CHL Quick StartersThursday, October 04, 2012
The NHL will soon postpone the start of the regular season, but players under the umbrella of the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) have already been playing games. Some are preparing for their draft years while others are developing their games to make their transitions to the big show a smooth one. It is still fairly early in the 2012-13 campaign for the Ontario Hockey League, Western Hockey League and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, but some players are off to great starts and they will no doubt be watched closely with the NHL lockout expected to drag along. Here are some players who are doing their best to get noticed in the CHL ranks:
Boone Jenner (CBJ - Oshawa Generals) - The captain of the Generals has exploded out of the gates offensively in the OHL. He currently leads the league with seven goals and 12 points after just five matches. The Columbus Blue Jackets prospect also owns an impressive plus-11 rating, which leads all players. His strong start has helped Oshawa jump to first place in the OHL with a 4-1-0 record. In 43 games last season, Jenner generated 22 markers and 49 points and at this pace he'll easily surpass his previous career high of 66 points in 2010-11. Columbus' second-round choice, 37th overall in 2011 appears to be filling his leadership role, which bodes well for his future as an NHLer.
John Gibson (ANA - Kitchener Rangers) - The Kitchener goaltender has been a wall between the pipes for the Rangers in three appearances. He has three wins, one shutout, a miniscule 0.97 goals-against average and a .969 save percentage. Gibson has turned aside 95 of the 98 shots he has faced, which doesn't compare to the workload of some of his OHL brethren, but it does show how efficient he has been at shutting the door. In his first season of OHL action in 2011-12, Gibson had a 21-10-0 record with a .928 save percentage and a 2.75 GAA. The Ducks made him the 39th overall pick in the 2011 draft and they appear to have a talented heir apparent to Jonas Hiller in the pipeline.
Colin Jacobs (BUF - Prince George Cougars) - The Prince George center is off to a great start in the WHL with four goals and five assists after four games. He will enter Wednesday's action tied with three other players for first in league scoring despite playing one less game than them. In 44 appearances last season, Jacobs notched just 19 points so his early success has to be encouraging. The Sabres took him with the 107th overall pick in 2011.
Hunter Shinkaruk (2013 Draft eligible) - The Medicine Hat Tigers' forward was named WHL Player of the Week on Monday after he posted one goal and five assists with a plus-2 rating in two games. The 17-year-old winger, who will be 18 next Saturday, is already in his third year in the WHL and he is expected to be a top pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. He amassed 49 goals and 91 points in 66 contests a year ago and should finish near the top of the league-leader list by the time this campaign is over.
Jean-Sebastien Dea (2013 Draft eligible) - The Rouyn-Noranda Huskies forward has jumped ahead of the pack early in the QMJHL season. He leads the league with 13 points in five contests and was named CHL Player of the Week for his efforts on Monday. Dea registered six goals and eight points in three contests to earn the distinction, which included a hat trick and a helper last Wednesday against Sherbrooke. The 18-year-old is eligible for the 2013 NHL Entry Draft and performances like this will go a long way to improving his stock among scouts. Dea had 17 goals and 15 assists in 50 games in 2010-11 during his first season of junior hockey.
Phillip Danault (CHI - Victoriaville Tigres) - The QMJHL forward enjoyed his best year in the league in 2011-12 with 71 points, including 53 helpers, in 62 games. He also skated in seven games with Chicago's AHL affiliate in Rockford that year and collected two assists. Danault has picked up where he left off this campaign with seven goals and 12 points over a six-game span. He is currently in second place in league scoring, tied with Buffalo prospect Mikhail Grigorenko. He is great off the rush, where he can score or set up plays himself and his leadership skills should make him a strong addition to the lineup once he's NHL ready. The Blackhawks grabbed Danault in the first round, 26th overall, of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.