Many Red Wings prospects started off the new year on a good note. While a sour ending in the medal round at the World Juniors didn’t go the way of those participating, strong club play has been very promising.
January’s prospect report features 2018 7th rounder Otto Kivenmaki as he worked his way back into the top Finnish pro league, and the dominating play from fellow 2018 draftees Joe Veleno and Jared McIsaac in the QMJHL, among other notable headlines.
Back in November Assat demoted the young Fin in hopes of sparking his confidence. The pro team as a whole has been one of the worst teams in the SM-Liiga. Getting the chance to play against younger competition helped get Kivenmaki back on track.
Kivenmaki scored in 6 of his 7 games in January, in which he posted 7 goals and 15 points. If we go back farther to parts of December he held a 17 game point streak, propelling him to being one of the top scoring players in the Jr. A SM-Liiga.
Kivenmaki’s impressive scoring rate earned him a spot back with the big club. In the three games he got with Assat’s pro team in January he averaged over 15:00 minutes per game and play a top-6 role on the wing. Despite being held scoreless, its important to remember he is still 18 years old (turns 19 in March). There is still plenty of room for growth, and I wouldn’t expect to see him sent back down for a while.
Dominance in Quebec
Joe Veleno and Jared McIsaac both played smaller roles for Team Canada at the World Juniors. The bitter ending that saw Canada walk away without a medal certainly set a fire under each of them.
McIsaac, selected 36th overall in 2018, has been a machine for the Halifax Mooseheads. In 10 games he produced 3 goals and 15 points, including a 4 point game that saw him reach 10 shots on goal. At the time of this writing, he leads all under-19 QMJHL defensemen in points per game.
Veleno, drafted 30th overall in 2018, was just as hot for his Drummondville Voltigeurs. In 11 games, he recorded 9 goals and 19 points. He also leads the pack in under-19 scoring. In fact, he currently leads the entire QMJHL (regardless of age) in points per game with a 1.90 mark. The next closest is 17-year-old Alexis Lafreniere at a 1.76 pace.
Zablocki to the BCHL
Things haven’t gone as planned for 2017 3rd rounder Lane Zablocki. He was released by the Kelowna Rockets in early January and has since been playing with the Vernon Vipers of the BCHL.
At this stage in development, a move to a weaker league is not ideal. The Junior A competition poses little help in the hopes of Zablocki advancing his game. The writing may be on the wall that he will go unsigned by the Red Wings this summer, which in turn would lose his rights.
His stat-line in January with Vernon consisted of 5 points in 6 games.
Lindstrom, Frolunda off to the CHL Final
The Champions Hockey League is some of the most entertaining hockey you’ll watch. Gustav Lindstrom, drafted 38th overall in 2017, will get the chance to play in the CHL final thanks to back-to-back wins against HC Pilsen. In the two games leading up to the final Lindstrom was held off the score-sheet and played 13:00 and 17:17 minutes, respectively.
The championship game will be played on February 5th, at 1:00 P.M. EST, featuring Lindstrom’s Frolunda and EHC Red Bull Munchen of the DEL. The game can be watched on NHL Network and championshockeyleague.com. The big stage will be valuable experience for the Swede, but the win is vital. The CHL champion is guaranteed a spot for next years tournament, and there is a decent chance Lindstrom returns to the SHL next season.
- Zach Gallant made a return after a lengthy injury that sidelined him for two and a half months
- Malte Setkov is now a regular for IK Pantern in the Allsvenskan. A good middle ground for a kid too good for SuperElit but not good enough for the SHL.
Prospect of the Month
McIsaac takes the cake for the month of January.
He has shown great strides in his game and lighting it up every night. He is quickly shooting up the ranks of the Red Wings’ top prospects. Someone to keep an eye on as the season goes on, especially during the Memorial Cup which his Halifax Mooseheads are hosting this year.
|OTTO KIVENMAKI||JR. A SM-LIIGA||7||7||8||15|
|JESPER ELIASSON||SWE J20||5||2.96||.902||3-2|
|JOREN VAN POTTELBERGHE||NLB||9||2.00||.929||7-2|