This week, we’re going to kick things off with a player that didn’t play in the tournament, but maybe should have: Swedish defenseman Jakob Stenqvist.
The 6’2” blueliner has been on a tear lately in the Allsvenskan, Sweden’s second-highest pro league. He picked up three points in his last three games for Bjorkloven, bringing his numbers on the season to 18 points in 33 games.
Not only is that total tops among defensemen on his team, it’s currently good for 3rd among all defenders in the league.
Stenqvist had a beautiful goal on Friday, using his long, fluid skating stride to wrap around the opposing net and get himself open for a one-timer. Video of the goal starts at this link at the 1:00 mark. Also worth checking out is his keep-in at the 1:39 mark to help set up another goal for his team.
Considering Sweden was only able to muster one goal against Canada in the gold-medal game of the World Juniors, perhaps the team could have benefited from having Stenqvist’s impressive mobility and puck skills around.
The Stars’ 6th round pick, 176th overall, in the 2016 NHL draft doesn’t get as much attention as other Stars prospects, due to playing in Europe and being a late-round selection, but he has developed a lot over the last two seasons. If he can continue to improve at such a nice pace and smooth over his play in his own zone then he could become a really dynamic player for Dallas at some point down the road.
As reported yesterday by Mark Stepneski in his own weekly prospect update article, 2017 3rd overall pick Miro Heiskanen did not play last week as he was recovering from an injury. Stepneski also reported that Heiskanen was playing through that injury at the World Juniors, which makes the fact that he led his team in ice time at the tournament all the more impressive.
North American Juniors
Santa Clause must have left something really nice for Brett Davis this year, because the Kootenay Ice forward has been red-hot since the WHL returned from its Christmas break. Davis has picked up 13 points in 10 games since the break, while averaging 3.8 shots on net over that span. The Stars’ 6th round, 163rd overall pick in the 2017 draft started the season slowly, bouncing around a lot throughout the Ice lineup, but might have turned a corner halfway through his season.
Defenseman Ondrej Vala is adjusting nicely after a recent trade to the Everett Silvertips, picking up two assists in his first three games with his new club. He also, notably, made a strong impression in his very first game with them, registering a whopping 11(!) shots on goal.
Right winger Nick Caamano continues to relish his new opportunity on a strong Hamilton Bulldogs squad, extending his point-scoring streak to 14 games. He has 20 points within the ongoing streak.
Guelph Storm center Liam Hawel picked up four assists in three games over the weekend, extending his scoring totals on the year to five goals and 20 helpers in 36 games. Video highlights of a two-assist game on Sunday can be found here.
Riley Tufte had quite a night for himself on Friday, picking up four points in a 6-5 victory for the University of Minnesota-Duluth.
University of Michigan blueliner Joe Cecconi didn’t register any points over the weekend, but the 6’3” defender did have one highlight-reel-worthy hit.
Michigan's Joe Cecconi exacts a little revenge by sending Ryan Lindgren head over heels into the box between benches pic.twitter.com/rdLFD8wK7Y— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) January 14, 2018
It was an inconsistent week for the Texas Stars in the AHL, going 1-2-1 over a span of four games. They lost 2-1 in overtime on Wednesday, but then exploded for seven goals in a 7-2 win on Friday. However, they were then shut out 2-0 on Saturday and then fell 3-2 in a shootout on Monday.
Landon Bow started two of the games, stopping 24 of 26 shots for the win on Friday before turning aside 37 of 39, and then two of three in the shootout loss, on Monday.
Denis Gurianov had two goals and one assist in the four games, Jason Dickinson had one goal and two assists, while Roope Hintz and Gavin Bayreuther each had two points.
2018 NHL Draft Watch
QMJHL center Joe Veleno came into the 2017-18 season widely considered as a Top 10 pick for the 2018 draft, but after a slow start to the year he has fallen down a lot of draft rankings. While that’s never an ideal situation for any prospect, it could hypothetically be good news for Dallas, a team that needs to draft centers and likely won’t be picking in the Top 10.
Veleno isn’t a flashy prospect, but he’s smart and hard-working, possessing the kind of versatile 200-foot game that will likely help him enjoy a long NHL career. He first picked up 31 points in 31 games for the basement-dwelling Saint John Sea Dogs, and now has 10 points in 8 games following a recent trade to a much stronger Drummondville Voltigeurs squad. A pass-first player, only six of his 41 points are goals.
When I say Joe Veleno is a great set-up man, I mean it.— Steve Kournianos (@TheDraftAnalyst) January 14, 2018
This was shorthanded, by the way. What a shift. pic.twitter.com/gIpXTq7dDS