PROSPECT UPDATE: Tambellini Dominating WHL ; Duclair Picking Up Where He Left Off
Though Anthony Duclair and Pavel Buchnevich get the spotlight from the 2013 draft, Adam Tambellini is also making a name for himself in the WHL. Plus other Rangers' prospect notes.
When I ranked Adam Tambellini 18th in my midseason prospect rankings he had 29 goals and 52 points through 45 games. Those are good numbers! Apparently, they weren't good enough, because since then Tambellini has taken his game to a ridiculous level. In his last six games, Adam Tambellini has 11 goals and three assists for the Calgary Hitmen. Last night he scored two against the reigning Memorial Cup Champion Edmonton Oil Kings, including this breakaway.
Tambellini scoring is great, obviously, but the way in which he is scoring is particularly pleasing. Whereas last season he relied almost solely on power play production, only three of those 11 goals were on the power play. While power play production is obviously a plus, players who struggle at 5v5 in juniors rarely translate into NHLers. I also like that Tambellini is becoming much less of a perimeter player. That breakaway goal shows that his speed has become a lot better. Here's a goal he scored against Swift Current.
Clearly, that's not great goaltending. It's the principle of the goal, though. Tambellini uses his size to power past the defender with the puck and drives to the net. Though Tambellini can snipe with the best of them, being able to score in a variety of ways, as Rick Nash is showing this season, can go a long way. Tambellini is now third in the WHL in scoring and eighth in total points. Yes, he is an overager, but the point of guys playing in juniors at 20 is to prove that they can dominate that level. Adam Tambellini is absolutely doing that. I wasn't totally convinced that Tambellini would earn a contract from the Rangers going into the season, but there's no doubt now that he'll be receiving that offer soon. He has nothing left to prove in juniors.
It's been a while since I spoke about Anthony Duclair. We've seen Duclair hold his own in the NHL as a 19-year-old rookie, and we saw him prosper at the World Junior Championships. Thus, the QMJHL is not exactly a big challenge for him, so it's not really worth analyzing on a micro level. Upon returning to Quebec, Duclair struggled a bit; this is common for players like Duclair. He spent a lot of time in the NHL, and was coming off the high of the WJC. It often takes players a few games to adjust their mindset. Duclair had "only" one goal and three assists through his first five games. The puck was jumping on his stick, and he didn't seem to have chemistry with his linemates yet. He's picked it up over the last few games, though. Last night he scored twice and added two assists. Here was the better of the two goals.
In other Quebec Remparts news, Ryan Graves still can not stop scoring. Last night he put this one in on the power play.
This one wasn't even a slap shot. He's just genuinely good at putting the puck on net. High and to the right corner seems to be his preference. Graves also scored in Quebec's outdoor game on January 24th. This one was his typical bomb from the around blue line.
Graves now has 10 goals and 12 assists through 32 games. Playing on a great team like Quebec definitely plays a role in those stats, and there's probably some PDO luck involved, but it's no longer a nice streak; Graves has been consistently producing offense the entire season.
Another QMJHL defenseman putting pucks in the net recently is Daniel Walcott. As well as Walcott has played this season, he was struggling to score, with only one goal in a 30-game span dating back to October 19th. He has three goals in his last five games, though, and nine points in his last seven games. Here was a crucial game-tying goal with the goaltender pulled against Sherbrooke on Friday.
Walcott is the opposite of Graves in that his shot is totally nondescript, but he does a good job of skating around in the offensive zone to find good lanes to receive passes. He also does a great job of getting pucks on net, as seen with that shot. Not much mustard on it, but he recognized the bodies in front and made sure to get it through them.
Steve Fogarty scored twice (one an empty netter) against New Hampshire yesterday. The junior now has 16 points in 28 games.
Brady Skjei had two assists in a crazy 7-5 win for Minnesota over Wisconsin on Friday. Both assists came in the form of shots that teammates put in on the rebound. He was also rock solid defensively. Skjei's PPG is right in line with McDonagh's as a junior, and my stance remains that Skjei is, if not already NHL-ready, then very, very close.
Richard Nejezchleb scored twice last night in a Tr-City shootout loss to Victoria. But I'm going to show you this assist from January 24th against the Seattle Thunderbirds. For some reason I can't get it to upload, so you can view it here. Plays like these are why I'm confident he'll be signed to a contract by the summer.
The Hartford Wolf Pack won on both Friday and Saturday. Friday's game against Bridgeport was a crazy 8-6 win with awful goaltending and lots of great offensive plays. Last night was a more conservative 3-1 win over the Springfield Falcons. Danny Kristo scored three goals in the two games and for the first time in a while was a go-to offensive player. However, I can't get this defensive play out of my head.
Oscar Lindberg had three points over the two games. He now has 16 points in his last 19 games and is begging for a call-up to the Rangers.
Pavel Buchnevich scored on a penalty shot Friday and added an assist in that game. He also had an assist today, bringing his point total to 26 in 40 games. Only Evgeny Kuznetsov of the Capitals has ever produced more in a KHL season at 19 years old. Here's the penalty shot goal.