Prospects News & Rumors: Denisenko, Dugan, Bordeleau & More

It has been a busy couple of days for National Hockey League teams when it comes to their prospects. There have been some entry-level contracts signed as well as the continuation of a successful ECHL partnership. Also, there was some bad news for American-born players looking to hit the ice later this month. Finally, our Prospect of the Day has the tools to be another “undersized” star in the NHL.

Prospects Inked to Deals

While the players of the 24 teams participating in the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs are preparing to get back to game action, their front offices have been busy looking beyond this postseason run. Both the Florida Panthers and Vegas Golden Knights signed recent draft picks in the past couple of days.

On Wednesday, the Panthers signed forward Grigori Denisenko to a three-year, entry-level contract. The Russian-born talent was originally drafted by Florida in the first round (15th overall) of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft.

Denisenko spent the 2019-20 season with Yaroslavl Lokomotiv of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). In regular-season 38 games, he scored six goals and 12 points while adding a goal in six playoff games. He was the captain for Russia’s 2020 World Junior Championship (WJC) team, helping them to a silver medal with three goals and nine points in seven games.

The Golden Knights inked forward Jack Dugan to a two-year, entry-level on contract on Thursday. He was originally a fifth-round (142nd overall) pick by Vegas at the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.

The 22-year-old led the NCAA in scoring during the 2019-20 season with 52 points, in 34 games, for Providence College. His efforts got him named as a finalist for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award, which is given to the best player in college hockey. He had 20 goals and 91 points in his two seasons in the NCAA.

Both of these contracts do not start until the 2020-21 season begins.

Caps Renew ECHL Affiliation

Also, on Thursday, the Washington Capitals announced a three-year extension on their agreement with the South Carolina Stingrays of the ECHL. The Capitals and Stingrays have been partners for the previous six seasons and will remain so through the 2022-23 season. The two teams were also affiliates between 2004 and 2012.

“The Washington Capitals are a first-class organization,” Stingrays’ president Rob Concannon said. “They have been a great partner with us for a long time. We look forward to continuing to help some of their young prospects develop.”

Some of the NHL players who spent time with the Stingrays over the years include Deryk Engelland, Travis Morin, Michal Neuvirth, James Reimer, Braden Holtby, Philipp Grubauer and Nathan Walker.

USNTDP Summer Showcase Canceled

As reported last week, the United States National Team Development Program’s (USNTDP) World Junior Summer Showcase was in jeopardy. At least three players from the USNTDP tested positive for COVID-19, putting the annual event in serious peril.

The event, which was scheduled to take place between July 24-31, was officially canceled earlier this week.

“We’re disappointed on many fronts, but thought it was in the best interest of everyone involved to not hold the event,” said John Vanbiesbrouck, general manager of the U.S. National Junior Team, in an official statement. “Regardless, we’re excited about the level of talent in our country and look forward to putting a team together that can compete for the gold medal. We’ll continue to look at all options to get our players and staff together ahead of selecting our team.”

A total of 44 American-born players looking to earn a spot on USA Hockey’s WJC roster were originally invited to the showcase.

Prospect of the Day – Thomas Bordeleau

Bordeleau is one of those players hoping to play for the United States at the 2021 WJC. He spent the past season playing for USNDPT where he scored 16 goals and 46 points in 47 games. The 5-foot-9 center is ranked as the 29th skater among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting.

Related – THW’s 2020 Draft Guide

The two things that have likely set to go in the second round of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft are his vision and his lethal shot. He can beat you with a shot from anywhere on the ice or by setting up one of his teammates. Bordeleau plays much bigger than his size as he is not afraid to battle along the boards or head to the front of the net.

USDP Thomas Bordeleau
Bordeleau plays much bigger than his size. (Photo: Rena Laverty)

Our own Mathieu Sheridan feels that he has the tools to perform well at the game’s highest level.

Bordeleau has the chance to become something special at the next level. Although his size is not ideal, he is a perfect fit for the league today. With the game transitioning towards speed and skill, he has the chance to flourish. If all goes well in his development, I predict that Bordeleau could become a top-six center. He has incredible skill and a shot that will make opponents pay. An NHL comparable for me would be someone like Tyler Johnson. Both are skillful players who make an impact for their team on a nightly basis. Both have good vision and use their shot to their advantage.

If Bordeleau was born 10-15 years ago, his size would be a major disadvantage, but speed and skill have taken over the game in recent years. He has plenty of both in his game and if you give space, he will find a way to hurt you. He will be a fun prospect to watch over the next couple of seasons.