11 Thoughts is a weekly Hurricanes prospect-centered article that discusses Canes prospects, their performances, who stood out, and who could be poised for a big week.
- Ryan Suzuki had a solid weekend with four primary points in three games. Suzuki is averaging over a point per game and is on pace for over 60 assists this season. He’s had a great start for a Barrie team that’s fairly average.
- I thought that Domenick Fensore had a very tough game against Northern Michigan on October 18, but I saw him rebound in a fantastic way the next night. Fensore was on the ice for three of Northern Michigan’s four goals on Friday and seemed like he was getting lost a bit in the defensive end. On Saturday, Fensore had two primary assists and was a big part of the Terriers’ offense despite a 4-3 loss. His second assist of the game was impressive. Fensore pushes the play and forces a NMU forward to turn the puck over while trying to start a breakout. Fensore picks up the puck, gains a bit of separation, and shoots the puck. Patrick Curry tipped the puck in, giving Fensore his second primary assist of the night. BU is a very young team this year, so I expect the team to struggle a bit. Seeing Fensore play well in two out of three games has been encouraging.
- Blake Murray seems to be hitting a bit of a slump. After a torrid month of September, Murray has cooled down a bit, with just three points in his last five games He’s been taken off of the first line, but I’d imagine that we’ll see him back on the top line soon enough. Murray has a lot of offensive skills and is on pace for a 60+ point season. Murray has eight assists in his first 13 games, so he’s on pace to crush his career high in assists (20 in 66 games) that he set last season. That’s encouraging for a sixth round pick.
- The Charlotte Checkers laid an egg against Utica, losing 8-2. The Checkers, as they have done all season, followed up a loss with a big win, winning 7-3 against Syracuse. Chase Priskie scored his first professional goal against Syracuse with a laser from the point, which helped him record four points for his first multi-point game in the AHL. Nick Niedzielski, the Checkers’ Director of Communications, tweeted that Priskie is the sixth Checkers rookie to score four points in a game and the second defenseman to do so. Priskie has been outstanding for the Checkers so far this season, with seven points in six games. Priskie is showing the Hurricanes’ staff that he’s more than capable of producing at the AHL level and that he’s not just a power play specialist. We still need to see Priskie take a few steps forward defensively, but he’s close to being NHL ready.
- Another positive for the Checkers has been Eetu Luostarinen. He had another two goal weekend and his goal streak sits at four games. The second line center for the Checkers has been seeing some time on the penalty kill and managed to score a shorthanded goal against Syracuse. Luostarinen does a lot of little things right and has been one of Charlotte’s better forwards thus far. The AHL game sheet says that Luostarinen had five shots on goal against Syracuse. Quality is obviously going to be better than quantity down the stretch, but you can’t argue with four goals in your first six North American games.
- Brian Gibbons has been an excellent addition to Charlotte’s roster. The veteran has eight points in six games after a four point game against Syracuse.
- Two players that may appear to have had slow starts are Dominik Bokk and Patrik Puistola. Both players are currently playing in bottom six roles for the top teams in their leagues. Puistola is battling against a coach that is reluctant to play younger players, so it’s going to be tough for him to see a lot of ice time this season. Bokk struggled out of the gate and was demoted to the bottom six, but has still seen some success as of late. Patience might be the key with both of these players, especially since they’re playing on the top teams in their respective leagues. Bokk averages just under 13 minutes per game, but that number has been getting smaller and smaller. Puistola averages 8:23 of ice time per game.
- Patrik Puistola had two assists in a Champions Hockey League game this past week. He was given a top nine role in that game and miraculously did well. It’s crazy what happens when you actually give your talented young players a chance to succeed as opposed to burying them on the fourth line.
- Jamieson Rees has been outstanding for Sarnia after returning from a six game suspension. Rees had three points against Barrie in his return to the lineup and followed that up with a four point effort against Oshawa, the top team in the CHL. On Sunday, Jamieson Rees added another three points, giving him ten points in three games after returning from his suspension. Rees is a key part of the Sting and absolutely must stay healthy and out of suspension trouble if the Sting are to succeed this season. Sarnia had zero wins in seven games before Rees made his return. They have three straight wins, two of which came against some top teams in the OHL. They’re a completely different team with him in the lineup.
- Kirill Slepets has twelve points in sixteen VHL games this season, which is quite impressive considering the fact that he hasn’t played against men for very long. With Lokomotiv being as bad as they have been this season, I wouldn’t be surprised if they called up Slepets at some point this season. His speed and goal scoring talents would come in handy for a team that’s desperate for some wins.
- Pyotr Kochetkov getting traded to Vityaz is for the best. SKA has three goalies ahead of him on the roster, and with Askarov looking like one of the best goalie prospects in recent memory, it was going to be very tough for Kochetkov to see a whole lot of ice time. He’ll be Vityaz’s backup and likely play in a handful of games this season. He’s playing with Alexander Semin, so that’s fun.
Alex Lintuniemi and Kyle Wood have both played in two games this season. Jacob Pritchard has played in four. These three players are all on NHL contracts and have been outplayed by some of the guys on AHL deals. It’s good to have roster competition, but I’d like to see Pritchard playing more often.
Luke Henman has ten points in twelve games. His production may seem a little weak, but remember that his team is still very much in rebuild mode and has struggled to score at times this season. Despite his “low” point totals, Henman still leads the team in points. I fully expect Henman to get traded to a contender at some point this year. He seems more confident in his offensive abilities this season and has been more of a consistent factor in Blainville-Boisbriand’s offense. That’s a good sign of things to come.
What to Watch
Sarnia at Peterborough, October 24 @ 7 PM
Pelicans vs Assat, October 25 @ 11:30 AM
Lehigh Valley at Charlotte, October 25 @ 7 PM
Boston College vs Providence, October 25 @ 7 PM
Blainville-Boisbriand at Baie-Comeau, October 26 @ 7:30 PM
Thank you for reading! Be sure to follow @CanesProspects on twitter in order to stay up to date on Hurricanes prospects!