NHL Prospects

AHL Prospect Analysis (Central Division)

Jon Litterine   |  @JonLitterine  |  2/12/2021  |  [hupso]

NASHVILLE (The Draft Analyst) — The American Hockey League — the NHL’s premier development circuit — is beginning its season on Feb. 5 after an 11-month layoff due to the global pandemic. Twenty eight of the league’s 31 teams will participate, with three franchises — Springfield, Charlotte, and Milwaukee — opting to sit the season out due to health concerns.

Last season, the AHL was forced to shutdown on March 11 and was therefore no longer an option for NHL teams to stash their notable neophytes. The result was a mass exodus of players to European leagues, which resumed play last August.  Now that the AHL season is a go, training camps have begun in preparation for this week’s opener, meaning dozens of notable NHL prospects can converge on their team’s respective camp locations to allow the parent club visibility and oversight on their development.

Below is a season review and update on most of those aforementioned prospects, who have either not skated in an official hockey game at any level for 11 months, played in Europe, or are currently on an NHL roster. Each of the league’s four divisions from last season’s format will be covered.

Realignment for 2020-21

Atlantic North Canadian Central Pacific
Bridgeport (NYI) Binghamton (NJD) Belleville (OTT) Chicago (CAR/NAS) Bakersfield (EDM)
Hartford (NYR) Lehigh Valley (PHI) Laval (MTL) Cleveland (CBJ) Colorado (COL)
Providence (BOS) WB/Scranton (PIT) Manitoba (WIN) Grand Rapids (DET) Henderson (VGK)
Utica (VAN/STL) Stockton (CGY) Iowa (MIN) Ontario (LAK)
Rochester (BUF) Toronto (TOR) Rockford (CHI) Tucson (ARI)
Syracuse (TB/FLA) Texas (DAL) San Jose (SJS)
Hershey (WAS) San Diego (ANA)

Henderson (VGK)*

2020-21 Camp Roster

*Vegas switched affiliates from Chicago to Henderson, NV after the 2019-20 season. They will play in the Pacific Division in 2020-21

Lucas Elvenes (RW, 6-foot-1, 173 pounds, acquired: 5th Rd {127th overall} 2017): Elvenes was one of the biggest risers in the prospect world last season after posting 48 points in 59 games in his first AHL campaign. It was a significant, unexpected rise in production from a kid who was a former fifth rounder and never scored much as a pro in his native Sweden. The breakout appears sustainable in my eyes, but I’d like to see another strong season before I say I’m fully committed. Elevenes is picking up right where he left off as he registered two assists in his first two games for Henderson this season.

Nic Hague (D, 6-foot-6, 215 pounds, acquired: 2nd Rd {34th overall} 2017): Hague (pictured) began the season in the AHL, but he was essentially a regular for the Golden Knights in the later part of the season. In fact, Hague played just 21 AHL games in 2019-20 compared to 31 NHL contests. Hague was one of the OHL’s most productive two-way types during his initial prospect years and his ability to create offense has translated into both the AHL and now the NHL, where Hague is yet again a Vegas regular and notched four points (1 goal, 3 assists) in only six games through Feb. 8.

Jake Leschyshyn (C, 5-foot-11, 191 pounds, acquired: 2nd Rd {62nd overall} 2017): The son of former longtime NHL’er Curtis Leschyshyn, Jake is a smart player with limited physical gifts. He might carve out a career as a fourth-liner or an up-and-down guy, but last season he managed just four goals and eight points in 61 AHL games after five seasons in the WHL. Leschyshyn is off to a better start in 2020-21, notching a goal and an assist in his first two games.

Jonas Rondbjerg (RW, 6-foot, 176 pounds, acquired: 3rd Rd {65th overall} 2017): Rondbjerg was injured in Chicago’s first game of last season and never played again until last week’s opener nearly a year and a half later. He was an accomplished player for Vaxjo in the SHL and opened some eyes while playing for his native Denmark at all four of the under-20 world junior tournaments he was eligible for between 2016 and 2019. I always thought Rondbjerg was a bit of an underrated prospect, and he is off to a good start in 2020-21 with a goal in his first two games for Henderson.

