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Jakob Chychrun Selected 1st Overall by the Sarnia Sting

Jakob Chychrun (TSN)

Jakob Chychrun (TSN)

 

For Immediate Release

Friday April 4, 2014

 

Toronto, ON – The Ontario Hockey League in association with the Sarnia Sting Hockey Club today announced that 16-year-old defenceman Jakob Chychrun of the Toronto Jr. Canadiens will be the first overall pick in the 2014 OHL Priority Selection, presented by State Farm.

 

The announcement was made at a news conference held this morning at the RBC Centre’s – Hive Bar & Grill where Chychrun was introduced to local media and fans.

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NHL Draft: Evaluating the boom/bust prospect

February 18, 2014 Leave a comment
(Aaron Bell/OHL Images)

(Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

Exclusive from the submissions of Youngblood [Special Edition]: 2014 NHL Draft Midterm Guide

Tuesday, Febraury 18, 2014

No prospect is a sure thing but some come with more alarming risks

The 2014 NHL Draft class is an intriguing one in the sense that there are several players with elite skill sets that aren’t necessarily complete, owning one or two concerning flaws. Whether it is a lack of size, deficiencies in the defensive zone or questionable character, NHL teams are always occupied at determining how much emphasis to place on players’ shortcomings and deciding at what point in the draft makes drafting a risky prospect worth it.

Read more…

2014 NHL Draft Watch: Spirit fall 6-3 to the Sting

October 18, 2013 Leave a comment

Thursday, October 18, 2013

 

With eyes focused on eligible skaters for the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, I have decided to post notes on these players with each Ontario Hockey League game I visit this season for your reading pleasure.  There is better debut to begin with than Thursday’s Sting-Spirit game with several highlight individual performances to note. The Sarnia Sting recorded a season-high six goals in their second straight victory after defeating the Saginaw Spirit at the RBC Centre.

Tony DeAngelo of the Sarnia Sting (Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

Tony DeAngelo of the Sarnia Sting (Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

Tony DeAngelo (Sarnia Sting, D) – Coming into the 2013-14 OHL season, there was no player I was more interested in following then Sarnia’s offensive defenseman Tony DeAngelo. His path of progression is extremely important to his ultimate draft position. DeAngelo is known for his outstanding and rare offensive skillset but it was important that he developed other aspects of his game.

Early in his draft season, DeAngelo has addressed his weaknesses perfectly. He has shown grown maturity in his game, limiting poor penalties and emotional outbursts. Defensively, DeAngelo is utilizing his exceptional skating ability to maintain good gap control and positioning in his defensive zone to contain opposing attackers. Most importantly, DeAngelo hasn’t been making (as many) risky offensive decisions and appears to be picking his spots to jump into the rush better. Previously, it was common place to catch DeAngelo attempting to execute a toe-drag through the neutral zone (often leading to a turnover and scoring chance, if unsuccessful) but the young native of New Jersey has reeled it back lately.

In Thursday’s game versus Saginaw, DeAngelo picked up a team leading four points (one goal, three assists) and put his vision, unflappable patience and advanced puck skills on display through the entirety of the game. DeAngelo leads all OHL defensemen in scoring with 14 points (5G 9A) through the opening nine games and has factored in on 48% of the Sting’s goals this season, including seven of Sarnia’s eight powerplay goals.

 

Nikolay Goldobin (Sarnia Sting, RW) – Off to a streaky start with the Sarnia Sting in 2013-14 is last year’s rookie scoring leader. Goldobin has recorded points in only four of Sarnia’s nine games but when he’s ‘on’, there are few players in the league that have the ability to control the pace of the game. During the offseason Goldobin added to his average sized frame and looks to be a physically stronger player. His game-to-game and shift-to-shift consistency and intensity still waver at times although improvements have been made in that area.

