Thursday, August 27, 2009

HockeysFuture.com's Top 20 Prospects, Fall 2009

Nashville Predators
1. Colin Wilson, C, 19
Acquired: 7th overall, 2008

Wilson took a sizeable step forward this past season, scoring 55 points in 43 games for Boston University despite being one of the youngest players on the team. His output was a 20-point jump over his freshman effort in 2007-08. This past May, Wilson was the only non-NHL player selected to represent the US at the IIHF World Championships.

Wilson's combination of size and natural offensive abilities make him as close to a "sure thing" that exists in the Predators organization currently. At 6'1" and 215 pounds, the 19-year-old has an NHL-ready frame. He may be ready to push for a spot on the Predators out of training camp this year, but he is perhaps more likely to start with the farm club in Milwaukee.

Pittsburgh Penguins
4. Brian Strait, D - 6.5B
6’1, 200 pounds
3rd round, 65th overall, 2006
January 4th, 1988

It was an exciting spring for the Boston native as he helped the BU Terriers to an NCAAchampionship on April 11th and watched the Penguins march to the Stanley Cup. After weighing his options, Strait opted to forgo his senior year of college and sign with the Penguins.

A player who does not excel in any one facet of the game but thinks the game at a higher level than most, Strait is never the flashiest player on the ice, but typically the most reliable. A smart, stay-at-home defenseman, he has been compared favorably to former Penguin defenseman Rob Scuderi on many occasions. While that comparison is fairly accurate, Strait is farther along developed at his age than Scuderi and should be able to make a more immediate impact at the professional level.

Strait can play on both special teams, has an underrated shot from the point, and is excellent with gap management. He uses his stick effectively to break up passing lanes and has a quick outlet pass. He will never deliver earth shattering body checks but the thickly built defender can effectively use his body to separate opponents from the puck.

The Penguins are fairly set with their defensive group for the 2009-10 season so unless injuries hit, Strait should be starting the season in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the AHL.

Anaheim Ducks
14. Nick Bonino, C - 6.5C
6'1, 202 pounds
6th round, 173rd overall, 2007

Bonino was taken by the San Jose Sharks in the sixth round of the 2007 draft as a big high school center who dominated in Connecticut. During his freshman year at Boston University, he far exceeded all expectations by becoming the top rookie goal scorer in all of Hockey East by finding the twine 16 times for a total of 29 points in 39 games.

If he exceeded expectations in 2007-08, then he would shatter them in 2008-09 with a performance good enough to finish second on the team in scoring only behind the Nashville Predators' top prospect, Colin Wilson. In 44 games, Bonino tallied 18 goals and assisted on 32 others for 50 points on the year. If he continues to progress this well and dominate at BU, the former sixth round selection may turn into a solid NHL center some day. Like many bigger forwards he has issues with his skating and speed, but his vision, hands, and passing are enough to give him a legitimate shot at the NHL.

Atlanta Thrashers
10. Vinny Saponari, RW 7.5D
6’0, 180 pounds
4th Round, 94th Overall, 2008

Saponari, a 2008 draft pick, was not only born in, but also developed in Georgia.

Saponari spent last season playing with his older brother Victor for the national title-winning Boston University Terriers, collecting eight goals and 17 points in 44 games. He has energy on the ice and tenacity when forechecking. As he progresses, he will need to improve his skating and play with the puck. He returns to BU this fall.

Detroit Red Wings
18. Max Nicastro, D – 6.5C
6’2, 189lbs.
Acquired: 3rd round, 91st overall, 2008

Mobile defender Nicastro was able to improve during his second year of play in the USHL, putting up 31 points in 57 games with the Chicago Steel. He heads to Boston University this fall.

New York Islanders
11. Corey Trivino, C, 19
Acquired: 2nd round, 36th overall, 2008

Trivino attracted a lot of attention in 2007-08 while playing for the Stouffville Spirit of the Ontario Provincial Junior Hockey League. He posted 19 goals and 50 assists in 39 games with the Spirit and another five goals and 17 assists in 15 playoff contests. He represented Canada at the 2008 U18 World Championships and turned in a strong performance with four goals and three assists in seven games. Trivino moved to Boston University and appeared in 32 games for the Terriers in 2008-09, scoring six goals and seven assists en route to a NCAA championship. Trivino will return to BU next season and will likely see an increased role since many of the top forwards from the championship team have moved on.

