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Atlantic Forecast, Vol. 4

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Forwards part one of two

Ottawa Senators v Winnipeg Jets Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images

Welcome, dear reader, to the penultimate installment of the Atlantic Forecast series. If you missed vol. 3, click here. So far, we’ve taken a look around the Atlantic division at the goaltending and defence prospects that Ottawa’s rivals have stockpiled. Today, we begin the task of breaking down the young forwards in the division. If you don’t see a name like oh, let’s say, Brady Tkachuk, then don’t panic! I assure you we’ll talk about him in the fifth and final chapter of the series. For your sake and mine, I only covered forwards 23-and-under and looked at their point production relative to their peers in their respective leagues and age groups. Just like volumes 1-3, today’s facts and figures come courtesy of capfriendly and eliteprospects. Let’s start as usual with the Senators and a player whose name you may have seen on our website before.

Ottawa Senators

DRAKE BATHERSON. If you don’t love the Drake then you may be on the wrong website. Drake leads a deep group of forward prospects for the Senators. While Ottawa may not have a guaranteed first-team all-star in the pack, they have a few forwards like Drake with decent ceilings and the tools to make it in the NHL. Among veteran forwards, the Senators only have Bobby Ryan locked up long-term. Someone like Connor Brown could get a modest extension. However, Ottawa has mostly cleared a path for this young group.

  • Drake Batherson 1.23 points per game in the AHL and 0.43 in the NHL
  • J.C. Beaudin 0.46 points per game in the AHL and 0.05 in the NHL
  • Jonathan Davidsson 0.28 points per game in the AHL and 0.17 in the NHL
  • Mark Kastelic 1.17 points per game in the WHL
  • Luke Loheit 0.18 points per game in the NCAA
  • Markus Nurmi 0.49 points per game in the Finnish Liiga
  • Shane Pinto 0.85 points per game in the NCAA
  • Colin White 0.38 points per game in the NHL
  • Chris Wilkie 0.91 points per game in the NCAA

Batherson. What more can we say? He has done everything the organization has asked of him and more in junior and in the minors since the Senators selected him in the fourth round. Without getting overly dramatic, a big part of Ottawa’s future hinges on whether Drake can continue his ascent. Shane Pinto had a rookie season to remember with the University of North Dakota and his success in the NCAA takes some pressure off Batherson. Colin White, contrarily, had a season to forget in the NHL. And while I’ll defend White first-round selection, and long-term extension, ‘til the death, a bounce-back campaign in 2020-21 would reassure a lot of fans in Ottawa. J.C. Beaudin seems to have topped out as a fourth-liner in the NHL or a fringe AHL-NHL forward. I profile Mark Kastelic much the same way. I had high hopes for Jonathan Davidsson until more concussions set his development back even further and now his career seems to hang in the balance. I remain cautiously optimistic that Davidsson will get healthy and continue his development with the Senators. Nurmi had a solid season in Finland this year. However, he has signed an extension with his Finnish team and we can no longer take for granted that he’ll sign with the Senators. It won’t break the organization to lose out on Nurmi. It never hurts to have that extra depth though. The Senators also have to make a decision on Chris Wilkie this summer. Again, like Nurmi, his signing won’t make or break the team. He does add some depth to the system though. At just 19-years-of-age and with his rookie NCAA season in the books, the jury remains out on former seventh-rounder Loheit.

Boston Bruins

Every time I research the Bruins, I get more impressed with the extent to which they’ve kept their prospect cupboard stocked while remaining highly competitive at the NHL level. However, Boston’s recent success has left them with a messy cap situation up front. Players like David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron could come off the books in the next couple of years if the Bruins opt not to re-sign them. They did, alas, just sign Charlie Coyle to a big, six-year extension so every penny will count in Boston.

  • Jack Becker 0.38 in the NCAA
  • Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson 0.33 in the SHL
  • Curtis Hall 0.96 in the NCAA
  • David Pastrnak 1.36 in the NHL
  • Jake Schmaltz 0.68 in the USHL
  • Zach Senyshyn 0.38 in the AHL
  • Oskar Steen 0.38 in the AHL
  • Jack Studnicka 0.82 in the AHL

On a positive note, the star of this group, David Pastrnak has already established himself in the NHL and fans in Ottawa know the challenge he presents as a division rival. Boston has Pastrnak locked up for three more seasons at a very manageable cap hit under seven-million. The Bruins had high hopes for Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson when they drafted him the second round in 2015 (remember they had six picks in the first two rounds that summer) but relations seem to have soured between team and player since then. Despite putting up solid numbers throughout his development, the Bruins failed to sign Forsbacka Karlsson when his entry-level contract expired and he has returned to Sweden to play in the SHL. The Bruins could offset that loss with the development of Curtis Hall, a former fourth-rounder, who put up solid numbers with Yale this season at age-19. The depth keeps coming as former second-rounder Jack Studnicka played really well for Providence in the AHL. Although, former first-rounder Zach Senyshyn has hit a wall in his pro development. Sens fans will likely get to see Jake Schmaltz in action this season as he has commited to the University of North Dakota alongside Sens prospects Shane Pinto and Jacob Bernard-Docker.

