It was a quiet week in the land of Sens prospects… said no one ever. There’s always lots going on — players scoring, players not scoring, and lots of movement, especially in this past week between Ottawa and Belleville. With the NHL on their week-long break for the All-Star festivities, the trio of Rudolfs Balcers, Filip Chlapik and Drake Batherson were all assigned to the AHL, as the B-Sens gear up to make a solid run in the playoffs.
But first, let’s look at this week’s biggest standouts, starting with one of Belleville’s key players.
Josh Norris can’t stop scoring. His eight-game point streak came to an end this week, but it was only a small blip, as he was instrumental in yesterday’s 3-0 win, scoring his 22nd goal of the season and adding an assist. He leads all AHL rookies in scoring, and is now fifth in the entire league in points. Only three other rookies have finished top five in scoring in the last decade: Cory Conacher (2011-12), Mason Appleton (2017-18) and Daniel Sprong (2017-18).
Norris has been just one of the many key offensive players that have developed chemistry together in Belleville. Check out this goal in which he acted as the finisher, with his teammates executing a super clean break-in and quickly getting the puck into a dangerous position.
Moment of silence for Josh Norris' goal last night ft. Erik Brannstrom, Alex Formenton, and Logan Brown. pic.twitter.com/cHNN6Fn99P— Sens Prospects (@SensProspects) January 16, 2020
With a team-leading 121 shots on goal, Norris has been Belleville’s lead trigger-man this season. His transition to pro hockey has gone significantly faster than expected, so it will be interesting to see how long it takes him to translate his skills to the NHL level.
Whenever a player is picked in the seventh round of the NHL draft, the expectations are understandably pretty low. And while Maxence Guénette may not be lighting the world on fire, his recent stretch of play has been his best of the season. His four assists in two games vaults him into the top-ten in scoring amongst QMJHL defencemen.
In an interview with Le Droit, Guénette’s coach had the following to say about his work this season (translated):
“[Development camp in Ottawa] made him realize some things. He came back with an A-1 attitude, and a desire to improve every day. [...] His main strengths are his skating and pass execution. When he uses these skills, in the heat of the moment, he becomes a dangerous defenceman for us. He practically becomes a fourth attacker.”
With Marcus Högberg making waves in the NHL, Filip Gustavsson and Joey Daccord have been getting the opportunity to fend for themselves in front of Belleville’s shoddy defence. They’ve both been successful in their bid to avoid the ECHL once Anders Nilsson gets healthy, with Gustavsson being especially notable this week recording his first career AHL shutout. He only had to face 23 shots, one of Belleville’s lowest totals of the season, but it was an impressive performance nevertheless.
At 21 years old, Gustavsson is already proof of how versatile goalie prospects can be. He’s bounced between being a highly-regarded world-class goalie prospect to losing ground in the Sens’ depth chart, as he’s failed so far in his North American pro career to demonstrate any kind of consistency. Hopefully these last few solid starts are a sign of positive things to come.
- Current AHL standings: Belleville sits first in their division with 54 points, tied with Utica but with a game in hand. Rochester’s third with 48 points, while Toronto, Laval and Syracuse are following closely behind. The AHL playoff format admits the top four teams in the division, with no wild card spots. Belleville’s in a good position, but nothing is ever guaranteed.
- Average time on ice this week for prospects in the NHL — 16:00 for Batherson, 11:07 for Chlapik, 9:34 for Balcers.
- The last time we covered Parker Kelly, he heated up for one game before receding back into a perpetual struggle (one assist in nine games). Now he’s starting to find a bit of consistency, getting onto the scoresheet in his last five consecutive games.
- I’m not entirely sure what’s up with Christian Jaros, but he missed all three of Belleville’s games this week with what I’m assuming is an injury. Nothing’s been reported, but he’s been taking a beating this year between Ottawa and Belleville, missing short periods of time.
- A group of 2020 draft-eligible prospects were asked who is “the most difficult opponent they’ve faced”. Mark Kastelic received one vote.
- Angus Crookshank barely missed the Biggest Standouts section, as he was no slouch with a two-goal game. The next contest marked the end of his seven-game point streak, during which he had six goals and two assists. He leads the University of New Hampshire with 87 shots on goal, averaging nearly four per game.
- Fan voting for the Hobey Baker award, the most prestigious individual award in college hockey, has begun. Among the 78 nominees are Chris Wilkie (Colorado College) and Jakov Novak (Bentley University). The University of North Dakota nomination went to Jordan Kawaguchi./
Pro (NHL, AHL, ECHL)
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%|
|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%|
|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%|
|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%|
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