St. Louis Blues
15. David Warsofsky, D - Boston University
Drafted: Round 4, 95th overall, 2008
Born: 5-30-1990
5'8, 160 lbs

Part of the national champion Boston University team, Warsofsky looked very good on the offensive side of the ice this season. He led Hockey East freshmen defensemen with 23 points in 45 games. His size was not an issue while on the offensive, but he was exposed on the defensive side of the ice at times.

Warsofsky is very quick and knows what to do with the puck. He is not a defensive liability, but he must build muscle in order to make up for his size. If he gets a little bigger, he can become a serviceable offensive defenseman in the NHL.

Ottawa Senators
19.(NR) Eric Gryba, D
Rating: 6.0C
Acquired: 2006 draft, 68th overall

The big 6’3, 215 lbs defender had a solid year at Boston University, recording six assists and 106 penalty minutes in 45 games. He played his typical physical, shutdown game, providing BU with a gritty edge to their defense corps. He also showed his defensive chops at Senators development camp, easily handling many opposing forwards with his massive frame.

Despite his defensive acumen, Gryba must get faster to play at the NHL level. But his hitting game and grit are exactly the type of style that Murray likes. Gryba will never be an offensive threat, but with some more development, he could turn into a solid bottom pairing defender. He’ll be returning to BU for his final year of college hockey.

New York Rangers
9. (NA) Matt Gilroy, D
Grade: 7.0B
Acquired: Free Agent, Signed 4/17/09
Age: 25

Gilroy was signed by the Rangers this past April after being named the 2008-09 Hobey Baker Award winner. The North Bellmore, New York native had patrolled the blueline for Boston University for four years, and during his senior year was the national championship team’s captain.

The signing was a coup for the Rangers, as there were several other teams that made offers to Gilroy that were quite enticing. A solid puck mover, with a heavy shot, and good patience with the puck, Gilroy was one of the standouts in the Rangers’ Development Camp this past summer.

There is an expectation that he will become an NHL roster member out of training camp. However, should he not be ready for the jump to the NHL, he will begin the season in Hartford and be a mid-season call-up to the NHL team.

Dallas Stars
7. (NR) Alex Chiasson, RW – 7.0 D
2nd round (38th overall) in 2009

Chiasson was able to stand out on an otherwise forgettable Des Moines team in 2008-09. The 6-foot-4 winger tallied 50 points and 101 PIMs in 56 games and was named to the USHL All-Rookie Team. Chiasson uses his strength on the puck and great body position in combination with his smooth hands. As a power forward with great offensive ability, Chiasson’s potential is very high, but work ethic issues make him somewhat boom or bust. Chiasson begins play at Boston University this year.

Colorado Avalanche
2. (1) Kevin Shattenkirk, Defense, 20, 8 B
Acquired: 1st Round, 14th Overall, 2007 Entry Draft

2008-09 will certainly be a year to remember for Colorado’s top defensive prospect. After a strong showing for the USA during the World Junior Championship, Shattenkirk played a pivotal role in the Boston University Terriers national championship win, leading the team in plus/minus and quarterbacking their second-ranked power play.

Shattenkirk is an excellent leader, whose greatest strengths are his smooth skating, vision and strong point shot. Drawbacks thus far have been his size and defensive play, and at 5’11 and weighing in less than 200 lbs, Shattenkirk does not match up well with larger NHL forwards. That being said, he will have to get stronger physically and improve his defensive zone awareness to reach his full potential.

Shattenkirk returns to BU this season to serve as captain. It is expected that he will begin his professional career as early as the 2010-11 season.

6. (5) Colby Cohen, Defense, 20, 7 C
Acquired: 2nd Round, 45th Overall, 2007 Entry Draft

Another BU Terrier, Cohen’s 2008-09 campaign was for the most part a successful one. After doubling his regular-season point total (32) from the previous season and finishing second in defensemen scoring, Cohen would go on to have a very successful Frozen Four Tournament, scoring the game-winning goal in the final game and being named Tournament MVP.

Like Terrier teammate Shattenkirk, Cohen is at his best playing an offensive role from the back end, with his biggest strength being a booming right-handed shot. His defensive game, however, leaves much to be desired as was the case during the Terriers regular season which saw Cohen benched on more than one occasion after sub-par defensive play.

Cohen returns to BU for his junior season and will have to work hard on improving his defensive game, before beginning his professional career.

1 comment:

Elysse said...

Don't forget Eric Gryba, who was # 19 on the Sens.