This week, I take a look at why Josh Bailey is producing, Minnesota’s second best prospect, the Hodgson/Kassian swap, and more.
1. Over the next few months, I will be compiling my 2012 keeper league rankings. The first up – the top 10 prospect defensemen. Here is my list from last year. Using my 25 NHL games of experience as a cut off, the following players will graduate from the 2011 list: Stefan Elliott, David Rundblad, Ryan Ellis (needs three more games), Dmitri Orlov, John Moore, Jon Blum, Jake Gardiner, and Roman Josi. Lots of fresh blood for this year's list. Any guesses? My rankings are assuming a keeper league with an emphasis on offensive production.
2. Minnesota signed Charlie Coyle last week. I'd expect him to be on the team next year, and he could find his way into the top six quite quickly. Coyle is currently playing with the QMJHL's Saint John Sea Dogs, alongside another Wild prospect, Zack Phillips. Coyle is already 6'2" and over 200 pounds. He's a great skater and he plays a direct game, and his shot is one of the best in junior hockey.
3. The Rangers will likely attempt to sign Chris Kreider after his college season wraps up. The mammoth 230-pound speedster is having a fantastic season at Boston College. The knock on Kreider has been related to his hockey sense (or perceived lack thereof), but he is able to use his supreme size and speed to dominate against his college competition (19 goals in 34 games). Kreider has one year of eligibility left, but playing in the AHL would be a logical next step for his development.
The Rangers have a nice collection of young forwards, and Kreider could be the next one to have an impact. He was likely the centerpiece of any potential package for Rick Nash, as well. He doesn't have the upside of Coyle (in my estimation, at least), but he is one of the most NHL ready fantasy-relevant prospects out there.
4. The ramifications of the Hodgson-for-Kassian swap will be really, really fun to track for the next few years. Hodgson is going to be groomed as Buffalo's future top line center, as Derek Roy has never been and will never be that guy. Hodgson needs to work on his skating, but he already has improved leaps and bounds in terms of speed and quickness compared to only a season ago. In the short term, he is going to get exposed a bit against bigger, stronger, and faster forwards. He is a very smart player though, and Buffalo would be wise to pair him with defensively conscious wingers.
Kassian is also in a great situation in Vancouver. The Canucks, before acquiring the potential power forward, had almost zero in the way of big young wingers. Recent 1st round pick Niclas Jensen is intriguing, but he is still very raw. On the professional club, David Booth is probably the closest thing to a power forward (mostly due to the fearless nature of his game). I have a hunch Kassian will see some time with the Sedin twins sooner than many think, as Burrows and Kesler have excellent chemistry and could be put together to get a second offensive attack for the postseason (and potentially beyond). If I owned either player, I'd be thrilled with the new opportunities for each of them on their new teams.
On Saturday night, Kassian had two points and a whopping seven hits against his former team. He had a great early season stretch with the Sabres before cooling off, and the jury is still out whether he can carry his strong play on for more than a few games.
5. An interesting point was raised on the DobberHockey message boards over the weekend. Randy Carlyle is known as a coach who lets his players run the dressing room (different than Ron Wilson). This worked in Anaheim with veterans like JS Giguere, Chris Pronger, Scott Niedermayer, and Teemu Selanne. How