While the NHL looks headed towards a work stoppage, it will be business as usual for the rest of the hockey world.
Here are six prospects we project primed for breakout seasons in 2012-2013.
Breakout Candidate: Carl Sneep is entering a crucial season in his professional career and if he stays healthy, many inside the organization feel he is primed to make that next step. Sneep, 24, made his NHL debut in December and had an assist in the Penguins 8-3 win against Buffalo. Sneep though was lost for the season soon after, appearing in just 34 games for Wilkes Barre last season. Sneep has the size, skating and physical traits that teams covet in blueliners but he’s never been a dominating defenseman at the AHL or college ranks. Don’t be surprised if that changes this season in Wilkes Barre.
Scouting Report: Strong skating ability, moves the puck well.
– Good positioning, uses his size well
– Plays more physical than he is given credit for and clears the front of the net effectively
– Does well in 1-on-1 situations and uses his speed to his advantage which makes him difficult to beat outside
– Is a good puck distributor but the stats have never matched the talent.
Born: 2-22-1993, Moscow, Russia
Height 5-11 Weight: 189 lbs
Position: RW | Shoots: R
2012 6th round pick
2011-2012 Stats: 66 GP – 40 G – 36 A – 76 Pts
2012-2013 Team: Val-d’Or, Foreurs
Breakout Candidate: Zlobin is the type of player that frustrates scouts which led to him dropping to the sixth round in the 2012 entry draft. Skill wise, there’s no denying Zlobin could have been a third or fourth round pick but what has plagued him is his overall play and most scrutinized is Zlobin’s compete level on a game-by-game basis. Following the Canada – Russia series in August though, Zlobin is now a player being discussed in the scouts, evaluators circle. One reason was his ability to mesh well with top pick Nail Yapukov but the bigger reason was his compete level and attention to details defensively throughout the series. He finally looked like an all-around player and is a prime breakout player from an overall game aspect to make a big jump on the prospect board for when he likely joins the Penguins organization in 2013-2014.
Scouting Report: Skill wise, he has top-6 potential, with slick hands in tight and a dangerous shot. He’s skating is not great and most concerning about him is that he’s known not to battle for loose battles and play hard at a consistent level. In development camp, he often seemed a step behind the play but showed in the Canada-Russia series that he plays his best with skilled players and his compete level was very good. Is he turning the corner? We’ll see over the course of this season.
Born: 6-27-1989, Canada
Height: 6-5 Weight: 218 lbs
Position: Center Shoots: R
2007 2nd round pick
2011-2012 Stats: N/A
2012-2013 Team: Wilkes Barre/Scranton Penguins (AHL)
Breakout Candidate: Can he stay Healthy? That’s the big question mark surrounding the Penguins 2007 second round pick who just can’t stay healthy since turning pro. In 2009-2010, Veilleux had season ending surgery in November, followed by missing 14 games in 2010-2011 to not playing last season after suffering a major knee injury in a preseason game, leading to knee surgery that ended Veilleux’s season with a recovery time of over six months. Veilleux who agreed to a one year deal this summer, is entering a crucial season when it comes to his career with the Penguins. Veilleux is one of the Penguins most intriguing and talented forwards in the system and if he can put together a healthy season, he’s a strong candidate to push for NHL duty by 2013-2014 season or even become a trade chip.
Scouting Report: Has the size, skill and smarts where the Penguins a few years ago envisioned Veilleux being able to push for an NHL role by now. His development is now behind due to injuries but the skill is there where it’s too early to write off the 23 year old. Veilleux has offensive ability, and plays a powerful, north-south style of hockey that is simple and effective, to make up for his foot speed. If he can ever get it together, Veilleux has all the tools to be a strong two-way centerman at the NHL level. The Penguins staff though still has plans to develop Veilleux on the wing but that could change with Jordan Staal no longer around.
Born:01-21-1992 – Landshut, Germany
Height: 6-2 Weight: 191 lbs
Position: Left Wing Shoots: L
2010 4th round draft pick
2011-2012 Team: Niagra Ice Dogs (OHL)
2011-2012 Stats: 34 GP | 8 Goals – 21 Assists – 29 Pts +14 rating | 35 PIM
Projected 2012-2013 Team: Wilkes Barre/Scranton Penguins
2012-2013 Outlook: Kuhnhackl will join the Penguins organization and appears ticketed for Wilkes Barre where he will spend at least a full season in the minors. With a well rounded game and offensive upside, we’re projecting him as one of the top breakout candidates in the Penguins system after an up and down junior season that saw him change teams and deal with a suspension. The Penguins could have an infusion of two top-9 forwards in Kuhnhackl and Bennett as regulars in the lineup at the NHL level by start of the 2014-2015 season.
