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Preds’ Prospects Report: January

It’s report card time!

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You all know the drill on my monthly prospects report, but I am doing things a tad differently for January. It will be the same format, but each prospect outside of Milwaukee would get a mid-season grade. I will be using the 80/20 system I’ve used before. For those unfamiliar, it’s a system popularized in baseball to scout players: 5 equals league average so 8 means elite and 2 means beer league, essentially. In this case, a 5 would roughly be equivalent to a C, an 8 would be an exceptional season to date, and a 2 would be a prospect quickly working themselves out of the system.

Without further staging, below is the January PPR.

January’s PPR

1. Patrick Harper is up first by being first alphabetically among the forward prospects. January was Harper’s best month in an otherwise forgettable season with a goal and five points in seven contests. His goal below against Merrimack demonstrates how much ability this kid has: creates an initial high-danger chance with an elite pass to the front, immediately reinstates the cycle below the hash marks, and finds open ice for a rebound:

All of sudden his 13 points in 23 games doesn’t look awful, but it’s no secret expectations were much higher for Harper’s junior season. I hesitate to dock him entirely, because I am not certain how much his illness from last winter still lingers, but I doubt we ever will know.

Mid-Season Grade: 4.0 out of 8.0

2. Nashville’s system is riddled with mysterious forwards. Pavel Koltygin is no stranger to this category. He’s already matched his goals total from last season (17), but is below pace for his rookie scoring mark (0.72 points per game) with 31 points in 44 games.

He’s looked more confident as a puck-carrier this season and seems to be driving the puck from the neutral zone to the offensive zone himself more, which is why I think he deserves a bump for an otherwise average season.

For the second season in a row, expect the Drummondville Voltigeurs to go on a long playoff run. But, with such a deep roster, Koltygin often doesn’t factor in top-six minutes, but he is still featured some on the power play and on the penalty kill. A decision on his contract this summer is probably a toss-up; I could see one coming simply because the pipeline is low in numbers, but who knows.

Koltygin shares agencies with Predators defender Matt Irwin.

Mid-Season Grade: 5.0 out of 8.0

3. Jachym Kondelik has been the surprise of the year, and he keeps rolling with 22 points in 24 games, centering a below-average UConn team’s first line most nights.

The best part of Kondelik’s season? The development staff has a clear directory on what needs to be improved in his game after coming into the organization with many question marks. And, you, as fans, have a glimpse at this too (see Kondelik’s comments on his sub-par shooting skills from the WJC).

Mid-Season Grade: 7.0 out of 8.0

4. A bad season got worse last week for Preds prospect Grant Mismash, who will likely miss the rest of North Dakota’s season with a knee injury.

The injury resulted from a blatant knee-on-knee hit that went uncalled against St. Cloud State. In fact, Mismash’s slash on the offender afterward was the only penalty called.

Mismash has struggled this season with only nine points in 21 games for the Fighting Hawks. I thought he could have been dangled at the trade deadline as a prospect with upside that I wouldn’t mind seeing go, but this injury throws that out the window. I was down on Mismash when he was drafted, despite his lighting up the junior circuits with the U.S. NTDP, and he hasn’t moved the needle much for me. The physical presence is there but not utilized enough, the awareness is there one night but disappears the next, the puck skills are there but the skating isn’t perfect, and he can be prone to turnovers and poor defensive positioning.

Mid-Season Grade: 3.5 out of 8.0

5. Tom Novak has gotten hot lately as his professional rights are set to expire this coming August. With two goals and seven points in his last five games, Novak is slowly getting back to the trigger man he was recruited to be for the Golden Gophers.

In fact, Minnesota is doing something very interesting with their top power play unit as of late: running five forwards. Novak has been acting as the point defender on the man-advantage, and the Golden Gophers’ power play has converted 36.2% of its chances since then.

His shooting has returned to form as seen above after issues with his wrist have plagued him the past couple seasons. And, he is even more of an intelligent, deceitful passer—as seen below, setting up Rem Pitlick.

It’s still hard to imagine Novak signing an entry-level contract this summer, but crazier things have happened. It’s a shame how injuries can derail a promising career.

Mid-Season Grade: 4.5 out of 8.0

6. Probably the most enticing player in the pipeline this season has been Rem Pitlick. He’s always been a proven scorer, holding the fourth best season in the USHL this century, but there was mild concern his production would drop without Casey Middlestadt. It’s done nothing but flourish.

Pitlick has already set a collegiate career high in points with 33 and still has eight regular season games to play. He’s riding a shooting percentage that’s a tad high at just under 20 percent, but it’s been consistent all season.

Anticipate Poile & Co. to put a full-court press on signing Pitlick this summer and getting him to Milwaukee, where his above-average skating should help his offensive transition.

Mid-Season Grade: 7.5 out of 8.0

7. One point behind Flyers prospect Joel Farabee for the team lead in points, Dante Fabbro, is either a nice addition for the Preds’ playoff run or the primary piece in a trade for Nashville to load up at the deadline. I don’t think it’s a devastating loss for this season or probably next if Fabbro gets traded; I do think he will be a huge improvement to the third pair if he doesn’t. Simply put, if Duchene, Stone or Panarin are on the table and Fabbro has to be involved, I would almost certainly do it.

