Keeper Watch: First Rounders in Action

Stanley Cup Champions, Pittsburgh Penguins Take to the Ice For Training Camp

‘Keeper Watch’ will come out every Wednesday or Thursday, 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 much like last week’s edition will take an extended look at some top prospects and their assent through the minors.  Most of those mentioned are either first round picks or highly regarded within their organizations.

C: Jiri Tlusty, Carolina Hurricanes – In his three games in Carolina before a recent demotion, the 21-year-old center scored a goal and an assist.  The talented Czech and former 13th overall pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2006 shows tons of promise, adding to what could be an impressive young core.  With injuries to Eric Cole and Chad LaRose there should be some minutes available while the Canes rebuild.  I expect Tlusty to get a longer look this time around.

Prognosis: Lots of potential should he get good minutes.  Monitor his position on the team, he should get an opportunity once some veterans are moved.

C: Nathan Gerbe, Buffalo Sabres – Similar to Tlusty, this young center put up a goal and an assist in two games.  Following his second game he landed on injured reserve and subsequently took an assignment to the Portland Pirates of the AHL.  While with the team the diminutive forward proved he is ready for the next step.

Prognosis: Take a long look at Gerbe once he makes his inevitable return.  The Sabres boast some pretty talented wingers and can always use help on the offensive side of things with Thomas Vanek failing to produce.

LW: Luca Caputi, Pittsburgh Penguins – Caputi scored in his season debut last night, proving that a monkey can score on the left side of Evgeni Malkin. Hockey’s Future rated the 21-year-old the fourth prospect in the system and second forward to Eric Tangradi.  Even though the two played together with WilTankes-Barre/Scranton, it was Caputi with over double the production of the higher Tangradi.  Maybe Caputi will be another winger this Penguin team needs.

Prognosis: Probably not a bad option to grab.  He may be Pittsburgh’s best forward prospect at the moment and he will play with Malkin for the six weeks Chris Kunitz will miss.

LW: Zach Boychuk, Carolina Hurricanes – Similar to Tlusty, Boychuk should see extended time as the team begins to sell.  Seeing as we mentioned the Canes selling today, we thought we might keep the trend going by discussing their bright future.  In his three game stint with the big club, the 21-year-old added an assist and six shots.  Nothing overwhelming, but considering his age and 14th overall selection in 2008 it is certainly a nice start. 

Prognosis: He probably won’t see significant enough ice time this year to make a difference but definitely a player to watch.

D: Alex Pietrangelo, St. Louis Blues – I will be the first person to admit, I drafted Pietrangelo this year thinking he would be an instant star.  Coming into the season for a young, up-and-coming team who just came off a successful playoff year and the thought of playing next to Eric Johnson sold me.  The former 4th overall pick played nine games with the big club, posting two points.  The Blues then lent him to Team Canada to represent his country in the WJHC, where he played admirably and up to standards.  Upon his return to the team, they immediately demoted him back to juniors for the remainder of the season.

Prognosis: Better luck next year, Alex.

G: Devan Dubnyk, Edmonton Oilers – When the Oilers took Dubnyk 14th overall in 2004, they felt they would solve their goaltending issues for years.  The Regina native looks anything but allowing 10 goals in under two games of ice time.  The team’s reluctance to give the 23-year-old a chance in the middle of a admittedly lost year shows they have essentially given up on him.

Prognosis: The player has no future with the Oilers, maybe another team will give him a chance.

Honorable Mentions: Ben Bishop, Yan Stastny, Chad Johnson, MacGregor Sharp

-Alexander Monaghan
NHLHS Founder
Twitter: @NHLHotStove

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