While some of the organization’s star prospects are off in the Czech Republic playing on the biggest stage possible for players under the age of 20, it’s only fitting that there were numerous standout performances across all the developmental leagues this past week. Pierre Dorion and co. have built a deep system, and it’s going to make for an extremely interesting trade deadline and upcoming offseason as the team decides how to best keep everyone happy.
The AHL’s player of the week, Abramov continued his torrid pace this season with a hat-trick and six points in three games. He’s on pace to crush his rookie totals of 29 points in 70 games, split between Cleveland and Belleville, and is doing so with a better off-the-puck game.
Hat Trick, Vitaly Abramov!— Sens Prospects (@SensProspects) December 29, 2019
Abramov notched 4 points on Saturday night, giving him 28 points (15 goals) in 24GP. He's put up 14 points during his 7 game point streak. #GoSensGo pic.twitter.com/tKTRUbpQXs
With four points in three games this week, Chlapik provided important depth scoring as a “veteran” on the young BSens. Chlapik’s been noticeable physically all season, and hasn’t been afraid to step in for his younger teammates when the going gets rough:
Love to see Filip Chlapik hop in after Josh Norris gets clipped low for the second time in the game. Alex Formenton happy to chime in from the bench at the end too. #GoSensGo pic.twitter.com/hvPqVl2x7D— Sens Prospects (@SensProspects) December 26, 2019
He’s someone, along with Balcers, Brown, and Batherson, who should find himself up with the big club after the trade deadline.
Another strong week for Daccord, who vanquished the Marlies yet again, and provided a strong presence in the team’s last game of a three-in-three against Syracuse.
It’s going to be very difficult to send Joey Daccord back down to Brampton if he keeps playing the way he has, and at 23-years-old, I wonder if 21-year-old Gustavsson gets sent down instead after another inconsistent season.
It’s been hard to find any highlights of Chris Wilkie, but it’s worth pointing out his four-goal week nonetheless. Wilkie scored three of them all in one period (!) against St. Lawrence, leading Colorado College to a 7-3 victory after they had just 12 goals in their other five December contests.
With a bunch of graduations expected in Belleville, it’ll be interesting to see if the Sens decide to tender Wilkie a contract to play important depth minutes for the BSens next year.
World Juniors Update
I’m going to provide my perspective on the tournaments-to-date of Jacob Bernard-Docker, Shane Pinto, and Lassi Thomson. Bruce Garrioch penned an article with thoughts from GM Pierre Dorion, which you can read here.
While JBD’s Team Canada got the best of Pinto’s Team USA in their head-to-head contest, he’s been the most inconsistent of the three Sens prospects in the tournament. While he’s been held pointless and is a -2 with three minor penalties to his name, Bernard-Docker is clearly trusted by coach Dale Hunter, and is often first over the boards against the opposing teams’ top-lines. The World Juniors is a short tournament that we shouldn’t read too much into from an evaluation standpoint, and I still believe that getting the opportunity to play on this stage can be positive for his development.
Playing in such a primetime role for Team Canada has also resulted in more media attention for Bernard-Docker, and we often end up with quotes like the one below via CBC:
“A player that’s taken steps and evolved,” Hockey Canada head scout Brad McEwen said of Bernard-Docker before this year’s under-20 event. “He plays a complete game. He’s very reliable. He’s that complement guy that can just make sure things are kept clean in his own zone.”
Even if I was a fervent optimist (which you all know isn’t the case!), I wouldn’t have had Shane Pinto at second in tournament scoring at this stage with four goals and seven points through four games. He was named the player of the game in the U.S. loss to Team Canada, almost recording a hat-trick, but recording two powerplay markers and an assist nonetheless.
Thought to be a depth pick for a deep U.S. squad, Pinto has lined up as the team’s top centre alongside Leafs’ second-rounder Nick Robertson and Isles first-rounder Oliver Wahlstrom. He’s received top powerplay minutes over Bobby Brink and Arthur Kaliyev, and has played in the ‘bumper’ position, moving north-south between the slot and the net.
Like Drake Batherson two tournaments ago, Pinto’s had a chance to show off his hand-eye coordination, often deflecting pucks past opposing netminders:
Pinto’s also been excellent on draws, and showcases a good ability to be positionally sound in all three zones. Here’s a clip of him being in the right place to receive the puck in the offensive zone, and being a good distributor for his linemates:
The Captain of the defending champions, Thomson has been playing big minutes for the Finns alongside Winnipeg’s Ville Heinola (taken a pick after Thomson in last year’s draft!) on the first-pair, and receiving time on the first powerplay unit. He has two points in three games, and while he has not been able to bomb one from the point yet, but that hasn’t stopped him from laying the boom in the defensive zone:
Playing a ton of minutes also means being on the ice for important moments, and that’s unfortunately led to four minor penalties, including an interference call in overtime that cost the Finns their opening game against Sweden.