Jimmy Schuldt (D, 6-foot-1, 185 pounds, acquired: undrafted free agent): Schuldt signed with Vegas as an undrafted free agent following four standout seasons at St. Cloud State. He was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award as college hockey’s top player in each of his final two years with the Huskies. He also was productive (21 points in 52 games) in his first season with Chicago and even registered an assist in his lone NHL appearance that same season. Schuldt might become an NHL regular but at age 25, it would behoove Vegas to find out sooner rather than later. His $700,00 cap hit is also attractive for a team that is constantly working near the upper limit of the salary cap. Schuldt hit the scorebooks with a goal and an assist in his first two games with Henderson.

Dylan Coghlan (D, 6-foot-2, 190 pounds, acquired: undrafted free agent): An undrafted free agent who starred with the WHL’s Tri-City Americans, Coghlan played each of the last two seasons with the Wolves and in that span scored more goals than any defensemen on his team. His AHL point production dropped from 40 in 66 games in 2018-19 to 24 in 60 last season, but that didn’t stop Vegas from giving him a long look in training camp this year and giving him three games of NHL action to build on. Coghlan is a very good skater and certainly leans more towards the offensive side of the ice, but his improved play off the puck has helped him earn some minutes for one of the top teams in the league.

Prospect to Watch

C Peyton Krebs

Krebs is a tough-as-nails center who continues to prove any doubters wrong my mixing sharp decision making with skill and a strong work ethic. He was a top-line center for the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice and was critical in Canada’s dominant performance at the last under-20 world junior championship. Krebs already is putting up points in Henderson, as he’s picked up a goal and three assists in his first two games. He can be a massive pest and pressure the puck relentlessly, but Krebs’ should not be confused for a grinder — he likely would have been a top-10 pick in the 2019 draft had he not hurt his knee.

RW Jack Dugan

It’s always a good sign when your fifth-round pick become the NCAA’s leading scorer in just his sophomore campaign. And that’s exactly what Dugan (10 goals, 42 assists in 34 games) accomplished for Providence College in 2019-20. Vegas wasted little time signing him to a professional contract once the college season was cancelled, and Dugan has already made an impact with Henderson, dishing out two assists in his first two matches. He has ridiculous hands and stickhandling ability, but he’s more of pass-first playmaker than a finisher.

Grand Rapids (DET)

2020-21 Camp Roster

Dennis Cholowski (D, 6-foot-2, 197 pounds, acquired: 1st Rd {20th overall} 2016): Cholowski has been around for seemingly ever despite the fact he’s only been in the Detroit system for two full seasons and is still just 22 years old. He’s proven to be an offensive asset at the NHL level, but his struggles defensively figure to limit him to a depth role for the Red Wings moving forward.

Michael Rasmussen (C, 6-foot-6, 230 pounds, acquired: 1st Rd {9th overall} 2017): Rasmussen (pictured) spent the vast majority of the 2018-19 season in Detroit, playing 62 games and posting eight goals and 18 points. Because of that, it’s not a great sign he spent the entirety of the 2019-20 campaign in Grand Rapids. Rasmussen’s production was fine (seven goals, 22 points in 35 games) for a kid who played the entire year at age 20 but his game hasn’t developed much the last couple seasons. Rasmussen is a massive kid who carves out space in the offensive zone with ease but you’re seeing less and less of those type of players as the years go by.

Moritz Seider (D, 6-foot-3, 209 pounds, acquired: 1st Rd {6th overall} 2019): Detroit President Steve Yzerman surprisingly popped Seider at No. 6 overall in 2019 and the early returns have been positive. Seider spent the entirety of this past season in the AHL despite being one of the youngest players in the league. He produced offensively (22 points in 49 games) and logged significant minutes. It was great for his development. Seider has the look of a two-way horse who can contribute to all facets of the game. I expect him to spend a good portion of the coming season in Detroit after a dominant performance with Rogle in the SHL.

