The stretch drive is on in both North American major junior and pro hockey. What- and who- will the NHL’s playoffless teams have to look forward to in June should they fail to find that extra gear in time?
1. Edmonton Oilers- D Adam Larsson (Skelleftea, Elitserien)
With a three-game win streak to start the month, the Edmonton Oilers looked to be playing themselves out of the 30th spot and final spot. However, fans needn't have worried; fate once again intervened, knocking out de facto leading scorer Sam Gagner with a freak hand injury while he sat on the bench. While the Avs are 1-7-2 in their last ten, the Oilers have reached the point where their best offensive weapons are Jordan Eberle and Ryan Jones, and any more than three wins the rest of March would be a major surprise.
With that said, when Edmonton head scout Stu MacGregor was interviewed for March 8th piece on the Oilers website, he mentioned just one 2011-eligible player: Adam Larsson. Although "need" has once again dominated the conversation among Oilers fans when it comes to the Draft, MacGregor and crew opted to go with the BPA last summer. And, by golly, it worked.
Before his season ended prematurely with an ankle injury, Taylor Hall had- and still has- more goals than Boston Bruin rookie Tyler Seguin has points. And what of position? Well, it's been Hall who has thrived the most at center, while Seguin has needed to shift to the wing to see substantial minutes. BPA should once again be the order of the day, and Larsson- whose club is down 2 games to 1 in the opening round of the Elitserien playoffs- is that player.
2. Ottawa Senators- LW/RW Gabriel Landeskog (Kitchener, OHL)
It's the worst-kept secret in hockey right now. Second on their entire list for the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, the Ottawa Senators have kept a close eye on Kitchener Rangers star Gabriel Landeskog. In all, they have to encouraged. After finally returning from the ankle injury that knocked him out of the World Juniors, Landeskog has shown little rust. Although pointless in his last five games, the 6'2, 209 lbs Swedish winger has registered 17 points in a total 17 games to go along with 16 PIM. Although the Senators are another team that could desperately use a fu