Rookie camp has begun and now is the time for NHL prospects to make their mark within their respective organizations. With tournaments being held and games being played, young guns must showcase their talents now before they are thrusted into the playing field with men as pre-season rapidly approaches.
Every year there are a handful of prospects who shine at rookie camp; here are a few players poised to make a permanent jump to the big leagues.
Anthony Mantha – Detroit Red Wings
To be fair, Anthony Mantha was shining before rookie camp even began. Last year in the QMJHL Mantha posted an impressive 120 points in only 57 games. Combine that point production with his 6’5 frame, and it is hard to believe that this pure goal scorer won’t be on the Red Wings roster.
Anthony Mantha looks like a man among boys at Wings rookie tournament. Looks NHL ready. Think the Red Wings agree.
— Ken Campbell (@THNKenCampbell) September 16, 2014
To add to his fortune, it does not look like Daniel Alfredsson will be healthy come the start of the NHL season. The Wings need a right winger more than Crosby needs a helmet. Mantha currently has 4 goals in the Traverse City Tournament and looks to continue this momentum.
Teuvo Teravainen – Chicago Blackhawks
This 2o year-old Finland star was selected 18th overall by the Blackhawks organization. Last year Teravainen had a very small taste of the national hockey league, being called up late in the season. This year, however, he is proving himself to be a full-time roster player, which is a tough case to make considering Chicago has a strong depth chart. There has been a lot of talk about him during rookie camp these past few days, and this creative pass to line mate Mark McNeill truly displayed his hockey sense:
Unfortunately for Chicago fans, it is going to take a lot more than a viral highlight pass to truly cement himself into the powerhouse Blackhawk roster.
Bogdan Yakimov – Edmonton Oilers
I can assure you this is not a typo. Although Yakimov has a very similar name to Edmonton star Yakupov, they do have a lot of differences. For example, Bogdan Yakimov is a big boy standing tall at 6’5 with a strong defensive work ethic. We know he can compete with men after playing his last season in the KHL, throwing up 12 points in only 33 games.
Bogdan Yakimov has a chance. Has improved his footwork. Has the size. A less-skilled version of Martin Hanzal to me… — Bob Stauffer (@Bob_Stauffer) September 14, 2014
Realistically, the Russian 19 year-old is likely going to need some time in the AHL before he makes the jump into the Oilers squad, but he sure is making a name for himself at rookie camp this season. Regardless, he is a skilled player with a big frame, and a big frame is what Edmonton desperately needs right now.
Robby Fabbri – St.Louis Blues
Some might say the Blues made a steal at the 2014 NHL entry draft as they picked up the OHL playoff MVP late in the first round. Robby Fabbri led all St.Louis prospects during rookie camp with a total of 4 goals and 1 assist in only 4 games. The 18 year-old scoring machine certainly impressed the Blues organization, but right now the odds are stacked against Fabbri to make an early jump to pros. Despite his natural eye for the net, the Blues have a strong depth chart and he still needs to put on more weight and muscle to convince us that he can safely compete with men. St.Louis will likely give him a hefty majority of ice time during their pre-season games; this is where he will have a real opportunity to prove critics wrong.
Johnny Gaudreau – Calgary Flames
Yes, of course Johnny Hockey deserves some recognition. This undersized competitor has been impressing us ever since we were first exposed to his talents in the 2012-13 World Junior Championship. His quickness and puck handling skills are at an elite level, and Johnny proved this to us during his rookie tournament games.
— theScore (@theScore) September 13, 2014
Something would have to go terribly wrong for Gaudreau to be left off the official Calgary roster come opening night. After all, the kid is averaging 1 goal per game in the NHL… okay, yes, he has only played 1 game, but still impressive! Watch for this dynamic player to make a splash in pre-season as he skates alongside line mate Sam Bennett.
Sports and humour writer covering the Toronto Maple Leafs