 

Goldobin’s puck skills are elite, as is his on-ice vision that allows him to dissect the rink and send passes to players most competitors wouldn’t notice, and it’s these two rare skills that makes him arguably one of the OHL’s most dangerous powerplay options. Composed under pressure, Goldobin owns a ridiculous panic threshold level and is able to operate in minimal space with ease. Goldobin recorded two goals (one was a laser over the shoulder of Red Wings’ prospect goaltender Jake Paterson) and added a beautiful assist on rookie Nikita Korostelev’s second tally of the nice on a cross-ice one-timer. Goldobin is up to 10 points through as many games and remains high on my 2014 NHL Draft Rankings.

Tyler Hore (Sarnia Sting, D) – Hore had a solid game for Sarnia skating alongside Josh Chapman most of the game. He remains a sleeper pick for the upcoming draft and I like him as a late round selection but he will need to clean up his defensive play at time. On most nights, Hore and Chapman are drawing tough assignments against opposing team’s top players and he has used his strong skating skills and awareness to contain attackers. His puck skills are good for a defenseman and he has shown several times this year that he has the confidence and puck handling abilities to make difficult keep ins at the offensive blue line. It will take a team to really like Hore’s upside and gamble on his developing skills for him to be drafted but I like this defenseman.

Brett Hargrave (Sarnia Sting, RW) – Prior to Thursday’s game, reports surfaced that Sarnia’s 2012 1st round selection (13th overall), Brett Hargrave, returned home to North Bay to await a trade. To date, the big forward has had an up and down season showing very well during Sarnia’s training camp but has been wildly inconsistent through regular season. There was no word from the Sarnia Sting as to how this situation will unfold at this time.

Patrick White (Sarnia Sting, C) – Congratulations to Sarnia`s Patrick White for scoring his first career OHL goal on slick pass from fellow rookie Noah Bushnell. White is a skilled pivot that has shown flashes of offensive creativity but will need to become a more consistent scoring threat to be considered by NHL teams.

 

Alexandre Renaud (Sarnia Sting, LW) – Former 2012 2nd round selection, Renaud, found himself moved up in the lineup to play alongside Daniel Nikandrov and Alex Carnevale (both undrafted). However, Renaud continues to play too much of a passive game for a man of his size. Renaud is a good skater but his puck handling skills haven`t progressed yet and he will need to make gains in that area. Renaud is still seeking his first point of the season and has been part of a group rotating in and out of the lineup as healthy scratches.

Brandon Prophet (Saginaw Spirit, D) – Prophet was easily my favourite Spirit player on the night. He owns good size, great skating ability and an offensive flare to his game, which is a quality I like in defensive prospects. Prophet logged a lot of time on the Spirit’s top powerplay unit and his ability to read the ice and move into open spaces really impressed me. He remains a potential first round prospect for the upcoming draft class and should find himself land somewhere in the first half of the draft.

Saginaw's Zach Bratini (Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

Saginaw’s Zach Bratini (Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

Zach Bratina (Saginaw Spirit, LW) – Bratini is a playmaking winger who displays good hockey intelligence. His ability to read the ice allows him to be an effective player in all three zones. Bratini skates well and his overall offensive game is promising but there were certainly times I wanted him to engage physically with his size. At this point in his career Bratini is fairly raw but his package of skills is very promising and he could hit his stride as the seasons pass. Bratini scored in Thursday`s game on a fluky bounce play during the second period.

Dylan Sadowy (Saginaw Spirit, LW) – In my first viewing of Saginaw this season, Dylan Sadowy impressed me with his responsible two-way game. He was very effective as a defensive forward showing good positioning and a willingness to engage physical. Sadowy owns good size skating at over six feet and his defensive awareness and shot blocking abilities could make him a serviceable bottom six energy player.

Daniel DeSousa (Saginaw Spirit, D) – In his fourth game as a member of the Spirit, De Sousa had an ‘okay’ game. He showed good puck skills in passing and walking the line but his ability to move the puck out of his own zone was quite spotty. As a second round selection of the Belleville Bulls (2012), De Sousa had some lofty expectations placed on him but has disappointed somewhat in his early seasons of OHL hockey. The fresh start in Saginaw could help him but he will need to show consistent offensive output in order to garner serious NHL interest.

