‘Keeper Watch’ will come out every Wednesday, noting the changes in value for top prospects who are most likely available in your league. We will also focus on young players once considered top prospects. Similarly to our ‘Endorsed Pickups’ I will try not to focus too much on one position, which will leave some noteworthy players off the list.
This edition of Keeper Watch will take an extended look at the rookies getting their chance around the league. Although most on this list are recent call ups the criteria does not apply to all the rookies mentioned here today. Still there are some young guys worth looking at in your keeper:
RW: Brandon Yip, Colorado Avalanche – Here is one prospect rarely talked about. Fresh off an excellent senior year with Boston University, Yip made the jump to the NHL rather quickly. The 24-year-old spent only six games in the AHL before eventually getting his call to the majors. This player brings a more polished game to the Avs, and drew the praises of beat writer Adrian Dater last night with his hustle and effort. The youngster plays on the fourth line, lucky for him so does Ryan O’Reilly at the moment.
Prognosis: By no means do I advocate grabbing this youngster right now. However, the kid shows promise and produced at almost a point per game clip in his last year of college eligibility. His development at a top US school certainly doesn’t hurt. Another effort like last night and Yip should stick.
C: Kevin Porter, Phoenix Coyotes – The Coyotes recently recalled the 2008 Hobey Baker Award winner from San Antonio. Through 27 games in the A, the 23-year-old posted 10 goals and 24 points. Porter possesses the skills to make it, he simply needs to get the next step. Some feel he was rushed through the system last year and pressed too hard. Still in last year’s cup of coffee the product of the University of Michigan produced 10 points in 34 games.
Prognosis: Porter may be ready for the next step, certainly a player worth keeping an eye on. With the diminishing play of Peter Mueller and a coach who can hide this young player’s defensive hiccups Porter should stay with the big club. Definitely a name to watch.
LW: Bryan Bickell, Chicago Blackhawks – Due to cap restrictions, Bickell rides the shuttle almost daily between the Hawks and Rockford. Now finding a regular shift in place of catalyst Ben Eager, the 23-year-old impressed coach Joel Quenneville. Not necessarily known as a scorer throughout his career, Bickell should display some grit on the left side. An absolute ceiling for the kid is a 40 point, 100 PIM campaign but on a powerhouse Chicago team anything is possible.
Prognosis: Bickell may not stick or score goals this year. With financial problems on the horizon, the cap strung Blackhawks should give this promising young player a full-time role next season. At that point, anything is possible.
D: Jason Demers, San Jose Sharks – Excuse my language, but who the #@$% is this kid? Well after splitting four years in the QMJHL with Moncton and Victoriaville, Demers graduated to the A where he posted 33 points in 78 games. Playing most of the season in the NHL, the Sharks recently demoted the 21-year-old only for him to return and score a goal while posting a plus three rating in as many games.
Prognosis: Just as before the demotion, this kids wass pretty safe in all formats. He does play less minutes than most defensemen on the team but he still seems able to produce.
D: Cody Franson, Nashville Predators – Simply looking at his production throughout his career, Franson seems poised to score. Following consecutive seasons with double digit goals in the A, the 22-year-old took the leap as an NHL regular this year and so far has nine points in 27 games. Nine days ago coach Barry Trotz benched the youngster in favor of rookie Alexander Sulzer and since his return posted three points in his last four games.
Prognosis: This kid has the highest ceiling of any players discussed. Seriously. If given the time Franson boasts 40-50 point potential. His offensive production really is not a question. The youngster must continue to improve his play in his own end in order to remain in the lineup so playing time is questionable. In summary, your team can do much worse than a young, productive defenseman on a hot team.
G: Jonas Gustavsson, Toronto Maple Leafs – We mentioned Gustavsson yesterday, but as reporting and analysis site we rarely get to take a sentimental pick. Now making his third straight start for the Leafs we here at NHLHS are glad the Monster returned successfully following a scary, and rumored career threatening heart ablation procedure.
Prognosis: Click here.
Other rookies/recent callups worth looking into: Niklas Hjalmarsson, Matt Gilroy, Ivan Vishneskiy, Josh Hennessy
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