Our First Star of the Season
Chris Doyle was the only draft pick from among those who got to play in Traverse City not to get the trip to the Ranger's main training camp. The Ranger's 2008 5th round draft pick Chris Doyle's play at Traverse City was not anything to write home about.
The knock that kept being said about Doyle was that his play was never more than any other average forward, that Doyle needed to lift himself from the pack by elevating his play up a couple of levels.
Since returning to Prince Edward Island Rocket of the QMJHL that is what Doyle has done. 4 games into his 2008-09 season and Doyle has posted a solid 3-5-8.
Against the Halifax Mooseheads, Doyle scored 2 power play goals, added an assist while earning the game's second star as Prince Edward Island whipped on Halifax 7-2. The rest of the Doyle line for the night was 5 shots, 8-8 on his face offs and a +1.
For Doyle, perhaps the wake up call of being the first cut from the Ranger prospects has had the right effect but now his challenge is to keep up this pace.
The Rest of the Prospects
Evgeny Grachev became the first Russian born player to play for the Brampton Battalion as he made his debut in the Battalion's 3-2 win over the Owen Sound Attack. It took Gravchev just this game earn some serious raves from his coach and teammates.
Brampton Coach/GM Stan Butler:
“I was really happy with that line,” said Butler. “It gave us a top line, which I think we had been lacking through the first three games. Grachev was good tonight. We knew when we drafted him that we’d be getting an impact player. I don’t know if there will be many import players in the league better than him this season. What I like about him is he’s a complete player. He’s good at both ends of the rink.
Linemate Matt Duchene:
“He’s unbelievable offensively. I think we read each other very well. We always know what the other guy is going to do. It’s key to have a linemate with that kind of chemistry. I’m sure he’s tired from being away at camp, but he had a big night tonight.”
Grachev had his first assist in the second period which gave the Troop a shortlived 2-1 lead. Grachev also was a +2 on the evening as his linemates Duchene (1st star) and Jason Dale (3rd star)
What is going to be enjoyable to watch is come the World Junior Championships is that linemates Duchene and Grachev will be going against each other.
(Our thanks to the folks of the Brampton Battalion who did all the hard work here for us)
Michael Del Zotto was a first round draft pick in 2008, his teammate John Tavares is expected to be the first overall pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft but our favorite for the first pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft is Taylor Hall of the Windsor Spitfires.
Hall as a 16 year old OHL rookie had a 45-39 rookie season for a Windsor Spitfire team that was more know for the tragic loss of their captain Mickey Renaud than the seeds of what is looking like one very good hockey team.
Del Zotto and Tavares had no chance as Hall and his Spitfires just dominated their Oshawa Generals 4-1. The Spitfires improved to 6-0-0-0 and showed why they are the top ranked team in all of the CHL.
This was not to say that Del Zotto played badly because he did not as this was more about how good the Spitfires are. Put Del Zotto on the Spitfires and he is a scoring machine.
Del Zotto set up Tavares for the General's only goal (on the power play) but other than that this was all Spitfires from outshooting the Generals 45-17. The score does not tell how good the Spitfires.
This battle of Future First Overall picks belonged to Hall as he and Tavares are tied for the OHL scoring lead at 11 points. The difference we see is that the Spitfires have a much deeper team to support Hall than does Tavares and Del Zotto.
In other WHL action, Tomas Kundratrek did not play as he still is recovering from the hand injury suffered at the Ranger's training camp. His Medicine Hat Tigers did not need Kundratek as they upset the Kelowna Rockets 4-1.
Finally Antoine Lafleur did not play as his new team the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies dropped a 2-1 decision to the Drummondville Voltigeurs, Lafleur is expected to make his Huskie debut on Saturday evening against the Gatineau Olympiques.
(Pictures: Doyle-Prince Edward Island, Grachev-Brampton Battalion, Del Zotto-New York Rangers)
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