Good news, everyone! RotoWire's top 100 NHL prospects have been brought up to date by yours truly and should be up for your list-reading pleasure today. In the rich tradition of all prospect lists everywhere, please feel free to commence complaining about how much I may have overrated/underrated Prospect X and how it's a crime that he's behind/ahead of Prospect Y on the list.
Let's move on to our continuing coverage of last year's first-round draft class. Last week, we covered the top 10, this week is the middle 10, and next week will be the final 10. Something to look forward to.
11. Jack Campbell, G, DAL - He's been actively bad this year, but held the No. 1 goalie role in Windsor of the OHL despite posting a 3.80 GAA and .885 save percentage while being outplayed by several no-names. It's still in vogue to consider him the next Carey Price, but Price was much more productive at the same age. Pedigree and pure talent keeps him high on the prospects list, but not the top goalie prospect.
12. Cam Fowler, D, ANA - Seven goals, 23 assists and a minus-24 in the NHL this year; sounds like what you'd expect from a talented 19-year-old defenseman. Fowler was rushed and he's gotten worn down by the schedule at this point, but he's a good one.
13. Brandon Gormley, D, PHO - Has progressed nicely in the QMJHL from last year's eight goals and 43 points in 58 games to 12 goals and 46 points in just 44 games. Missed time with a knee injury, then came back and soon enough got hurt on a high hit by 'Hawks prospect Philippe Paradis.
14. Jaden Schwartz, C, STL - Has only played 26 games due to a broken ankle suffered during the WJC, but has had a sensational freshman season when healthy - 15 goals, 37 points for Colorado College. Absolutely a gem, and the more I think about it, the further I want to push him up the list from his current No. 30 spot.
15. Derek Forbort, D, LOS - You don't expect a lot of scoring from a freshman defenseman, but no goals in 33 games for the University of North Dakota (and scoreless in six in the WJC) is a tough pill to swallow. At least he's got 15 assists. Forbort was drafted as a project, though, so at least the Kings knew what they were getting into. He's the only eligible top-20 pick from this past year that didn't make my top 100.
16. Vladimir Tarasenko, C, STL - Just 19 points in 42 KHL games this year - five below last year - but he was the youngest player on his team and scoring isn't much of an indicator for prospects in the veteran-dominated Russian league. He ripped up the WJC, picking up 11 points in seven games en route to the gold. The Blues sound like they want him in the NHL next year, and he could make a major impact if that happens.
17. Joey Hishon, C, COL - The Avs surprised by taking Hishon 17th when he was coming off an injury-shortened, low-production year, but he's been everything they could ask for in the OHL this season, racking up 36 goals and 83 points in 48 games. He missed some time with a hand injury as well as a suspension.
18. Austin Watson, RW, NAS - Watson struggled early this year, perhaps taking his cut in NHL training camp too hard and returning to the OHL with some attitude issues, but he's turned his game around of late. After managing just eight points in his first 14 games, he came alive and put up 57 in the next 51. You'd still like to see more, but it sounds like he's maturing.
19. Nick Bjugstad, C, FLA - It can be hard for freshmen to break in, and that was the case for Bjugstad, who came to the University of Minnesota and was sitting on six points in 17 games at the end of January. Then something clicked - in his last 12 games, Bjugstad has torn off 14 points, turning around his freshman campaign. He's got size and speed to spare, and is one of the most intriguing players in this draft class.
20. Beau Bennett, RW, PIT - Another college freshman who needed an adjustment period after annihilating inferior competition while in high school, Bennett failed to record a point in his first six games with the University of Denver this year, then turned remarkably consistent, picking up 23 in the next 27 - quite an impressive showing for a freshman.
Mark Olver, C, COL - A star at Northern Michigan University, Olver has had a solid first full season at the pro level, notching 23 goals and 40 points in 58 AHL games. He's also got a pair of assists in seven NHL outings. The knock on him, of course, is that he's well undersized - at just 5'10, 170, he's liable to get crushed by someone in the NHL sooner or later. A fifth-round pick by the Avs in '08, Olver makes a lot of what he's got and, assuming he's strong enough to play with the big boys without getting hurt, should be a nice complementary scorer on the depth lines.
Ben Maxwell, C, ATL - Maxwell's been riding the bus up and down since the Thrashers got him at the deadline. Now he's up again. This is the third week in a row he appears in this column, and that's all I'm going to say about him right now.
