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Preds Prospects Report: November

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Nashville’s pipeline collectively inches towards World Juniors season.

NCAA HOCKEY: APR 13 Div I Men’s Championship Game - Massachusetts v Minnesota Duluth Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

If you didn’t catch October’s prospects report, I noted at the top how I’ll be structuring the monthly post this season; that can be read here.

More importantly, November has been a more quiet month for prospects in the Nashville pipeline. While there have been a few notable performances to date (particularly two skaters at Boston University), some other skaters have seen their fair share of valleys, too.

The ensuing weeks will be dotted with some exciting international action but just two (maybe just one) prospects in the organization will take part. I’ll touch on that and some other notes from around the league below.

November


1...It’s been a strange start to the season for one of Nashville’s fourth-round picks from this summer - Marc Del Gaizo. The defender had off-season shoulder surgery and recovery dragged on into the school year; he didn’t make his season debut until UMass’s fifth contest of the year on October 25.

Del Gaizo left that game just one shift into the night and wouldn’t return until November 22 against Merrimack.

Injury setbacks have been the defining note for the Minutemen’s star blueliner this season, but he has now skated limited minutes as an extra defender in back-to-back contests against Maine last weekend.

With just three full games under his belt and limited ice time, you might have expected a slow start for Del Gaizo. On the contrary, he already has four points - including the goal above.

2... David Farrance has been the talk of Boston this season, and for good reason. The junior at Boston University has 10 goals and 22 points in 17 games this season (seven primary points at even strength) and is a big reason why the Terriers’ offense has stayed afloat despite some hiccups.

His 22 points have him tied for fifth in the country in scoring and are first among defenders; Patrick Harper is ninth in country-wide scoring with eight goals and 21 points in 15 games. Farrance is shooting at 17.24% right now, and much of his production has come on the man-advantage, too.

Still, I love the BU offense when it runs through these two Preds prospects. The set play on the man-advantage above is creative in how Farrance immediately makes a drive to the net when getting the puck at the point. He pulls up and retreats with a pass, but the pucks makes it back below the goal line instantly to set up a high-danger chance.

What’s more is that I’ve sometimes seen Farrance and Harper line up in each other’s position for offensive zone draws at even strength; they then proceed to switch as the Terriers head into a set play with the puck going low to high back to low.

3... A few weeks ago, I wrote extensively on the start to the season that Nashville’s defensive prospect Vladislav Yeryomenko is having for Dinamo Minsk of the KHL (check that out here).

He’s now scored two goals and seven points in 29 games for the Bison but has surrendered 3.27 goals-against per 60 minutes of even-strength hockey. That’s not completely unusual given Dinamo has allowed a shocking 127 goals-against this season. That’s the worst mark in the entire KHL; only Dinamo Riga comes close with 115, so it’s no coincidence the two teams are tied at just 27 points (last league-wide).

4... UConn, despite a 7-6-3 record, has given up 53 goals this season good for 11th-worst nationwide; conversely, the Huskies have scored just 48 for themselves. A big part of that is Nashville prospect and 2018 fourth-round pick Jachym Kondelik, who leads the Huskies with six goals and 13 points through 16 games. He’s on pace to match his point total from last season (26) but has already recorded two more goals.

It would be disingenuous to suggest he’s shooting the puck all that much more this season; through 16 games he has 33 shots - just over 2.0 per game. Of his 13 points, eight of them were primary ones scored at even strength. Additionally, his 61.54% iPP rate (how many goals a player was on the ice for did they score or contribute a primary assist to at even strength) is second among forwards in the Nashville pipeline.

In the manual tracking I’ve done, Kondelik continues to struggle with his controlled entries (40.00% on the season) despite a better controlled zone exit rate. This isn’t incredibly surprising; he relies heavily on a dump-and-chase style of play and his individual Corsi chances will never be shockingly high.

5... Nashville’s other prospect at UConn has somewhat struggled this season. Tomas Vomacka remains the likely future in net for the organization and his raw ability is obvious night in and night out.

Vomacka has faced 505 shots this season and has been steadily improving his Goals-Saved Above Average (GSAA) rate. Despite a 0.895 save percentage, the former number is up to 0.025 nationwide. The clip above highlights how reliant the Huskies have been on Vomacka making game-breaking saves to keep the team in tight contests.

6... Nashville’s last selection in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft was Finnish forward Juuso Parssinen. Much like Del Gaizo and Vladislav Yeryomenko, Parssinen spent the off-season and early stages of the 2019-20 campaign banged up with an upper-body injury - this sidelined him from international junior play as Finland prepares for the World Junior Championship later this month.

