Another big thank you to Danno for this:
Alexander Avtsin has been signed and should join the Dogs this season. He’s got the size, speed and hands to play in the AHL now, so it would appear that’s where he will end up, but there has been talk that the Montreal Juniors will try and appeal the fact that they had to release his right. If they somehow were able to retain his rights, the Habs could consider the Q an option as they would have the rare chance to see 3 prospects all play a year on the same line before they all move to Hamilton the following season, as Louis Leblanc and Philippe Lefebvre will be teammates with the Junior this year. The idea of having a line of Lefebvre-Leblanc-Avtsin in their backyard on a team that could be one of the top teams in the Q, it would be an interesting developmental aspect. But then again, Avtsin’s agent might balk at that as they would likely want him making AHL dollars then the small amount he’d get for a year in the Q.
Either way the Dogs should see Avtsin in the lineup either this season or next. He’s got a solid frame, good wheels, he is aggressive and willing to go to the dirty areas of the ice although at 19 you have to wonder how much of an impact he can have on the Dogs, he appears more polished then Kostisyn was when he came to Hamilton at 19 after some time in the RSL. Those that can remember how raw he was when he came over, Avtsin appears to have a much more well rounded game and has a higher compete level.
Louis Leblanc just opted to turn pro and leave the NCAA behind after one year. He should be bound for the QMJHL but could join Hamilton towards the end of the year, once the Juniors season comes to an end. The skilled two way center would be a great addition to a playoff bound club, as he will bring a mix of offensive skills but also someone that competes at a high level and knows what to do with the puck. Should play for Team Canada at the WJC’s this year after being one of the final cuts last year.
At this time it’s unknown what the team has planned for Danny Kristo, but after the impressive season he just had during his freshman year at North Dakota, this could be his last in the NCAA as his club has been voted as the preseason favorite to win the National Championship. Like Leblanc it is possible that Kristo could join Hamilton towards the end of this year if things go well for him and he opts to leave the NCAA. If not he could likely join the Dogs for the 2011-2012 season.
It’s a bit early to suggest that Jarred Tinordi will be able to make the jump to the AHL one year after being drafted, but since he already has pro size and strength it wouldn’t be out of the question to see him in Hamilton for the 2011-2012 season. The hulking blueliner is slated for Notre Dame in the fall, a good season there and perhaps we could see him turn pro next summer. One would think that if not by the start of ’11, he should be in Hamilton by the end of next season as 3 years in the NCAA seems unlikely at this point. Of course that’s pending how well he adjusts to the higher level of play after moving up from the USHL as a member of the USNDTP. He stands a good shot at playing for Team USA this year and next at the WJC’s.
Many Hamilton fans likely won’t recognize the name Steve Quailer, but the Habs 3rd round pick in 2008 could be Hamilton bound after this season. The lanky winger turned center did miss an entire season with a knee injury, but since he opted for the USHL for a year before heading to the NCAA, he will be 22 next summer and a good year from him could lead to him turning pro. Quailer has good speed for a player that’s 6’4 and he’s got some decent hands to boot, if things go well for him, expect to see him turn pro next summer.
At this time it’s unkown where Andreas Engqvist will play, either Hamilton or with the Habs, as the big Swede centerman looks to make the jump across the pond after a solid year in the SEL and at the WC’s. He would be a welcome addition to the Dogs if he ends up there, bringing a mix of size and skill down the middle. He doesn’t shy away from the front of the net and looks to score most of his goals from in tight which would be useful to either club.
It might be two years before the Dogs end up seeing Mac Bennett, but the skilled two way defender could put pressure on the Habs to have him turn pro next summer if things go well for him at Michigan. One would hope that they do not rush him so if he spends two years in the NCAA before coming to the AHL, fans should be getting a quaility prospect for sure as he was an USHL All Star, USHL All Rookie team member and was named to the World Junior A Challenge All Star team as well.