The Journey: Prospects Who Could Join Their Clubs This Summer – Metro Division
There we have it. After almost four months of waiting, we finally got some much-needed hockey excitement. If you missed it, the NHL broadcasted Phase 1 of its 2020 lottery draft on Friday evening. Although it was short-lived, it did not disappoint with its dramatics and cliff-hanging results. If you are curious as to what happened or just looking for clarification on how it worked, check out Ian Gooding's Saturday Ramblings.
That’s all I am going to mention about the events that took place, as I plan to cover some scenarios for next week’s installment of The Journey. Instead, I focus my energy on wrapping up my four-part mini-series. If you have yet to tune in, I have chimed in on at least one prospect per team who I believe stands a chance at filling a spot as a black ace in this summer's play-in and playoff events.
So far, I have covered the Pacific, Central, and Atlantic Divisions, finally bringing us to the Metropolitan. Here, we have a division that has all but one team (New Jersey) with a shot to make a deep playoff run, along with a list of prospects who could receive a call to assist in the journey.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Many of the prospects mentioned will be fighting for a look this summer, but for Foudy, his spot seems all but certain. Not only has he already made an impressive (emergency) appearance this season, the club has also made it fairly obvious that he will be given his fair shot. In fact, he may be given more than a shot, but rather a nice look at some middle-six minutes, including time on the man advantage.
Despite a late start to the year (leg injury), Foudy put on yet another very consistent season for the London Knights (OHL). The newly appointed captain chipped in for 68 points (36G + 32A) and sat in good company among the top in points-per-game (1.62) league-wide.
The 20-year-old brings immense speed to the table but also plays a very responsible two-way game. While it's important not to raise expectations, I do not foresee many issues with his transition at the pro level. Fantasy owners should expect him to challenge for a permanent role come training camp.
Honorable Mention: Jake Christiansen
New York Islanders
While he hasn’t blown anybody away during his two-year stint with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (AHL), there have been definite signs of progression. Not only did he sit tops on the team in goals this season, with 22, his 31 points also led the way. No, his numbers were not extraordinarily high. However, with the team sitting in the bottom three of the league, it's best not to take those to heart. If given the right cast, there could be a nice spike in production.
It’s no secret that the Islanders have struggled to put pucks in the back of the net this year, and with 22 of Bellows' 31 points being goals, it’s no denying that he could be spice things up. He’s got an NHL-level shot with the scoring touch to match.
Considered a power forward, the 22-year-old could also fill in his role when it comes to pressure and forechecking, both necessary come playoff time. Furthermore, with two goals and a helper through eight NHL games, he’s already got a taste of the league and understands what needs to be done in order to compete. He may not be an elite player that the Islanders had once tabbed him for in 2016, yet still carries the potential to develop into a nice middle-six piece for the club in time.
New York Rangers
It’s been a whirlwind season for the 20-year-old Kravtsov, splitting time between the KHL and AHL respectively. However, with 15 points in 39 games with the Hartford Wolfpack, perhaps he has regained some of that form he displayed when he was drafted ninth overall in 2018. While fellow prospect and right-winger Julien Gauthier may be best suited for playoff hockey at the moment, do not count out the Russian skater just yet.
Kravtsov is a crafty, offensive-minded forward who has the mindset and skills to put up points. He is capable of playing all three positions upfront, which could come as a huge bonus for his case to crack a spot down the stretch.
With former first-rounder Lias Andersson trending towards bust territory, it will be important for the Rangers not to let another top-10 pick follow suit. Slotting him in, even as a rotating winger, would add a nice dose of confidence that his game so desperately needs in order to take that next leap. A slight reach at the moment, but not out of the question.
Honorable Mention: Julien Gauthier
Known as an elite-level point producer during his junior days, Frost is the perfect candidate to add secondary scoring to the Flyers playoff push. He has already passed his audition with flying colors, pitching in two goals and seven points through 20 matches earlier this season. What's more, he sat second on his AHL club with 29 points, which speak volumes on how his professional transition.
There is no denying his top-six, possibly elite-level upside. Even with no injuries, I think Frost sits as a solid threat within the lineup. He has tremendous speed, capable of beating those at the NHL level, which is complemented by his great hands and vision on the ice. Given his offensive instincts, he could slot in smoothly on the team’s top-six, as he did for games during his stint alongside players such as Claude Giroux or Jakub Voracek.
He is no guarantee but should be a top rotating player, no question. Frost has a very bright future ahead of him and is slowly becoming one of the league's top young guns.
Honorable Mention: Yegor Zamula
While enjoying a brief cup of coffee with the big club late in the 2019-20 season, Geekie left a lingering impression with the Hurricanes. While slotting in on the team's fourth line, he managed three goals, one assist and a plus-3 rating in just two matches. This number, if you can believe it, puts him at the top of the all-time points-per-game game list, right in front of the great Wayne Gretzky. Of course, that will not hold up, but it's surely a nice piece of bragging rights to sit on for an entire summer.
At 6-foot-3, the Manitoba native adds tremendous size and provides the Canes' a hard-nosed game, with a scoring touch to boot. Both his 42 points and 54 penalty minutes sat third on his Charlotte Checkers (AHL) squad during his second full professional season. Granted, he only took 22, his face-off percentage finished at 54.5% at the NHL level, an underrated skill that plays a large role in team success, especially at key moments of the game.
Likely a bottom-six player for now, with his great size and ability to score in tight, he could see some secondary power-play time. Will never be a top-end offensive producer, should produce a middle-six upside with definite peripheral bonuses.
Honorable mention: Jake Bean
If there was any prospect that the Penguins would want to add to their roster during the hard-hitting playoff season, Poulin likely stands at the top of that list. Not only can he contribute on the scoresheet, which is evident by his 1.18 clip at the QMJHL level, but he's also a big body who can play a hard-nosed game.
He’s got underrated skating abilities and seems to fly under the radar in terms of his potential upside. He’s capable of playing on either wing and placing him with the top-six Penguins talent could very well translate into instant success. Not too mention his style of play could be a nice addition for some of their skilled players, allowing for more room on the ice for them to be effective. I personally am very high on Poulin, and while he may not equate to an 85-plus point producer at the pro-level, he will surely bring intangibles to keep him very relevant for his entire career.
Honorable mention: Pierre-Olivier Joseph
At 19, the reality of him suiting up may be a stretch for this summer. However, if asked, McMichael provides an elite level of offensive talent that does not grow on trees. The Ontario product enjoyed an explosive season playing alongside the above-mentioned Liam Foudy on the London Knights. In 52 games, he tucked home 47 goals, finishing with 102 points which stood third league-wide. He brought this exact offensive flair to the Czech Republic, where he suited up for Team Canada in his first taste in the WJC. Through the seven games, he potted five and two and was a key contributor to their gold-medal success.
While scoring is an obvious skillset, his skating ability and vision are among the list of traits that also stand tall. He shows tremendous ability to see the ice and makes quick, smart plays in all three areas of the ice. He has solid edgework and can play an effective east-west game.
Given where the club sits in regards to their already highly offensive roster, combined with his lack of experience, owners may have to wait until next season for him to shoot his shot. However, one thing that is guaranteed is that his offensive upside is very high and should play a key role in the club's post-Ovechkin days.
Honorable mention: Alexander Alexeyev
Thank you once again for following The Journey. As mentioned, I will be bringing some draft lottery talk next week so make sure you stop by for a read.
As always, hit me up on Twitter @hall1289 for more prospect talk.
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