We've got a winner in the 100-point contest, and it's Linden Vey, whose assist Feb. 23 against Kelowna put him at the century mark. From now on, the first major junior player to reach 100 points will be given the Linden Vey Award, which exists only in my mind. Anyway, congratulations to Vey as well as Tyler Johnson, Jason Akeson and Philip-Michael Devos, who have also cleared 100 points over the past week.
Since it is, of course, the international holiday known as the NHL trade deadline, I thought this might be a nice time to do a quick roundup of the few noteworthy prospects that have been dealt in pre-deadline deals as well as those who were traded at the most boring deadline in recent memory.
Colton Teubert, a big defenseman with a little offensive upside taken 13th overall in '08, went to Edmonton in the Dustin Penner deal. He's a name to keep an eye on to see if he develops more scoring ability.
Niclas Bergfors heads to Florida in the deal for Radek Dvorak; as a guy with 142 NHL games under his belt, he's an iffy inclusion in his space, which says something about the lameness of this trade deadline action. In any case, Bergfors, a former first-round pick by the Devils, did very good work with Atlanta last year after being acquired in the Ilya Kovalchuk deal, but hasn't maintained quite the same pace this year.
At 26 years old, it's hard to consider Alexander Sulzer much of a prospect, but he did have 30 points in 36 games as a defenseman in the AHL last year, and Florida got him cheap. Good move.
Ben Maxwell, the Habs' second-rounder in 2006, was sent to Atlanta in the Brent Sopel/Nigel Dawes deal. Maxwell is just 22, but is in his third season of credible AHL production, posting 40 points in 47 games with Montreal's affiliate in Hamilton.
I'm betting Kevin Shattenkirk turns out to be the gem of the deal that sent Erik Johnson to Colorado. Not that Johnson's any slouch, but Shattenkirk is just a tremendous offensive talent from the blue line. The next Mike Green, if all goes well.
Brock Beukeboom is worth mentioning purely for amazing name value, if nothing else. Yep, he's Jeff's son.
Derek Joslin collected 32 points in 55 games from the blue line for the Sharks' AHL affiliate and has two assists in his first three games as a Hurricane. He's notched double-digit goal totals twice in the AHL and looks like he's finally going to stick in Carolina, which would make him sneaky valuable.
The Bruins dealt their 2008 first-rounder, Joe Colborne, to Toronto in the Tomas Kaberle deal. Colborne's off to a fast start with the AHL Marlies, picking up three goals and an assist in five games after just 26 in 55 with Providence. The former college standout at Denver, still just 21 years old, is a very good prospect at center.
Michael Swift is the most intriguing of the Devils-Sharks four-player swap way back on Feb. 9, as he scored 193 points in his final two junior seasons and has shown some ability to put puck in net in the pros as well. He's a smaller guy, though, and undrafted, which always puts you behind the eight ball as far as making and staying in the NHL.
I have to say, the most intriguing trades of this deadline were the hoaxes that were posted to fake Twitter accounts. Anyway, there was plenty of intra-organization player movement leading up to the deadline, so buckle up for a long one.
Anders Lindback, G, NAS - Lindback took a quick trip down to Milwaukee to get some work in and stay fresh, and now he's flip-flopped with Mark Dekanich once again. You probably already know that the enormous 22-year-old Swede is one to watch in goal going forward.
Jonathan Blum, D, NAS - As a Blum owner in a dynasty or two, I feel like I've been waiting for this moment all my life. The 2007 first-rounder put up 11 goals and 41 points in the AHL last year, and has built on it this season, with 34 points in 54 games in the AHL before his call-up. He's got a first NHL goal, now, too - here it is, a whistler from the blue line. Blum has the kind of offensive upside and defensively responsible game that will make him a top defenseman one day.
Kyle Turris, C, PHO - Turris played just two games in the AHL - he was scoreless in the first and collected two points in the second - before returning to the big team. He scored a goal in his first game back and went scoreless in the second; only time will tell whether the demotion truly sent a message, but he's getting good minutes, anyway.
Hugh Jessiman, RW, FLA - The last player from the first-round draft class of 2003 to make his NHL debut, Jessiman got into his first big-league contest on Sunday, delivering three hits and putting a couple shots on goal in a loss to New Jersey. The enormous New York native, once upon a time drafted 12th overall by his hometown Rangers, has just six points in 35 games in the AHL this year and is mostly mentioned in this space out of bitterness. Now let us never speak of him again.
Nick Leddy, D, CHI - Called up, sent down and called back up in the last week. Do the Blackhawks really think this is good for the kid?
Blake Geoffrion, LW, NAS - A second-round pick in 2006, Geoffrion went on to have a decent college career, culminating in a 28-goal, 50-point senior season at Wisconsin. It took him a while to adjust to the pro game, but he'd been on on a rampage through the AHL since the New Year, racking up 25 points in 21 games. That was enough to earn him a promotion to Nashville, where he's scoreless in two. Obviously, Geoffrion has the pedigree both in draft position and family heritage (his grandfather was Boom Boom, aka Bernie Geoffrion, and his father played in the NHL as well); the question is whether he can cut it at the NHL level. I think he can, but he won't be a star.
