Kings' Junior Prospects All Having Career Years
Pats' Jordan Weal affirms status one of the WHL's most-dominant players
After spending two years as [the] under-appreciated sidekick to [...] superhero Jordan Eberle, Weal has [stepped] out of Eberle's shadow to affirm his status as one of the WHL's most-dominant players. [...] The Vancouver product enjoyed a spectacular rookie season in 2008-09, leading all WHL 16-year-olds with 70 points in 65 games. For an encore, he became the first 17-year-old in 10 years to hit triple digits, finishing third in the league with 102 points. [...] "Whether I'm biased or not, I think he's probably the biggest single threat in the league," said the GM. [...] Despite the absence of a pure offensive winger on his line, Weal sits fifth in the WHL scoring race with 40 goals and 92 points in 70 games. [...] "I don't think he gets the credit he deserves (as a well-rounded player)," added Lang. "He plays in all situations and he's affective [sic] [...] because of his attention to detail.[...]." Weal's defensive effort [...] hasn't gone unnoticed by the Pats. "He's a guy who plays within the team game and then he has the ability to make things happen beyond that," noted head coach Curtis Hunt. "That's what makes him so much fun to watch. You'd like 10 of those guys because, boy, we could light the lamp and take care of our end as well."
Unfortunately, Weal will be the only Kings' prospect in juniors not to qualify for the WHL, OHL or QMJHL playoffs.Toffoli (Ottawa), Vey (Medicine Hat), Czarnik (Pymouth), Kitsyn (St. Mikes), Deslauriers (Gatineau), Berube (Montreal) and this Schenn guy (Saskatoon) will all be in action.
Is it an exaggeration to say that every single one of the Kings' juniors players is having a career year? Let's look:
- Jordan Weal -- Goals up from last year, assists down slightly (no Eberle), plus/minus (+13) up on a terrible team. Still 18.
- Linden Vey -- leads the WHL in scoring. Doubled his goals output from the previous year. Will be 20 this summer. Time for a contract.
- Tyler Toffoli -- second in OHL scoring, three points behind Jason Akeson going into the last weekend of the regular season, and one goal behind Christian Thomas for the goal-scoring lead. Goal output has gone from 17 to 34 to 53 over three seasons. Voted by OHL coaches as one of the smartest players, most dangerous players and best shooters in the league. A pure sniper. Still 18.
- Nicolas Deslauriers -- despite missing a month or so with a knee injury, Deslauriers has 43 points in 48 games going into the last weekend, pound-for-pound better than last year's 45 points in 65 games. Hockey's Future called him "arguably the best skater in the Kings organization," which is a mouth-watering thought, since Viatcheslav Voynov had the fastest time in the AHL all-star competition and was a few 1/100ths of a second from beating the top NHL time, too.
- Jean-Francois Berube -- after struggling last year, Berube this season is fourth in the Q in GAA, at 2.60 with a .902 SV%, 32-7-8, 3 shut-outs. Due for a contract this summer.
- Robbie Czarnik -- missed the first 10 or so games of the season due to attendance at both the Kings and Monarchs camps, Czarnik still managed to double his goal production, notching 33 goals and 44 assists over 60 games.
- Maxim Kitsyn -- joined Mississauga after winning the gold at the WJCs, and has put up 26 points in 31 games. Malkin comparisons at 16 (Hockey's Future says then he was a "sure fire 1st rounder"), followed by three underwhelming years in the KHL, and now he appears to be a keeper, a big scoring LW. We never need those. A sixth round steal.
- Brayden Schenn -- 8 pretty good games with the Kings, a point a game in the AHL, the record for points in the WJC (with a separated shoulder), and nearly a goal a game (and two points a game) for Saskatoon. Yeah, he sucks.
Normally, you wouldn't expect more than one or two of your juniors prospects to become bona fide NHL players. How many of these kids will make it? My bet is four or five. I've been wrong before, but if I'm right, that's amazing.