After a slow start, Parssinen has really kicked up his offensive production - including a one-goal, four-point performance on November 22 - and now sits at seven goals and 21 points in 20 games for TPS U20 of the Jr. A SM-liiga (Finland’s top junior level). His 1.05 points-per-game have him ranked 9th among all skaters. Additionally, he’s scoring a primary point on 45.45% of the even-strength goals he’s on the ice for.

Recently, Parssinen earned a call-up to the TPS parent club and has now skated in three Liiga games this season recording no points in 22:25 of ice time as the fourth-line center.

7... On Day 2 of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, Nashville took forward Alexander Campbell with a pick derived from the P.K. Subban trade. After a big year for the Victoria Grizzlies [BCHL] in 2018-19, some were skeptical Campbell could match his 67-point performance without line mate and Avalanche prospect Alex Newhook.

Through 17 games with the USHL’s Omaha Lancers, Campbell has delivered with five goals and 18 total points. He’s missed the past few weekends of games having not suited up since November 23 versus Muskegon, but he still leads the Lancers in scoring and is 20th across the USHL in points per game.

Campbell is shooting at a 11.63% rate right now and half of his 18 points were primary ones at even strength. What’s most impressive, however is his iPP rate (individual points percentage measures how many goals a player was on the ice for did they score or contribute a primary assist to at even strength). Campbell’s iPP currently sits at 64.29%, which is the highest of all prospects in the system outside Milwaukee or Florida.

8... Despite the organization striking out on any big prospects heading to the 2020 World Junior Championship, goalie Ethan Haider is playing for Team USA at the World Junior A Challenge in British Columbia right now.

The World Junior A Challenge is a five- or six-team U19 tournament each December that hosts the top junior-A level (USHL, BCHL, etc.) players from countries like the U.S., Canada, Czechia and Russia. Alumni include David Pastrnak, Andrei Svechnikov, Kyle Turris and Vinnie Hinostroza.

Back in the USHL, Haider has started 18 games for the Sioux City Musketeers; he’s collected seven wins, an .893 save percentage and allowed 3.668 goals above average. In five of his last seven starts, he’s posted a sub-.900 save percentage, but I’m confident a resurgent second half will bump his numbers back up from his 13th-ranked save percentage.

One thing I’ve really noticed when scouting Haider this year is how he launches from his edges to go back across the net and his impressive coverage of ice-level chances (you can thank poor streaming services for the mild buffering in the clip above).

I’ll have more on Haider later this month in a full recap of his WJAC performances.

9... One of the veterans of the Nashville pipeline, Niclas Westerholm, has been the organization’s biggest struggle this season. Since signing as a free agent in April of 2018, Westerholm has been groomed as a likely candidate to jump to Nashville in the near future; the team has had him practicing in Milwaukee when not obligated to be in Finland, and he’s served as the team’s third-string goalie in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

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But, in his first season as a starter in the Finnish Liiga, Westerholm has yet to impress, securing just six wins in 19 starts. Furthermore, his .886 save percentage ranks him 20th out of 23 goalies with 10 or more starts, and he’s allowed 48 goals on 373 shots resulting in 8.005 goals-allowed above average.


Notes from around the NHL:

  • I touched on this last month, but it could be a busy trade season in the OHL (the deadline is early January). Some notable NHL prospects could be on the move, including Serron Noel (Florida), Arthur Kaliyev (Los Angeles) and Akil Thomas (Los Angeles).
  • Speaking of Thomas, if you don’t know much about him, you may be surprised to know that he has his own clothing line. Check out his collaboration with the Niagara IceDogs here.
  • The SuperElit junior league in Sweden has reached its 27-game mark, meaning the top five teams from each division play in an 18-game “Top Ten” round. Isak Walther’s Sodertalje will play to avoid a relegation round with the playoffs still a possibility (the six best teams in the continuation round make the playoffs) despite a league-worst -68 goal-differential to date.
  • Training camps for the World Junior Championship are underway with the tournament starting on December 26. Spencer Stastney is Nashville’s only prospective tournament presence.
  • What a season Brogan Rafferty is having for the Utica Comets [AHL]. Undrafted, he signed as a college free agent with Vancouver last off season after a three-year career at Quinnipiac. In 26 games, he is tied for first among defenders with three goals and 21 total points. What’s more? He’s blind in his right eye.

What I’m reading:


All statistics are courtesy of eliteprospects.com, liiga.fi, khl.ru, swehockey.se, and collegehockeynews.com.