James van Riemsdyk, LW, PHI - The second overall pick in '07, big things have been expected from van Riemsdyk, but he's been a role player this far with Philadelphia. Still, he's contributed 15 goals in that role in each of the last two seasons. His appearance here is thanks to a quick send-down and call-up last week.
Mark Katic, D, NYI - The Isles' third-round pick in 2007, Katic did show some scoring ability in his final year of juniors, but hasn't a major offensive threat from the blue line as a pro. Still, he has solid skills and could become a steady NHL defenseman who develops a little offense later in his career. He hasn't gotten into a big-league game yet.
Mark Dekanich, G, NAS - Nothing has changed about Dekanich since I wrote about him here last week. He backed up Pekka Rinne for a couple days as Anders Lindback went to the minors for a few days to get some work in.
Dustin Jeffrey, C, PIT - Jeffrey scored a goal Saturday, but that wasn't enough to keep him from being sent on back to the AHL, where he's likely to resume his dominance. Jeffrey has produced with limited ice time for the Penguins this year as well, picking up five goals and eight points in 15 games with a plus-7 rating despite largely playing on the Penguins' depth lines.
Greg Nemisz, C, CGY - Calgary's first-round pick in '08, 25th overall, Nemisz is supposed to develop into a productive, goal-scoring power forward, but the jury is still out on the 20-year-old center, who scored 30-plus goals in juniors three years in a row. He's got a meager 27 points in 59 AHL games this season, though he'd been a bit warmer lately, relatively speaking, with seven in his last 10. He was called up for Sunday's game, but didn't see any action, as he was a healthy scratch and was then sent back down. Give the kid at least another year to adjust to the pro game before you expect much.
Erik Gustafsson, D, PHI - Gustafsson was rewarded for his fine work in the AHL with a one-game call-up to the pros. An adept puckhandler, the undrafted Swede out of Northern Michigan University has racked up just five goals, but 30 assists in 54 games with AHL Adirondack this year. The upside here is something like what we've all been expecting, but never seen from Marc-Edouard Vlasic - a capable hand on the blue line who can pitch in with a lot of assists on the power play by feeding the puck to his star forwards with efficient and creative passing.
Brett MacLean, LW, PHO - Up and down goes MacLean, but his AHL scoring remains a constant - 50 points in 51 games now.
Johan Harju, LW, TAM - Harju's been riding the bus up and down all year, and for now he's down - but not out, as evidenced by his three-point night Sunday for AHL Norfolk. Eventually, he'll get his shot, and he's going to put up points in the NHL. It's pronounced "Har-who," by the way.
Mathieu Perreault, C, WAS - I endorsed Perreault in the comments of the first of these columns, and he hasn't done anything to make me change my mind. He's played 35 games in the NHL this season, but has just 14 points to show for it, as he hasn't been able to find consistent ice time. Perreault is small, so speed and elusiveness are big parts of his game, but it would be nice to see him add a little strength to be able to do better work in the corners at the NHL level. He's still got a terrific long-term outlook.
Michael Del Zotto, D, NYR - With Bryan McCabe in the fold, Del Zotto was sent back to the AHL to keep working on his consistency to become a more impactful player at the NHL level. He managed just two assists and a minus-2 in 10 February games with the Rangers.
Mark Olver, C, COL - A fifth-round selection by Colorado in 2008, Olver has 22 goals for AHL Lake Erie this year, a number that earns some attention even when there aren't a lot of assists to go with it (he has just 17 helpers). Olver had two assists in six games (both coming back in October) with the Avs. He's added a little size and strength since last year, which helps because he's not afraid to play physical, so by any account he's raised his stock some this season.
The Future to Come
Every week in this space, I'll feature one college player and one junior player who are making their mark.
This week's college prospect is Drew Shore of the University of Denver. Shore, taken in the second round, 44th overall by Florida in '09 after a solid year with the U.S. National Under-18 Team, has blown up in his sophomore season of college, racking up 41 points (21 goals, 20 assists) in 32 games with Denver. The 20-year-old center is a high-energy player who's struggled with consistency in the past, but stepped up his game dramatically this season. Not a sniper in the traditional sense, Shore is a big kid at 6-foot-3 who can play in the dirty areas and score on rebounds and deflections - as he did here in the WJC.
Our junior prospect of the week is Christian Thomas of the OHL's Oshawa Generals. A second-round pick by the Rangers in this past draft, No. 40 overall, Thomas has built on last year's 41-goal outburst with another 47 and counting this season. The 18-year-old's 83 points are easily good for the team lead as well as seventh in the OHL; he's second in goals only to one of my personal favorites, Tyler Toffoli, who was discussed in this column previously. A smaller guy at 5-9, Thomas is a speedster who obviously knows how to put the puck into the net; he can snipe it in there with the best of 'em, as he's shown plus accuracy and velocity. Talent-wise, he's right up there with the Rangers' top prospects.
If you have any players you'd like me to discuss in next week's column, please direct all inquiries here, or feel free to discuss them in the comments.