As fall quickly turns to winter in Montreal, the lack of hockey on TV is becoming an issue. This hockey crazed market has a void that can only be filled by hockey so if the Habs aren’t playing, why not watch the next best thing; the prospects!
What better time to start this segment than during a week where Cole Caufield goes bonkers. The darling of Habs fans everywhere was named the Big 10’s First Star of the Week, scoring 4 goals in a series sweep of Penn State. This included a Hat Trick in the second of back to back games, improving the Badgers record to 4-2. Despite the fact that the Big 10 is the only league in play at the moment, the Wisconsin’s early season success has pushed the team into the National Rankings. Sitting at 15th in the Nation this week, the Badgers are a completely different team than the one that finished dead last in the 2019-20 season.
With Alex Turcotte (LA Kings 1st Rounder) leaving the team, Caufield has become the focal point and the expected offensive leader for his team. It took him a little longer to start scoring this year which was mildly concerning, but the goals were coming. As outlined in the preceding Twitter thread, Mitch Brown explains how, despite the lack of results, Caufield’s expected goals were actually up from his Rookie of the Year season. Ignoring the numbers for a second, Mitch more importantly highlights the improvements in the other aspects of Caufield’s game.
For those of you who would like to watch Caufield and the Wisconsin Badgers live, you can catch their games this weekend on RDS.
Quickly skipping across the Atlantic before jumping into the World Juniors, a few Habs names have been circulating in Europe. Mattias Norlinder may be ready to return to the ice this weekend. In a tweet from Patrik Bexell, Frolunda said that they were hopeful that Norlinder would be ready to go by November 28th. He has been out since suffering a bit of a freak shoulder injury at the Karjala Cup in a collision with Rodion Amirov. The rivalry starts early with these two!
The timing of his return to the line up would be crucial for his team as Frolunda still sits atop the Swedish Hockey League (SHL) standings. However the teams chasing them have a game or two in hand, then there’s Rogle who has five games in hand with only 6 points to make up. The real issue for this team is that they are coming off their worst loss of the season, falling 7-1 to basement dweller Brynas last Saturday. Watching the injury, the ease with which Norlinder’s shoulder popped out, is a major concern, so I hope that he is not rushed back to action just to keep top spot in the standings.
Crossing the border into neighbouring Finland, 2018 second rounder Jesse Ylonen is still struggling to get on the score sheet. Some Habs reporters like to aforementioned Patrik Bexell have mentioned that his game has improved, but it is getting harder to remain optimistic. The Habs signed Ylonen to his Entry Level Contract (ELC) in March so the team is ready to remain patient. A change on scenery to Laval cannot come soon enough.
Another former second round pick, Josh Brook (2017) is ready to make his debut this season after a rough start. Brook joined Krefeld Pinguine of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL), and now after clearing quarantine for having tested positive for COVID-19 is ready to play his first game. I really like the move to the DEL for Brook, who has yet to live up to draft day expectations.
Brook was a big, physical defenseman from an early age, and a big part of his game is dependant on him being the biggest and strongest player on the ice. It was apparent in his time in Laval that this style of play was being exposed, as Brook could no longer bully his way out of trouble. The DEL has produced an impressive amount of talent over the last couple of years, and Brook will have an opportunity to develop his skill set while getting more ice time that he did in Laval last year.
This next player is a great segway from Europe to the World Juniors as he will be playing in both. Jan Mysak has been playing on loan with HC Litvinov since the OHL season was postponed. While he has yet to score a point, I am very excited to see what he will do with the Czech Republic at the World Juniors.
A fellow Habs prospect, Jakub Dobes is off to a solid start as he makes his case to join Mysak and the Czechs in the Edmonton bubble. The Habs most recent fifth round pick is currently 3-1 for the Omaha Lancers (USHL) with a 1.61 GAA and .939 SV% (source: EliteProspects.com). My depth knowledge of Czech-born junior players has it’s limit, but I believe that Dobes should at least be in the conversation for this team.
The USHL is some of the very little hockey that is being played on the United States right now. This is beneficial for a number of Habs prospects, none more so than Sean Farrell. The Habs fourth round pick was named an Assistant Captain for the Chicago Steel to start the season and is off to a great start. Averaging 2 points per game, Farrell is making a strong case to join fellow Habs draftee Caufield on Team USA at the World Juniors.
As I mentioned in a previous article, the Canadiens have a number of prospects competing for a spot on Team USA. With Hockey East delaying the start of the season, Luke Tuch (’20 2nd) and Jayden Struble (’19 2nd) are both stuck watching from the sidelines. Struble has a better chance to make this team, but he is missing a far greater opportunity to get some meaningful minutes with Northeastern. I was looking forward to him continuing to skate beside team Captain and fellow Habs draft pick Jordan Harris (’18 3rd).
Unfortunately there is no update to provide for Guhle. Team Canada is currently under quarantine putting everything on pause for the moment. He is far from alone in this regard, but we hope that in a few weeks time we will have more updates to provide you with.
We continue with the hockey trend by bringing on Scott Matla, Senior Writer at Habs Eye on the Prize and Co-Host of the Locked on Habs podcast! Check out our latest episode of the Podcast as Peeze, Terry and Eagle talk Maradona, NFL and NBA!
We change things up a little bit this week on Weekly Sauce! Alex the Intern, Terry take a break from all the serious hard hitting facts and analysis to talk the lighter side of sports, athletes and alcohol. Terry even shares a personal story about a former Hab during a night out of the town!
Don’t forget to take advantage of our Promo Codes by visiting MikesBBQrubMTL.com with Promo Code HotSauce10 to get 10% orders on all individual bottles as well as ChettysHotSauce.ca and use HotSauce25 to get $25 off the entire site.