Evgeni Svechnikov (LW, 6-foot-3, 208 pounds, acquired: 1st Rd {19th overall} 2015): Svechnikov played 51 games for the Griffins last season in addition to four with the Red Wings. His numbers (11 goals, 25 points) were irrelevant because he missed the entirety of the 2018-19 season due to injury. The fact Svechnikov came back healthy is all that matters. This is the year where we look for further improvements in his game.

Joe Veleno (C, 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, acquired: 1st Rd {30th overall} 2018): Veleno was in discussion to be a late lottery selection back in 2018 before tumbling all the way to the end of Round 1. Detroit appears to have gotten a steal, as Veleno has the look of a high-floor middle-six center who can contribute some offense while helping his team in all three zones. He’s another candidate for NHL time this coming season, but for now he’s the second-line center for a surging Malmo squad in the SHL, notching nine goals and six assists in 32 games.

Gustav Lindstrom (D, 6-foot-2, 190 pounds, acquired: 2nd Rd {38th overall} 2017): Lindstrom was another surprising high-round choice made by the Red Wings back in 2017, but he was one of Sweden’s better shutdown defenders who was available. His first season in North America didn’t yield impressive numbers (6 assists in 61 games between Detroit and Grand Rapids), but Lindstrom showed enough promise in spurts to give fans an inkling of what he might develop into once he reaches his prime. Lindstrom is a physical defender who rarely plays around with the puck and can be counted to kill penalties and help with lead holding late in periods.

Nico Sturm (C, 6-foot-3, 210 pounds, acquired: undrafted free agent): The Wild beat out countless other teams for the services of Sturm in the spring of 2019. Sturm raised his stock considerably following three productive seasons at Clarkson University. Sturm looked pretty good (32 points in 55 games) in his first AHL campaign but his long-term upside is severely limited. If he’s an NHL regular, it’s of the fourth line variety. He’s more likely an up-and-down guy. Of course, that’s a perfectly reasonable outcome for both parties given the fact Sturm cost nothing to acquire other than a contract spot.

Calen Addison (D, 5-foot-9, 170 pounds, acquired: Trade with Pittsburgh): One of the top power-play quarterbacks in Canadian major junior during his time with the WHL’s Lethbridge Hurricanes, Addison was Pittsburgh’s second-round pick (53rd overall) before they shipped him to the Twin Cities in the Jason Zucker deal. He spent all of last season in the WHL, posting 50 points or more for a third consecutive campaign. He’ll probably have to work harder on his defensive-zone efforts to improve his chances at an NHL gig, but his first full AHL season should provide Addison with plenty of opportunities to showcase his skating and playmaking.

Will Bitten (C, 5-foot-9, 170 pounds, acquired: Trade with Montreal): A speedy two-way center who was drafted 70th overall by Montreal in 2016, Bitten was later moved to Minnesota over two years ago for defense prospect Gustav Olofsson. He’s been a solid worker bee for Iowa, posting consecutive 20-point seasons for head coach Tim Army and serving as more of an energy type. Bitten has yet to make his NHL debut, but he made the taxi squad and might get a long enough look to show how valuable his penalty killing and motor can be for any team at any level.

Dmitri Sokolov (RW, 6-foot, 216 pounds, acquired: 7th Rd {196th overall} 2016): Sokolov is a former 50-goal scorer in the OHL who makes up for below-average skating with an outstanding shot-release combination. This marks his third AHL season with Iowa and he’s already posted respectable campaigns of 16 and 15 tallies. With two goals and an assist in his first three games this season, Sokolov is once again showing that he was worthy of being drafted and should continue to find ways to bury the puck.