Buffalo Sabres

The Sabres have a few of their more cumbersome contracts coming off the books this summer and next, leaving Kyle Okposo and his three remaining years as the main obstacle. Through the first three parts of this series, I found Buffalo leaned more towards quality over quantity in the prospect pool and that trend continues up front.

  • Dylan Cozens 1.67 in the WHL
  • Jack Eichel 1.15 in the NHL
  • Aaron Huglen missed season due to injury
  • Tage Thompson 0.75 in the AHL

Much like Pastrnak in Boston, Jack Eichel has already made his mark in the NHL and the Senators have gotten acquainted with the young Sabres star. Locked into an 80-million dollar contract, we’ll see the Senators on the wrong end of Eichel highlights for years to come. Cozens continued his development with another strong season in the WHL and fans can expect to see him in the NHL in 2022 or sooner if he maintains this pace. Thompson came over to Buffalo in the Ryan O’Reilly trade with St. Louis and at age-22 with plenty of success in the NCAA and AHL to his name, he should still have a bright NHL future despite time missed to injury this season. Huglen didn’t play this season due to injury and has committed to the University of Minnesota next season for his freshman campaign in the NCAA.

Detroit Red Wings

After years in cap hell, the Red Wings can almost see the other side with some 30-million dollars in contracts coming off the books this summer. Detroit has taken the long route on their rebuild and will continue to stockpile as many young players as they can instead of pinning their hopes on a few core prospects. While I didn’t rave about their goaltending, I liked Detroit’s defensive prospects. I don’t have any big names to profile for the Red Wings today. Although I expect to they’ll compensate in the final installment of this series.

First and foremost: No, not that Jack Adams and, no, not that Ryan O’Reilly. I apologize for the confusion (and I corrected the hyperlinks for your convenience). The Adams in question missed this season with Union College due to injury. The O’Reilly in question has committed to Arizona State University for his rookie season. Ethan (no son of Chris) Phillips put up a modest ten-points in his rookie year at Boston University.

Florida Panthers

I gave up on trying to make sense of the Panthers years ago. Should they go for it? Should they tear it down? Can they compete in the division? The story changes every year and yet it always stays the same. To look at their forwards, you may think the Cats have cleaned up their cap situation and then you look at everything else and—what a mess. They have good players and bad contracts and a few fascinating prospects who could really go either way.

  • Jonathan Ang 0.43 in the AHL
  • Patrick Bajkov 0.69 in the ECHL
  • Grigori Denisenko 0.32 in the KHL
  • Logan Hutsko 1.10 in the NCAA
  • Owen Lindmark 0.47 in the NCAA
  • Greg Meireles 1.35 in the OHL
  • Serron Noel 0.98 in the OHL
  • Cliff Pu 0.20 in the AHL
  • Henry Rybinski 0.58 in the WHL
  • Cole Schwindt 1.25 in the OHL
  • Patrick Shea 0.34 in the NCAA
  • Owen Tippett 0.87 in the AHL

Owen Tippett probably stands out the most from this group after a strong season the AHL, just outside the top-five in rookie scoring. Grigori Dinesenko had quality results as a teenager playing among adults in the KHL. Logan Hutsko got back on track with Boston college after a mediocre sophomore season. Ottawa’s own Greg Meireles fascinates me as he got passed over in the NHL draft due to a poor sophomore season in the OHL. He seems to have righted the ship and if he can keep it up, he’ll provide great value for a sixth-round pick. Also hailing from Ottawa, Serron Noel put up just-okay numbers in the OHL while Cole Schwindt took a step forward in his development. Already passed on by Buffalo and Carolina, Cliff Pu may have run out of runway to establish a career in the NHL.

Montreal Canadiens

The Habs really emphasize quantity in their prospect acquisition and among their forwards they also have a couple of very high-quality players. They still have to navigate the contracts of Carey Price and Shea Weber, and determine the long-term plan for Brendan Gallagher whose contract comes up next year.