Sarnia’s 1st round selection (9th overall, 2013), Nikita Korostelev (Eligible for 2015 NHL Draft), had a terrific game scoring his first two goals of his OHL career. Noah Bushnell (2015 eligible) picked up his first career OHL point as well assisting on Patrick White’s first goal.

 

Next Stops:

Friday, October 18th – Kingston Frontenacs @ Kitchener Rangers

Sunday, October 20th – Ottawa 67’s @ Guelph Storm

 

Thanks for reading,

Brendan Ross

@RossyYoungblood

 

Youngblood Prospect Journal Revealed

September 16, 2013 1 comment

As promised via Twitter, I have developed an exciting new project to be featured throughout the 2013-14 hockey season. Youngblood is a hockey prospect focused journal that will follow relevant news throughout the season. Specifically, Youngblood will be a one-stop place to follow your Ontario Hockey League news as I travel rinks across Ontario and Northern USA scouting the future of the greatest game on earth – hockey!

 

LawCrouseBlend2

Kingston Frontenacs’ Lawson Crouse drafted out of the Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs program. (Photo: Brendan Ross, The Scouting Bureau)

In the September Edition of Youngblood, my 2014 NHL Entry Draft Pre-Season Rankings are revealed and all prospects ranked in the opening round are profiled. Furthermore, there are several mini-feature articles on OHL stories and I have passed on my personal thoughts on some minor midget players who are entering their OHL Draft years.

I encourage the readers to post your thoughts and/or recommendations on the new publication.

Download Youngblood September Edition here: Youngblood

Thanks for reading,

Brendan Ross

@RossyYoungblood

Alex Galchenyuk Primed for World Junior Dominance

March 21, 2013 Leave a comment

 

Originally Published at The Hockey Writers on Devember 18th, 2012

 

Just a few miles from the US-Canada border, Montreal Canadiens’ prospect Alex Galchenyuk, an American slated to star for Team USA in the upcoming 2013 World Junior Hockey Championships in Ufa, Russia, entered the Christmas break on an absolute tear after recording five goals and eight points in his two weekend games. In a 7-4 win over the Kingston Frontenacs Saturday night, the Sarnia Sting captain was an absolute beast in what could be his best OHL performance ever when he scored a hat trick of goals and added a pair of assists in a 5-point effort to propel his team to a seven point lead in the West Division standings.

 

The Galchenyuk Show (5-point game on December 15, 2012)

 

Producing gaudy offensive numbers has not been a problem lately for the third overall pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.  Since the start of November, the 6-foot-1 Galchenyuk has formed a potently dangerous line with New Jersey Devils’ prospect Reid Boucher and the undrafted Charles Sarault causing havoc for all opposing teams.  Galchenyuk has been a model of consistency all season long as he has only went pointless in six games over his 33 played this season. The Sarnia Sting have relied heavily on Galchenyuk’s production and he has went above and beyond, especially in his last 17 games where he has tallied an impressive 19 goals and 40 points to complement his shiny plus-14 rating.

 

Alex Galchenyuk WJHC

Alex Galchenyuk has been lethal for the Sarnia Sting and will play a significant offensive role for the Americans at the 2013 World Junior Hockey Championships (Aaron Bell/OHL Images)

From all early accounts, the Montreal Canadiens appear to have had an extremely successful draft in 2012 but their third overall selection of Alex Galchenyuk may have been one of their biggest steals. After missing all but two regular season games last year with a devastating preseason knee injury, Galchenyuk has returned quickly to full form and that speedy recovery can be attributed to his remarkable work ethic, on and off the ice. In his draft year, Galchenyuk remained one of the top ranked skaters all season long despite playing sparingly and his recent dominance certainly supports the advocates that even had Galchenyuk ranked first overall ahead of Nail Yakupov.

