Yet another month has gone by without an NHL season but there are still many players on the Hurricanes roster and prospect pool who are currently playing in other leagues. The last time I wrote an update on this, Jiri Tlusty and his point-per-game scoring rate in the Czech League was leading the way. He has been given the luxury of playing on a line with Tomas Plekanec and Jaromir Jagr, so he is definitely benefiting from strong linemates but his scoring line is still impressive. He could potentially see a return to top-six minutes in Carolina once the lockout ends with Tuomo Ruutu being injury and opening up a wing spot on the top two lines. Tlusty's success overseas is a tad surprising for those who thought his breakout season was a fluke and we look forward to what he can do once he and the Hurricanes return.
Who else on the Hurricanes roster and prospect pool is performing well during the lockout, though? Find out after the jump.
|Alex Semin||Nizhny Novgorod Torpedo||KHL||19||6||9||15||0.79||0.655||12||54|
|Andreas Nodl||Innsbruck HC||Austria||17||4||11||15||0.88||0|
|Erik Karlsson||Frolunda U20||SuperElit||25||8||20||28||1.12||0|
Alexander Semin's performance in the KHL has noticeably improved compared to where we last left him. He isn't scoring as much as some expected him to but what he's doing over there now would equate to what he has produced in the NHL over the last couple of seasons. In a sense, that is disappointing because the Canes are paying him over $7 mil. next year but that's what the open market forces teams to do. This is also only 19 games and not the best to base a prediction off of or anything. Considering that Semin was a healthy scratch for Torpedo recently, any improvement is good for him in my opinion.
I mentioned Tlusty earlier but another player who is also clicking at a point-per-game rate is Jussi Jokinen in Finland's SM-Liiga. Granted, this is a relatively weak league going by NHL equivalency factors but his 20 points in 20 games would equate to roughly what he produces in the NHL now. Although, SM-Liiga is much stronger this year compared to recent seasons thanks to the lockout, so Jokinen's scoring rate might be a little more impressive than it may appear above. Meanwhile, Jamie McBain hasn't played a game for the Lahti Pelicans all month as his stay over there was very short. Same goes for Anthony Stewart and Andreas Nodl who did not play any games overseas this month according to HockeyDB and Elite Prospects.
Calling Evgenii Dadonov a Carolina prospect is a bit of a stretch by now, but the Canes still own his NHL rights and he is doing very well in the KHL. Whether or not he ever plays in the NHL again remains to be seen but it's good to know that he is putting his talents to use in other leagues. Greg Hofmann is also having a decent season in the Swiss professional league as a 20-year old and I am sure he is enjoying playing on the same team as Joe Thornton and Peter Sykora. Hofmann is also second on the team in goals and third in points, which is impressive considering his age. He could turn out well for a fourth round pick. On that note, one of the Canes fourth round picks from this year, Erik Karlsson, is lighting it up in the Swedish under 20 league. He even got to play some games with the professional club recently. He could find himself on next year's WJC roster if he keeps it up.
Down on the farm, Zach Boychuk is starting to run away with the team lead in points and is still one of the top ten players in the NHL in that category. It's gotten to the point where he seems to get on the scoresheet just about every night and his NHLE rate is much more impressive as a result. This is by far Boychuk's most impressive season as a professional, but not many are going to remember him unless he produces at the next level. Since that option is currently unavailable, what he is doing now in the AHL is more than satisfying. The team's former leader in NHLE, Justin Faulk, is still producing at an impressive rate but he has cooled off a bit compared to how he started the year.
Despite Boychuk's impressive point total, his shot rate only ranks 4th on the team and leading the way in that category is Zac Dalpe. After a cold star tot the year, Dalpe has been on a bit of an impressive run and is usually one of Charlotte's best offensive players on a nightly basis. Anyone who watches the team knows that Dalpe has been playing well lately even though it isn't showing up on the scoresheet as much as some would hope. The Checkers have been prone to a lot of hot and cold streaks this year (see: Bowman, Drayson) so I wouldn't be surprised if Dalpe was the next player to get hot.
It was quite an impressive month for Victor Rask as the young Swede scored at more than a point-per-game pace after returning to Calgary and got to play for his home country in the World Junior Championships. He still hasn't played in that many games so we should get a bigger picture of his talent as the year goes on but what he has done so far is nothing but impressive.
Another player who has been on a bit of a tear lately is Carolina's 2012 second round pick Brock McGinn. He had seven goals this month and increased his offensive output to 27 points in 37 games. This was a bit more of what I was hoping from him at the start of the year since he is being used in a more offensive role than he was in previous seasons. Another one of Carolina's fourth round picks from this most recent draft, Trevor Carrick, is also having a very good offensive season for a blue-liner. He has already topped his career total is beginning to emerge as more of a two-way threat than he was in year's past.
As for Ryan Murphy, he was in the spotlight this past week as a member of Team Canada in the World Junior Championships and to say that it was far from his best performance would be an understatement. He was mainly utilized as a 7D/powerplay quarterback for most of the tournament and when he did get to play at even strength, other teams exposed that. Murphy's game in his own end still isn't the best and he was frequently taken advantage of by bigger forwards. He also made a very weak effort to stop Team USA's Johnny Gaudreau from scoring a goal that put Canada down 3-0 in the semi-final game. I'm confident that Murphy will make a decent NHL-er but his performance in the WJC was a bit troubling from a Carolina fan's standpoint. Then again, he is still only 19 and will no doubt get better with time and experience. He has definitely performed better for the Kitchener Rangers over the last couple of months at least.