Lots of movement this week, so let's get right into it. Don't get caught napping, you know what I mean?
Nathan Beaulieu, D, MON – On Tuesday, the 2011 first-round pick celebrated his return to the NHL after a week in the minors with his second assist in three games for Montreal this year. He's got a respectable, if not impressive, 28 points in 64 games for AHL Hamilton, but has appeared comfortable despite limited minutes in his time with the big team so far.
Mark Barberio, D, TB – Barberio made his NHL debut Tuesday, skating a meager 14:12, but 3:55 on the power play. He didn't pick up a point, firing just one shot on goal and going minus-1. The 23-year-old has been great in the AHL over the last couple years, picking up 101 points in 144 games, but his scoring has dipped this year. Still, he's got great offensive instincts from the blue line and should fit in nicely with Steven Stamkos & Co. in time.
Mikael Granlund, C, MIN – Granlund's played third-line minutes in his three games since being recalled, totaling one assist (on the power play) and four shots on goal. He's had no problem producing for AHL Houston, piling up 28 points in 29 games, but hasn't broken through at the NHL level yet. Still, the 2010 ninth overall pick has got all the talent in the world, and with Dany Heatley done for the year, he's got a good chance to earn more ice time.
Sven Baertschi, LW, CGY – Baertschi skated 18:15, including more than five minutes on the power play, Monday in his first game since being recalled – but he went minus-1 without a point. Things had been slow for him in the AHL, as he picked up a decent, but unspectacular eight points in 11 games while down in Abbotsford. Still, he's got offensive upside as high as any prospect in the league.
Austin Watson, LW, NAS – The Preds' first-round pick, 18th overall, in 2010 has had a bit of a mixed-bag rookie season with AHL Milwaukee. On the positive side, he's a 20-goal scorer – that's always good. But his total of just 36 points in 68 games for the Admirals is far from special, especially considering his pedigree. But of course, Watson's not strictly a skills guy; he's a versatile grinder who's probably never going to be an elite fantasy player, but will be a valuable NHLer thanks to his two-way play. With no points and a minus-2 in his first two games for Nashville, the 21-year-old could use some more seasoning yet, but if the Preds need him on the bottom six, that's a role he can fill now.
Joe Colborne, C, TOR – Since his recall, Colborne's seen almost no ice time (five minutes a game for two games and a scratch). A point-per-game player for a time last season, Colborne fell off badly and hasn't dramatically improved this year, notching just 14 goals and 28 assists in 65 games for the Marlies of the AHL. At 23, the former first-rounder needs to break through into the league soon.
Dmitri Jaskin, LW, STL – After an enormous 99-point season (in just 51 games) for Moncton of the QMJHL, Jaskin got a recall, but hasn't cracked the Blues' lineup yet. The Russian native is a big power-forward type, and he certainly knows how to put the puck in the net, though the Blues seem loathe to deploy him just yet. He's a terrific long-term own, of course.
Ryan Ellis, D, NAS – Ellis' latest stint with the Predators lasted just two days. He got into one game, went minus-1 with four shots on goal (not bad) in 20:11, and got sent back down. The uber-talented defenseman has a goal in two games since his return to AHL Milwaukee.
Zac Dalpe, C, CAR – Dalpe scored a perfectly lovely goal on Henrik Lundqvist in his first game after being recalled, and was rewarded with increased ice time the next two games, but couldn't get back on the scoreboard. The 23-year-old has continued to be productive for AHL Charlotte, but this is his third season there – he needs to take things to the next level. Could be he needs a change of franchise, considering the way Carolina's jerked him around.
David Rundblad, D, PHO – I almost didn't even say anything, but it's worth noting that Rundblad has had a strong run at the AHL level of late, totaling 10 points in his last 11 games. His recall to Phoenix was strictly of the just-in-case variety.
The Future to Come
This week's prospect is Vince Trocheck, a 19-year-old center for the OHL's Plymouth Whalers and a third-round pick by the Panthers in 2011. A picture of continual growth at the junior level, Trocheck came into this year having increased his point total in every season – from 43 as a rookie to 62 to 85 last year.
Few predicted him to take his game to the otherworldly level he achieved this year, though. After tallying a more-than-respectable 50 points in 35 games for Saginaw, he was dealt to the Plymouth Whalers, and all of a sudden, Trocheck blew up. In just 28 games for Plymouth, he put up an insane 59 points (more than two per game!) and a plus-31 rating – good for fourth-most points on the squad. Though he played less than half the season with the Whalers, Trocheck finished just six points shy of the team scoring lead, and he edged out Charles Sarault by a point for the OHL scoring title despite playing fewer games than the next four guys on the list.
Flash in the pan? Hardly. He's carried his dominance into the OHL playoffs, ripping off another 17 points in just seven games to lead all scorers once again.
While it's hard to expect Trocheck to translate this year's 50-goal output to the NHL level, he's certainly in good company at the top of the leaderboard and has a bright future ahead of him as a heart-and-soul guy who can also chip in a good number of points. It's not unreasonable to compare him to Ryan Callahan, a similarly high-effort player who's got a similar build; at 5-11, 180, Trocheck is almost exactly the same size as the Rangers' captain.
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.