just can’t stop talking about him, Brady Tkachuk also makes another appearance in Biggest Standouts.
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Ahl got into some trouble last week, serving a three game suspension for a dangerous hit. He came back seemingly a renewed player, however, scoring five points in his next two games, including a three-point night in Tingsryds’ 3-2 victory.
Filip Ahl was in on every goal in a 3-2 win, recording 2G & 1A. He missed a great chance for a hat trick but didn't give up and got the puck out front.— Sens Prospects (@SensProspects) December 3, 2018
After serving a 3 game suspension, Ahl has 5 points in 2GP. He's got 10 PTS (4-6-10) in 16GP with Tingsryds AIF. pic.twitter.com/2Y2dncoHrq
This season will be crucial for Ahl, considering the deadline for the Sens to sign him to a contract will be June 1st this upcoming off-season. He’s a tall player at 6’4” — it’s now just a matter of whether he can begin using his size effectively, and improve his scoring touch. And while he’s progressed on both fronts, it’s still not certain whether he’ll earn a contract. At 21 years old, he still has yet to crack a full time roster spot in Sweden’s top men’s league, whereas younger players such as Emil Bemström, Jesper Boqvist and Filip Hållander have already carved out roles for themselves.
We also can’t forget that Ahl had already come to Canada to play in the WHL for a season, then decided to leave Regina the year before they were set to host the Memorial Cup. His ten points in sixteen games is an improvement over his disappointing 15 in 29 last year, although there’s still room to grow if Ahl wants to turn pro in North America. His play this week is a hopeful indicator that he’s turning a corner.
The Prince Albert Raiders are 26-1. Parker Kelly and his team are putting up historic numbers in the WHL, currently a full twelve standings points ahead of the second place team. While Kelly may not be the player fuelling the team’s firepower (give credit to breakout forward Brett Leason and goalie Ian Scott), he’s still helping contribute at the top of their lineup, posting 26 points in 26 games. Kelly’s most recent game on December 1st put an end to his six-game point streak, in which he amassed six goals and six assists.
The Sens have had some pretty terrible fortunes in recent years when signing CHL free agents (think Dziurzynski, Hamilton, Rutkowski, Erkamps), and Kelly is trying to break that mould. While it may be concerning that he hasn’t been able to take on a role as a primary scorer in his fourth WHL season, it’s nevertheless fun to watch just how far Prince Albert can take this crazy record. Potentially losing Leason and Scott to the World Juniors could be the Raiders’ biggest test yet.
Tkachuk may just end up having a permanent place in this section, and that’s not a complaint by any means. He continues to stay above point-per-game pace with two goals and an assist in three games this week, bringing his total to sixteen points in as many games. He may still be six points behind Elias Pettersson for the rookie scoring lead, although on a per-game basis, his 1.00 bests the Canucks rookie’s 0.96.
If you want to see Tkachuk summed up in two GIFs, these may just be the two.
Brady Tkachuk's friendship tour continues in Philadelphia pic.twitter.com/26QMpn1pjc— Sens Prospects (@SensProspects) November 28, 2018
He’s a menace in every sense of the word. His energy can’t be contained in front of the net, and he does an incredible job at getting under the skin of the opposing team without crossing a line (he had zero penalties this week).
From a more analytical standpoint, his average shot danger is the 5th highest in the NHL, considering how tightly he wedges himself in the crease. He’s also been Ottawa’s best defensive player by a long shot. When he’s on the ice at 5v5, the opposing team takes 50.29 shot attempts per 60 minutes. Second best on Ottawa is Mark Stone at 57.50, and the Sens’ team average is a league-worst 67.82. His impact has been felt in every way possible, which will surely earn him Calder considerations by the year’s end.
- Brady’s best buddy, Josh Norris, has cooled off from his early scoring streak. Asked earlier this week when he think he’ll turn pro, to him that’s still “a little too far ahead”. He’ll almost certainly be representing USA at the World Juniors, with 17 points in 15 games so far for the University of Michigan.
- Preliminary rosters are beginning to be announced for the World Junior Championships, and both Alex Formenton and Jacob Bernard-Docker made the cut for Team Canada. While Formenton is basically a lock at this point, Bernard-Docker is on the fringes, being one of twelve players considered for the final seven spots on defence.
- Logan Brown has been heating back up since his return from injury last week, with four points (two goals) in his last four games, after only picking up one point in his first five.
- Before Drake Batherson was recalled, Rudolfs Balcers had 11 points 14 games. Now that his linemate is on Ottawa, Balcers has been limited to two points in his last nine games.
- Andreas Englund and Julius Bergman are currently on an eight and nine game point drought, respectively.
- For anyone who may have been wondering why Christian Wolanin wasn’t called up in the last week given Ottawa’s injuries, he too is injured, out for roughly a week with a shoulder injury.
- Coach Troy Mann went off on Gabriel Gagné recently, citing his defensive weaknesses amongst many other things during a radio interview. The former AHL All-Star responded by scoring a goal two games later.
- It was generally a pretty great week for the Sens’ goalie prospects. Kevin Mandolese stopped 35 of 37 shots for Cape Breton, Jordan Hollett stopped 30 of 32 for Medicine Hat, and Marcus Hogberg returned from injury, picking up a win for Belleville in his first game of the season.
- And because he’s still with us in spirit, Erik Condra was named the AHL Player of the Week.