  • Alexandre Alain 0.40 in the AHL
  • Cole Caulfield 1.00 in the NCAA
  • Jake Evans 0.75 in the AHL and 0.23 in the NHL
  • Cameron Hillis 1.34 in the OHL
  • Joni Ikonen missed season due to injury (Liiga)
  • Brett Stapley 0.86 in the NCAA
  • Nick Suzuki 0.58 in the NHL
  • Antoine Waked 0.16 in the AHL
  • Jesse Ylonen 0.42 in the Finnish Liiga

Starting with the standouts, Nick Suzuki (who went to Montreal in the Max Pacioretty trade with Vegas) has transitioned smoothly to the NHL and looks like a part of the Candiens’ future core. 2019 first-rounder Cole Caulfield went point-per-game in his freshman season in the NCAA, rewarding Montreal’s selection of the diminutive winger. Cameron Hillis bounced back after a poor draft-plus-one season in the OHL. Brett Stapley had a better showing this year after a modest freshman season at the University of Denver. Joni Ikonen has all but seen his hopes of an NHL career fade after a streak of injuries. He’ll have another season in Finland to try and get healthy before Montreal has to make a decision.

Tampa Bay Lightning

With star-power in the crease, on defence, and up front (and the payroll to match) opportunities will remain hard to come by in the Lightning’s system. Tampa Bay worked their magic again last summer to get Brayden Point under contract with a modest cap hit while already having Steven Stamkos and co. locked up for the foreseeable future. And if you’re wondering if the team that turned second- and third-round picks into staples like Nikita Kucherov and Point still has more tricks up its sleeve, then I’d say probably not with any of the forwards in this group.

  • Maxim Cajkovic 1.17 in the QMJHL
  • Cole Guttman 0.80 in the NCAA
  • Taylor Raddysh 0.56 in the AHL
  • Mitchell Stephens 0.42 in the AHL and 0.16 in the NHL
  • Samuel Walker 0.81 in the NCAA
  • Mckade Webster 0.96 in the USHL

Former third-rounder Cajkovic improved his production in his second season in North America and stands out among his peers. Taylor Raddysh took a step back this season after a promising transition from the OHL to the AHL and the Lightning wouldn’t certainly like to see a return to form in 2020-21. Mitchell Stephens has stalled somewhat since the Bolts selected him in the second round in 2015. Mckade Webster has committed to the University of Denver for next season.

Toronto Maple Leafs

With some 45-million dollars tied up annually on forwards in Toronto, what you saw in 2019-20 is pretty much exactly what you’ll get going forward. So let’s blaze through this one so we can get back to watching Drake Batherson highlights!

  • Jeremy Bracco 0.77 in the AHL
  • Semyon Der-Arguchintsev 1.36 in the OHL
  • Kasperi Kapanen 0.52 in the NHL
  • Denis Malgin 0.27 in the NHL
  • Mitchell Marner 1.14 in the NHL
  • William Nylander 0.87 in the NHL

Must like Boston and Buffalo, you already know and loathe the worst of the bunch. Marner and Nylander won’t go away any time soon. Kapanen has carved out a depth role in Toronto while Bracco and Malgin are fringe NHL-AHLers. That leaves Der-Arguchintsev as the closest thing to a prospect for the Leafs. The former third-rounder had a forgettable draft-plus-one season before redeeming himself this season in the OHL. It will take a strong showing when he makes the jump to the AHL to crack the Leafs roster any time soon.