Connor Dewar (RW, 5-foot-9, 170 pounds, acquired: Trade with Pittsburgh): Dewar is a two-way type with good speed who can impact a shift off the puck with heavy forecheck pressure and smart defensive-zone coverage. He played within a tight-checking system for the WHL’s Everett Silvertips for four full seasons, but it wasn’t until his last two where he developed into a legitimate scoring threat and playmaker. Dewar was their leading scorer in 2018-19 (81 points in 59 games) and also proved to be clutch in the postseason. His first season with Iowa was more of a learning experience than anything else, as he picked up six goals and 13 assists in 52 games while operating in the bottom six. Much like Sokolov, Dewar is off to a quick start in 2020-21, posting two goals and two assists in his first three games.

Prospects to Watch

RW Adam Beckman

Beckman was the WHL’s leading scorer just one season after the Wild drafted him 75th overall in 2019. He tallied a league-best 48 goals — 16 on the power play and nine game winners — and his 107 points was the most by a Spokane Chief in six years. He’ll have to work his tail off to get prime minutes on a team already loaded with strength on the flanks, but few AHL prospects are as deadly as Beckman from in between the hash marks.

LHD Daemon Hunt

Hunt is a promising two-way defender for several reasons, and at one point he was considered a strong candidate for Round 1. His scary skate-cut injury notwithstanding, Hunt’s draft year was pretty solid for the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors and he played the role of No. 1 quite well. He’s a fluid skater who can go end to end and also quarterbacks the power play, but he’ll likely spend this season as middle or bottom-pairing understudy with Addison running the unit during the man advantage.

LHD Ryan O’Rourke

O’Rourke’s overall game is clean as a whistle, as was evident in the way he helped stabilize a leaky Sault Ste Marie defense corps in the high-flying OHL. He is a complete three-zone defender who quickly switches from shutdown responsibilities to puck rushing. There was legitimate reason to think he was going to go in the first round, and for what it’s worth, O’Rourke is the first North American-trained rearguard the Wild drafted in either of the first two rounds since taking Matt Dumba 12th overall in 2012.

Manitoba (WIN)

2020-21 Camp Roster

Mikhail Berdin (G, 6-foot-2, 184 pounds, acquired: 6th Rd {157th overall} 2016): Berdin has played 65 AHL games over the course of the past two years, posting a 2.70 GAA and .916 save percentage. He could see some backup duty for the Jets at some point but he’s most likely the primary starter for their AHL affiliate. Berdin made the Jets’ taxi squad after former Manitoba starter Eric Comrie was claimed in waivers by New Jersey

Leon Gawanke (D, 6-foot-1, 198 pounds, acquired: 5th Rd {136th overall} 2017): Gawanke is a German puck rusher who has out up a fair amount of points from the back end regardless of the league he played in. Last season, Gawanke was one of the AHL’s top-scoring 21-and-under defensemen thanks to a 4-goal, 22-assist effort over 48 games. He went back to The Fatherland during the offseason to play for the famed Eisbaren Berlin program, recording two assists in six games before he returned to North America for camp. He should be their primary power-play quarterback this season.

David Gustafsson (C, 6-foot-2, 196 pounds, acquired: 2nd Rd {60th overall} 2018): Gustafsson had a nice year a season ago. He got into 22 games with Winnipeg (1 goal) in addition to 13 games with Manitoba (2 goals, 5 assists). Additionally, Gustafsson served as an assistant captain for Sweden at the World Juniors. He’s a smart, physically mature player who tends to keep things simple offensively but excels in a defensive role, to include the penalty kill. I like his chances of developing into a bottom-six regular, and he’s already appeared in four games for the Jets in 2020-21.

