The Dallas Stars have signed a prospect to an entry-level deal, the Buffalo Sabres and Ottawa Senators have each loaned a top prospect overseas for the start of the 2020-21 season, and we take a look at a player who many have pegged as a potential steal for our Prospect of the Day.
Stars Sign Shea to Entry-Level Deal
The Stars announced that they have signed defenseman Ryan Shea to a two-year, entry-level deal. The native of Milton, Massachusetts was originally selected by the Blackhawks in the fourth round, 121st overall in the 2015 NHL Draft.
Shea spent this past season playing for Northeastern University in the NCAA where he managed to score 5 goals and added 26 assists for 31 points in 34 games. Over the course of his four-year collegiate career, he managed to score 10 goals and added 68 assists for 78 points in 149 games.
Shea has the chance to make an impact on the Stars blue line in the near future. He is a great puck mover and I could see him getting some time on the power play when he breaks into the lineup. He is a great skater and loves to jump into the rush as a fourth option. His experience playing in the NCAA has helped him immensely and he will be exciting to watch.
Senators Loan Top Prospect Thomson to Finland
The Senators announced that they have loaned defenseman Lassi Thomson to Ilves of the Liiga. He was originally drafted by Ottawa at 19th overall in the 2019 NHL Draft.
Thomson also spent this past season playing for Ilves, where he managed to score seven goals and added six assists for 13 points in 39 games. He also represented his country of Finland internationally, where he scored two goals and added seven assists for nine points in 21 games.
Thomson is a very exciting prospect in the Senators organization. He has great vision with the puck on his stick and loves to set his teammates up around the net. Given time and space, he can also unleash a heavy shot without any warning and will often make opponents pay. I expect him to start off in the AHL but it won’t be long before he gets an NHL shot.
Sabres Loan Finnish Prospect Luukkonen Overseas
The Sabres announced that they have loaned goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen to TPS of the Liiga for the start of the 2020-21 season. He was originally drafted by Buffalo in the second round, 54th overall in the 2017 NHL Draft.
Luukkonen spent this past season playing for the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League (AHL) and the Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL. In 10 games with the Americans, he managed to put together a record of 3-4-3 to go along with a 3.15 goals against average (GAA) and a .874 save percentage (SV%). In 23 games with the Cyclones, he assembled a record of 12-7-3 to go along with a 2.24 GAA and a .912 SV%.
Luukkonen had a rough start to his first pro season with the Americans but managed to find his game when he was assigned to the Cyclones. The Sabres will have to be patient with his development but he has great size, standing at 6-foot-4, and moves effortlessly in his crease. He is a great goaltending prospect and looks to be the goalie of the future for the Sabres.
Prospect of the Day – Marat Khusnutdinov
For our Prospect of the Day, we will be taking a look at Russian center Marat Khusnutdinov who proved he was a player to be reckoned with this past season. Currently ranked 12th amongst European skaters by NHL Central Scouting, Khusnutdinov has the chance to hear his name called early come draft day.
Khusnutdinov spent this past season playing for SKA-1946 St. Petersburg of the MHL where he managed to score 13 goals and added 25 assists for 38 points in 44 games. He also represented his country internationally where he scored one goal and added four assists for five points in 15 games.
THW’s very own Josh Bell thinks Khusnutdinov could develop into a second-line forward at the NHL level.
“With Khusnutdiov’s compete level and strong skating, it’s not out of the question to see him as a second-line forward in the NHL. A middle-six projection might be a bit more accurate, but where ever he plays, you can bet that he’ll be setting up goals with regularity. He’ll be a couple of years away, but he’ll be worth the wait.”
Khusnutdinov could be a very good player down the line. As mentioned by Josh above, Khusnutdinov is a couple of years away from the NHL but he will most likely be worth the wait for the team that calls his name on draft day.