This week’s prospects include Noah Gregor (Moose Jaw Warriors), Markus Niemelainen (Saginaw Spirit) & Liam Murphy (Moncton Wildcats).
Noah Gregor – Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)
Born: July 28, 1998 – Beaumont, Alberta, Canada
Weight: 173 lbs.
Is not a big kid but can use his speed all over the ice, winning loose pucks and winning battles along the boards. Has tremendous offensive zone instincts and knows where his teammates are and doesn’t hesitate to shoot from anywhere on the ice. Quick, agile skater who can use a sharp change of direction to throw defenders off balance. Good vision on the power play and always seems to find an opening for a good scoring chance. Tends to get caught puck watching but not many more weaknesses in his game.
Grade: Has excelled playing with veterans Brayden Point and Dryden Hunt in Moose Jaw and is benefiting from a trade that brought him over from Victoria in 2014. B+
Markus Niemelainen – Saginaw Spirit (OHL)
Born: June 8. 1998 – Kuopio, Finland
Weight: 205 lbs.
A very confident four-way skater who is a natural skating defender. Tall and lanky with a long reach and an active stick defending, and uses that reach to break up passes. Very poised with the puck on his stick and can maneuver away from forecheckers. Makes long stretch passes right on the tape and makes it look effortless. Plays a stay-at-home game and does a good job holding his line. Clears his net well and gives his goaltender a clear look at the puck. Doesn’t get too involved in the offence and doesn’t shoot much but will play special teams and keep the puck moving.
Grade: Shows no panic in his game and has the potential to be a solid shutdown defenceman at the next level. A-
Liam Murphy – Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL)
Born: January 20, 1998 – Killingworth, Connecticut, USA
Weight: 205 lbs.
The big forward shows a good knack for getting to the net and good hands around the cage. Had a very underwhelming rookie season with only 12 points and a few extra pounds on him but came in this season ready to play. Good hockey sense in the offensive zone and a good playmaker with crisp passing and putting the puck in open space where his linemates will be. Gets himself in good position to shoot the puck. Needs to be a little more selfish and shoot the puck more on a nightly basis.
Grade: After a lacklustre rookie season, Murphy is much improved this season. He needs to bring the same intensity every night rather than every other night. C
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