As with most serious knee injuries, there was plenty of concern surrounding Galchenyuk’s health and his rehabilitation. A closer look at Galchenyuk’s post-draft season shows that those cautious followers can breathe easier now. Galchenyuk’s skating shows no signs of weakness and his stride and power could be considered better than his pre-injury stride. His ability to change the pace with a few powerful strides is one of his best assets and he utilizes these short bursts of power to attack quickly. Galchenyuk can often be seen employing his elite puck protection skills with his long reach using his body to shield away opponents and then quickly cut to the middle of the ice to rip a shot past opposing goaltenders or find a teammate with a pass on the back door step.

Galchenyuk has played mostly on the right wing this season, a change from his usual centre position, and it has added another element of versatility to his game.  The change to wing has been implemented by Coach Jacques Beaulieu to keep Galchenyuk and Sarault together on the same line, forming one of the Canadian Hockey League’s top trios with Boucher on the left wing. The Montreal Canadiens would surely love to have Galchenyuk as their future number one pivot but his success on the wing this season cannot be overlooked. With an elite ability to work off of the half-boards and cycle the puck down low, Galchenyuk can utilize this rare skill equally as well on the wing. Furthermore, Galchenyuk has shown a tendency to attack from the off-wing as he likes to trick defenders with a fake wrist shot on the rush as he toe drags through their legs and blasts by them with a few short powerful strides.  Galchenyuk has used this attacking move quite often this year and it has come with great success, mainly because he keeps defenders honest by sniping goals in a similar fashion with his quick wrist shot using the defender as a screen.

 

Goal scoring has never been an issue for Galchenyuk. His shot features pin point accuracy and a release that develops the velocity necessary to make opposing goalies look foolish. Take a look at a few of Galchenyuk’s most recent goals and it is clear that his shot has elite elements. At the half-way point of the OHL season, number 94 sits tied in OHL goal scoring with 27 goals, just four back of his career high (31) that he set as the OHL’s top rookie in 2010-11. As good as Galchenyuk’s goal scoring ability is, his vision and playmaking skills remain his most impressive talents as he has a deceiving ability to find open teammates and thread extremely difficult passes with great accuracy at the drop of a hat. Defending teams have to ensure perfect gap control on Galchenyuk as he can quickly take an inch of open ice and turn it into a prime scoring chance with his elusive in-close puck handling skills. Montreal Canadiens fans will quickly learn that Galchenyuk has an element of unpredictability as he can either employ his sharp shooting abilities or feed a streaking teammate from a position where no one expects a pass from.

Galchenyuk with 2 goals and 1 assist (December 14, 2012)

 

 

Galchenyuk undresses defender Alex Gudbranson (December 9, 2012)

 

 

Coach Jacques Beaulieu has used Galchenyuk in every situation this season and his increasing confidence is becoming a dangerous weapon. On the penalty kill, Galchenyuk has shown great positioning, good anticipation, a tricky stick and a willingness to block shots helping the team win games and produce one of the OHL’s top penalty killing units (5th – 83.8%). Moreover, the Sarnia Sting have the third ranked power play unit (26.4%) and Galchenyuk’s seven power play goals and 11 power play assists have been a big factor in that success. There have been a number of great surprises in Sarnia Sting land this season including exceptional goaltending from JP Anderson, an increase in special teams performance and the improved ability to compete as a team; but, it is safe to conclude that Sarnia’s success would not be as great without the strong play of Captain Alex Galchenyuk.

 

As the NHL continues to be locked out, Galchenyuk will gladly continue his torrid pace playing in the OHL; however, if the work stoppage comes to an end soon, it is expected that Galchenyuk would report to the Montreal Canadiens immediately, if the franchise requests his services. Galchenyuk is ready to play in the National Hockey League and would add an element of offense to the Canadiens’ attack if General Manager Marc Bergevin feels it is worth burning a year off of Galchenyuk’s entry-level contract for three months of his services.

