Early Risers

Dobber Sports

2011-10-08

 

Atkinson

 

Preseason success isn’t always a good indicator of regular season success, however, for prospects it’s one of the few times to make a significant impression. This week we look at four more prospects that have had outstanding training camps/preseasons. Two have likely earned themselves a permanent NHL roster spot. Three of the four prospects last week were well known prospects. This week’s players are more obscure and in some cases have come out of nowhere.

Mathieu Perrault, C, Washington

Perrault, 23, has been around for a long time. He’s a proven AHL point per game player and has already played 56 games for the Capitals over the last two seasons. Despite that, he wasn’t supposed to make the team, especially the top six. He made it though and will centre the second line between Alex Semin and Troy Brouwer when the Capitals host Carolina on Oct. 8th. At 5’9, 170 pounds, Perrault’s size has always been an issue. Size aside, he’s a skilled centre with good vision and passing ability.

This could be the breakthrough season for Perrault as 2009 first rounder Marcus Johansson’s poor camp gave him an opportunity which he pounced on. Bruce Boudreau rewarded Perrault with a roster spot after Perrault had an excellent camp. Perrault’s preseason stats were especially good with 2 goals and 5 points to go along with +4 in four games. He was a first and a third star in two of the four games he played. Dobber has him pegged for 38 points this season. If he can stay healthy and Johansson continues to struggle, 45 points isn’t out of the question.


Cam Atkinson, RW, Columbus

At 5’8, 175 pounds and a 6th round pick in 2008, it would have appeared that Atkinson had his work cut out for him to make Columbus this season. He has a decent pedigree as he was a Hobey Baker finalist in 2011 after leading the NCAA in goals, something he has done for the past two seasons. With only five AHL games, it was expected he would spend at least half a season in the minors before making the jump, however, his camp and preseason forced the Blue Jackets’ hand. Atkinson’s camp was so good he forced Derrick Brassard out of the top six. Atkinson saw decent power play time against Nashville in Columbus’ first regular season game on Oct. 7th. Unfortunately for Atkinson, he appeared overmatched defensively and finished a team low -2 against the Preds. His camp has earned him a good look so he’ll get at least 10 games to prove himself. A sniper, Atkinson has hands of gold and the potential to score close to 20 goals if things go his way. Too many more games like the one against Nashville will assure him some time in the AHL this season to work on his defensive game.     

Craig Smith, C, Nashville

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Smith was originally committed to Wisconsin for 2011-12, but decided to forgo his junior year in the NCAA. That decision, and his incredible camp, threw a wrenc