The Journey: Fastest-Rising Prospect Defencemen

by Brad Phillips on November 25, 2017
  • The Journey
  • The Journey: Fastest-Rising Prospect Defencemen

This week’s edition of the Journey will look at the fastest rising prospect defensemen taken from Dobber’s monthly list. On the whole there wasn’t a whole lot of major shuffling outside of the four players below.

 

Samuel Girard – 5th up from 31st

The Nashville-Ottawa-Colorado three-way deal perhaps benefits no one greater than Girard. This is reflected in his moving up 26 spots, the largest jump from October. Despite making the Predators out of camp he was stuck in a logjam with no clear path to a substantial role as long as Roman Josi, P.K. Subban, Ryan Ellis and Mattias Ekholm were still in the fold. Moving to a defense desert in Colorado Girard immediately becomes the #1 or #1A defensive prospect in the system, with Cale Makar being the other, with a chance to make a significant contribution right away. Outside of Tyson Barrie there is no other defender on the roster that can offer what Girard does. Through five games with the Avs Girard has posted two assists. Add that to his totals in Nashville and you get a season total of five points in 10 games. He’s played in excess of 21 minutes per night since he arrived on the scene in Denver and if he keeps seeing that volume of ice time the points will continue to come.

 

 

Tim Heed – 43rd up from 74th

This month’s biggest mover, I’ve had my eye on Heed for a few years now and have been keeping watch on him while he was piling up the points in the SHL. I made the commitment to myself that if he was ever signed I would pick him up right away and that’s exactly what I did in one of my leagues last summer. It looks like it’s paying off now. After a dynamite rookie AHL season where he produced at a point per game pace. The second-year North American pro has received his shot with the big club this season and is making the most of it. With seven points in 16 games he’s tied with Brent Burns for the team lead in scoring among defensemen despite having played two fewer games. He is a converted forward who packs a cannon of a shot from the point and can run a power play. One time forward that are now defense are guys that I like to have on my team. They can be high risk but when the pay off the rewards can be huge. Look no further than the aforementioned Burns. Originally an Anaheim draft pick back in 2010, I hesitate to say they are regretting not signing him considering they are pretty stacked on the blue line as is. But he’s certainly looking like he’s a legitimate offensive threat from the back end.

 

Kale Clague – 50th up from 75th

There’s good reason why Clague has moved up 25 spots in the rankings as he’s been running wild over his fellow competition in the WHL. He’s amassed 10 goals, five with the man advantage, and 23 assists through 19 games and is 10th overall in the league. He’s second on the Brandon Wheat Kings in scoring but first in points-per-game with 1.74. The LA Kings property sits atop the WHL scoring chart among defensemen and it’s really not even close. While the next closest defender has 27 points, Clague is averaging almost a half-point more on a per game basis. Needless to say he’s been a point-producing machine with 10 multi-point efforts including two hat tricks, four three-point games, two four-point games and in six of his 19 games he registered five short on goal or more. Look for Clague to star next month for Team Canada in Buffalo. This is shaping up to be one Kale that won’t leave a bitter taste in your mouth.

 

Will Butcher – 8th up from 16th

The 2016-17 Hobey Baker winner, Butcher has slowed down a bit since his torrid start. After rattling off 11 assists in his first 10 NHL games, he’s come back down to earth in November with a goal, his first, and three assists in nine games this month. The real Will Butcher is closer to the November end of the spectrum than the October one. His ice time tended to fluctuate a lot more in the early going than it does now. He’s topped 18 minutes for the past three games and has been over 16 minutes for six of the nine games so far this month. He’s first in rookie defense scoring and fourth among all first year players.

As a rookie college player odds are he’ll hit a wall at some point mid-season. But regardless he’s still the top, and really only, power play option for the young and exciting Devils. When was the last time you heard that?