Just like the Senators in the NHL, the Belleville Senators have been on a hot streak as of late following a slow start to the season. They’ve won six of their last eight games, and the young guns have been instrumental to their success, especially this past week. Strong performances from the CHL, NCAA and more are also highlighted in this week’s Sens prospect update.
Pro (NHL, AHL, ECHL)
- The kids brought the heat this week — Alex Formenton, Drake Batherson, Rudolfs Balcers and Vitaly Abramov each scored at least three points.
- Numerous players were up and down with the NHL team this week, including Max Veronneau, Jean-Christophe Beaudin, Christian Jaros and Maxime Lajoie.
Canadian Hockey League
|Johnny Gruden||LW||19||London Knights||OHL||3||4||1||5||0||14||29%|||||44||21||28||49||21||112||19%|
|Maxence Guénette||RD||18||Val-d'Or Foreurs||QMJHL||3||0||2||2||4||2||0%|||||45||8||22||30||20||100||8%|
|Mark Kastelic||C||20||Calgary Hitmen||WHL||2||2||3||5||2||8||25%|||||39||23||22||45||59||143||16%|
- A week never seems to go by where all three players have been impressive, at least on the score sheet.
- Maxence Guénette and Mark Kastelic each averaged over three shots on goal per game this week.
|Angus Crookshank||LW||20||Univ. of New Hampshire||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|||||16||8||2||10||8||67||12%|
|Chris Wilkie||RW||23||Colorado College||2||0||0||0||2||7||0%|||||14||9||7||16||11||56||16%|
|Jakov Novak||LW/C||21||Bentley Univ.||1||0||1||1||2||1||0%|||||17||9||8||17||25||41||22%|
|Luke Loheit||RW||19||Univ. of Minnesota-Duluth||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|||||16||2||1||3||6||13||15%|
|Shane Pinto||C||19||Univ. of North Dakota||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|||||17||8||6||14||10||47||17%|
|Jacob Bernard-Docker||RD||19||Univ. of North Dakota||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|||||17||3||11||14||8||31||10%|
|Jonny Tychonick||LD||19||Univ. of North Dakota||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|||||12||3||4||7||2||8||38%|
- Sens prospects in the NCAA combined for nine goals this week... and zero assists.
- Angus Crookshank stepped up to the plate, scoring two goals on nine shots, including an OT winner.
|Viktor Lodin||C/LW||20||Örebro HK||SHL||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|||||22||0||4||4||2||20||0%|
|HC Vita Hästen||Allsvenskan||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|||||10||3||2||5||2||26||12%|
|Olle Alsing||LD||23||Djurgårdens IF||SHL||2||0||0||0||0||1||0%|||||36||4||16||20||20||55||7%|
- Lassi Thomson was back in action this week after recovering from a month-long injury, notching a goal.
- Markus Nurmi cooled back down after his hot streak last week.
|Filip Gustavsson||21||Belleville Senators||AHL||1||1||0||0||0||26||2||92.3%|||||10||7||3||1||0||318||38||88.1%|
|Marcus Högberg||25||Belleville Senators||AHL||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|||||15||7||6||0||0||408||42||89.7%|
|Joey Daccord||23||Brampton Beast||ECHL||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|||||12||7||5||0||0||342||34||90.1%|
|Kevin Mandolese||19||Cape Breton Eagles||QMJHL||3||0||2||1||0||102||9||91.2%|||||16||8||5||1||0||426||39||90.8%|
|Mads Søgaard||19||Medicine Hat Tigers||WHL||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|||||19||11||6||1||0||516||49||90.5%|
- Joey Daccord and Filip Gustavsson both came up big in their lone games this week, each allowing only one goal to get by them.
Starting this week in the bottom-six on a line with Morgan Klimchuk and Jean-Christophe Beaudin, Vitaly Abramov quickly worked his way up to playing with better teammates. By the end of the week he was playing next to Josh Norris and Drake Batherson, who together might be Belleville’s best line to date.
Against the Binghamton Devils, Batherson and Abramov each recorded a four-point night, with Abramov scoring twice, including the game-winner in a 6-3 win. He’s displaying his creativity a lot more than he was last season, and while it helps that he’s getting a chance with better teammates and with more ice time, he seems to be able to make things happen on his own.
