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Ottawa Senators Prospect Update: Kevin Mandolese’s Breakout Week

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Josh Norris, Johnny Gruden and Kevin Mandolese are this week’s biggest standouts.

Cape Breton Screaming Eagles v Quebec Remparts Photo by Mathieu Belanger/Getty Images

Welcome back to this week’s prospect update! It was a big week for many prospects in the Sens’ system, especially in Belleville. But you know the drill, let’s jump right in!

Biggest Standouts

Josh Norris

No prospect on the Sens is hotter right now than Josh Norris. Currently on an eight-game point streak, he picked up an impressive five goals in his three games this week. Among AHL rookies, he leads in both goals and points, and is second second in shots on goal. He’s taken Belleville’s 1C position and run with it since the beginning of the season, and with his regular linemates now in Ottawa, it’s an even greater sign that he’s still dominating.

For a player who was questionable to even turn pro this year after his major injury setback, Norris’ success has surpassed any expectations placed on him in September.

Johnny Gruden

Being cut from Team USA at the World Juniors camp doesn’t seem to have slowed down Johnny Gruden in the slightest. With Connor McMichael playing for team Canada, his time on ice was bumped up slightly, and he used it to pot three goals and two assists in three games. Like Norris, his streak is now up to eight games, with six goals and six assists in that span.

Unless something drastic happens, it seems like Gruden is on pace to win this year’s Most Improved Prospect award for the Sens. He’s only a couple points away from tripling his output in the NCAA last year, and even though there’s many conflating factors which are helping boost it, he has a confidence to his game that was completely invisible last season.

Kevin Mandolese

The Cape Breton Screaming Eagles are on a five-game winning streak. Their offence has been lighting up opposing teams, but Kevin Mandolese has also been a massive part of their success, with two of his three games this week being shutouts. The 19-year-old, 6’4” goalie has now elevated his season save percentage to 91.9%, the second highest in the QMJHL, and earning him the honours of QMJHL goalie of the month for December.

Given the depth of the Sens’ goalie pipeline, I placed low odds of Mandolese being signed at the beginning of the season, given his previous three seasons saw him post a save percentage below 90%. Now that he’s flourished into a QMJHL starting goalie, he’s showing how his game has improved. The Eagles acquired overager Tyler Hinam last week, so while they may not be at the top of the league, they’re making a push for a long playoff run.

Silver Linings

  • Final tally at the World Juniors: Shane Pinto led the Sens prospects with seven points (4G, 3A) in five games, Lassi Thomson had three assists in seven games and played a team-leading 17:11 minutes per game, and Jacob Bernard-Docker picked up one goal in seven games en route to a gold medal.
  • Drake Batherson and Rudolfs Balcers were both called up to Ottawa this week, after Anthony Duclair was out with a short injury. Now that Duclair’s back, however, neither have been sent down, which is a good sign that they could be sticking around after proving they’re too good for the AHL.
  • Balcers was getting some much-deserved love from some Latvian fans in Ottawa.
  • In the AHL, Vitaly Abramov is currently out for an undisclosed amount of time with a broken finger. This team doesn’t stop with its damaged hands, apparently.
  • Norris wasn’t the only player with big contributions this week in Belleville, with Alex Formenton, Filip Chlapik, Logan Brown and Erik Brannstrom all scoring at least a point per game.
  • Angus Crookshank’s lone goal this week was nine seconds into the game, the fastest in recorded history for the University of New Hampshire.
  • Olle Alsing was named one of the five finalists for the MVP award in the Champions Hockey League. The defenceman was second in tournament scoring, with three goals and 12 assists in 11 games. You can vote for him here.

Weekly Stats

Pro (NHL, AHL, ECHL)

