Monday, January 26, 2009

HF's prospects updates

A number of Badgers are included in Hockey's Futures latest round of prospects updates.

Red Wings 2008-09 NCAA prospects update

Brendan Smith, D – University of Wisconsin

6’2, 174lbs
Acquired: 1st round, 27th overall, 2007

The Red Wings surprised many when they took Smith 27th overall in the 2007 draft. While he was project to go in a later round, Smith fits the mold of many other Red Wings defensemen as a small but very mobile player. In his rookie season at the University of Wisconsin he was able to tally 12 points in 22 games played. He has been praised for all aspects of his offensive game including his smooth skating, outlet passing and ability to quarterback the power play. Smith’s defensive game has always been the question.

This season Smith has surpassed his rookie season totals and has 18 points in 21 games. Additionally, he is playing a more sound defensive game and has developed a better sense of when to pinch and how to position himself on the ice. If Smith can continue his progress in the college ranks, then he could certainly pan out as a first or second pairing defenseman.

Canadiens 2008-09 NCAA prospects

Patrick Johnson, F (7th round, 206th overall, 2008) -- University of Wisconsin

The sophomore winger has played a solid role for the Badgers to date, although a knee injury suffered during the team's first game back following a three-week holiday break may prove to be a setback for the young forward.

The slight winger, who measures just 5'9 and 155 pounds, has scored two goals and three assists in his second season with the club. These numbers represent a drop in production from his 2007-08 totals of eight goals and 13 assists in 40 games. However, he has helped the club earn a 16th overall ranking behind a 12-9-3 overall record so far. Their 9-5-2 record finds them in second place, three points behind WCHA-leading Denver.

Ryan McDonagh, D (1st round, 12th overall, 2007) -- University of Wisconsin

McDonagh has rapidly played his way to the top of the Canadiens' prospect pool. He's been a rock on the Badgers' blueline and was a physical force during the U.S.' fifth-place performance at the World Junior Hockey Championships.

The 6'1, 203-pound blueliner has logged major minutes as a sophomore with the 17th ranked Badgers, and has scored four goals and added five assists from the back end. These numbers are comparable to his 2007-08 totals of five goals and 12 points in 40 games. McDonagh's also played more of a physical presence in his 20 games at the collegiate level this season, earning 37 minutes.

The two-way blueliner was a presence at the World Juniors, adding three assists to the cause, while finishing with a team-leading plus-five rating in Team USA's six games. The fact that he only registered two shots in those games was more of a reflection of the defensive role he was asked to play at the tournament.

Kings 2008-09 AHL prospects update


Veterans of the AHL, Joe Piskula and Drew Bagnall, have logged a lot of ice time playing the roles of defensive defensemen. Piskula has been slowed by injury while Bagnall is the lone defenseman to appear in every game for Manchester. Bagnall has emerged as more of a physical defenseman this season and has been the stalwart against the opposition around the net. Piskula continues to provide sound positional defense and solid skating to keep the opposing forwards at bay. While his potential for the NHL has largely leveled off, he has a steadying influence on the blueline in Manchester, not dissimilar to what Joe Rullier provided the Monarchs for years, but not as physical.

Rounding out the group of seven are Alec Martinez, Andrew Campbell and Josh Kidd, Davis Drewiske, each playing in their first full season of professional hockey. Martinez is the more mobile defenseman of the group, but has been slow to adjust to the AHL. One of the better offensive-minded defensemen in college hockey last season, Martinez needs work on aspects of his offensive game to retain his reputation. If he can begin to find the back of the net with a little more regularity, the Monarchs might be set offensively from their blueline with the combination of Martinez and Voinov.