Logan Stanley (D, 6-foot-7, 242 pounds, acquired: 1st Rd {18th overall} 2016): The Stanley pick – while well intentioned – once appeared to be doomed from the very start. There are very few players Stanley’s size who develop into productive NHL players and his value comes in the defensive zone. Luckilly for him, the Jets last season were one of the league’s worst at suppressing high-danger chances, which is why it makes sense that Stanley not only made the team out of training camp, but has appeared in 12 of their 13 games. he doesn’t see much ice time (11:55 through Thursday) and has yet to register a point, but the young man deserves credit for turning a decent AHL career into an everyday NHL job.

Kristian Vesalainen (LW, 6-foot-4, 218 pounds, acquired: 1st Rd {24th overall} 2017): I’ve been a Vesalainen supporters for quite a while. While I wouldn’t say he had a standout 2019-20 AHL campaign (12 goals, 30 points in 60 games), I thought he made some positive strides. Vesalainen is plenty big and plenty skilled and those type of players are difficult to find. He should have trade value if the Jets decide they have seen enough. Through Thursday, Vesalainen has appeared in 10 NHL games over the last two seasons  with one assist to his credit.

Prospects to Watch

LHD Declan Chisholm

Chisholm is a mobile playmaker from the blue line with good size and impressive playmaking skills, Chisholm’s fourth full season in the OHL was his best, as he led all Peterborough Petes defensemen in scoring with 13 goals and 56 assists in 59 games. He owns a cannon of a shot but his ability to deliver passes right into his forwards’ wheelhouse makes him an even bigger threat during the power play. Chisholm, who was taken by the Jets in the fifth round of the 2018 draft, signed his entry-level deal after last season and was sent to the AHL affiliate after training camp.

Milwaukee (NAS)*

2020-21 Camp Roster

Milwaukee has opted out of the 2020-21 season. Nashville’s prospects will play with the Chicago Wolves.

Jeremy Davies (D, 5-foot-11, 187 pounds, acquired: trade with New Jersey): Davies was acquired from the Devils in the P.K. Subban trade. He doesn’t possess any dynamic physical traits but he’s a smart player and solid puck-mover who spent most of his time at Northeastern as their power-play quarterback. I could see him as a sixth or seventh defenseman for an NHL club but for now he should be talented enough to share top-four minutes with Chicago’s deep combined roster. Last year, the 24-year-old Quebec native had four goals and 24 assists for the Admirals, which under Davies’ watch operated the AHL’s second-best power play.

Connor Ingram (G, 6-foot-1, 200 pounds, acquired: trade with Tampa Bay): Ingram was hands down one of the best goaltenders in the AHL last season, posting a 21-5-6 record along with a 1.92 GAA and .933 save percentage for the Admirals. It was quite a bounce back for a guy who spent a good portion of the 2018-19 season in the ECHL. I could see Ingram as the long-term backup to Juuse Saros if Pekka Rinne retires when his contract expires following this coming season. Ingram’s 2020-21 campaign, however, has yet to take off. He spent the offseason in Sweden with Bjorkloven of the Allsvenskan, posting a 5-4-0 mark and .898 save percentage. In gram is now in the NHL’s Player Assistance program for personal reasons and is unavailable until further notice.

Rem Pitlick (C, 5-foot-11, 202 pounds, acquired: 3rd Rd {76th overall} 2016): Pitlick was one of the AHL’s more productive rookies this past season, finishing with 20 goals in 63 games. He’s not particularly quick and I’m not convinced he will be able to generate consistent offense at the NHL level but he’s a legitimate prospect worthy of a look or two this season. Pitlick is once again playing like a difference maker, scoring three goals in his first three games for the Chicago Wolves.

Eeli Tolvanen (LW, 5-foot-11, 181 pounds, acquired: 1st Rd {30th overall} 2017): Tolvanen (pictured) was a top-five prospect in the league a couple years ago, only to see his stock totally crater as he bounced around from league to league. He’s a pure sniper, plain and simple — Tolvanen is an elite goal scorer with a blistering shot. The knocks on him have varied from skating to defensive play, but Tolvanen when engaged can be an effective player both on and off the puck. He dominated the KHL the year after he was drafted and scored 36 goals in 121 games since joining Milwaukee. Last season was Tolvanen’s first taste of the NHL, scoring a goal in four games. He played for Jokerit in his native Finland during the offseason (5 goals and 13 points in 25 games) and is once again back with the Predators with a goal in four additional matches.