 

The former first overall selection in the 2010 OHL Priority Selection Draft sits just one point back from OHL leading scorer Ryan Strome after Galchenyuk’s 5-point effort as both players head to Ufa, Russia to compete for the respective countries. Galchenyuk has factored in on 49.2% of the Sarnia Sting goals scored this season whereas Strome has seen his name attached to 48.4% of the Niagara Ice Dogs’ 128 goals.

 

The Sarnia Sting leading scorer is set to fly out for the 2013 World Junior Hockey Championships with teammate Connor Murphy as Team USA prepares to improve on a disappointing seventh place finish at last year’s tournament. USA Head Coach Phil Housley will lean heavily on Alex Galchenyuk as a source of offense, an area that the Americans have struggled with in the past few championships.  It will be the first time that Galchenyuk has represented the Americans in an IIHF sanctioned international tournament and expectations are extremely high for this budding offensive prospect.

 

The Sarnia Sting will be without their team captain’s services for likely five games (December 28th vs. Brampton, December 31st vs. London, January 1st @ London, January 4th vs. Windsor and January 5th @ Erie) and will look to Charles Sarault, Nikolay Goldobin and Reid Boucher, who was a surprise omission from the Team USA WJHC roster), to provide the scoring in his absence.

 

As Alex Galchenyuk departed Saturday, the classy young men sent out quick message via twitter,

@AGally94 Great first half of the season! Very proud of all the guys! #sarniasting #HappyHolidays

Who would not want this gentleman as the potential face of your franchise?

 

Good luck to Alex Galchenyuk at the 2013 World Junior Hockey Championships as he continues on his bright path to become one of the National Hockey League’s future stars.

Subway Super Series: Nail Yakupov’s Final Farewell in Sarnia

March 21, 2013 Leave a comment

 

Originally Published at The Hockey Guys on November 13th, 2012

 

By Brendan Ross (@RossyYoungblood)

Sarnia, ON – Coming into the fourth game of the six-game Subway Super Series, the Canadian Hockey League trailed the series six points to three looking to even up the series. In the history of the Subway Super Series, the Russians have never scored a goal on Sarnia ice in the two previous games being shutout in 2003 and 2006.

Entering the dying minutes of Monday night’s game, it appeared that Team OHL would keep that shutout streak alive until Chicago Blackhawks Maxim Shalunov sent a filthy between-the-legs-no-look pass to fan favourite Nail Yakupov with just 36.1 seconds remaining in regulation.

It was fitting that former Sarnia Sting superstar Yakupov scored the lone Russian goal as the entire evening was an emotional one for Yakupov and Sarnia fans as both said their final goodbyes.

The crowd (4,283) erupted as Yakupov threw his hands into the air in typical “Yakky” dramatic fashion. It was a bittersweet ending for a Sarnia fan-base that graciously thanked Yakupov with a heartfelt ovation as he skated in his post-game “farewell lap” on Sarnia ice for one last time, throwing his game-worn helmet into the crowd and signing a few autographs before disappearing down the tunnel.

Nail Yakupov in his post-game farewell skate tosses helmet into crowd as he says good-bye to Sarnia

Yakupov, drafted second overall in the 2010 CHL Import Draft by Sarnia, tallied 82 goals and 175 points through 113 regular season and playoff games as a member of the Sting, but it was Monday night’s final goal of the game that would be his final official goal on Sarnia ice. His electrifying good-bye goal marks the 51st goal and 111th point Yakupov scored on home ice in Sarnia and it will never be forgotten by the Sting fan-base or Yakupov himself.

Just as he arrived over two years ago in Sarnia, Yakupov left Sarnia Monday night as a total class act and remains one of the franchises’ all-time great players.

Subway Super Series Game 4 Notes:

Team OHL played a very strong defensive game, with great play from their six defensemen and goaltenders Jordan Binnington (Owen Sound Attack; St. Louis Blues) and Jake Patterson (Saginaw Spirit; Detroit Red Wings), as the two split the win, evening up the series with six points apiece. Jordan Binnington was perfect, making eight saves while Jake Patterson stopped eight of the nine shots he faced. The win gives the OHL an impressive record of 19-1 versus the Russians in the 10 year history of the Subway Super Series, with the single loss coming last Thursday in Guelph with a disappointing 2-1 defeat.

