Unfortunately I have not been able to contribute to the blog this year because I am now living in
From a prospect-viewing standpoint, it was an unusually uninteresting
Nazem Kadri (TOR)
On Sunday, Kadri was if nothing else very involved in the play. He notched
Michael Hutchinson (BOS)
The Knights were outshot and to a fair extent outplayed on Sunday, which meant
Jared Knight (2010)
I came in hoping to see a good outing from Jared Knight, but I think overall he had a quiet night. He showed some jump in the first period, and in particular had one nice burst of speed where he burnt 67s blueliner Marc Zanetti with speed wide. Zanetti was forced to take a holding penalty but Knight also got called for a dive and then a ten-minute misconduct for complaining. I thought I would see more of Knight after that, but he’s been getting better as the season goes along and already had three goals on the weekend, so he can be excused for having an off-game.
Reid McNeill (2010)
This is a player who was not on my radar until after consulting the Central Scouting List to be honest, and truthfully I cannot remember noticing McNeill during the game on Sunday. A stay-at-home guy, obviously McNeill was not likely to make an impact offensively, but his defensive play did not stand out either, which is obviously not necessarily a bad thing.
Justin Taylor (Free Agent)
Steven Tarasuk (Free Agent)
An overager who is playing for a contract essentially, Tarasuk was easily the most noticeable and dangerous Knights blueliner. In fact only Kadri was better offensively for
Tyler Cuma (MIN)
It has been well documented how Cuma has struggled to regain his game after knee injuries last year. Although this was not my first game watching Cuma and 67s this
month, it was my best live look of the year. Cuma had a fairly good game, and is certainly a valuable and positive contributor to the 67s blueline. His most notable moment was the fight he had with Nazem Kadri. Admirable as it was for Cuma to stand up for his goaltender, the two-five-and-ten that he got as a result meant he was in the penalty box for most of the third period and overtime. It was evident how important Cuma was to stabilizing the second pairing when he was unavailable. With that being said, I am still not sure Cuma is even as good as he was in his draft year. Although he is solid defensively and is playing with even more of a physical edge than I remembered, gone is the silky smooth offensive confidence. Although Cuma had several nice breakout passes and is still capable of contributing offensively at the OHL level, I am nowhere near as optimistic about his NHL potential in that regard as I was in Cuma’s draft year. He should still be an NHL defenceman, but his ceiling may simply be lower than expected in his draft year.
Julien Demers (SJ)
The game’s third star, Demers was his usual steady self. He scored the first 67s goal on the powerplay, as he wristed a point shot past
Anthony Nigro (STL)
The other goal scorer on the game for the 67s, Nigro had a solid game. He is not as dangerous a player as he was last year while on Couture’s wing though, because neither Ryan Martindale nor Cody Lindsay have anywhere near the natural playmaking ability that Couture had. But he worked hard down low all night and went to the net creating several chances. Nigro is without a contract and I think in many ways is a comparable player to Justin Taylor. In
Corey Cowick (OTT)
Playing only his fifth game back after a major shoulder injury, Cowick did not register a point and may have had his quietest game since returning from injury. He has five goals in five games this season, but it is his physical play that has stood out. In this game he absolutely destroyed the pint-sized Daniel Erlich on a clean open-ice hit, and was a consistent physical presence all night. Cowick got away from his physical play last year, playing more of a finesse offensive game as the season wore on, and I wonder if the reason was the shoulder, as it was a nagging issue that kept him out of the AHL on a pro tryout when the season ended. His skating also seemed slightly improved, and while last year I wondered what he offered to an NHL club like Ottawa that drafted him, I am somewhat changing my mind after seeing him throw his weight around.
Tyler Toffoli (2010)
Although he did not end up on the scoresheet, I thought Toffoli might have been the most dangerous 67s forward on the afternoon. He is a potential late first round pick this spring and in this game he showed why. Toffoli had a couple of nice rushes, found a couple of nice seams while already controlling the zone, and created offence on a good number of his shifts. As an offensive prospect, Toffoli is a classic jack-of-all-trades, master of none. His only standout quality is great hockey sense, although his shot does look even more dangerous than last year. He ripped a couple of shots from the half-boards, and if he is developing in to more of a shooter, that could help his draft stock. What I think holds Toffoli back at times is his skating. He had several nice rushes, and can beat players with speed once he gets going, but he lacks the acceleration to do that often or easily.
Ryan Martindale (2010)
I thought Toffoli had a better game on Sunday, but I actually believe Martindale is the better prospect. He picked up an assist on the Demers goal, but did not have any real standout plays otherwise. There are many things to like about Martindale, he has good size, soft hands, all-round offensive skills and very good intelligence. I actually think his hockey sense has been underrated, both offensively and defensively. On Sunday he once again showed that coming back on the backcheck, he is very adept at picking up the third man on the rush. The two knocks on Martindale were evident in this game though, skating and intensity. Although he is actually very good at handling the puck and making plays on the move, he lacks the skating to pull away from people and as a result he is not that effective on the rush. Martindale also has a tendency to look like he is floating. It is a kind of casual, almost lackadaisical style that has been associated with guys like Logan Couture and more recently Peter Holland, although Martindale is not quite as gifted as either of them.
I think Cowick’s return has been a bad thing for Dalton Smith. He is back on the third line and with two very good scoring lines, the 67s are not really asking the third line to do much more than provide some energy and play even hockey. As a result, there was not a lot to report on from Sunday when it comes to Smith. He works hard, bangs and crashes and is an effective third liner for the 67s, but his goal production this year and his draft stock suggest that in a different role, maybe with better linemates, he is capable of more.
Petr Mrazek (2010)
Thanks to Sean for the great report, hoping it's not his last while he's home! He welcomes any questions or comments!