With junior seasons and the rookie tournament set to start in the coming weeks, the focus will be on the prospects until training camp begins. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at some of those prospects in our mailbag.
Will the recent trade of Jeremiah Addison to Windsor affect Montreal’s plans for him this season?
It certainly makes it more appealing for them to send him back. Not only will he still be a top six forward with the Spitfires (at least to start), he’s also all but guaranteed a lengthy postseason run. Windsor is hosting the Memorial Cup this year and they are expected to make some more additions throughout the season. If the Habs want him to continue to work on his offensive game at the junior level, this should give him the chance to do so in a winning environment, something that hasn’t been the case often for him in the OHL.
I don’t think it seals his fate that he makes it back to junior though. Addison is eligible to play in the AHL in 2016-17 (either on a two-way NHL deal or more likely, an AHL contract) and the IceCaps don’t exactly have a ton of depth up front. He profiles as a bottom six forward and could potentially slot into that role with St. John’s before too long so they may deem that it’s better to put him in his projected role earlier at the higher level. The fact that Windsor only gave up conditional picks to get Addison suggests that they think there’s at least a chance that the Canadiens don’t put him back in junior to start the season.
Beyond the first rounders, will the Habs have anyone at the World Juniors?
Assuming he’s not in the NHL, Mikhail Sergachev should play at the WJC’s unless politics get in the way and the Russian Federation decides to punish him for playing in Canada. They used him at the under-18’s but only after their original team failed drug tests so it’s not crazy to think that they could opt for someone in the MHL or VHL (Russian leagues below the KHL) if they want to send a message. Noah Juulsen should be in good shape for a roster spot unless he gets off to a rocky start with Everett. Canada’s defence in the Summer Showcase had a lot of offensive-minded players so having someone who is steady in their own end like Juulsen is seems like a no-brainer.
I suspect those will be the only two Montreal prospects who will be there come December but I wouldn’t completely rule out Will Bitten. Canada always likes to have a sparkplug type of player in a bottom line role and Bitten fits that profile quite well. If he starts strong and perhaps more importantly, things in Flint don’t go completely off the rails again which could lean Hockey Canada in another direction, I could see him getting an invite to their selection camp.
What’s going on with Nikolas Koberstein’s college team?
News came out earlier this month that budget cuts are coming at both Alaskan-based colleges, including Alaska-Fairbanks where Koberstein is attending. Among the options receiving serious consideration is the elimination of the hockey programs. Nothing will happen for this coming season though so Koberstein will be able to play in 2016-17. A final decision on the 2017-18 season is expected sometime in November.
Looking beyond the short-term, players are allowed to transfer colleges but are typically required to sit out a year before they can play for their new school. One would hope the NCAA would use common sense and waive that provision should the Alaska-Fairbanks team fold but it’s not guarantee that they’d actually do that. From a development standpoint, if Koberstein were forced to transfer, it might not be a bad thing if he can land in a more prominent hockey program.
What’s better for Daniel Audette’s development, a bottom six AHL role or top six in the ECHL?
It’s unlikely Audette is going to have much of a shot at cracking the top six with St. John’s coming out of training camp. While it wouldn’t be a bad thing for him to work on his all-around game (his defensive play could really stand to improve) which he’d able to do in the bottom six with the IceCaps, I’d suggest it would be better for him to at least start the year as a top six player in Brampton.
If Audette is going to have any shot at making the NHL, it’s going to be as a result of his offensive performance. Even if it’s at a lower level, I want him improving those skills first and foremost; they could always deploy him on the penalty kill down there to make him work defensively as well. It would also set him up to be recalled and used as a top sixer when injuries/recalls inevitably hit St. John’s.