2012 Subway Super Series - Sarnia

Subway Super Series Game 4 Opening Faceoff (Brendan Ross/TheHockeyGuys)

The Islanders’ fifth overall selection, Ryan Strome, was brilliant all night, opening the scoring at the 9:50 mark as he pounced on a centering pass from Garrett Meurs (Plymouth Whalers; Colorado Avalanche) beating Russian netminder Andrei Vasilevski (Tampa Bay Lightning) five hole. Senators’ prospect and Kitchener Rangers forward Matt Puempel picked up the secondary assist on Strome’s tally. From that point on, the game became a defensive battle as both teams made several nice checks, limiting the opposition’s scoring chances. Team OHL would continue to struggle on the powerplay as the team went 0-for-6 with the man advantage as they could not solve the dynamic Vasilevski between the pipes. Through both OHL games, the team failed to convert on a powerplay, going goal-less in 10 attempts, a statistic reflective of how well Vasilevski and Russia played defensively.

The highlight of the night may have been when Yakupov was crushed at center ice by bruising winger Tom Wilson (Plymouth Whalers; Washington Capitals). Luckily for Yakupov, the dynamic winger bounced back up to his feet and carried on with his attack. Wilson put on a clinic throughout the game with his relentless forecheck and bone crushing steam-everything-in-his-way approach showing Hockey Canada that he could be a valuable depth player for the upcoming 2013 World Junior Championship.

The second goal of the game came at the 9:16 mark of the third period as the OHL powerplay expired, when Sudbury Wolves defenseman, Frankie Corrado (Vancouver Canucks) picked up a large rebound on the doorstep and fired it past Vasilevski to make it 2-0.  Assists on the play went to Niagara Ice Dog teammates Ryan Strome (New York Islanders) and Dougie Hamilton (Boston Bruins). Corrado was arguably Ontario’s best defenseman, competing confidently the entire game, and showing great potential as a two-way pro defenseman. If there was a single OHL defenseman who improved his chances at earning a WJC spot, it was Corrado.

As Russia continued their attack, Team OHL defensemen were extremely effective at limiting the offensive scoring chances showing that many of these rearguards will receive special consideration for the upcoming World Junior Championships in Ufa, Russia. Specifically, OHL captain Scott Harrington (London Knights; Pittsburgh Penguins), Stuart Percy (Mississauga Steelheads; Toronto Maple Leafs), and Adam Pelech (Erie Otters; New York Islanders) played mistake-free hockey. The game plan was executed well against a Russian roster that can so often quickly cripple the opposition on careless turnovers with their opportunistic scoring ability.

Up front, Team OHL had strong showings from several top prospects including Barrie Colts’ leading scorer Mark Scheifele (Winnipeg Jets), Ryan Stome (Niagara Ice Dogs; New York Islanders), Tom Wilson (Plymouth Whalers; Washington Capitals) and Kerby Rychel (Windsor Spitfires; 2013). Seth Griffith (London Knights; Boston Bruins), Daniel Catenacci (Owen Sound Attack; Buffalo Sabres), Max Domi (London Knights; 2013), Garrett Meurs (Plymouth Whalers; Colorado Avalanche) and Matt Puempel (Kitchener Rangers; Ottawa Senators) showed that their smaller size was not much of an issue as each of them showed flashes of their professional potential.

Scheifele was a force in the faceoff dot winning virtually every matchup he faced, and was probably the most complete player on the ice, showing why he is considered NHL-ready. Strome factored in on both OHL goals (1 goal, 1 assist, plus-2) and earned Player of the Game honours for Team OHL, as he was buzzing the entire game, using his speed and slick hands to control the play. Wilson, as previously mentioned, was hitting every player in his way, but also showed great defensive awareness as he back-checked hard to break up several key scoring chances for the Russians. Rychel had a strong game, as he proved to be one of the OHL’s more physical forwards, executing several hard body checks.

