After a two week hiatus to get married, Kevin is back. The Journey takes a closer look at Dobber’s Top Forward and Defenseman Prospect lists for August before the page turns to September and hockey is right around the corner.
Martin Reway – Montreal Canadiens – Up to 35th Overall from 89th Overall
Reway signed with the Canadiens in May following two professional seasons in the Czech league. The former fourth-round pick has showcased offensive ability at each level he has played, despite being undersized at 5-for-9.
This season will be his first on North American soil, and there could be a bit of a learning curve to his game. Reway will battle with his fellow Canadiens prospects for a bottom-six role in training camp to make the club. He will likely end up as one of St. John’s (AHL) top scorers this season, but could prove worthy of a roster spot from the onset with a successful training camp in Montreal.
Drake Caggiula – Edmonton Oilers – Up to 83rd Overall from 116th Overall
Caggiula arrives in Edmonton this season as a bit of an unknown. After adding high profile players Milan Lucic and Jesse Puljujarvi to the fold, many people overlooked the impact Caggiula could have in the next couple seasons with the Oilers.
After a breakout senior season for the University of North Dakota, the Ontario native was one of the most coveted college free agents on the market. His 51 points in 39 games playing alongside Nick Schmaltz and Brock Boeser highlight his ability to be productive among top talent while playing a leadership role.
Caggiula will likely start the season in Bakersfield (AHL), but the 22 year-old will look to carve out a secondary scoring role with the Oilers sooner than later.
Francis Perron – Ottawa Senators – Up to 99th Overall from 166th Overall
Despite being an undersized seventh-round pick, Perron has steadily climbed the Senators prospect rankings in recent seasons.
His 108 points in just 62 games this year were good for second in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League behind Arizona prospect Conor Garland. Perron is an offensive-minded forward and at his best when setting up teammates for scoring opportunities as proven by his league-leading 33 power-play assists.
The AHL will likely prove to be a substantial learning curve for Perron. If his offensive ability can translate from the QMJHL to the second best league in the world, he'll prove himself to be a fantasy asset in the future.
Valentin Zykov – Carolina Hurricanes – Up to 169th Overall from 194th Overall
After coming over in a trade deadline deal from the Los Angeles Kings for veteran forward Kris Versteeg, Zykov failed to make a late season
n impact for the Charlotte Checkers. Following his injury rehab from last season, Zykov will be looking to make more of a difference at the AHL level.
Carolina’s stable of prospects has been built up steadily over the last couple of seasons through the draft and trades, and Zykov is a player the 'Canes have NHL aspirations for.
The 21-year-old winger is a darkhorse option to make the Canes out of camp as a player who can play on the third line, but will more then likely spend a full season in the AHL. If he can take a step forward in his offensive development, the former second-round pick could be one to watch in the future.
Jake Walman – St. Louis Blues – Up to 31st Overall from 40th Overall
Prior to a March injury that ended his season, Walman was in the midst of a breakout season averaging over a point per game for Providence College. It was obvious how much of a key player he was for the Friars, as they went 20-3-4 in the games they played with Walman, and 7-4 in the games they did not.
The slick puck mover is lethal with the man advantage, as 14 of his 28 points came on the power play last yeaqr. His 13 goals were tied for the most among defenseman in the NCAA’s last season, despite playing just three quarters of a season.
With his shoulder injury hopefully behind him, Walman will return to Providence for his junior season and is a good bet to lead all NCAA defensemen in points. Look for him to start his professional career in 2017-18.
Jordan Schmaltz – St. Louis Blues – Up to 36th Overall from 58th Overall
After turning professional last season following a three-year career at the University of North Dakota, Schmaltz put together a solid campaign for the AHL’s Chicago Wolves.
His 36 points in 71 games were good enough to tie him for 19th among all AHL defensemen, and sixth among rookie defensemen. The 2012 first round pick of St. Louis has taken some time to develop in college hockey but looks to be reaching his potential.
Schmaltz should again lead the Wolves in scoring among defensemen, and could make his NHL debut at some point this season in a short stint as an injury replacement.
Linus Hultström – Florida Panthers – Up to 49th Overall from 92nd Overall
An under-the-radar name to watch this season is Hultström, a 23-year old undrafted blueliner from Sweden.
The offensive-minded rearguard started turning heads during the 2014-15 season, where he put up 33 points in 48 games in the Swedish League as a 21 year old. He then followed up his breakout campaign with a good output in 2015-16, compiling 31 points in 52 games.
Florida agreed to terms with Hultsröm in May, and he will compete for a bottom-pairing job this coming training camp. Keep an eye on reports out of Florida and keep track of his progress in Springfield if he doesn’t make the club on opening night.
Give Kevin a follow @kleblanchockey for NHL prospect talk and happenings.
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