With the start of the 2017-18 season just over a week away, I wanted to see if I could rustle up any training camp gems from the Eastern Conference that might have a chance to make their respective squads. Failing that, I hope to pass on some interesting tidbits of information that you might be able to use in your upcoming drafts.
No, not the heavyweight mixed martial artist nicknamed Drago. Volkov, the hockey player was drafted by Tampa Bay in the second-round in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft as a 20-year-old. There is not a lot of attention being paid to this guy, but he seems to have caught the eye of his coach. Jon Cooper mentioned that he was impressed with how hard Volkov goes to the net.
It’s a little surprising that the Lightning are down to 30 players in camp and Volkov is still hanging around. Much of his competition has already been sent to Syracuse including Adam Erne, Mathieu Joseph and Tye McGinn. There is a chance that Volkov could start the season with the big club. If you have a farm team in your league, he might be worth stashing before people start taking notice of this guy.
After making the Islanders with a great training camp last season and getting in two NHL contests, Barzal was sent back to junior. He is having another great camp and appears bound and determined to stick with the Isles when the regular season gets underway.
I’ll borrow a line from the 2017 Dobber Hockey Fantasy Prospects report, “Barzal is a superstar in the making.” Check out last night’s goal, his third of the pre-season (wow!):
This is another Islander I’m high on. Just listening to the way head coach Dough Weight talks about Ho-Sang, leads me to believe that they are taking the right approach in helping their young charge succeed. Weight said that Ho-Sang has no fear, plays hard, battles and wants to learn.
There is opportunity on the Island, especially on the right side and it sounds like as long has Ho-Sang keeps on working hard and listening to the coaching staff, he will get to showcase his offensive skills in the NHL this season.
Yeah, I had never heard of this guy either. The 19-year-old was a 2016 sixth-round selection and is vying for a roster spot in New Jersey. He has stood out in a positive way, forcing the coaching staff to take notice. Heading into last night’s game against the Sens, Bratt was tied for the team lead with four points.
As an 18-year-old last year, Bratt scored 22 points in 46 games in the Swedish Allsvenskan league, which is one below the top tier. He is a strong skater and while he lacks size, he doesn’t shy away from contact. If he doesn’t make the NHL, he will play for the London Knights in the OHL this season.
The 23-year-old is having a very good camp as well and was tied with the aforementioned Bratt atop the Devils pre-season scoring heading into last night’s game. In his final year of junior, Blandisi recorded 52 goals, 112 points and 126 penalty minutes in 68 games.
Last season, he notched 25 points and 60 penalty minutes in 31 AHL games, as well as nine points and 26 penalty minutes in 27 NHL contests. If he makes the NHL fulltime, he could be a nice addition in deep roto leagues that count penalty minutes. This guy can also score when given the chance.
The ‘Canes defenseman is having a very respectable camp. He has four points in two games and is playing with a bit of an edge, which is exactly what Coach Peters is looking for. The 23-year-old recorded 42 points in 70 AHL games in 2015-16, but only has two career NHL matches to his credit.
His fantasy outlook at the moment doesn’t look great. There are too many blueliners ahead of Carrick on the depth chart for him to deliver useful fantasy numbers this season, but keep an eye out if his situation changes either through trade or injuries.
Jaroslav Halak looks very good in the pre-season.
Jake Guentzel is the real deal and has legitimate point-per game potential riding shotgun with Sidney Crosby. I think he can hit 75 points this season. No duff.
Jonas Siegenthaler reported to camp 24 pounds lighter. The 6-foot 3-inch defenseman is now a svelte 206 pounds. It may not help him in solidifying a roster spot with the Caps, but being lighter and faster is so important in today’s NHL. There is some untapped offensive upside here, but the Caps blueline is stocked with competition.
Buffalo head coach, Phil Housley, wants more shots from his players. He mentions “shot mentality” in the clip I watched. That could mean a nice bump in shots for the Sabres.
Ryan Spooner put on a little muscle in the off-season and now weighs in at 190 pounds. He’ll be motivated to prove himself after signing a one-year $2.825-million contract.
It’s interesting that Charlie McAvoy was given an opportunity to shine during the playoffs due to a Torey Krug injury. Now, due to an errant puck to Krug’s noggin, McAvoy gets a chance to prove that he belongs in the NHL. He should be able to start the season where he left off in the playoffs, while inheriting Krug’s ice time and spot on the Bruins top power play unit.
With the Red Wings restricted free agent Andreas Athanasiou holding out and contemplating an offer from the KHL, Evgeny Svechnikov has an opportunity to snag an expanded role.
The first overall pick in the 2017 NHL entry draft, Devils Nico Hischier is looking very good in the pre-season with three goals and an assist in three games.
The Flyers Nolan Patrick says he feels 100 per cent after hernia surgery in mid-June. The team was experimenting with Claude Giroux on the wing with Jakub Voracek and Sean Couturier. When asked if that was to make room for Patrick, Coach Hakstol said that the team has options, including Jori Lehtera and Patrick.
Thanks for reading.
Read more Eastern Edge columns from Russ here.
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