Overall, the young players on Belleville are having themselves a year. Amongst all players age 21 and younger in the AHL, here’s where their top players rank in terms of primary points per game (from Pick224.com, minimum 10 GP):
Drake Batherson — 0.77 (4th)
Vitaly Abramov — 0.73 (5th)
Josh Norris — 0.62 (10th)
Alex Formenton — 0.54 (17th)
Taking away the minimum GP, Logan Brown leads everyone in the league with 1.00 P1/GP. It’s a great sign for the Sens that their prospects are adjusting well to the pro level. At the same time, the concentration of young talent in the AHL means it’s even more crucial that they succeed as a team. After a slow start, it’s nice to see Belleville working their way back into the playoff picture.
It’s been a wild week for Logan Brown on his quest for his first NHL goal. First he was met with all the jokes after he accidentally put the puck in his own net, then later in the game had his first goal on the opposition called back for goalie interference.
But finally, against Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers, Brown got his first career NHL goal. And in the most Logan Brown way possible, it was on the power play.
LOGAN BROWN FIRST NHL GOAL ON THE PP..— Hailey Salvian (@hailey_salvian) November 23, 2019
Top on Henrik? Why not. That one's not getting taken back. No sir. pic.twitter.com/KGlpSxvA1O
Brown has been a solid player on all accounts for the Senators. While his spot in the NHL may not be secure forever when people return from injuries, he’s certainly making a case for himself to stay up. His game against the Red Wings was his best of the season, with his line continuously putting pressure on the opposition. He may not be exploding offensively, but he also has nothing left to prove in the AHL. It only seems like a matter of time before he’s joined by some of his Belleville teammates.
The last game Johnny Gruden didn’t score a point was over a month ago, on October 25th. Since then he’s been riding an eleven-game streak, with five goals and thirteen assists in that span. He’s 18th in points-per-game amongst U20 players in the OHL, ahead of players like Ryan Suzuki and Philip Tomasino. He’s two points away from doubling his scoring total from last season in the NCAA (3-12—15 in 38 GP for Miami University). The expectations have long been surpassed.
As always, there’s a major footnote to be added with Gruden, as his London Knights team is stacked to the brim with talent. His linemate is league-leading scorer Connor McMichael, and their #1 defenceman Ryan Merkley is supremely talented. It’s a major factor to consider, but regardless, Gruden is playing much more confidently than he was last season, which is a much-needed step forward.
- Not everyone can be dominating on Belleville, as couple B-Sens are going through cold streaks: Parker Kelly hasn’t hit the scoresheet in twelve games, and Michael Carcone in his last six.
- The newest Sens prospect, Christopher Wilkie, returned from his minor injury this week for Colorado College. He scored in his first game back, but left the game early after taking a hard hit against Luke Loheit’s University of Minnesota-Duluth. Fortunately he was okay and proceeded to play the next day.
- The University of North Dakota have been unstoppable as of late. They’ve won eight of their last nine games, with the ninth being a 1-1 tie. They haven’t lost since October 19th, and rank 3rd in the latest collegiate power rankings.
- In an interview with EP Rinkside (paywall), UND coach Brad Berry had the following to say about Jacob Bernard-Docker:
“We knew we had a really good player his freshman year,” University of North Dakota head coach Brad Berry said. “Now you’re starting to see him turn the corner here, as far as what he brings to the table each and every night (…) His physical maturity has really grown, his speed and quickness, he’s taken that up a notch. He’s been sharp in a lot of different areas. He’s growing mentally and physically as a player.”
“His defending has come a long way,” Berry told EP Rinkside. “He’s become a hard, heavy defenseman now as far as eliminating bodies, boxing out, going into corners and eliminating the second player to come in and get the puck. He’s grown in a lot of areas.”
- Meanwhile, Jonny Tychonick remains a mystery. Unless I’ve missed news about an injury (he was briefly ill last week), it appears he’s turned into a consistent healthy scratch, having been on the sidelines November 15th.
- Since struggling in the SHL, Viktor Lodin was loaned to the Allsvenskan, the second tier Swedish pro league. He has one goal in his first four games, but will need to really step up the pace if he wants to make a pro career in North America.