Playing hockey in a league like the WHL, one of the most skilled and most physical junior leagues in the world, is not an easy task. Doing so on one of the worst teams in said league, without much talent around you, only adds to the challenge.
Dallas Stars prospect Brett Davis is in this exact situation right now, which is what makes his recent streak of success so impressive.
In the 27 games since the end of the Christmas break, Davis has picked up 33 points, jumping up near the top of scorers on his Kootenay Ice team.
Kootenay finished dead last in the WHL last season with a record of 14-46-10-2, and they haven’t gained very much firepower since then, adding some skilled players but trading away others. What’s impressive, however, is the fact that the Ice have improved enough this season to join the race for a playoff spot, sitting only two points behind the Red Deer Rebels in the Central Division.
Much of the Ice’s playoff hopes can be traced back to Davis, who has been an absolute force lately. The two-way center is winning faceoffs (a team-best 52.8 percent), generating a ton of shots, and has been especially dangerous on the power play.
Here are some highlights from a recent game. Davis (#22 in white) sets up one goal with a hard tape-to-tape pass, then scores his own by stealing the puck in the neutral zone, breaking the ankles of a defender, and then depositing the puck top corner.
Steady progression is always something that you want to see out of prospects, so let’s hope that Davis’ recent play is not just a short-term hot streak, but instead, him taking the next step forward in his development.
North American Juniors
Jason Robertson continues to do Jason Robertson things in the OHL, picking up seven points over his past four games and padding his league-leading shot totals. He has been especially lethal around the net lately, making life miserable for any defenders trying to contain him:
While Robertson keeps staying red hot, Nick Caamano, on the other hand, has gone ice-cold as of late. He’s been held without a goal in his last 10 games, and has only registered three assists in that span. He’s still generating a lot of shots on net, so maybe there’s some bad luck at play right now, but it’s a little concerning to see his slow-down not long after his Hamilton Bulldogs team surrounded him with a ton of talent.
Speaking of going cold, Riley Tufte continues to struggle with consistency, like he has since he joined the NCAA ranks. The lanky winger has only picked up two points over his last seven games. He still leads the University of Minnesota-Duluth in goals by a hefty margin with 13, so that’s good, but you really want to see more of a steady impact being made for a player that was drafted in the 1st round of the NHL draft.
Colton Point remains out of the lineup for Colgate due to an undisclosed injury. Point has been getting a lot of buzz in the Hobey Baker race over the past month, so hopefully this current injury isn’t serious and doesn’t hinder all the well-deserved kudos that he’s been accumulating.
Miro Heiskanen’s experience at the 2018 Winter Olympics is well underway by now. He hasn’t picked up a point yet in the tournament (it should be noted that Finland will be playing South Korea the morning that this article gets published, so that could have changed), but he has nevertheless been showing off his sublime skill set, as captured below by former Defending Big D head honcho Josh Lile and his new online endeavor, dubbed Mooterati:
As reported here last week, Fredrik Karlstrom’s time in the SHL might be coming to an end. The good news, however, is that it’s being reported that he’s returning to AIK in the Allsvenskan league, the same team that he played some very, very good hockey for last season. Returning to a familiar organization could be just what the doctor ordered to help Karlstrom turn around what has been a disappointing season.
The Texas Stars played a busy three-in-three this past long weekend, the last game of which came Monday, and came away with a winning record of 2-1 in that span.
Denis Gurianov had another big game on Saturday, picking up a goal and two assists en route to being named the game’s first star. He was held without a point or any shots on net in the other two games, though, so some more consistency (there’s that word again) would be nice to see.
Gavin Bayreuther also made a splash on the score sheet over the weekend, picking up a goal and an assist.
Jason Dickinson was re-assigned to Texas on Sunday and played on Monday, being held without a point or a shot in his return.
2018 NHL Draft Watch
When it comes to scouting, just how important is a prospect’s statistical production?
Sure, a player might display a number of impressive individual tools out on the ice, but to borrow a phrase from Brad Pitt in the movie Moneyball, “If he’s a good hitter, why doesn’t he hit good?”
This has been a topic of discussion among scouts this season surrounding 2018 draft prospect Grigori Denisenko.
With just a quick glance over Denisenko’s stats, one might wonder why he’s such a highly touted prospect, a projected 1st rounder among some sources: 4 goals and 14 points in 23 games in the MHL, Russia’s top junior league, isn’t particularly impressive.
Actually watch Denisenko play, however, and you’ll see why scouts are so enamored. He’s a slick, highly talented player who possesses quick feet, quicker hands and a sharp mind for the offensive zone. He possesses the ability to make defenders look foolish, and can finish plays as well as set them up.
He turned heads at the World Junior-A Challenge, and then followed that up by making a few highlight-reel plays at the recent Under-18 Five Nations Tournament.
So, why isn’t he scoring much in the MHL? That still remains a question without an answer.
Any interested NHL parties will need to do their due diligence, because there could be a very special player here.