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S73 Future Watch: NA Conference


Patrik Tallinder
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Welcome back to another edition of Future Watch! A short two weeks ago we covered the best prospects from all around the European Conference. This time, we take a deep dive into the prospect pools of the North American VHL teams.

 

As always, be sure to support the unbelievable content that is being constantly published by VSN. From weekly coverage of both the VHL and VHLM, historical articles which detail some of the VHL’s most interesting teams and players, and content following the upcoming S74 Draft, there’s at least one article a week that applies to everybody. Here’s some of our latest work:

| VHL Weekly | Behind The Trophies | VSN Podcast | VHLM Weekly |

 

Without further delay, let’s get into it!

 

 

 

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DC DRAGONS | 8th in NA | 16th Overall

Top Prospect: Rick Osman - S73 3rd Round (38)

 

DC’s group is one of decent potential, yet also one of uncertainty. They have two solid prospects, but I can’t quite say what their ceiling as a player looks like. The reason for this is the fluctuation in TPE totals from week to week.

 

In last season’s Future Watch, I noted S72 prospect Alek Andreshnikov as a wildcard. The reason for this is because he had recently increased his TPE production after only claiming practice facility for the bulk of his career. Fast forward to now, Andreshnikov has earned 6+ TPE in four consecutive weeks. He did fall back into the habit of only claiming practice facility for a brief few weeks, but nonetheless he has proven himself to be a prospect with VHL upside.

 

Along with Andreshnikov, new arrival and S73 prospect Rick Osman has shown great potential. Osman kicked off his career with 9 straight weeks of 6-8 TPE but has since struggled a bit with consistency. Enter a 31 TPE week in the middle of this downpatch, and it really becomes hard to predict his potential. I will say one thing for sure though; The 18-year-old defenceman has displayed consistency and high TPE production at different points in his career so far, which gives him some pretty good potential if he can capture at least one of those two things more often.

 

 

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CALGARY WRANGLERS | 7th in NA | 13th Overall

Top Prospect: Gary Rush - S73 3rd Round (37)

 

Unfortunately, Calgary’s prospect pool only has one member. The fortunate part of this is that their one prospect is Gary Rush, who could be ready for the VHL as soon as next season. Rush has earned at least 8 TPE for twelve straight weeks, often earning 10-12 TPE in many of those weeks as well. Rush is a scoring threat with a responsible 200-foot game that coaches love. His 20 goals in 45 games so far in the VHLM show his offensive talents, which are only getting better over time. He has already topped all of last season’s offensive totals, and there is still plenty of time left in S73. Calgary’s pool is pretty shallow, but the one asset they have is a keeper for sure.

 

 

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SEATTLE BEARS | 6th in NA | 12th Overall

Top Prospect: Han Jae Kuk - S73 2nd Round (35)

 

Seattle has a nice group of up and coming prospects, led by two newcomers of the S73 Draft. I decided to choose defenceman Han Jae Kuk as the team’s top prospect, but it’s really splitting hairs when Rocket has shown so much promise as well. Both of these players regularly earn 8-12 TPE per week, with occasional weeks of more. With Han Jae Kuk on the blueline and Rocket on the wing, the Bears have some nice positional depth as well. The pair could very well be ready for the VHL by S74, and are highly anticipated arrivals in Seattle.

 

Where things get even more interesting is a couple of returnees from last season’s article. Defenders Bo Burrows and Erik Hjalmarsson have seen an uptick in TPE production lately, most notably in the capped department. For Hjalmarsson, this is a massive step forward in his development, given that for a long time he has solely claimed practice facility and training camp. For Burrows, he could be returning to form as a very valuable piece of Seattle’s future blueline. Needless to say, they are both putting themselves in the right position to succeed, and now it’s just about maintaining their increased TPE rate. The Bears have up to three quality defencemen here, with a great forward to balance things out a bit.

