This is my last column of the season - at least in this format, as call-ups and send-downs will be irrelevant by next week. I'll be back with draft articles and prospect updates where relevant. I want to thank you, RotoWire readers, for being so welcoming. I hope you've enjoyed my work so far and continue to enjoy it going forward. I leave you with some junior playoff updates.
In the OHL, Rangers prospect Christian Thomas has led the Oshawa Generals through the first round of the playoffs with a sick first five games, as he's collected five goals and eight assists. Other notable performances include 10 points in six games each for Predators prospect Michael Latta (5 G, 5 A) and Ducks prospect Peter Holland. The 18-year-old Swede Gabriel Landeskog, ranked as the top North American skater (by virtue of playing in North America) by Central Scouting in January, has five goals and four assists in six playoff outings.
Sharks goaltending prospect (it's amazing how many they have) J.P. Anderson of the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors, coming off his best junior regular season yet, has absolutely stood on his head so far in the playoffs, posting three shutouts and just one goal against in four games. Coyotes goalie prospect Mark Visentin has been nearly as impressive despite facing significantly more shots, allowing just three goals in four games and posting a .977 save percentage. Everyone's favorite goalie prospect, Jack Campbell, has a 3.42 GAA and .903 save percentage over six games.
The out-of-nowhere revelations are rookie winger Joshua Leivo and Sharks prospect Michael Sgarbossa of the Sudbury Wolves, who have racked up 10 and 12 points, respectively, in just four playoff games. The 18-year-old Sgarbossa was languishing with Saginaw early this year, collecting just 20 points in 26 games, but after being dealt to Sudbury, he exploded for 29 goals and 62 points in his next 37 games and has carried that over into the playoffs. Leivo, just 17, put together a respectable 30 points over 64 games this season, but this massive playoff performance could be the beginning of something for the Ontario native. At 6-foot-2, 180, he already has a whole load of hockey size for his age.
Over WHL way, we see some familiar names leading the pack in playoff scoring: Brayden Schenn and Nino Niederreiter, with 10 points apiece - El Nino's in just four games. Prospective top pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is just a point behind, potting four goals with five assists in four games for Red Deer. Stars prospect Scott Glennie (eight points), Panthers prospect Quinton Howden (seven) and Ducks prospect Emerson Etem (seven) also appear in the top 20 in playoff scoring.
In the QMJHL, 20-year-old Jonathan Audy-Marchessault, coming off a 40-goal, 95-point season, has continued his campaign with a ridiculous 15 points over just four playoff games. The undrafted and unsigned Audy-Marchessault can only hope this performance will earn him an audition with an NHL team.
There are plenty of big names on that scoring list as well. Please note draft prospects Jonathan Huberdeau (12 points in four games) Zack Phillips (also 12 in four) and Sean Couturier (eight in four), as well as Caps prospect Stanislav Galiev (eight in four).
Flyers goalie prospect Jacob De Serres, who had an absolutely monstrous regular season - 27-3-0 with a 2.22 GAA and .916 save percentage - already has a shutout and just two goals allowed in three playoff games. Kings goalie prospect Jean-Francois Berube, taken in the fourth round in 2009, has a couple of shutouts to his credit.
Let's get down to my final call-up and send-down notes of the year.
Colton Gillies, LW, MIN - Gillies was taken 16th overall by the Wild in 2007 - ahead of Max Pacioretty, Jonathon Blum, Mikael Backlund, David Perron, Brendan Smith, Brett MacLean and P.K. Subban, among others - in the hopes that he would develop into a power forward to be feared. So far, so bad. Gillies, who turned 22 in January, has a meager 26 points in 64 AHL games. Never so much as a point-per-game scorer in juniors, he played 45 games in the NHL two years ago, recording seven points, and really doesn't seem to have developed at all since then.
Maxim Noreau, D, MIN - The undrafted Noreau has been a scorcher in the AHL for the last three seasons, tallying double-digit goals each year. This season, he has 10 goals and a career-high 54 points for Houston, and now he's bringing that good shot and offensive awareness to the Wild as they try out their young players late in the season. Noreau is a name to watch for next year, as Minnesota's blue line will have openings, particularly for a defenseman who can put up points like Noreau can.
Danny Syvret, D, PHI - The numbers Syvret has put up as a defenseman in the AHL have been quite impressive, but he's never been able to stick in the big leagues. Still, he's only 25, which isn't too old for a defense prospect, and the former third-round pick (by Edmonton in 2005) has put up 40 points in 59 games with two AHL teams this year. The main problem for Syvret is that he's been unable to tighten up defensively in the pros, as he's only posted a positive plus-minus once in six AHL seasons. He's minus-11 in the minors this year, and minus-3 in his six games with the Flyers.
Cameron Gaunce, D, COL - Once upon a time, Gaunce put up 17 goals and 64 points as a defenseman in the OHL, so there is some offensive ability there. He hasn't really shown it in his first AHL season (just 22 points in 61 games) or in his taste of the NHL (a goal and no assists in 11 games), but he does have skill and it was his first pro season, after all. Unfortunately, he suffered a hand injury last week and has been out for the past two games.
Tomas Kubalik, RW, CLM - A training camp sensation after recording a hat trick in his first NHL exhibition game, the 20-year-old Czech was sent to the AHL to play heavy minutes and refine his skills, and the 2008 fifth-round pick delivered 50 points in 73 games in his first pro season - quite a nice debut. He had another nice debut in his first NHL game, collecting two assists, but went scoreless in the next two games. Something tells me he's headed for a breakout next year.
Marc-Andre Gragnani, D, BUF - Gragnani put himself on the NHL map in a big way yesterday by scoring the overtime winner against Carolina, thanks to a funny bounce past Cam Ward. His offensive prowess is no secret to those who follow the AHL, though, as he's racked up an obscene (for a defenseman) 60 points and plus-22 rating in 63 games - his third AHL season over 50 points. He's got to be a full-time NHLer by next year.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson, D, PHO - The very talented 19-year-old Swede - taken sixth overall two years ago - was rushed into the NHL but has had a promising season for such a young defenseman, putting up 11 points in 48 games with a plus-3 rating. Down in the AHL, he's got a total of eight points in 12 games, though he's pointless in two since his demotion. Ekman-Larsson is one of the better defense prospects in the NHL and would be quite high up on RotoWire's Top 100 Prospects if he qualified.
Colin Greening, C, OTT - Greening's two-goal game against Florida was his last one in the NHL for now, as he was returned to the AHL with the Sens getting healthier. He has shown that he absolutely belongs in the NHL, recording 12 points in 22 games and going plus-1 for a Senators team that, even since acquiring Craig Anderson, isn't all that good. Greening has a goal and an assist in three games back in the minors.
Mats Zuccarello, LW, NYR - Zuccarello's consistency and confidence have wavered of late, getting last year's Swedish League MVP shipped back down to the AHL for more playing time. He's responded well to the demotion so far, gaining four assists in three games. The young Norwegian has proven that he has the talent to score in North American hockey; he just needs to work on his game a bit more.
Patrick Wiercioch, D, OTT - Back down to Bingo goes Wiercioch. If you decide to invest in him, know that it's going to be a long-term one.
Ian Cole, D, STL - Another former first-rounder, Cole was taken 18th overall in 2007. He's never flashed very impressive offensive ability, but he did post a goal, three assists and a plus-8 in March with St. Louis - some fringy fantasy relevance from the 22-year-old blueliner. He's worth keeping an eye on to see if this was a sign of development or just a fluke.
Now that the college and junior regular seasons are over, "The Future To Come" spotlight will return next season. 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 ask about them in the comments.