This year's trade deadline featured very minimal prospect movement, reflecting an ongoing trend around the league – teams guard their top prospects jealously and simply won't let them go. Of all the 19 trades that took place on Wednesday and the dozen trades that went down over the couple days before, almost none featured big-time prospects on the move.
The biggest names dealt among young players were Jacob Markstrom to Vancouver in the Roberto Luongo deal, Brandon Pirri to Florida for two picks, and Brayden McNabb to the Kings in a swap of otherwise not-very-noteworthy prospects. That's it. Sure, the Sens dealt 23-year-old Andre Petersson to Anaheim for 25-year-old Alex Grant, if that's something that interests you, undersized AHL overachiever Jonathan Marchessault went to the Lightning, and the modestly interesting Sebastien Collberg went to the Island in the Thomas Vanek deal.
In the midst of deadline action that included names like Vanek, Luongo, Marian Gaborik, Matt Moulson, Martin St. Louis and Ryan Callahan, you'd have thought to see more young talent change hands.
Next week, as we come up on the end of the regular season in juniors, I'll take look at some of those players who slipped under the radar on draft day and ended up playing out the string in college as well as the OHL, WHL and QMJHL. If you pay close attention, the next Tyler Johnson could be yours.
Ryan Murphy, D, CAR – The 12th overall pick in 2011, Murphy still has yet to truly break through at the NHL level – he's totaled 11 points in 43 games – but has been quite productive in his AHL time this year, notching a goal and 17 assists in 16 games. As a bit of an undersized defenseman (5-foot-11, 176), Murphy's going to have to score to stick in a top-four role at the NHL level, and it's not likely he's going to get the ice time to make that happen this year. An injury to Justin Faulk has made room for the 20-year-old Murphy, so his stay might not be a long one. That said, the 'Canes are on the outside looking in as far as the playoffs go, so it wouldn't be surprising if they gave the kid some run the rest of the way. If he sees good ice time ahead of Carolina's boring veterans, he could produce.
Peter Holland, C, TOR – For a period of time back in December, it legitimately looked like Holland was going to carve himself out a regular spot in the Leafs' lineup; from Dec. 8-27, he picked up eight points in 10 games and was seeing solid second-line minutes. But then the former No. 15 overall pick (2009) saw his ice time dry up and he started bouncing back and forth between AHL Toronto and NHL Toronto, and now here we are today. Holland skated 11:14 on the third line with no power-play time Wednesday after his latest recall. In the four games he's played with the Marlies, he's got four points, and he's totaled 13 points in 14 AHL contests this year; the now-23-year-old played those first 10 games for Norfolk in the Ducks' organization.
Carter Ashton, LW, TOR – Another '09 first-rounder drafted by another team and now with Toronto, Ashton was the 29th pick in that draft by the Lightning, who traded him to the Leafs in 2012 for Keith Aulie. To that point, Ashton had been a major disappointment at the pro level – expected to develop into an offensively gifted power forward, he put up okay-but-not-awesome results in his first AHL season (38 points in 63 games), then was even worse with AHL Toronto last year, posting all of 19 points in 53 contests. As he's still without a goal in 45 NHL games (30 of them this year) and has only three assists in that span, no one's suggesting you get too crazy here. That said, Ashton's still just 22 until April 1 and he only averaged a little over six minutes of ice time in those 30 games this season. Perhaps most importantly, he's actually scoring in the AHL this year, ripping off an attention-grabbing 13 goals and five helpers in just 16 games, including a hat trick on Sunday. There's not a lot of room among the Leafs' wingers for him to move up right now, but it appears he's starting to realize his potential.
Philip Larsen, D, EDM – Larsen's not exactly a prospect anymore – he's 24 already and has 113 NHL games under his belt – but he possesses some not-yet-realized potential that should have deep-league fantasy owners taking notice. The league slept on a chance to grab him via waivers earlier this week, and that's something I suspect the other GMs will come to regret. Larsen has played only 19 AHL games in the last two seasons, but has an impressive 17 points in that span, and he was just starting to come into his own with Edmonton before a mysterious illness knocked him out of action for more than a month. Now returned to the Oilers, he skated 21:23 Thursday, scoring a goal and going plus-2.
Vincent Trocheck, C, FLA – One thing the Pittsburgh native's already made clear at every level up to and including the AHL: He can score. A 109-point man in the OHL last year (that's in 63 games, for those counting at home), the 20-year-old Trocheck is leading AHL San Antonio in assists (25) and points (41) this year, and his 16 goals have him tied for tops on the team in that category, too. Just recalled Wednesday, Trocheck could immediately slot in as high as the second line for Florida, giving him an instant opportunity to start putting up points.
Luke Adam, LW, BUF – Adam's just an emergency recall, so this isn't necessarily an action item, but fantasy owners in keeper formats will want to take note that in 42 games for AHL Rochester this year, the 23-year-old's put up a point-per-game scoring pace with 24 goals and 18 assists, not to mention a shiny plus-12 rating. He leads the Amerks in goals and plus-minus, getting back on the track he was on three years ago, when he put up 62 points in 57 AHL contests and was considered one of the game's better prospects. Eye him closely.
Prospect of the Week
Derrick Pouliot, D, PIT – Sometimes, as a non-Pittsburgh fan, you look at the Penguins, loaded with some of the game's biggest stars at forward and defense, and sometimes even in goal (except in the playoffs, eh?), and it just makes you hurt for your team. Pouliot is going to be just another reason why. The eighth overall pick in 2012, he was a point-per-game player for WHL Portland last year, and he's been even better this year – an awesome 17 goals and 47 assists for 64 points in 53 contests. A gifted skater with a rocket for a point shot and hockey sense in spades, the 20-year-old will surely be given some development time in the AHL next season, but once he arrives, he's going to be yet another impressive weapon in the Penguins' arsenal, making life even more difficult for Eastern Conference opponents.
2014 Draft Prospect of the Week
Sam Bennett, LW, Kingston Frontenacs – The big news when the NHL's Central Scouting came out with its fresh rankings for this year's draft was that Bennett had displaced Sam Reinhart atop the list. And there are plenty of good reasons to love the 17-year-old's game. For one, he's fourth in OHL scoring this year, having ripped off 36 goals, 91 points and a plus-34 – as well as 118 PIM because hey, why not – over 56 contests. For another, despite that he doesn't turn 18 'til June, he's already cleared the six-foot mark, and he's continually putting on additional pounds of muscle, as he's now listed at 181. Last week's OHL Player of the Week, Bennett's going to be a good NHLer with a bit of flash and a vicious shot who can play in all situations. The only question here, as with many of the others in his draft class, is whether he has that extra gear to be a really great NHLer. Go on, watch him take some shots.