Scouting Report: Is a potential proto-typical power forward with goal scoring potential
Strengths/Weaknesses: – Scored 39 goals in his first season in North America and has some upside as a goal scorer but his goal scoring numbers were down in 2011-2012
– Has a quick shot with a lot of velocity
– Kuhnhackl possesses power forward attributes once his body feels out. Has a strong power move when driving to the net from the outside.
– Is versatile at wing and can play both sides easily
– Scouts say Kuhnhackl has made improvements in the puck distributing department and is not one dimensional offensively
– What’s impressive about Kuhnhackl’s overall game is that he has a strong understanding of defensive zone play and is excellent on the boards at getting the puck out of danger
– Biggest weakness in Kunhackl’s game is his skating and his body still has a ways to go in developing into a power forward type player
Potential – Low End Top 6 forward/ High End Third Liner
Philip Samuelsson Age 21
Height: 6-2 Weight: 200 lbs
Position: Defense Shoots: L
2009 2nd round draft pick
2011-2012 Stats: 46 GP | 1 Goal – 8 Assists – 9 Points + 4 rating | 26 PIM
2012-2013 Team: Wilkes Barre Scranton (AHL)
Breakout Candidate: Samuelsson the Penguins 2nd round pick in 2009, is a hard read at this point but is just 21 years old and the Penguins have always felt Samuelsson was going to be a project. Entering his second full season in the organization, the numbers make it look like another year of possibly being in and out of the Baby Pens lineup but there’s a good consensus in the organization of Samuelsson being regarded as a player who should show steady improvement in year two with the organization. One reason why is Samuelsson’s improved skating ability.
Scouting Report: Samuelsson is not a physically imposing defenseman like his father Ulf was, but he plays a sound defensive game within the team’s structure and knows what he’s good at and what he’s not.
Strengths/Weaknesses: Has a very good stick and anticipates the play well.
– Gets his stick in passing lanes and frustrates players in front of the net by being aggressive with his stick within the rules. He’s not scared to give the opposition a hard whack with his stick
— Was an excellent penalty killer in the college ranks
– Skating is a major issue and the one question mark that could keep him from being a regular NHLer. He’s made improvements though and is much more fluid in the skating department. It’s an area the Penguins are still working with him on.
– His anticipation though is very good and in 1-on-1 situations when he gets a good angle, he has the ability to lock down on the incoming player and is difficult to beat. If he doesn’t get a good angle, he can easily get beat to the outside as he doesn’t have great footwork.
– In the transition game he moves the puck well for a defensive defenseman
Potentialâ Bottom pairing defensemen
Born: Nov 30, 1988 Methuen, NH.
Height: 6-1 Weight: 205 lbs
Position: Forward Shoots: R
2011-2012 Stats: 67 GP | 10 Goals 15 assists 25 points -1 rating | 37 PIM
2012-2013 Team: Wilkes Barre/Scranton
Breakout Candidate: Thompson will be penciled in for Wilkes Barre next season after a solid but not spectacular season. What to watch with Thompson is whether he takes that next step offensively in his second professional season. He scored 52 points in 29 games, including 29 goals in his final college season in 2010-2011 and it won’t surprise anyone in the organization if Thompson progresses into a 40 point player for Baby Pens in 2012-2013.
Scouting Report:When Pittsburgh signed Thompson, they felt the NHL potential is there, and he has some offensive tools, possessing an accurate hard shot to go along with good vision and strong hockey sense. Offensively he provides a good mix of goal scoring potential and playmaking ability but he also brings a two-way game to the table which helps his NHL prospects down the road.
SEPTEMBER PROSPECT RANKINGS
1. Joe Morrow
2. Simon Despres
3. Scott Harrington
4. Olli Maatta
5. Derrick Pouliot
6. Beau Bennett
7. Brian Dumuolin
8. Teddy Blueger
9. Tom Kuhnhackl
10. Robert Bortuzzo
11. Nick D’agostino
12. Kenny Agostino
13. Dominik Uher
14. Carl Sneep
15. Philip Samuelsson
16. Keven Veilleux
17. Oscar Sundqvist
18. Ben Hanowski
19. Josh Archibald
20. Scott Wilson
21. Matia Marcantuoni
22. Anton Zlobin
23. Alex Grant
24. Reid McNeill
25. Zach Sill
26. Alex Velischek
27. Paul Thompson
28. Jason Megna
29. Bryan Rust
30. Clark Seymour
31. Harrison Ruopp