Frederic Allard (D, 6-foot-1, 189 pounds, acquired: 3rd Rd {78th overall} 2016): Much like most of Nashville’s defense prospects, Allard has been stuck behind a significant logjam and has therefore been forced to spend three full seasons with Milwaukee, where he’s averaged close to 25 points per campaign. He had a stellar career with the QMJHL’s Chicoutimi Sagueneens, finishing as one of the league’s top scoring defensemen in each of his last two seasons. It’s doubtful Allard will play in North America in 2020-21, however, as he currently is on loan to Austria’s EC VSV, where Allard has recorded four goals and nine assists in 25 games.

Prospects to Watch

C/W Phil Tomasino

The speedy Tomasino was one of Team Canada’s better forwards at the recent under-20 world junior hockey championship and is the most promising forward in Nashville’s farm system. He as drafted 24th overall in the 2019 draft after an excellent season with the OHL’s Niagara Ice Dogs. He was traded to Oshawa midway through the season and still finished with a combined 40 goals and 100 points prior to the shutdown. Tomasino, who can play center or wing, was one of Nashville’s top players at their 2019 prospect tournament and is off to a fast start with Chicago, scoring two goals and adding three assists in only four games.

Rockford (CHI)

2020-21 Camp Roster

Collin Delia (G, 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, acquired: undrafted free agent): Delia was signed as an undrafted free agent in the summer of 2017 following three seasons at Merrimack College. Delia was forced into action for 16 games with the Blackhawks this past season. His record was somehow above .500 (6-4-3) but the underlying numbers (3.61 GAA, .908 save percentage) weren’t as pretty. Delia seems likely to play NHL games again this coming season, but little should be expected.

Mackenzie Entwistle (RW, 6-foot-3, 193 pounds, acquired: trade with Arizona): Entwistle has plenty of size and at least above-average skill but his lack of foot speed figures to torpedo any chance he has of playing NHL games. In many ways, he reminds me of former Arizona/Edmonton prospect Henrik Samuelsson. It’s a shame, cause Entwistle is quite a good player otherwise. He posted 11 goals and 26 points in 56 games in his first AHL campaign.

Chad Krys (D, 6-foot, 185 pounds, acquired: 2nd Rd {45th overall} 2016): Krys was all over the place during his three seasons at Boston University. At times he looked like a sure-fire NHL regular and others like a non-prospect. The early AHL returns weren’t great, as Krys posted just eight points in 41 games last season. He has time but needs to show improvement this coming season.

Kevin Lankinen (G, 6-foot-2, 190 pounds, acquired: undrafted free agent): Lankinen was an AHL All-Star last season, although his numbers (8-10-3, 3.03 GAA, .909 save percentage) certainly don’t mirror that. Lankinen was productive enough in his native Finland that I think there is hope for him in the right situation, but I can’t imagine standing behind Chicago’s poor defensive corps is a recipe for success. I do think he’s a bit better long-term bet than Delia. Both should battle for playing time this season.

Philipp Kurashev (C, 6-foot, 190 pounds, acquired: 4th Rd {120th overall} 2018): Kurashev really put himself on the map following a standout performance for his native Switzerland at the 2018 World Juniors. He spent the entirety of last season in the AHL as a 20-year-old and was productive enough (19 points in 36 games) for consideration for an NHL job this season. Injuries to several expected starters certainly helped Kurashev’s case, but he has developed into a Blackhawks’ regular through the first quarter of the season.

