The Journey: Fastest Rising Forward Prospects
It’s time to turn to Dobber rankings of the Top 220 Forward Prospects for this month’s edition of The Journey. Austin Czarnik was this month’s biggest riser jumping up 46 spots, but I covered him fairly recently here.
Dominik Kahun – CHI, up to 176 from NR
With not a whole lot of cap space to play with and still in win-now mode, the Chicago Blackhawks require players on the cheap that they can slot into their line-up and hope will have an impact. Enter free agent signing Dominik Kahun. Kahun could have an easier transition than most European free agent signings given that he played his junior hockey in Sudbury where he put of campaigns of 40 and 31 points in 58 and 43 games respectively. But that was over four years ago and Kahun returns to North America with a more impressive resume. For the past four years, he been competing in the DEL in his home country of Germany and is coming off a year in which he finished third on EHC Munchen in scoring behind AHL legend Keith Aucoin and Brooks Macek who was recently signed by the Vegas Golden Knights. Kahun produced at nearly a point per game with 41 in 42 games and was second on the team with 29 helpers. He finished tied for 13th in league scoring and his point-per-game rate of 0.98 was the eighth best mark in the league. Kahun has excelled in each of the last three DEL seasons as he has recorded 105 points in 122 games. He’s also represented Germany at the past three World Championships with 14 points over 22 contests and showed well at the 2018 Olympics in South Korea finishing second on the surprise silver medal-winning squad in scoring with five points in seven tournament games. He appears ready for the next challenge.
After striking gold with Artemi Panarin, surely there is always going to be an increased focus whenever the Hawks make a Euro free agent signing. While Kahun likely won’t reach nearly those heights, at 23 he’s heading into his prime and has the requisite skill to make an impact if given the right deployment.
Oskar Lindblom – PHI, 37 spots to 92
No one’s expectations were as high as mind for Lindblom heading in the 2017-18 season. I’ve been a huge fan of his for the past couple of year and after the year he had in Sweden in 2016-17 I fully expected him to step right into the Philadelphia lineup and be a contributor. That didn’t happen but that isn’t to say that his debut season in North America wasn’t a success. He was assigned to Lehigh Valley in the AHL right out of the gate and went on to produce 16 goals, 18 assists and 34 points in 54 regular season games for the Phantoms. Lindblom must have made an impression as we was summoned to Philadelphia on February 20 and didn’t look back. He was held pointless in his first 11 games but the coaching staff was happy with the effort and stuck with him. Their faith was rewarded as Lindblom proceeded to reel off six points in the next 11 games and even earned a little bit of powerplay time in the process. The rookie earned his first taste of NHL playoff action as well suiting up for four games in Philadelphia’s first-round matchup against the arch-rival Pittsburgh Penguins but was held off the scoresheet and was eventually a healthy scratch for the rest of the series. But his season wasn’t over as he was sent back down to the Phantoms for their playoff run where he tied for third on the team in scoring with seven points in 11 contests and finished second on the team with four goals.
Lindblom definitely got stronger and more comfortable during the second half of his time with the Flyers, getting the puck on net with more frequently and showed that he wasn’t going to be intimidated as he wasn’t shy about throwing his body around. I’m a little more bullish on Lindblom than most. I don’t know if he’ll become a top liner, but think he should safely be a second line winger. I’d bet on him being a full-timer in the city of brotherly love this year with 35-40 point potential if everything breaks right and a possible multi-cat asset in leagues that count hits.
Tage Thompson – BUF, 12 spots to 25
Perhaps the biggest winner in the Ryan O’Reilly to the St. Louis Blues trade is Tage Thompson. The former 26th overall pick by the Blues in 2016 says that he felt he was being pigeonholed into a certain role, one that didn’t allow him to utilize his skill set to the best of his abilities. But even considering this, his first full professional season would have to be considered a success. He split time between the AHL club in San Antonio and the Blues in 2017-18. While down on the farm, Thompson recorded eight goals and 10 assists in just 30 games for the Rampage. Extrapolated out for an entire season, Thompson would have finished in the top three in scoring on the team. The most encouraging thing to take away is that he spent the majority of his rookie year in the NHL, suiting up for 41 games for the Blues. Interestingly enough his most frequent linemate was fellow trade Vladimir Sobotka and the two of them also played 16.3% of their shifts with the third member of the Blues included in the O’Reilly deal, Patrik Berglund. He averaged just less than 12 minutes per contest, scoring three times and accumulating nine points. For a player best known for his shot, he didn’t utilize it nearly enough as he fired just 55 shots on net in 41 games translating to a shooting percentage of just five percent. But this was a by-product of his limited usage and should see a big uptick in this number moving forward. With St. Louis missing the playoffs, this free Thompson up to represent his country at the World Hockey Championships where he played in 10 games and registered three points en route to a bronze medal.
The big man has been trending in the right direction since his draft year. He was somewhat of a power play specialist as a freshman at the University of Connecticut when 13 of his 14 goals came with the man advantage but has since done a better job at rounding out his game. He seemed to be at risk of being lost in the shuffle a bit behind the likes of Jordan Kyrou, Robert Thomas and Klim Kostin. And with the Blues loaded up front, valuable minutes were going to be hard to come by so a change of scenery should do wonders. Now has a chance to play a bigger part in a young, up and coming team and poolies will reap the benefits.
Thanks to www.eliteprospects.com and www.hockey-reference .com for the statistics. As always thanks for checking out this week’s edition of The Journey. Give me a follow on Twitter @BradHPhillips!
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