 

 

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LOS ANGELES STARS | 5th in NA | 11th Overall

Top Prospect: Jiggly Gumballs - S73 2nd Round (28)

 

Our first expansion team on this list, the Stars find themselves with a unit of nice depth, but with a bit of a lack of consistency in some of the players. Going by order of draft selection, Mikeal Keef of the Ottawa Lynx is the first name to come up in this group. Keef looked to be a potential core piece of the team’s defence, but a sudden drop in TPE production since around mid-July has raised some concern. Despite this, Keef is still quite close to the VHLM TPA cap, and if he gets back on track, could still be an amazing player. He has only had one week of complete inactivity since his activity decreased, so it’s not hard to believe he could pick it back up at any time.

 

Joining him as second-round draft choices, Jiggy Gumballs and Drew Minott are probably this team’s top two prospects. Both players are late joiners of the S73 class, and both have shown immense potential. Gumballs has displayed his talents as a physical two-way defender this season with Ottawa, totalling 89 hits and 65 points in only 45 games. Minott has a fantastic goalie build which will lead him to success as he earns TPE over time, and is currently considered the goalie of the future for this exciting new team.

 

Lastly, we have the Finnish Janiina Juutila. Juutila’s weekly TPE earning has seen some ups and downs lately, but she has demonstrated an ability to consistently earn 6-8 TPE per week consistently early on in her career. Her build is extremely scoring-based, with skating and scoring being her most prevalent features. If she can get back to where she was just a short few weeks ago, this could be an absolute steal of a pick for the Stars. This team has tons of potential in the pipelines, it just needs to show itself a little more often.

 

 

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NEW YORK AMERICANS | 4th in NA | 10th Overall

Top Prospect: John Brewitt - S72 3rd Round (30)

 

New York has three notable prospects this season, and they are led by the VHL-ready winger John Brewitt. Brewitt has had an outstanding performance so far in S73 for Minnesota, scoring 30 goals and 68 points in just 47 games. Last week was an inactive week for him, but hopefully, that was just a small hiccup; He gets the benefit of the doubt from me because of his past consistency. Usually, he earns about 10 TPE on average per week, so should he come back in full form, he will be a useful asset for this team moving forward.

 

Two goalies find themselves as the remaining pair of active players. The most recent addition, Cal Conway, has shown spectacular upside, yet has battled with inactivity for a little while now. The American netminder has had a good season in S73, taking the reins as the starting goalie following the departure of Grekkark Gyrfalcon. If Conway can find consistency in his development as a player, watch out — that’s all I’ll say. The other half of this pair is Bacon, who has also shown promise as a young goaltender. His weekly TPE totals have seen some peaks and valleys lately, but overall he’s still producing a pretty nice amount. He has been incredible for Miami this season, putting up 36 wins in 47 games so far. Selected in the fourth round of the S72 Draft, Bacon has been a steal for the Americans, and hopefully, he shines in the big league to prove his worth to those who passed on him.

 

 

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TORONTO LEGION | 3rd in NA | 8th Overall

Top Prospect: John Merrick - S73 1st Round (5)

 

Top Toronto prospect John Merrick is nothing short of a superstar in the making. He has already climbed up to 9th in TPE among S73 players despite creating in the last week of eligibility for that draft. As he continues to climb, Merrick’s skill set will be on full display — this absurd skill set of his has already allowed him to pot goal after goal at nearly a goal-per-game average in S73. Look out for him as a balanced scoring threat in the VHL next season, where he could quite possibly contend for the top rookie award.

 

Behind Merrick isn’t a pool full of depth, but one other high-quality prospect. Ziarie Anigbogu somehow fell to Toronto at 38 last season, and he has wasted no time soaring past his competition. Anigbogu’s build paints him as a fantastic puck-moving defenceman, and his 33 assists reflect that. The vast majority of weeks, he is earning 10 or more TPE, so he is undoubtedly on a great trajectory as far as the future goes. He and Merrick are both high upside prospects and must-see rookies in S74.

