This week, I take a look at a few prospects likely to crack the NHL next year, the fantastic and underappreciated Miikka Kiprusoff, and more.
1. Emerson Etem is having an incredible season in the WHL. Buzzing the Net compares his season to some of the best single-season offensive outputs in league history. Etem has become the first WHL player to score 50 goals in 50 games since Layne Ulmer back in 2001. Some more perspective:
"The other thing we need to consider is that in 2001, there was an average of 7.1 goals a game in the WHL, compared to just 6.7 this season. These sort of things to make a slight difference, for instance, a 50-goal season in 2012 is worth “just” 48 goals in 2001. Etem’s feat will never be able to match up against some of the great performances from the 80s simply because there’s less scoring to go around: the game is not as wide open, defensive-minded coaching strategies have taken into effect, and goaltending is vastly better now than it ever was."
Looking at the list of WHL standouts, and it isn't a guarantee that Etem will be a great pro. Nigel Dawes, Jeremy Williams, and Pavel Brendl all were unable to become good NHL players. Eric Fehr has shown flashes of it at the NHL level, but injuries have gotten in the way of his offensive development.
Conversely, Jordan Eberle, Joffrey Lupul, and Jamie Benn are all very good NHL players and were all prolific goal scorers in the WHL. Etem has the physical attributes of a Lupul or a Benn (big and strong and a great skater).
2. Anaheim has a number of young wingers who could be in the NHL next season. Perry, Ryan, Cogliano, and Beleskey are the only top-nine wingers signed through next season. The Ducks will likely bring in a veteran (depending on what happens with Teemu Selanne), but that still leaves a few open spots for the likes of Etem, Devante Smith-Pelly, Kyle Palmieri, Pat Maroon. Smith-Pelly and Palmieri are probably the favorites, but Etem's incredible season is impossible to ignore. Maroon has been a force at the AHL level as well.
3. The Minnesota Wild are getting zero secondary scoring right now, and this piece from Hockey Wilderness paints a grim picture for the near future. Several very good prospects are on the way for the next few years (most notably Mikael Granlund, but keep an eye on Jason Zucker, Zack Phillips, and Charlie Coyle), but they won't help Minnesota as they continue to freefall down the standings.
"Are there any quick fixes on the horizon?
In a word, no. There are very few players who are actually on the trade market that can produce offense on their own, which the Wild would need. It’s pretty clear that the offensive woes require a star player to fix. It took an offensive star like Heatley to snap both Brodziak and Johnson out of scoring slumps, and they fell right back into their black