London Knights teammates Griffith and Domi were definitely the two smallest players on the ice, but both forwards showed good poise and playmaking abilities throughout the night. Their size remains a concern, but their hockey sense and execution are at elite levels, making them constant offensive threats. Catenacci was a player that stood out as one of OHL’s most consistent players on both sides of the puck. He showed to be a great defensive-minded forward, and his speed was especially useful on that attack.

Meurs and Puempel flagged Strome as wingers, and the line proved to be quite successful as Meurs’ hard skating and tenacious puck pursuit complemented Puempel’s and Strome’s skill games nicely. Sudbury Wolves forward Josh Leivo (Toronto Maple Leafs) was one of team OHL’s bigger forwards but it was disappointing to see him lose puck battles in the corners to smaller Russian defenders.

Minnesota Wild draftee and the OHL’s leading goal scorer Tyler Graovac (Ottawa 67’s) was quite visible as he attacked smartly, taking good routes, but failed to find the score sheet in Sarnia. Barrie Colts forward Anthony Camara (Boston Bruins) had several scoring chances but failed to convert. On one specific play, Seth Griffith made a slick pass to Camara on the doorstep but his fellow Bruin draft pick fanned on the shot attempt. Camara’s skating remains a work in progress, but his well-rounded game could see him receive a long look for Canada’s 2013 JC squad.

Sarnia Sting defenseman Alex Basso, who was the lone undrafted skater on Team OHL (exluding 2013 NHL draft eligible skaters Kerby Rychel and Max Domi). The mobile puck-moving defenseman played a solid two-way game last night versus some elite Russian talents. Basso, a shifty and dynamic skater, can usually be seen attempting high risk passes and dangles, but in last night’s game, he was able to simplify, making him a better all-around blue-liner.

Russian goaltender Andrei Vasilevski earned Player of the Game honours for the second time in this series, stopping 27 of 29 Team OHL shots. Vasilevski continues to be a dominant goaltender on the international stage, and on Monday night he played especially well with his future boss in Steve Yzerman, Tampa Bay Lightning General Manager, watching intently from the stands.

The Russian squad had several other standout performances despite struggling to solve the brilliant tandem of Binnington and Patterson.  Nikita Nesterov (Tampa Bay Lightning) is a defenseman known for his offensive skill-set  but he was especially good on the defensive side of the puck, winning battles against much larger forwards.

The burly 6’3” 220-pound Yaroslov Kosov (Florida Panthers) had a good showing, displaying quick feet, opposing size and good puck control. His shift-to-shift consistency was erratic, but Kosov owns great pro potential that the Florida Panthers should be excited about with this 2011 5th round selection.

Special attention was directed at the play of Alexander Khokhlachev (Boston Bruins) after the former Windsor Spitfire left the OHL to make his KHL debut this season. In game four of the Subway Super Series, Khokhlachev’s lack of top speed was exposed in a game that was lightning quick. “Koko” is extremely creative, but without an improvement in speed and strength (pushed around too easily), he will have an uphill battle to crack the Bruins’ top six in the foreseeable future.

Looking toward the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, the Russians featured two notable prospects, Valeri Nichushkin and Bogdan Yakimov. Nichushkin was one of Russia’s top forward performers in Sarnia on Tuesday night. With great size and puck control, Nichushkin was an aggressive attacker, as he drove the net with authority, and dished off passes to open teammates with great success. On the other hand, Yakimov was underwhelming in Tuesday evening’s game. The massive winger failed to accomplish much on either side of the puck. Yakimov had several key turnovers that resulted in him failing to move the puck quick enough, and he struggled to pick up enough speed to beat the OHL defenders on the attack. Yakimov has a tantalizing package of size and rare skill, and will continue to be discussed as a potential first round talent, but his showing in Sarnia could be summed up as “sub-standard”.

