While it’s true that exhibition results and preseason predictions often mean nothing, fans of each team do like to see and hear strong results from some of their young players. In Toronto, uber-prospect Mitch Marner is really turning heads, as Rob Longley of the Toronto Sun writes. Marner is undersized by all accounts, but is starting to make believers out of his coaching staff and front office that he’ll be able to use his elite offensive ability to succeed right away at the next level. Even veteran teammates like Brooks Laich are impressed:
He’s good at tying up a stick so the other guy can’t make a play and then getting body position so he can kick the puck to his stick. I saw some little things that are very impressive.
Marner has to either make the NHL club or return to the OHL, a level which he absolutely dominated last season, winning every individual and team award available, including the Memorial Cup. While it wouldn’t ruin his career to head back to London for another season, he’s clearly too good for that level and would be at risk of slowing his development.
- One of the big parts of the Ryan O’Reilly deal between Colorado and Buffalo was Mikhail Grigorenko, once selected 12th overall and considered a top prospect. While never delivering on his apparent high-ceiling offensively, Grigorenko did make strides last season in his first go-round with the Avs. Now considered a “veteran forward” by Terry Frei and the Denver Post, Grigorenko scored the only goal in an intrasquad game today and by all accounts has had a strong camp. Still only 22, he has plenty of time to develop into the strong two-way center Buffalo envisioned when spending such a high pick on him.
- Another youngster is enjoying the World Cup, but not because of Team America. Sam Carchidi of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Jordan Weal has been suiting up on the top line in Flyers camp between Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds while Claude Giroux is off in Toronto, and he’s been showing he may be ready for a full time NHL role as soon as this season. An elite AHL scorer (his last two seasons there he recorded 70 and 69 points), Weal spent all of last season trapped between the injured reserve list and the waiver wire, and only got into 14 total contests, all at the NHL level.