Everything is happening right now, as Bob Cole would say. You’ve got the Jimmy Vesey saga in Nashville, Zach Werenski signing with Columbus and Pittsburgh grabbing college free agent Ethan Prow out of St. Cloud State. Plus, the CHL playoffs are in full swing, with a couple upstarts threatening the top seeds. In the OHL for example, Sarnia is in trouble thanks to a surging Sault Ste. Marie squad, while Edmonton is giving powerhouse Brandon fits in the WHL. Oh, and the Frozen Four is set, with Quinnipiac, Boston College, North Dakota and Denver all in the mix for April 7. Let’s keep the prospect party going:
Brandon Carlo, D (Boston): Bruins fans are going to love Carlo, who has joined AHL Providence now that his WHL season with Tri-City is over. The kid is 6-foot-5, 200 pounds with great reach and a mean streak, but talented enough to help Team USA win bronze at the world juniors this year. He was also on the national side the year before as well, but logged tons of time in 2016 with Columbus’ Zach Werenski as his ‘D’ partner.
Carlo doesn’t bring a ton of offense, but that’s not why the Bruins like him.
“They love my simple game,” he said. “They loved the way I played at camp, moving the puck 10 feet rather 40. And obviously playing my defensive game, shutting guys down in their own zone quick and getting the puck up to my forwards.”
Tri-City hasn’t been great the past few years, but Carlo has been a shining star. He’ll drop the gloves when needed and while he didn’t seek out numbers this season, he did hit a career-high with 27 points in 52 games. Sometimes, less is more.
“Last year, sometimes I got away from that a bit and tried to be a little more offensive than I am,” Carlo said. “My foundation is as a defensive defenseman, so I'm going to play my pro-style game; shut it down and play simple.”
Getting in those reps against men in Providence will go a long way in prepping him for the NHL, since the big lad will be tasked with handling forwards who have seen guys his size before. Not that there’s any rush; if Carlo has to play a full AHL slate next season, it can only help his adjustment.
A second-round pick in 2015, there is definitely a lot of potential for Carlo – especially in his own zone.
In the Pipeline
Alex Tuch, RW (Minnesota): Tuch’s Boston College Eagles are on their way to the Frozen Four and the big winger has been a force. Tuch had two huge goals in the opening round against Harvard, using his speed and deft hands to wreak havoc. Not bad for a world junior snub.
Warren Foegele, LW (Carolina): Kingston is trying to break an incredible futility streak in the OHL – the Fronts haven’t won a playoff round since 1998 – and Foegele is doing his part. The speedy left winger hung four goals on Oshawa in Game 2 of a series now led 2-0 by his Kingston squad. Foegele has six points overall to lead the league early on.
Adam Huska, G (NY Rangers): He’s been one of the top goaltenders in junior this season and now the USHL Green Bay star has a home for the future. Huska just committed to UConn, giving the Huskies a big starting netminder with game-stealing capacity.
Brett Pollock, RW (Calgary): Fresh off signing his entry-level deal with the Stars before being dealt to the Flames, Pollock is now playing spoiler, along with his Oil Kings teammates in the WHL. Edmonton drew powerhouse Brandon after eeking into the post-season with a tiebreaker win over Medicine Hat, but holds an early 2-0 lead thanks in part to Pollock’s skill. He had three points in the win over The Hat and two against Brandon so far.
Travis Sanheim, D (Philadelphia): The Calgary Hitmen have a tough first-round opponent in Memorial Cup host Red Deer, but Sanheim is doing his part. The tall, fluid skater leads all WHL blueliners with five points in three games and some of the tallies have been pretty sweet.
A.J. Greer, LW (Colorado): The erstwhile Boston U. Terrier took some time to get acclimated to the ‘Q,’ but now Greer is ripping it up for Rouyn-Noranda. The nasty power forward has four goals in two playoff games vs. Drummondville.
2016 Draft Stars
Brett Howden, C – Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL): Best known as a 200-foot player and Moose Jaw’s second-line center behind Brayden Point, Howden has been killing it in the first round, with a WHL-best seven points through three games. A hard worker, Quinton’s younger bro has an edge, but must work on keeping it throughout the game.
David Bernhardt, D – Djurgarden (Swe.): The top-scoring blueliner in Sweden’s under-20 playoffs, Bernhardt tossed up five points in seven games en route to the championship title. His strengths include size (6-foot-3, 203 pounds) and mobility, while older brother Daniel is a Rangers draft pick.
Travis Barron, LW – Ottawa 67’s (OHL): Injuries and consistency issues marred his regular season, but Barron has showed up for the playoffs. The powerful winger had three assists in a crucial Game 3 win over Niagara and has six points overall in the series.
Injury Report: Tyson Jost will have his injured hand examined by a specialist this week to see if he’ll be able to play for Canada at the world under-18s in North Dakota. The 200-foot center is committed to the NCAA’s Fighting Hawks, so an early appearance in Grand Forks would be fun, but obviously his priority is to make sure the 2016 first-round prospect doesn’t make things worse in the short-term.