The 2012 Subway Super Series is tied 2-2 with 6 points aside, and the outcome of this series will be determined when the remaining two games shift to the Western Hockey League locations. Vancouver, BC is the site for Game 5 and is scheduled to take place Wednesday, November 14 at 10:00pm ET. The final game will be played in Victoria on Thursday night. Games will be televised on Rogers Sportsnet in Canada, and NHL Network in the United States.

CHL Import Draft: Sarnia Sting Strike GOLDobin…Again

March 21, 2013 Leave a comment

 

Originally Published at The Hockey Guys on October 15th, 2012

 

 
Sarnia Sting’s Nikolai Goldobin (Photo Courtesy of Metcalfe Photography)

By Brendan Ross (@RossyYoungblood)

“With the 36th pick in the 2012 Canadian Hockey League Import Draft, the Sarnia Sting select Nikolai Goldobin” were the likely words from Sting GM Jacques Beaulieu as Sarnia made their first round selection last spring.

As with most unknown Russian junior league players, the fans of the Sarnia Sting knew very little about what type of player they were receiving in Goldobin.  After a month of Ontario Hockey League action, there is no longer a sense of unfamiliarity with the Russian forward as Goldobin is quickly turning heads with his recent outstanding play. Coming off of a three game week where Nikolai Goldobin recorded one goal and five assists for six points including a game high three-point contest versus Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds on Sunday, Goldobin’s transition to the North American game is quickly putting it together. His strong performance will certainly put him in contention for the OHL Player of the Week honours.

The young 2014 NHL Draft eligible Russian played with the Russian junior league team, Russkie Vityazi Chekhov, last season posting a respectable 13 goals and 22 points in 50 games. Metallurg Novokuznetsk of the Kontinental Hockey League took notice of his rare talents and selected him eighth overall in the 2012 KHL Draft. Luckily for the Sarnia Sting, Nikalai Goldobin chose to bring his talents to the border city as the team’s second import player replacing former OHL star Nail Yakupov.

In recent years, Sarnia has had good success at the CHL Import Draft table locking up some high quality players. In 2010, Nail Yakupov was brought to Sarnia as the second overall selection and quickly made himself noticed breaking the Sting rookie point records previously held by the infamous Steven Stamkos.

Goldobin, who recently turned 17 on October 7th, certainly comes with much less hype than Yakupov but he has shown early on to share a few similar attributes as the former high-flying star winger. Like Yakupov, Goldobin is a left-shooting winger in a smaller frame (5’11”, 154 lbs) that thrives playing on his off right wing.

Similar to Yakupov, Nikolai has a crafty playmaking ability that few of his OHL classmates could replicate. Goldobin has elite-level vision and his skill for threading needle-like passes goes unmatched. His playmaking ability truly is among the elite at the major junior level and he has just begun playing with the confidence that could make him a star in the OHL. Not overly speedy and certainly not a bull on the puck, Goldobin thrives on his vision and slick puck skills to elude defenders. Goldobin is currently riding a four-game point streak and it is no coincidence that his team in Sarnia shares the same four-game win streak.

After several weeks of experimenting with line chemistry, coach Beaulieu has placed Goldobin on the top line alongside Montreal Canadiens top prospect Alex Galchenyuk and the move has paid huge dividends as the duo has formed tremendous chemistry with each other and overage winger Craig Hottot. Over the past few games, Galchenyuk and Goldobin’s harmony on the ice has been symphony-like as their orchestrated passing has been timely executed showing all signs of a beautiful partnership for the year to come. With Goldobin’s ability to see the ice and elevate the play of his line-mates around him he has been especially important to Sarnia’s offensive attack.  Early signs point to Sarnia having found another offensive gem via the CHL Import Draft and Nikolai Goldobin is a name the Ontario Hockey League will soon familiarize them with.

VIDEO: Nikolai Goldobin scores a highlight reel goal in Sarnia’s 3-1 win over the Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds (Courtesy of OntarioHockeyLeague.com)

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