I feel like we’re at the “rehashing narratives” stage of the season. The CHLers continue to play well, the NCAA contingent and European prospects feature a couple bright spots, and Belleville continues down their worrisome track.
Belleville DID manage to win a game, off the backs of Jack Rodewald and Nick Paul (!), but Colin White and Gabriel Gagne joined Christian Jaros and Francis Perron in the “injured” pile.
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I’ve become more and more optimistic on Nurmi as the Liiga season wore on. With 10 points in his last 11 games (and 21 points in 51 games on the season), Nurmi ranks eighth among U20 players in Finland’s top men’s league.
Markus Nurmi has 4 Points (1G, 3A) in 4GP since his team had a 10 day break in late February— Sens Prospects (@SensProspects) March 8, 2018
Nurmi is up to 21 Points (10G, 11A) in 50GP this #Liiga season. Has made some huge strides since the start of the season, with 10 Points in his last 11GP. pic.twitter.com/R8zFXSnaM8
He’s constantly crashing the net, has pro size, and looks to be a reliable defensive player as he plays regularly on the penalty kill for TPS and internationally for Finland. TPS finished second among teams this season, and are currently awaiting their quarterfinals opponent in the playoffs.
Nurmi turns 20 in June, and has one more year on his Liiga deal with TPS. Expect him to hang around there before coming over as a 21-year-old.
Colin just featured him, but wowee does Formenton continue to shine. London’s always been a hot spot for developing players, and Dale Hunter continues to get more out of his players year-after-year. This year, London traded away most of their skilled talent outside of Formenton and likely 2018 first-round pick, Evan Bouchard — they’re still going to finish ~4th in the OHL’s Western Conference.
Formenton is leading by example, putting 14 shots on net in three games, and scoring five goals — including a natural hat-trick:
His 0.62 goals per game ranks 11th in the league, and in the company of highly touted prospects like Gabe Villardi, Morgan Frost, and Jonah Gadjovich. Aaron Luchuk and Logan Brown are fourth and fifth respectively.
The Athletic’s Corey Pronman had a chance to watch Formenton play last month, and noted that his high-end speed is allowing him to make skilled plays on the rush — potentially pushing his ceiling to that of a middle-six winger with top-six potential rather than a lower ceiling bottom-of-the-lineup type player.
There’s some good news and some bad news regarding Wolanin. First, the good: Wolanin is a finalist for the NCHC Offensive Defenceman of the Year, and was named to the NCHC’s second all-star team after leading North Dakota in scoring with 32 points in 36 games.
The bad? The Athletic’s Corey Pronman had an article (paywall) recently where he discussed Wolanin as an NCAA free agent. Due to a clause in the CBA (below), Wolanin is eligible to forego his final year of UND and choose his landing spot if he wants.
We’ve talked all season about how Wolanin is Ottawa’s best NCAA prospect. As a team hoping to retool (?), they need more players like Wolanin, not less. Ottawa’s generally been good at signing their draft picks despite some uncertainty (Colin White last year) and even lure some NCAA free agents to sign here instead. I can’t help but wonder if Wolanin sees what’s going on in Belleville and Ottawa and thinks, “I don’t want to be a part of it” — but that’s just speculation on my part. He’d be a big loss to Belleville’s blueline depth next season if he chooses to exercise his right in signing elsewhere.
- In contrast to Wolanin’s offensive recognition, Kelly Summers (more likely to sign here!) was nominated as the ECAC’s best defensive defenceman, and was named to the ECAC’s First All-Star Team. Clarkson is heading to the ECAC tournament against Harvard, Princeton, and Cornell this weekend.
- Aaron Luchuk was named OHL Player of the Month for February, with his 26 points (6G, 20A) pacing all OHL players.
- A good article on Drake Batherson (french), where he talks about how he’s out to prove people wrong after going undrafted in his first couple seasons of eligibility.
- Logan Brown had a goal in his return to the Kitchener lineup. With the Rangers having locked up the division and Brown dealing with some minor injuries, he was held out of the lineup for the last four games in order to ensure he’s 100% healthy for the playoffs.
- Filip Ahl helped BIK Karlskoga avoid regulation this season, and played a lot better at the end of the year after he got regular minutes in the Allsvenskan. His season was still not ideal, especially considering that Regina’s going to the Memorial Cup automatically and is going for a WHL playoff run, but this section is called silver linings for a reason.
- Keep your eyes peeled on SHL.se tonight. Filip Gustavsson’s Luleå need to win today to continue on in the SHL playoffs. If not, expect a decision to be made on whether he comes over to North America sooner rather than later.