I don't have much wisdom to offer at the top of the column this week, but let's hear three cheers for my RotoWire Staff Keeper Hockey League team, which earned its first two wins (we're playing two games at a time) last week one of them by one of the slimmest margins you'll see, 0.08 points. Alright! Now I can delay selling off my high-priced players for at least one more week.
Alright, you don't have to cheer if you don't want to.
Alex Killorn, C, TB After four years at Harvard in which he progressed steadily as a scorer, Killorn's handled the transition to the pros with aplomb, racking up 16 goals and 38 points in 44 AHL games. He didn't look lost in his first NHL game either, skating 13:17 with an assist and two shots on goal Sunday against the Rangers. With his parents in attendance at MSG, Killorn saw time with the man advantage and skating on a line with Vincent Lecavalier and Teddy Purcell. The 23-year-old is a wide load in a good way at 6-1, 202, and he was certainly able to use his size to good effect in his debut. If he stays consistent, he could certainly find a home in Tampa's top six.
Joakim Andersson, C, DET While Andersson's season total of 27 points in 36 AHL games this year isn't totally inspiring, the Swede's been productive of late, tallying 14 points in his last 13 games. Granted, seven of those came in an explosive two-game span, so consistency is certainly an issue, but Andersson has progressed nicely since being picked in the third round in '07. He's seen minimal ice time with Detroit since being called up, though, as that's an awfully tough top six to break into, and when Todd Bertuzzi's back is better, Andersson will likely take a trip back to the minors.
J.T. Miller, C, NYR Called up a week ago, Miller's made an early impression on coach John Tortorella, working his way into some solid minutes an average of 13:53 in his three games with New York. He struck for two goals in impressive fashion in the second game, and though he's not an elite scoring talent, his grinding style is a great fit for the Rangers' system and he seems poised to continue receiving good ice time, including that treasured time on the power play. I'll admit that I left Miller out of last week's column despite being a Rangers fan because he'd managed a paltry 20 points and minus-8 rating in 37 games with AHL Connecticut, and it certainly looks bad after the fine start, but I still don't expect Miller to put up fantasy-relevant point totals outside of deep leagues in the short term.
David Savard, D, CLM A three-game stint back with the big club produced nothing for Savard, who averaged less than 15 minutes of ice time with no power-play time. He's produced when in the lineup with AHL Springfield, though, compiling 22 points and a plus-12 rating over 35 games. You've gotta wonder whether the Jackets really have six better defensemen (because they don't). With Savard's terrific blend of size, strength and shooting ability, they can't leave him in limbo like this for long.
Ryan Johansen, C, CLM The fourth overall pick in 2010, Johansen's had a longer-than-expected NHL learning curve, managing just 23 points in 77 games with the Jackets over this season and last. The talent's still there, as evidenced by his 28 points in 35 AHL games, but Johansen probably needs to just be left in the minors for a while to refine his game for the big leagues. Despite his raw ability, Johansen's still got to get stronger and get better at creating space on the ice. He's already got faceoffs down, which is good.
David Rundblad, D, PHO I kvetched last week about the Coyotes' treatment of Rundblad, and things haven't gotten a whole lot better, though at least he's played in two AHL games since being sent back down, picking up a pair of assists. The Coyotes promoted young player of minimal interest Chris Summers to man the blue line in Rundblad's place, suggesting that the team still isn't happy with his defensive game, but the press box isn't the best place for him to learn. Here's hoping he stays in AHL Portland 'til Phoenix is ready to give him a top-four defensive role.
Sami Vatanen, D, ANA Vatanen saw a lot of scratches and spotty ice time with Anaheim, though he did skate an average of 2:41 on the power play in his three games, recording no points, one shot and a plus-1 rating. The 21-year-old's returned to AHL Norfolk, continuing a fine rookie season in which he's put up 24 points in 36 games, a very fine rate for a defenseman. A little taste of NHL action is good for him at this point in his development; expect him to apply those lessons to his play in the minors and elevate his play further.
Mark Scheifele, C, WPG After four quiet games with the Jets, Scheifele was again returned to Barrie of the OHL, where he's been tearing it up to the tune of 55 points in 33 games. It's important that Scheifele's taken more steps forward in juniors this year, but his physical development has far enough to go that he'll probably need a good part of an AHL season next year before he's truly ready for the big time.
Jonathan Audy-Marchessault, LW, CLM The Jackets gave Audy-Marchessault just a two-game taste, and the diminutive winger didn't make a big impact, but he's certainly flashed impressive offensive skills in the AHL for the last two years. He's going to have to prove himself relatively soon in the NHL, lest he be labeled a career minor leaguer, but the Jackets terrible though they are seem just incredibly hesitant to hand the reins over to young, talented players like the three they've sent down this week. Its somewhat inexplicable, but you've got to hope Audy-Marchessault & Co. can further develop their games into whatever it is the Jackets' coaches are looking for.
The Future to Come
Every week in this space, Ill feature one amateur player making his mark in college or juniors.
This week's player is Kevin Roy, a fourth-round pick by the Ducks in 2012 and a rising star as a freshman (albeit an old freshman) at Northeastern University this year. Roy (pronounced like "wah," like Patrick Roy) went viral on YouTube as a 13-year-old "pulling orgasmic moves" in a shootout competition, garnering more than 1.3 million views. The hands in that video wow. You could legitimately beat NHL goalies with those moves.
And he's only gotten better. Last year, before being drafted, he piled up 104 points in 59 games for the USHL's Lincoln Stars including 54 goals, the most anyone in the league has put up since 1988-'89. Now 19, Roy can do whatever he wants with the puck, as evidenced by his impressive hat trick in the Beanpot Tournament earlier this month. That's just one game in an incredible freshman season -- 30 points so far in 24 games with Northeastern. Sure, he's a little undersized at 5-10, 170, but Roy's got rare talent.
If you have any players youd like me to discuss in next weeks column, please direct all inquiries here, or feel free to discuss them in the comments.