Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Prospects of the week

"Boo" Nieves (
The first "Prospects of the Week" coming from the New York Rangers and the New York Islanders share a common theme. They were given opportunities and they too full advantage of them.

Cristoval "Boo" Nieves (NYR 2012 2nd) had a pretty rocky debut for the Michigan Wolverines last Thursday evening. Anything that could go wrong did for the freshman as he was on the ice for 2 goals against, got called for "embellishment" and while he took 3 shots; none were serious scoring chances as Michigan dropped their home opener.

Friday evening was a total 180 for Nieves as his coach Red Berenson had Nieves as his starting right wing to show the freshman he believed in him. Nieves did not disappoint his coach setting up 2 goals to help Michigan earn their first win of the season.

Now normally 2 assists would not earn you the "Prospect of the Week" but one play just may have spoken volumes about the potential that Nieves has. Take a look at this video starting at the 1:25 mark.

Right now it is my favorite play this season as Nieves showed off several of his skills in one play. For starters on a turnover most players just turn around and head back to their defensive responsibilities.

Instead Nieves kept his head up and was watching the RIT player who had the puck; Nieves read the player and saw what his intentions were. So Nieves put himself into a position so when the RIT player attempted his clearing pass; there was Nieves stepping right in the way of the pass intercepting it.

Nieves wasn't done as he saw his teammates coming up ice on the attack, gave them the puck and the result was a goal. With one play, Nieves displayed his hockey IQ, his ability to read plays, his defensive skills, his ability to transition from defense to offense and his ability to put the puck right on the stick of a teammate so he could make a play.

That folks is what John Tortorella wants out of his players, to play smart hockey and use their defense to create their offense. Not bad for a 18 year old playing just his second game at the NCAA level.

Can't wait to see what Nieves does for an encore.

Mitchell Theoret (Niagara IceDogs)

Mitchell Theoret (NYI 2011 7th) of the Niagara IceDogs earned the Islander's Prospect of the Week because he too took advantage of an opportunity given to him by his coach. Niagara coach Marty Williamson moved Theoret to the first line to play with fellow Islander prospect Ryan Strome and Brett Ritchie.

According to Theoret, the goal with the move was for Theoret to create chances for his linemates.

“Marty wants me to create some space for them,” Theoret said. “I’m just going to go in the corner and dig for pucks and hit them in the high slot.”

Theoret has also responded himself by scoring a goal in each of the 3 games since the promotion to the IceDogs top line. Pretty sure Marty Williamson is very happy to get a bigger contribution out of Theoret than he expected when he moved him to the line.

Theoret over the 2 years I have watched him has done everything asked of him from being a protector to checking forward to now 1st line scorer. When you are a 7th round pick, you have to do things like this to make sure you attract the attention of the team that drafted you.

Theoret is 6'2 220 and really he needs a monster season if he wants a professional contract whether it comes from the Islanders or anyone else. Scoring a goal a game is a good way to attract attention.

Game Action

Just one game as Brendan Kichton (NYI 2011 5th) and his Spokane Chiefs were in Kent Washington to play the Seattle Thunderbirds. The Thunderbirds came away with a 6-4 win in a game that Spokane can blame themselves for why they lost.

Kichton was named the game's 3rd star as he registered 2 primary assists but I would not have given him a star. Kichton was a -1 with 2 minor penalties in the game with the second minor resulting in what proved to be the game winning goal for the Thunderbirds.

Kichton improved his stats to 3-9-12. According to Gregg Drinnan of Taking Note the assists were the 146th and 147th of Kichton's career with the Chiefs making him the new all-time leader in assists by a defenseman.

Kichton already holds the franchise record for most goals (48) and points (195) scored by a defenseman.

Set Your DVRs

Friday night starting at 7PM/4PM on the NHL Network the Erie Otters will be taking on the London Knights live. This is a game that you might not want to miss as there several good reasons to watch this one.

If you are an Islander fan then 2012 3rd round pick Adam Pelech of the Erie Otters is who you want to watch. If you were a fan of Tie Domi then you will get a kick out of seeing his son Max play for London.

Max is nothing like his father as a player as he is one of the top scorers in the OHL. He is one of 3 players on the London roster who should go in the 1st round of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft (Bo Horvat and Nikita Zadorov are the other 2).

But the best reason to watch will be a special player who won't be eligible to be drafted until the 2015 NHL draft by the name of Connor McDavid. He is one of the rare 15 year old players who Hockey Canada granted "exceptional status" so he could play at the junior level.

He doesn't play like a 15 year old as his skill set has to be seen to be believed. This is one special kid and you don't want to miss a chance to see this future first round pick in action.

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