Tim Soderlund (LW, 5-foot-9, 163 pounds, acquired: 4th Rd {112th overall} 2017): Soderlund has enough speed and smarts to fill a depth role but it’s difficult to see him succeeding there given how tiny he is. Players of Soderlund’s size generally need to have some dynamic offensive qualities in order to succeed at the NHL level. Think Johnny Gaudreau.

Prospects to Watch

C Evan Barratt

Barratt was a top scorer for Penn State in each of his last two seasons before he signed his pro deal after his junior year. The Bristol, PA native was drafted in the third round (90th overall) in the 2017 NHL draft after two successful seasons at the U.S. National Team Development Program. He is excellent around the net but has sharp vision that allows him to play the role of playmaker as well. Barratt is strong on his skates and is versatile enough to play center or wing. He has recorded one assist in his first two games with Rockford.

LW Andrei Altybarmakyan

Altybarmakyan was one of Russia’s notable neophytes who played in the adult-age KHL and even was invited to the league 2017 All-Star Game, where he scored the game-winning goal. He’s a powerful skater with a low center of gravity who can dip into a deep bag of tricks to create time and space. Drafted 70th overall in the 2017 NHL draft, Altybarmakyan will be playing in a North American league for the first time, but he already has one assist in his first two games.

LW Michal Teply

Teply is a thick-framed winger who was one of the Czech Republic’s more consistent forwards at the last under-20 world junior hockey championship. A fourth-round pick (109th overall) in 2019, Teply spent all of last season with the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice, notching 29 goals and 34 assists in 53 games. Teply has deceptive quickness for his size and can wire the puck with authority.

RHD Alec Regula

Regula is a big-bodied puck mover with a strong reputation in North American hockey circles for several reasons, namely for the way he dominated the Ontario Hockey League a season ago. A native Michigander, Regula was one of the top goal-scoring defensemen in all of Canadian major junior, potting a whopping 27 markers in only 56 games for Dale Hunter’s London Knights. He originally was drafted by Detroit (67th overall in 2018) but was later moved to Chicago in a one-for-one swap for forward Brandon Perlini.

RHD Michal Krutil

Much like his fellow countryman Teply, Krutil also was a fourth-round pick of Chicago, albeit a year later at the 2020 draft.  A mobile two-way defenseman with leadership qualities who can log a ton of minutes, Krutil was the go-to guy for both the Czechs at the under-18 level and for his Sparta Praha U20 club team in the top Czech junior league. Krutil is big, strong, mobile, and versatile, as he was used in every situation to include the primary quarterback on the power play.

San Antonio (STL)*

2020-21 Camp Roster

*San Antonio opted out of the 2020-21 season. St. Louis and Vancouver each have their prospects with Utica.

Ville Husso (G, 6-foot-2, 205 pounds, acquired: 4th Rd {94th overall} 2014): This will be Husso’s fifth season in North America and he finally secured a job in the NHL as Jordan Binnington’s backup. There certainly have been plenty of ups and downs along the way, but Husso’s numbers in the AHL last season — 2.56 goals against average, .909 save percentage, and four shutouts — proved to be enough for the Blues to trade Jake Allen to Montreal in the offseason. The decision hasn’t bore the desired results, however, as Husso has posted a 1-2-0 mark and paltry .870 save percentage in his first four NHL appearances.

Klim Kostin (RW, 6-foot-3, 212 pounds, acquired: 1st Rd {31st overall} 2017): Kostin (pictured) was a highly-regarded draft prospect coming out of Russia in 2017 but opted for the less-conventional route by skipping the KHL to serve as an understudy in the AHL. He improved in each of his last two seasons with San Antonio, and last season was one of their top players, scoring 13 goals and adding 17 assists in 48 games. That was enough for the Blues to give him a four-game look, and the bruising power winger even scored his first NHL goal. Kostin finally got his chance to play in the KHL following the shutdown, however, and it looks like he’ll remain there until his season is complete. Through Thursday, Kostin has 17 points (6 goals, 11 assists) in 38 games for Omsk but has been red hot of late.

