The hockey holiday break is upon us, and the World Juniors are only days away. In this Jets Prospects Update we’ll take a look at some standouts and how they have fared through the first half of their respective seasons.
After a horrendous start the Moose are beginning to work their way back to respectability. Despite still holding a bottom 5 team shooting percentage, they are no longer worst in goals for per game and they’ve made it through all of December so far without allowing 40+ shots against, something that had happened 5 times in 17 games prior.
Chase De Leo has stood out in a positive way to this point, he leads the team’s regulars in Shots per game and was pretty much the only offensive catalyst the team had early in the season. With the offense coming around he continues to produce well and even picked up his first professional hat-trick recently.
The play of Nic Petan has also been quietly strong. Though he’s not getting much in the way of accolades, Petan is leading the team in Points per Game by a fairly significant margin, and has been a boon to a Moose powerplay that’s among the worst in the league.
Others have shown positively as well; The aforementioned De Leo, once paired with Armia and Lipon, formed a strong offensive trio that seemed capable of producing when no other line was able to. 20 year old’s Josh Morrissey and Jan Kostalek on defense have shown considerable improvement since the season began as they adjust to the pace of professional hockey. It should also be noted that Morrissey personally is shooting at just under 2%, so while the points aren’t showing up much yet, it is very likely that some of those will start going in soon.
In net Hellebuyck continued his trademark solid play until an Ondrej Pavelec injury forced a call-up. From that point on the reigns were handed over to Eric Comrie who has done an admirable job as a first year pro behind a team that is prone to significant defensive lapses.
Overall it’s been a pretty underwhelming start for this iteration of the AHL franchise, but there have been bright spots and the play does seem to be trending upwards.
Brendan Lemieux’s season to this point can be split into two parts, pre-suspension and post-suspension. Lemieux started slow with just one goal in his first three games before receiving a 10 game suspension in his fourth of the season. Since serving that suspension he has been scoring at a torrid pace first for the Colts and then continuing with the Spitfires after finding himself traded to Windsor in early December. He has always been a strong junior scorer but if he keeps up his two points per game pace that he’s maintained since returning he may find himself amongst the OHL’s leading scorers at the end of the season despite missing so much time.
Jansen Harkins had a slow start to the season but his play has picked up as of late. Despite still being an all situations guy for the Cougars and getting lots of opportunities things just weren’t going his way through to the end of October. Since then however his production has picked up and in the last two months he’s been pacing similarly to what he was able to produce last season.
Michael Spacek is moving the opposite way from Harkins. After a hot start to the season with 21 points in his first 15 games, he’s only picked up nine in the 15 since. A point per game pace for a first year WHLer is still good production but after the start he had it may leave people somewhat wanting at the midpoint of the season.
Mason Appleton has been a big story this season after being drafted as a relative unknown last year. He’s fallen off of the point per game pace, but continues to lead his team in scoring and shots per game. Appleton was drafted as a center but has played the majority of the season as a top line winger and powerplay point-man.
Jack Roslovic’s season to this point may be the most impressive of any prospects. Miami had a strong team last season but lost several of their better players to graduations. To this point this season they are averaging a more that a goal less per game than they had last season, 3.25 to 2.06. Roslovic has factored in on just under 50% of Miami’s total offense, he’s also scored the game winning goal in 3 of Miami’s 5 wins.
There were high hopes for Kyle Connor heading into his freshman season with Michigan and to this point I think it’s fair to say that he’s exceeding them. Connor leads the team in total points and is tied for the team lead in goals scored. His situation is a little different from Roslovic’s as well, there are several older well established NCAA players on Michigan and he is out-producing all of them. Connor is currently pacing slightly higher than Dylan Larkin did last season so if he can continue this sort of scoring the Jets may have to continue their tradition of signing Michigan standouts to early contracts.
While Niku and Kraskovsky aren’t showing much in terms of offense its important to remember that both playing a regular shift in a men’s league at 19 is an impressive accomplishment in its self. It is especially interesting when we remember that even though Kraskovsky is in his second post draft season, he barely missed the cut-off to be a 2015 draftee.
Not much to say about Marcus at this point, his production has picked up but playing in the NAHL at his age means there’s not really much there prospect-wise.
Note: Moose shot data may be slightly off as it did not account for their most recent game.