- - - - - Since the last prospect update - | - T O T A L -
- - - - - Since the last prospect update - | - T O T A L -
PLAYER POS AGE LEAGUE GP G A P PIM SOG SH% | GP G A P PIM SOG SH%
Alex Formenton LW 20 AHL 3 0 1 1 4 6 0% | 43 21 13 34 42 108 19%
Drake Batherson RW 21 AHL 3 1 3 4 0 8 13% | 37 14 32 46 24 119 12%
NHL 1 0 1 1 0 2 0% | 10 1 2 3 6 13 8%
Jonathan Davidsson RW 22 AHL - - - - - - 0% | 18 2 3 5 6 19 11%
NHL - - - - - - - | 6 0 1 1 0 3 0%
Josh Norris C 20 AHL 1 0 0 0 0 0 0% | 42 22 18 40 12 121 18%
Max Veronneau RW 24 AHL - - - - - - - | 33 5 5 10 2 30 17%
NHL - - - - - - - | 4 0 0 0 0 3 0%
Michael Carcone LW 23 AHL 3 1 0 1 2 4 25% | 41 10 9 19 37 92 11%
Morgan Klimchuk LW 24 AHL 3 2 1 3 0 4 50% | 34 10 7 17 8 50 20%
Parker Kelly C/RW 20 AHL 3 1 0 1 2 4 25% | 39 7 4 11 10 43 16%
Rudolfs Balcers LW 22 AHL 3 2 0 2 2 6 33% | 23 10 17 27 10 50 20%
NHL - - - - - - - | 7 0 1 1 0 8 0%
Vitaly Abramov RW/LW 21 AHL 3 0 0 0 0 4 0% | 33 15 13 28 18 86 17%
NHL - - - - - - - | 2 1 0 1 2 3 33%
Andreas Englund LD 24 AHL 3 0 0 0 5 1 0% | 17 0 0 0 24 16 0%
NHL - - - - - - - | 12 0 2 2 12 5 0%
Christian Jaros RD 23 AHL 3 0 1 1 0 3 0% | 27 1 11 12 4 33 3%
NHL - - - - - - - | 6 0 2 2 4 2 0%
Maxime Lajoie LD 22 AHL 2 0 1 1 0 3 0% | 32 2 1 9 22 50 4%
NHL - - - - - - - | 6 0 0 0 0 3 0%
Filip Chlapik C 22 NHL 1 0 0 0 0 1 0% | 24 2 3 5 10 22 9%
AHL 3 1 1 2 7 9 11% | 24 5 9 14 29 52 10%
Jean-Christophe Beaudin C/RW 22 NHL - - - - - - - | 22 0 1 1 7 18 0%
AHL - - - - - - - | 11 2 2 4 0 16 13%
Logan Brown C 21 NHL - - - - - - - | 23 1 7 8 4 23 4%
AHL 3 1 3 4 2 8 13% | 19 5 20 25 24 44 11%
Erik Brännström LD 20 NHL - - - - - - - | 31 0 4 4 16 38 0%
AHL 3 0 2 2 2 5 0% | 16 1 13 14 18 23 4%

Canadian Hockey League

- - - - - - Since the last prospect update - | - T O T A L -
- - - - - - Since the last prospect update - | - T O T A L -
PLAYER POS AGE TEAM LEAGUE GP G A P PIM SOG SH% | GP G A P PIM SOG SH%
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%

NCAA

- - - - - Since the last prospect update - | - T O T A L -
- - - - - Since the last prospect update - | - T O T A L -
PLAYER POS AGE TEAM GP G A P PIM SOG SH% | GP G A P PIM SOG SH%
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%
Todd Burgess C/RW 23 RPI 1 0 0 0 2 1 0% | 22 4 2 6 14 48 8%
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%

European Leagues

- - - - - - Since the last prospect update - | - T O T A L -
- - - - - - Since the last prospect update - | - T O T A L -
PLAYER POS AGE TEAM LEAGUE GP G A P PIM SOG SH% | GP G A P PIM SOG SH%
Markus Nurmi RW/LW 21 TPS Liiga 3 1 1 2 2 5 20% | 43 9 11 20 22 91 10%
Lassi Thomson RD 19 Ilves Liiga 2 0 0 0 0 6 0% | 27 6 4 10 8 90 7%
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%

Goaltenders

- - - - - Since the last prospect update - - | - T O T A L - -
- - - - - Since the last prospect update - - | - T O T A L - -
PLAYER AGE TEAM LEAGUE GP W L OTL SOL SA GA SV% | GP W L OTL SOL SA GA SV%
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%
Brampton Beast ECHL - - - - - - - - | 12 7 5 0 0 342 34 90.1%
Marcus Högberg 25 Belleville Senators AHL - - - - - - - - | 15 7 6 0 0 408 42 89.7%
Ottawa Senators NHL 1 1 53 3 94.3% | 12 2 2 5 2 377 33 91.2%
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%