The hockey world is getting back into rhythm as we pass the two-month mark of play in most leagues. Coaches, player and scouts are all settling into their season long routines that will see them in skates or at rinks for the better part of the next seven months.
With excitement can come disappointment. Some prospects that were off to a hot start have wilted, while some that slumped out of the gate have began to turn it on in their draft year.
For the likes of Adam Johnson of Hibbing High School, the case is disappointment. Johnson finished off last year very well and was one of the darlings of the Minnesota State Sectional’s, but has not lived up to that high billing early this season.
As FC regional scout Dan Shrader notes based on his multiple viewings of Johnson this fall during the Upper Midwest HS Elite League with Team North, Johnson has disappointed.
“Despite the hype, just hasn’t shown anything to warrant it,” Shrader said. “(He) hasn’t shown improvement despite having great one-on-one skills and a sound skating technique. (He’s) not one of Team North’s driving forces, even with one of the league’s most physical players put on his line to create space for him.”
Character issues have also raised some flags within the NHL scouting fraternity with regards to Johnson, who looked to have quit on his UMHSEL team during multiple occasions and rarely gave 100% in those games from start to finish. No NHL squad will give much time to scouting a lazy prospect and Johnson will likely see a drastic drop on most lists due to this showing. It has become make or break time for the once promising Adam Johnson.
Another notable name struggling is Windsor Spitfires blueliner Nick Ebert.
After displaying very nice two-way skills on a very deep Spitfires squad in his rookie season of Ontario Hockey League action, the 2011-12 has season started off a little differently for Ebert. He no longer has Ryan Ellis to lead the defense among other veterans and is now the top defender on a young rebuilding team. Confidence is huge for a prospect when it comes to performing and Ebert has looked like a prospect that has lost his.
The coaching staff in Windsor has spent time trying to get Ebert to simplify his game, reducing his role on the power play and penalty kill in an effort to get the young blue liner back to the player he was last season.
“He has staggered a bit with his overall development/progression, but is nowhere near as bad a prospect as some have him,” FC regional scout Sean Lafortune said of Ebert, who has 11 assists in 27 games this season. “He is not flashy, but gets the job done. Projects out as an intelligent two-way defenceman who can play either offensive or defensive roles. Should still be a solid 1st round draft pick.”
The same might be said for another OHLer, Andreas Athanasiou. After really jumping out at the Ivan Hlinka and then at the NHL RDO camp last August many were thinking top-10 talent because of his speed, puck skills and goal scoring prowess.
However, Lafortune said he has left much to question since the start of the OHL campaign.
“From his mobility, his puck skills and his impressive showing, everyone was intrigued as to what he could do this season,” the FC scout said. “Although he has hardly struggled, he’s producing offensively, but we have not really seen a big progression in his game.”
Athanasiou has also left Lafortune wanting more.
“Andreas is not nearly as aggressive as he should be, and seems more interested in rolling off or avoiding hits then engaging. He has been more individual than I have seen in the past, and seemed to be pressing a bit. He shies away from physical contact, and is easily knocked off the puck. Playing a more aggressive game, coupled with improving his upper body strength and showing a willingness to play a complete game will no doubt help improve his drat stock.”
Athanasiou, who has six goals in 23 games, has some nice talent so his slide will not be drastic although his recent play is enough to put doubt in the minds of scouts around the league.
Others who are dropping off from their higher rankings include Matia Marcantuoni of Kitchener. Marcantuoni came into the year with lofty expectations based on his play from last season, but has failed to fulfill those expectations early on.
His elite skating and offensive potential had many penciling him into the top 15 but he has a long way to go to fulfill his pro-potential and has left many scratching there heads with his lack of production, just 10 points in 19 games, despite playing first line minutes with Kitchener this season.
Injuries this year and last have really hurt Marcantuoni’s ability to get his development on track and build on his past success. He still has loads of pro potential and can turn things around if he can get back to the impressive game he has shown flashes of and start putting points on the board.
Waterloo Blackhawks forward AJ Michaelson who has failed to produce or put forth a good effort each shift after putting up some impressive points in the Minnesota High School circuit last season.
Sudbury centre Mathew Campagna who is just starting to get things going after a slow start, Edina’s Lou Nanne who also suffered through a less than spectacular Elite League Tournament and Val-d Or defenseman Julien Leduc who has shown no sign of progression and might have actually regressed since last year also have dropped early.
Dan Stewart is the scouting director of Future Considerations and can be found on Twitter. For all the latest Future Considerations news and posts, follow FC’s Official Twitter Feed, on YouTube and on Facebook!