Prospects to Watch

LHD Tyler Tucker

Tucker is a physical two-way defenseman who can deliver massive hits and hammer the puck with authority. He was drafted in the seventh round in 2018 but since that time had established himself as one of the OHL’s most feared blueliners. He was a team leader for the Barrie Colts and last season was traded to Flint, where he finished the season with 17 goals and 56 points. It might take him a season or two to find his offense as a rookie AHL’er, but Tucker isn’t the type to get intimidated or humbled by his surroundings. Look for him to make statement hits early into his rookie season.

Texas (DAL)

2020-21 Camp Roster

Joel Kiviranta (LW, 5-foot-10, 176 pounds, acquired: undrafted free agent): Kiviranta introduced himself on the world stage with his stellar playoff performance (five goals in 14 games) for Dallas but he played reasonably well (12 goals, 23 points in 48 games) for the duration of his first AHL campaign. His long-term role is probably that of a solid third liner who can contribute a dozen goals a season.

Adam Mascherin (LW, 5-foot-10, 205 pounds, acquired: 4th Rd {100th overall} 2018): Mascherin was originally the 38th overall pick by Florida back in 2016 but he didn’t sign with the team and re-entered the 2018 draft. Mascherin is a thick, stocky kid with a big shot, but again, his foot speed is in question and his path to effectiveness at the NHL level would appear to be rather limited. Mascherin scored just four goals in 30 AHL games last season but should be leaned on as a team leader in 2020-21.

Jake Oettinger (G, 6-foot-5, 205 pounds, acquired: 1st Rd {26th overall} 2017): The numbers have always showed it, but Oettinger has played well in his three-plus years in the Dallas organization. He’s big, calm in net, and athletic and those are traits that generally lead to success among goaltenders. Oettinger was slated to serve as Anton Khudobin’s backup with Ben Bishop out due to injury, but he already has appeared in five games with an impressive 2-0-2 mark, stellar 2.19 goals-against average, and a .919 save percentage.

Jason Robertson (LW, 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, acquired: 2nd Rd {39th overall} 2017): Robertson would be a top-25 prospect were it not for the concerns regarding his skating. He elevated many of those worries by posting 25 goals and 47 points in 60 games in his first AHL campaign. Robertson is a cerebral offensive player with elite hockey sense. He’s going to do a ton of damage for Dallas with the man advantage.

Riley Tufte (LW, 6-foot-6, 230 pounds, acquired: 1st Rd {25th overall} 2016): Tufte played so poorly during his three years at Minnesota-Duluth that he may not have deserved an entry-level deal based upon merit. Of course, there was never any doubt he was getting a contract offer after Dallas blew a first rounder on him in 2016. Tufte has plenty of size and some physical gifts but I simply don’t think he’s a very good hockey player. His numbers during his first AHL season (three goals, 15 points in 53 games) were not inspiring. I’m out here barring something unforeseen changing.

Prospects to Watch

LHD Thomas Harley

A smooth-skating puck mover with quintessential power-play quarterbacking skills, Harley placed in the top 10 among OHL defensemen in every major category and suited up for Team Canada at the last world junior tournament, where he posted only one goal in seven games. Far from a shutdown type, Harley isn’t very demonstrative on the ice but seems to let his puck skills and wheels do most of the talking. Harley has all the makings of yet another point-producing machine off the blue line who was drafted and developed by Dallas.

LW Antonio Stranges

Stranges once was considered a potential first-round pick in the 2020 draft before he ultimately slid down to Round 4, and it’s probably because he never got going in Dale Hunter’s high-octane attack with the OHL’s London Knights. But there is no denying Stranges’ puck skills and vision, and his ability to use his “Mohawk” skating technique should continue to help him create time and space for himself regardless of the level or quality of competition. Texas doesn’t need him to be a dynamic offensive force just yet, so look for Stranges to make improvements off the puck and in the defensive zone.

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