 

 

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CHICAGO PHOENIX | 2nd in NA | 7th Overall

Top Prospect: Matty Socks - S73 2nd Round (22)

 

Yet another two-headed monster, the Chicago Phoenix’s duo of prospects are both extremely high upside players with bright futures ahead. Leading the way is Miami’s Matty Socks, a mobile defender with lots of offensive potential at the VHL level. His 23 goals in 47 games up until this point are unbelievable, and his TPE production suggests that he could do the same in the VHL one day. 

 

S Kuchar is the other prospect here, and he would likely be neck and neck with Socks if he had joined earlier. However, he has still managed to make up an amazing amount of ground on those who had a headstart on him in the short time since the draft. He has often shown up on the scoresheet as well this season, with 21 goals in 47 games. Both of these players will play a large role in the success of this new Chicago team, and we will get to see it all unfold soon enough.

 

 

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VANCOUVER WOLVES | 1st in NA | 5th Overall

Top Prospect: Jesper Norberg - S73 2nd Round (20)

 

The Wolves’ group is headlined by some truly fantastic names but backed up by some under the radar prospects that should not be taken lightly either. I’d like to begin with Raiens Grasis who made an adjustment a few weeks ago that has significantly increased his value. Going from a weekly 2 TPE to 6 has tripled his TPE production, and has now entered Grasis into the conversation of being a solid VHL player in the future. Good stuff to see from the young winger.

 

A couple of picks in the tail end of the second round of the S73 Draft could turn into decent players for this team. Florent Vericel has been almost completely inactive lately but has shown VHL potential not long ago. Consider him a wildcard for the time being. Jeff Odinson was picked two spots later and is proving his worth already. He is a physical two-way threat that can both create plays and shut them down. His 137 hits are a nice touch, and his TPE earning seals him as a great overall prospect.

 

Hunter Harrison is still earning at a decent pace and could be in the big league fairly soon. He has a very balanced build that could play in all situations, and his 32 points this season is already a career-high. I would say he’s someone to keep an eye on. He could be a nice addition to their blueline soon enough, and 1st round pick Shawn Glade III is already prepared for the VHL. He has been up and down with activity lately, but his potential is still sky-high. User ShawnGlade has had successful VHL players in the past, and Glade III could be another one for him. The defenceman has a nice balanced build as well and could fit into any lineup.

 

Glade III is actually only one of three VHL-ready players in this unit though, and the other two are a pair of back to back 2nd round selections. Kevin King was chosen 19th overall after taking the league by storm as a late joiner first-generation player. The scoring hasn’t really come in full force for King yet, but he is too talented to not break out soon. He caps out almost every week, earning plenty of uncapped TPE at the same time. This is a player with true star potential, and he, along with Jesper Norberg, will be huge parts of this team as soon as next season. I have Norberg listed as the team’s top prospect, but really it’s extremely close. The Swede has had a tremendous VHLM season in S73, posting 42 goals and 78 points in only 47 games so far. He is a goal scorer as pure as they come, and his elite TPE earning makes it likely that he could tear up the VHL soon enough as well. He is averaging a shade over 27 TPE over his last 4 full weeks, which is just unreal. Vancouver has depth, but also some truly next-level talent in their prospect pool

 

 

That’s it for S73 Future Watch! As always I wish these players the absolute best in the future, and any criticism I have is meant to be constructive. I’ll see you next season, but until then, catch some of VSN Scouting’s upcoming draft content! This will give you an early look at the names we’ll be seeing next season. 

 

Players Mentioned: @PuckPushers @dylanjj37 @G_Rush @Dtayl @Rocket @Walter Fizz @Erik @RStar @JigglyGumballs @DreMin15 @Jansgasm @JBrew42 @Shaka @Bacon @Steve @ngine4 @fishy @S. Kuchar @raiens @dart @GoldGear88 @I'll change this later @ShawnGlade @IamMOOSE @jpsd

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