- The other big news of the week was Logan Brown’s return to Belleville. D.J. Smith noted that Brown needs to get big offensive minutes to take the next step, and Brown followed it up with this assist for Belleville’s first goal in an 8-2 rout over the Syracuse Crunch:
- For more on the Sens prospect contingent at the World Juniors, TSN posted a video of Pierre Dorion being interviewed by Mark Masters and Frank Seravalli. As reported by Bruce Garrioch: “Dorion is accompanied at the tourney by assistant GM Peter MacTavish, chief scout Trent Mann along with scouts Don Boyd and George Fargher, as well as Mikko Ruutu and Anders Ostberg, who are both based in Europe.”
- Belleville is one of only two teams in the league with three players all above a point-per-game in the AHL at the midway point of the season. Rudolfs Balcers (1.33), Drake Batherson (1.29), and Vitaly Abramov (1.13) are competing with AHL veterans Reid Boucher and Sven Baertschi in Utica, along with prospect Nikolay Goldobin.
- The QMJHL trade period has opened up, and while Max Guenette’s Val D’Or squad is above .500, there’s a chance he gets traded to a contending team while the Foreurs try to assemble a stronger supporting cast. Sherbrooke, Chicoutimi, Moncton, Charlottetown, and Rimouski are the top teams in a competitive league this year.
- We didn’t record any stats for Jonny Tychonick this week, but he’s not injured! He played in an exhibition game against the U.S. U18s, and will be back in action for his regular collegiate schedule next week.
Pro (NHL, AHL, ECHL)
- Points all across the board for the deepest Belleville forward corps we’ve seen all season, especially with the return of Logan Brown.
- With three assists this week, Drake Batherson continues to lead the AHL in scoring with 40 points.
- Josh Norris is fourth in AHL rookie scoring with 25 points. He’s five points off of first. Alex Formenton had a quiet week, but his 21 points sees him ranked ninth league-wide.
- The only injuries to note on the prospect side are Jonathan Davidsson, who’s expected back this week, and Morgan Klimchuk.
- Getting their first NHL time this season due to injury, Andreas Englund and Christian Jaros have both recorded an assist while playing limited minutes on Ottawa’s third-pair.
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%|
- Nice to see Johnny Gruden step up despite the absence of high-scoring centre, Connor McMichael, who’s with Team Canada. He’s third in team scoring behind McMichael and Sharks defence prospect, Ryan Merkley
- Mark Kastelic returned from injury and picked up where he left off, with three assists and seven shots in three games for the Hitmen
|Angus Crookshank||LW||20||Univ. of New Hampshire||2||0||0||0||2||6||0%|||||24||12||4||16||12||93||13%|
|Chris Wilkie||RW||23||Colorado College||2||0||0||0||0||19||0%|||||22||17||8||25||13||122||14%|
|Jakov Novak||LW/C||21||Bentley Univ.||2||0||3||3||2||5||0%|||||26||14||12||26||39||75||19%|
|Luke Loheit||RW||19||Univ. of Minnesota-Duluth||2||1||0||1||0||3||0%|||||23||3||1||4||6||18||17%|
|Shane Pinto||C||19||Univ. of North Dakota||2||0||2||2||2||1||0%|||||23||11||9||20||27||61||18%|
|Jacob Bernard-Docker||RD||19||Univ. of North Dakota||2||0||0||0||0||4||0%|||||22||3||13||16||8||39||8%|
|Jonny Tychonick||LD||19||Univ. of North Dakota||1||1||0||1||0||2||0%|||||18||4||6||10||6||10||40%|
- Angus Crookshank added an assist along with his usual ~5 shots as UNH lost a 5-4 thriller against Army
- Jakov Novak continued his point-per-game pace, recording two goals to help the Falcons get revenge on Sacred Heart
|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%|
- If any of you had time to watch the Spengler Cup, Markus Nurmi’s TPS Turku played in the tournament. They lost in the semifinals to Team Canada, with Nurmi recording one assist in three games
- Viktor Lodin played another three SHL games, but is averaging around seven minutes a night as Örebro fights for a top-three spot.
- Olle Alsing is the only other Senators defenceman under contract, but is playing important minutes for Djurgårdens in the SHL. He recorded an assist in three games, and sits third in team scoring. His 19:56 a night ranks second on the team behind veteran Marcus Högström’s 21:34.
|Filip Gustavsson||21||Belleville Senators||AHL||1||1||28||2||92.9%|||||18||11||5||2||0||519||55||89.4%|
|Joey Daccord||23||Belleville Senators||AHL||2||1||1||61||4||93.4%|||||13||9||3||2||1||434||36||91.7%|
|Marcus Högberg||25||Belleville Senators||AHL||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|||||15||7||6||0||0||408||42||89.7%|
|Kevin Mandolese||19||Cape Breton Eagles||QMJHL||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||#VALUE!|||||26||17||6||1||0||726||57||92.1%|
|Mads Søgaard||19||Medicine Hat Tigers||WHL||2||1||1||27||4||85.2%|||||28||15||10||1||1||744||75||89.9%|
- While the Swedes (Hogberg, Gustavsson) had rough outings this week, the other three netminders all raised their season averages with strong performances in net (>0.920 sv%).