The urge to discuss the extraordinarily frightening things going on in American government right now is strong, I must admit. But fortunately for you, dear reader, I won’t dwell on such trivial matters; let’s cover the movements of hockey prospects instead.
Comings and Goings
Kevin Labanc, RW, SJ – After putting four points together in the space of three games, Labanc earned himself an increase in ice time, but it didn’t work out – he averaged 15:19 over a six-game stretch in which he managed only a single assist. The 21-year-old Labanc’s time hasn’t quite come yet, as he’s still looking for that NHL-grade consistency, so the Sharks sent him down to get some extra AHL action Wednesday; he’ll probably get called back up again soon, I’d guess. Playing in the minors has been no challenge for the Staten Island native, who has 17 points in just 11 games for AHL San Jose.
Austin Czarnik, C, BOS – With Ryan Spooner (concussion) out, Czarnik’s getting his shot again, but he was quiet in Thursday’s game against Detroit, skating 15:47 and recording a single hit for his only stat. Such unimpactful play isn’t typical from him, as the 24-year-old pivot was a 61-point man in the AHL last year, and he’s had no problem there in a small sample this year either. Czarnik has so far been unable to break into a top-six role with Boston – as long as David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron are around, there’s not much chance of that happening – but the undersized Miami of Ohio product certainly has panache in the offensive zone that makes him an attractive long-term hold in dynasty leagues.s
Tim Heed, D, SJ – Okay, so, Heed is 26 and thus really ought to fall in the Not A Prospect box, but it’s really hard to ignore the offensive explosion he’s put together in the AHL this year – we’re talking 46 points in 42 games from the blue line. That’s huge… which is exactly what Heed isn’t, as he weighs in at just 165 pounds on a 5-foot-11 frame. He has all the look of a career AHLer, but Heed also clearly can get things done on offense, so it’ll be interesting to track whether he can crack the lineup.
Joakim Ryan, D, SJ – Here’s another intriguing yet undersized blue-line prospect in the Sharks’ AHL ranks. Ryan got a brief call-up with no action last weekend, but his results with the Barracuda have been very impressive – the 23-year-old Cornell product has 34 points and a team-best plus-26 rating (eight ticks better than Heed’s) through 49 contests. A 2012 seventh-round pick, Ryan’s got a little more meat on his bones than Heed does, and that combined with his relative youth means the Sharks should give him a reasonable shot down the line.
Robbie Russo, D, DET – Ryan can look up to Russo as a model for how to progress through an organization; a product of Notre Dame, Russo’s a year older and is now up with the Red Wings, having skated in their last two games. He didn’t do much of note in that time, but Russo has certainly been noticeable with AHL Grand Rapids this year, putting together 31 points in 56 games; he managed 39 in 71 contests last year. The Red Wings are going nowhere fast this year, so they’re well served to give some new blood a shot, and Russo – a 2011 fourth-round pick by the Islanders -- is part of that.
Prospect of the Week
Jordan Kyrou, C, STL – A tender 18 years of age, Kyrou’s blossomed offensively with OHL Sarnia this season. Currently on an active 28-game point streak, he also leads the team in points with 90 – when the next-best scorer on your team has 54, you really know you’re doing something right. That total’s also good for fourth in the entire circuit, and if Kyrou falls well short of matching the lofty totals of Alex DeBrincat, well, we can forgive him. The native of Toronto was selected in the second round of the 2016 draft by the Blues after he showed signs of his talent floating to the surface in last season’s campaign, and he’s paying them off handsomely for their faith already, although he’s not likely to crack the NHL on a full-time basis until at least 2018-19.