Mid-Season Grade: 7.0 out of 8.0

8. Finishing off the trifecta of prospects at Boston University, David Farrance had a decent January with five points in eight games and 15 shots on net. There was hope going into this season that Fabbro & Farrance could be a dominant pairing for the Terriers but inconsistencies up and down the lineup have translated to the two Preds prospects as well.

Farrance operates well when he chooses to shoot more. Volume isn’t a word you hear often about defenders, but as the game transitions to less traditional position play, it’s increasingly important. Farrance has points in five of the seven games where he has recorded more than three shots on net, and four of those outings were multi-point efforts, including two goals against Merrimack this month.

Keep yourselves posted for an upcoming breakdown on Fabbro and Farrance’s defensive play this season.

Mid-Season Grade: 4.5 out of 8.0

9. Hardy Häman-Aktell is finally getting regular playing time again, which is his most important development this season. He’s been scoring at an okay rate given his ice time, with five points in 28 total games. Per usual, nothing much to report.

Mid-Season Grade: 3.5 out of 8.0

10. Another prospect playing for an entry-level deal this summer is defender Jacob Paquette, who has made the most of his trade to Niagara, scoring an impressive 0.71 points per game since moving to the Ice Dogs.

Despite sitting out the past few games, Paquette will be an integral piece for the Ice Dogs as they prepare for a long playoff run. and there’s a decent chance we see him in Milwaukee next season.

Mid-Season Grade: 6.5 out of 8.0

11. Defender Filip Pyrochta missed a good chunk of January with an upper-body injury and was demoted to the ECHL to get more minutes and get back up to speed conditioning-wise. Through four games, he managed to score his first professional goal:

There’s certainly reason to be concerned that Nashville could lose their last remaining European free agent from last summer to a mutual contract termination, but I think Pyrochta has the highest ceiling of that group and finishing the season in Atlanta could be very beneficial.

Mid-Season Grade: 4.0 out of 8.0

12. Adam Smith sadly only has a few more appearances left in the Preds’ Prospects Report, but it’s been one hell of a ride. The seventh-round pick is on pace to play his least amount of games since his freshman season, when he joined Bowling Green just for the second semester. The senior has only two points on the season and has struggled to find a regular place in the lineup on a contending BGSU squad.

Mid-Season Grade: 2.0 out of 8.0

13. Preds’ prospect Spencer Stastney was victim of a very bizarre rule this past month. On January 20, Stastney scored a beauty of a goal to beat Wisconsin in double overtime for his first marker of the season. But the game officially ended after the first overtime as a tie. The second overtime was played for the purpose of an extra point distributed in conference play.

So, officially, Stastney still has zero goals on the season—but check this one out:

Mid-Season Grade: 4.0 out 8.0

14. The Calgary Hitmen have made things interesting after a horrid start to the season; outside of the last place Kootenay Ice, only nine points separates first from last in the WHL’s Central division, with the Hitmen only three points out of a playoff spot.

Vladislav Yeryomenko has had an equally up-and-down season but has been hot as of late with four points in his last five games including his second goal of the season.

Sidenote: keep an eye on teammate and Flyers prospect Yegor Zamula. He has come out of nowhere this season, leading Hitmen defenders with 41 points after scoring only 11 last year.

Mid-Season Grade: 5.0 out of 8.0

15. Milan Kloucek’s HC Dynamo Pardubice has been struggling this season as the worst team by a mile in the top Czech league, but the netminder has been holding steady. He sits 18th among goalies with 10+ starts in save percentage, and is the youngest starter in the league by nearly two years.

I’ll do a deep dive on Kloucek and fellow Czech goalie Karel Vejmelka later this week.

Mid-Season Grade: 5.0 out of 8.0

16. Speaking of Karel Vejmelka...what an absolutely incredible bounce-back season for the netminder. He spent most of last season on the bench, starting only 24 games total with most of them in the second tier Czech league.

At the beginning of this season, he was a solid two or three on a crowded depth chart. But, now, he’s the undeniable starter for Brno, playing in 29 games already and landing squarely in the top-10 in nearly every statistical category. Oh, and he’s still 22 years old. He has easily been one the best surprises in the pipeline this year and has almost certainly earned himself an entry-level contract this summer.

Mid-Season Grade: 7.0 out of 8.0

17. Nothing really new to report on Predators goaltending prospect Konstantin Volkov, but I did find this bizarre take scrolling through Twitter:

Mid-Season Grade: 2.5 out of 8.0

18. Tomas Vomacka had two appearances for the UConn Huskies in the month of January, starting on the 16th against Rensselaer and surrendering four goals—two on the power play. He then appeared in relief of Adam Huska on Friday, stopping all the shots he faced, which significantly bumped up his numbers on the season.

Vomacka has secured roughly 30 percent of UConn’s minutes this season, and it’s been an adjustment, but there has been some positive developments for who is likely the best goalie in the system.

Mid-Season Grade: 4.5 out of 8.0

19. Niclas Westerholm had a solid January with two starts that he split for one win and one loss giving up two goals in the process. Westerholm has followed a fairly natural progression up the depth chart for SaiPa, and I would anticipate that continues next season with him staying in Finland and slowly taking over the starting job from Frans Tuohimaa. That should open the door for Karel Vejmelka to come to North America.

Mid-Season Grade: 4.5 out of 8.0

All statistics are courtesy of