Stats

Name Affiliation Drafted Age League Games Points Contract Cap Hit
Name Affiliation Drafted Age League Games Points Contract Cap Hit
Alain, Alexandre Canadiens NA 23 AHL 60 24 RFA 2021 0.753
Ang, Jonathan Panthers 94 22 AHL 49 21 RFA 2021 0.745
Batherson, Drake Senators 121 21 AHL 44 54 RFA 2021 0.737
Beaudin, J.C. Senators 71 23 AHL 13 6 RFA 2020 0.765
Bracco, Jeremy Maple Leafs 61 23 AHL 44 34 RFA 2020 0.843
Davidsson, Jonathan Senators 170 23 AHL 18 5 RFA 2021 0.768
Evans, Jake Canadiens 207 23 AHL 51 38 RFA 2020 0.925
Pu, Cliff Panthers 69 21 AHL 10 2 RFA 2021 0.745
Raddysh, Taylor Lightning 58 22 AHL 62 35 RFA 2021 0.833
Senyshyn, Zach Bruins 15 23 AHL 42 16 RFA 2020 0.863
Steen, Oskar Bruins 165 22 AHL 60 23 RFA 2022 0.809
Stephens, Mitchell Lightning 33 23 AHL 24 10 RFA 2020 0.833
Studnicka, Jack Bruins 53 21 AHL 60 49 RFA 2022 0.769
Thompson, Tage Sabres 26 22 AHL 16 12 RFA 2020 0.925
Tippett, Owen Panthers 10 21 AHL 46 40 RFA 2022 0.863
Waked, Antoine Canadiens NA 23 AHL 32 5 RFA 2020 0.727
Cajkovic, Maxim Lightning 89 19 CHL 36 42 ELC 2021 NA
Cozens, Dylan Sabres 7 19 CHL 51 85 RFA 2022 0.925
Der-Arguchintsev, Semyon Maple Leafs 76 19 CHL 55 75 RFA 2022 0.783
Hillis, Cameron Canadiens 66 19 CHL 62 83 ELC 2020 NA
Kastelic, Mark Senators 125 21 CHL 58 68 RFA 2023 0.822
Meireles, Greg Panthers 168 21 CHL 48 65 ELC 2021 NA
Noel, Serron Panthers 34 19 CHL 48 47 RFA 2022 0.925
Rybinski, Henry Panthers 136 18 CHL 53 31 ELC 2021 NA
Schwindt, Cole Panthers 81 18 CHL 57 71 RFA 2023 0.870
Bajkov, Patrick Panthers NA 22 ECHL 64 44 RFA 2021 0.809
Denisenko, Grigori Panthers 15 19 KHL 38 12 NA NA
Ikonen, Joni Canadiens 58 21 Liiga NA NA ELC 2021 NA
Nurmi, Markus Senators 163 21 Liiga 57 28 ELC 2020 NA
Ylonen, Jesse Canadiens 35 20 Liiga 53 22 RFA 2023 0.881
Adams, Jack Red Wings 162 23 NCAA NA NA ELC 2022 NA
Becker, Jack Bruins 195 22 NCAA 32 12 ELC 2021 NA
Caulfield, Cole Canadiens 15 19 NCAA 36 36 ELC 2023 NA
Guttman, Cole Lightning 180 21 NCAA 35 28 ELC 2022 NA
Hall, Curtis Bruins 119 19 NCAA 28 27 ELC 2022 NA
Hutsko, Logan Panthers 89 21 NCAA 30 33 ELC 2021 NA
Lindmark, Owen Panthers 137 18 NCAA 36 17 ELC 2023 NA
Loheit, Luke Senators 194 19 NCAA 33 6 ELC 2023 NA
Phillips, Ethan Red Wings 97 18 NCAA 31 10 ELC 2023 NA
Pinto, Shane Senators 32 19 NCAA 33 28 ELC 2023 NA
Shea, Patrick Panthers 192 23 NCAA 29 10 RFA 2020 NA
Stapley, Brett Canadiens 190 21 NCAA 35 30 ELC 2022 NA
Walker, Samuel Lightning 200 20 NCAA 37 30 ELC 2022 NA
Wilkie, Chris Senators 162 23 NCAA 34 31 ELC 2020 NA
Batherson, Drake Senators 121 21 NHL 23 10 RFA 2021 0.737
Beaudin, J.C. Senators 71 23 NHL 22 1 RFA 2020 0.765
Davidsson, Jonathan Senators 170 23 NHL 6 1 RFA 2021 0.768
Eichel, Jack Sabres 2 23 NHL 68 78 UFA 2026 10.000
Evans, Jake Canadiens 207 23 NHL 13 3 RFA 2020 0.925
Kapanen, Kasperi Maple Leafs 22 23 NHL 69 36 RFA 2022 3.200
Malgin, Denis Maple Leafs 102 23 NHL 44 12 RFA 2020 0.750
Marner, Mitchell Maple Leafs 4 22 NHL 59 67 UFA 2025 10.893
Nylander, William Maple Leafs 8 23 NHL 68 59 UFA 2024 6.962
Pastrnak, David Bruins 25 23 NHL 70 95 UFA 2023 6.667
Stephens, Mitchell Lightning 33 23 NHL 38 6 RFA 2020 0.833
Suzuki, Nick Canadiens 13 20 NHL 71 41 RFA 2022 0.863
White, Colin Senators 21 23 NHL 61 23 UFA 2025 4.750
Forsbacka Karlsson, Jakob Bruins 45 23 SHL 39 13 ELC 2023 NA
Huglen, Aaron Sabres 102 19 USHL NA NA ELC 2024 NA
O'Reilly, Ryan Red Wings 98 20 USHL 43 32 ELC 2024 NA
Schmaltz, Jake Bruins 192 18 USHL 47 32 ELC 2024 NA
Webster, Mckade Lightning 213 19 USHL 24 23 ELC 2024 NA