Monday, November 3, 2008

Kyle Turris and other Badger NHL prospects

The Star Tribune has a nice article about Kyle Turris and good friend Colton Gillies who is currently playing for the Minnesota Wild.

Hockey's Future is continuing it's system audits of NHL teams. We've previously posted about Brendan Smith and Ryan McDonagh. Here are other system audits that mention Badgers.

Senators 2008 system audit
With the Ray Emery saga now behind them, the Senators are placing their hopes for the future in Brian Elliott. Drafted second to last in 2003 (291st overall), the fact that Elliott has made it as far as the AHL would be surprise in itself. After a stellar four-year career at the University of Wisconsin, which saw him finish as runner-up for the Hobey Baker award in 2006, Elliott was forced to play backup to Martin Gerber to start the 2007-08 season, as Emery was still recovering from off season wrist surgery.

Soon afterwards, Elliott was reassigned to Binghamton, where he initially struggled. However, he regained his form, and by season end was Binghamton’s No. 1 goalie, and the best player in their playoff push. Elliott compiled a solid 18-19-1 record, with a .915 save percentage, and 2.81 GAA on a Binghamton team that struggled to find offense many nights. His season was brought to an end though against the Syracuse Crunch, when an opposing player fell onto him, injuring his knee. The B-Sens would go on to miss the playoffs that season.

With Elliott recovered from the injury, a big year is expected from him. GM Bryan Murray wants Elliott to play the entire year in the AHL as a started, but if Martin Gerber falters for the third season in a row, and Alex Auld is unable to carry the load, Elliott may get a serious shot at the No. 1 job sooner rather than later.

Maple Leafs 2008 system audit
With Kulemin and Grabovski, the Leafs have some decent left wing talent. Add Robbie Earl to that mix and you could say the position is in good shape.

Even though he turns 24 in February, Robbie Earl’s elite speed fits perfectly with the young Leafs and guarantees he’ll spend at least part of his career in the NHL. He’s currently with the Marlies alongside Alex Foster who has four points in 10 games so far in 2008-09. Earl was a late cut by the Leafs and should see some time with them this season.

Hurricanes 2008 system audit
The Hurricanes have done a great job in recent drafts of selecting defensemen after the first round who seem to be on a path to the NHL. The best of the bunch may very well be University of Wisconsin rearguard Jamie McBain. McBain has been a key part of the Badgers blue line since heading to college and is a two-time member of Team USA’s World Juniors team. He’s also played with several other top-flight defensive prospects at Wisconsin: Brendan Smith (DET), Ryan McDonagh (MTL), Cody Goloubef and, most recently, Jake Gardiner.

Coyotes 2008 system audit
The Coyotes have quality talent up the middle, as Kyle Turris leads the pack. Leaving Madison and flying south to start his pro career made tons of people happy in Phoenix. Management got giddy too, as they went out and got Jokinen to take over as the first line center to give the rookie some breathing room. Turris is expected to be one of the cornerstones of the franchise for years to come, and he’s off to a decent start. The 18-year old is a natural goal scorer, but he’s also a dynamic skater and stick handler. To remain a legitimate Calder Trophy candidate, Turris is going to have to show that junior-A flair that put him on the map.

Blue Jackets 2008 system audit
The cream of the current Blue Jacket crop of defensive prospects includes a pair of early-20’s AHL vets in Andrei Plekhanov and Marc Methot, and the incumbent second-round selection Cody Goloubef.

Also several years removed from a realistic opportunity to make an impact at the NHL level is 2008 second-round selection Cody Goloubef, a poised, offense-minded defenseman who may represent the best defensive prospect in the organization in a half-decade. Only 18, Goloubef is firmly entrenched as a contributing member on the University of Wisconsin hockey club as a sophomore, and will look to improve upon his impressive rookie campaign with the Badgers. It should be well into the next decade before the youngster is given an opportunity at an NHL job.

Blackhawks 2008 system audit
There are still more prominent prospects in this deep group of centers. Colin Fraser has gotten opportunities on the fourth line for Chicago already this season. Twenty-year-old Swedish center Tony Lagerstrom has found success in his home country with fantastic intangibles and solid two-way play. Nathan Davis, a fourth-round pick in 2005, will be making the jump from college at Miami University to the professional ranks in Rockford. Evan Brophey and Jake Dowell will also be gaining experience with the IceHogs.

The other winger to make the team out of camp was Jack Skille, who made the Blackhawks’ opening roster in only his second full pro year out of the University of Wisconsin. The much anticipated Skille was the seventh overall selection in the 2005 draft. The ability to produce in the NHL is there, as illustrated in Skille’s 16 games with the Blackhawks last season where he put up a solid 3 goals, 2 assists. At only 21 years old, Skille was recently sent to Rockford where he should gain valuable experience skating top-line minutes.

Kings 2008 system audit

Drew Bagnall and Joe Piskula are veterans of the AHL and are beginning to fall by the wayside in favor of more talented defensemen. Bagnall had a disappointing last season that resulted in his fall down the depth charts. With the influx of new defensemen from the 2008 draft, Bagnall might be out of sight of an NHL roster. Piskula might be closer to the NHL than Bagnall, but he is not likely to have any lasting impact on the Kings. He can be used as an emergency fill in for a defensive defenseman for Los Angeles, but his chances of securing a steady roster spot are almost nil. The same may apply for Davis Drewiske who is providing depth for Manchester with almost no chance of making the NHL this season or with the Kings in any other season.