Four studs and a Minor LeaguerMonday, October 29, 2012
This week I look at four outstanding NHL prospects and one veteran who is off to a great start. There are a lot of exciting players in the AHL this season and I would recommend going to one or more games if an AHL team is nearby.
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Mikael Granlund - (LW) The much anticipated arrival of Finnish star Mikael Granlund has come but it has been tempered due to the lockout. Granlund said that he wanted to play in North America this season so the Wild sent him down to Houston to play in the AHL. He has been a star so far as he was tied for the American Hockey League’s scoring race with ten points including three goals in seven games heading into action on Sunday. Granlund will play as a top-six forward once he is a member of the Wild which will occur as soon as the NHL resumes play. He is playing alongside two other Minnesota prospects, Charlie Coyle and Jason Zucker.
Justin Faulk – (D) Drafted in the second round of the 2010 Draft, Faulk played 66 games with the Hurricanes as a 19-year-old defenseman and scored eight times and assisted on 14 others while leading all Carolina rearguards in power play time on ice with 200:31 minutes. That is quite an accomplishment for a high first round selection, never mind the 37th overall pick but Faulk has proven his value. He is three points out of the scoring lead as he has nine points in only six games. Faulk will be a valued member of the Hurricanes blueline corps for a long time and should be taken late in most pools this year but higher in keeper pools.
Sven Baertschi – (LW) Oh, the Flames cannot wait until Sven Baertschi is in their lineup as he could be their new superstar. In the interim, they will have to be happy to have him playing for Abbotsford of the AHL where he is off to a great start with three goals and eight points in only six games. Baertschi turned 20 earlier this month and is coming off an outstanding 2011-12 season in which he had 94 points in 47 WHL as well as three goals in five NHL contests when he was called up on an emergency basis due to a multitude of injuries. Baertschi is worth grabbing in all keeper leagues and all but the shallowest pools as he should be a top-six forward in Calgary once NHL hockey resumes.
Alexandre Bolduc – (C) Bolduc is a 27-year-old center who has played in only 48 NHL games thus far and has only two goals and five points. But he is off to a great start in the AHL this season for Portland, the Phoenix Coyotes farm team. He has six goals and 11 points and is tied for second in goals (one behind Roman Horak and Drayson Bowman) and in points. He is likely a career minor-leaguer who will see limited duty in the NHL the rest of his career and only when there is an injury, but his hot start makes him worthy of a mention this week.
Cody Hodgson- (C) The former first round pick of the Vancouver Canucks was dealt to the Sabres at the trade deadline last season and hopes to crack the Sabres lineup when the lockout is over as a top-six forward. He is giving the Sabres no reason to give the job to anyone else as he has a goal and nine assists to tie teammates T.J. Brennan and Marcus Foligno for the Rochester scoring lead. Look for Hodgson to settle in as the Sabres top center, between Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville. As a sidenote, he set an NHL record last season during the regular season by playing in 48 road games to beat the record of 47 previously set by Niklas Hagman and Darryl Sydor. He’s worth selecting in the middle rounds of fantasy pools once the NHL returns to action.