Drayson Bowman, C, CAR - There seems to be a perception among hockey types that Bowman, a third-round pick by the 'Canes in '07, is a very good prospect, mostly because he's fast and he has a terrific shot that helped him score 40 goals in juniors twice. Unfortunately, it's now two years in a row that he hasn't carried that over to pro hockey - just 32 points in 56 games last year in the AHL, and 30 in 51 this year, with his goals slipping to just 12. Bowman is still very much a project, but he's caught on with the 'Canes for 19 games over the past two seasons, recording a couple goals and no assists - both of them in last year's nine-game stint.
Marco Scandella, D, MIN - Scandella was a point-per-game scorer in juniors last season and has been solid in the AHL despite bouncing back and forth between the minors and pros a bit this year, tallying 19 points in 33 games for Houston and a pair of assists in 18 games with Minnesota. A former second-round pick, he's a promising prospect, but is blocked from major ice time in point-producing situations right now.
Colin Greening, C, OTT - Greening's already achieved deep-league usefulness since being called back up three days after being sent down, as he's got points in three of four games since his return. Overall, he's got six points in 13 games and is looking more like a promising young player than the Quad-A guy it's so easy to write him off as.
T.J. Hensick, C, STL - Here is one T.J. Hensick, a former third-round pick by the Avalanche who destroyed the college ranks for four years, a young fellow who has been called “poetry in motion” on the offensive side of the game. You may remember him from when he played 31, then 61 unproductive games for Colorado in '07-'08 and '08-'09. Now he's with St. Louis, and his offensive domination of the lower ranks has continued in the AHL, where he's on his second straight year of easily clearing a point per game. With the Blues, however, it's been another story - just an assist in nine games. At 25 years old, the clock is ticking for Hensick, whose lack of defensive responsibility and physicality may relegate him to the role of career AHLer.
Luke Adam, C, BUF - In Adam, we have a player worth getting excited about. After last year's 49-goal, 90-point effort in the QMJHL, he's come to pro hockey and picked up where he left off, racking 25 goals and 49 points in 43 games for AHL Portland. The 20-year-old Adam hasn't yet carried that over to the NHL level (four points in 19 games), but he's proven to be a shining star of a prospect. He was called up briefly and then sent down this week.
Paul Postma, D, ATL - Postma is another call-up/send-down. He got into one game, recording a shot on goal, a hit and a couple blocked shots before returning to the AHL, where he's currently sitting on a very fine 12 goals and 42 points in 66 games.
Casey Wellman, C, MIN - A point in two AHL games since being sent down.
Ben Bishop, G, STL - With Jaroslav Halak back, Bishop returns to the AHL, where he'll continue to split time with a much better goalie prospect, Jake Allen. He put on a respectable showing in his seven-game NHL stint this season, posting a 2.77 GAA and .900 save percentage.
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 defenseman Jake Gardiner of the University of Wisconsin, a first-round pick by the Ducks in '08. I discussed his partner on the blue line, Justin Schultz, the Ducks' second-round pick in that same draft, in one of my earliest columns, so I may as well make it equal. Gardiner was drafted out of high school after a season in which he averaged nearly two points per game. He committed to Wisconsin and immediately made an impact as a freshman, collecting 21 points in 39 games, but slumped to a mere 13 points in his sophomore season. He's rebounded in a big way this year, however, raking at a point-per-game pace, with 10 goals and 31 assists in 41 contests. He's a speedy defenseman with puck skills, a terrific shot, and certainly NHL at 6-2 size - think Jay Bouwmeester before he became terrible.
Our junior prospect of the week is Martin Marincin, the Oilers' second-round pick in 2010 and a star defenseman for the Prince George Cougars of the WHL. The Slovakian import comes to North America after playing in his home country's pro league for a year, recording six points in 35 games as a 17-year-old. The bounties have been considerably larger for him across the ocean, as Marincin has 13 goals and 53 points in 63 games with Prince George this year. At 6-4, 187, the 19-year-old still has a ways to go to fill out, but you have to love his combination of size and skill, especially in an Edmonton organization that's thin on high-level talent in the minors with the graduation of Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Linus Omark. I have him listed at No. 98 on the prospects list, but he's a candidate to move up.
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.