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It was looking like it was going to be a really tough week for Hamilton as they travelled to Abbotsford to take on the league leading Heat in a pair of games. Despite getting shelled the first game, they managed to earn the split. Wheeling had their first winning week of the year as their new-look roster won both games. There is one prospect who really has flown under the radar this year that deserves more attention, that player is the focus of my Final Thought.
The Dog Pound
Hamilton has given the Heat some problems this year - they're the only team to beat them at home and on the road so far.
News and Notes:
- Hamilton's first goal on Saturday snapped a 15-game streak of letting the opposition score first.
- Joonas Nattinen, who missed time with an undisclosed injury last week, returned to the lineup on Saturday. He took the place of Michael Bournival who was sick. Louis Leblanc also played in both games after sitting one out last week to ease him back from his earlier injury.
- Stephane Chaput, signed to an AHL deal in the offseason, made his season debut after being recalled prior to the road trip.
- Lines from the most recent game:
Holland - Dumont - Gallagher
Blunden - Boyce - Leblanc
Quailer - Chaput - Palushaj
Hagel - Nattinen - Stortini
Beaulieu - Ellis
Tinordi - Commodore
Nash - St-Denis
Patrick Holland's goal was his first since October 19th, a span of 17 games.
Assists: Darryl Boyce (6)
Points: Brendan Gallagher (11)
+/-: Joonas Nattinen (+3)
PIMS: Zack Stortini (66)
Shots: Brendan Gallagher (59)
Hamilton vs Syracuse
December 8: Hamilton vs Hershey
The Farm's Farm
Wheeling made a pair of 'trades' this week, picking up a couple of players for future considerations. This forced Ian Schultz off the roster; he has been re-assigned to the Utah Grizzlies. The new look Nailers were able to win both of their games. They still need a look of help though, that moved them into a 3-way tie for dead last in the ECHL.
As the Habs/Bulldogs now have players playing for four different teams, the table below now covers all of those players, not just the ones with Wheeling.
December 7: Florida vs Wheeling
December 8: Florida vs Wheeling
Looking at the young crop of defencemen in Montreal's system (Tinordi, Beaulieu, Ellis, Thrower, and Bennett to name a few), you could certainly be forgiven for considering overage draftee in 2011 Magnus Nygren as nothing more than an afterthought. I know I did, that's why I dropped him to #30 in our prospect rankings back in the offseason from #20 the year he was picked. 2011-12 was a huge disappointment after he burst onto the Elitserien scene the year before with 25 points in 36 games including the playoffs. He totalled just 18 points last year and fell well down Farjestad's depth chart.
Fortunately this is not the case for the 22 year old this season. In 28 games, he is already just one point shy of the 18 he had last year while his +/- has gone from being dead last in '11-12 to inside the top-5 in '12-13. His ice time is also up roughly five minutes per game; he's averaging an impressive 22:39 per contest. The biggest concern I had about his game was his inability to play defensively - comparisons to former Hab Marc-Andre Bergeron were relatively accurate although Bergeron is a better threat in the offensive zone. So far, he is putting those concerns to rest. If this keeps up, the Habs might have a decent sleeper pick on their hands, presuming he signs before June's deadline. Keep an eye on him, he is one prospect who could jump up our rankings next year if his strong play continues.
If you have any questions/comments, please feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.