PROSPECT UPDATE: Tambellini With Four-Goal Week ; Graves Strong Defensively

The Olympic break means the Rangers are done for a few weeks, but every other North American league is still going at it. Expect more frequent prospect updates during this time. 

Today we highlight the recent play of 2013 third-round pick Adam Tambellini. The Calgary Hitmen played three games in a four-day span from this past Wednesday to last night, and Tambellini scored four goals while adding two assists during that span. Here is video I put together of the four goals.

 

 

As I've said before, Duclair and Buchnevich have been front-and-center, and the result is fellow third-round pick Adam Tambellini falling in the background. Though that is somewhat fair, it doesn't mean that he's a prospect to forget. Tambellini is by far the most raw of the three but is still a quality prospect with tremendous upside. The above video shows some of his best assets, which are his hands and shooting ability, his knack for getting into scoring areas, and his general hockey IQ; it's easy to see while watching him that he came from a hockey family. 

What you might notice, though, is that all four goals came from the powerplay. It's nice that he can be a weapon on the powerplay, but once it gets to 5-on-5 play the ice gets tighter and he's not as assertive. Part of that, I think, has to do the fact that he still hasn't grown into his body yet. This summer is going to be an important one for Tambellini, as he'll need to add a lot of muscle to his frame to really make his case as a long-term prospect. Fortunately, that's something which is easily done so long as Tambellini is committed. What can't be added in one summer is silky hands or high hockey sense, both of which Tambellini already has. That's what has allowed him to score eight goals and total 19 points in 15 WHL games, and it's what makes him an inriguing, worthwhile prosect. 

 

Keep reading for other prospect news, including a strong showing from Ryan Graves and another Wolfpack win.

 

 

Ryan Graves played a very good game for Val-d'Or last night in their 4-3 win.Stat-wise, he was credited with two shots and one hit. Of course, this does little to portray how he did defensively, which is where his value really lies. Graves was very solid in his own end. I've saiad this before, but Graves does not display the sluggish, awkward tendencies of similar big defensemen drafted in later rounds, such as a Sam Noreau. He's got decent enough wheels that, combined with good positioning and a long reach, he's not beat by small speeder winger to the outside. Though he's not perfect – like any defenseman – he doesn't seem to make a habit of turning the puck over. Graves seems to know his limitations and will make short passes or send the puck along the boards to prevent any dangerous turnovers. Finally, he used his body very well in the slot to tie up crashing forwards. He was on the ice for one goal, in which it appeared that he and a backchecking forward had some miscommunication on who was taking which guy, but otherwise it was a strong effort. 

The Hartford Wolf Pack beat a solid Norfolk Admirals team 3-1 last night. I only watched the goals, so I can't give much analysis on the overall game. Oscar Lindberg made a great play in the offensive zone to tie up the Norfolk player with the puck along the side boards, and then took the puck away from him. He then fired it toward the net, where Micheal Haley made a tricky redirection to score. In the first minute of the second period, Marek Hrivik was given a partial breakaway and put a quick snapshot into the upper right corner to make it 2-0. Their third and final goal came on a delayed penalty. Under pressure in his own end, Dylan McIlrath wisely chipped the pick off the glass to the neutral zone, where J.T. Miller picked it up. Miller gained the offensive zone and tossed it back to Jesper Fast, who in one smooth motion received the puck and tossed it behind his back to an onrushing T.J. Hensick, who scored. For Hrivik, it was just hind second goal and fourth point in the last 22 games. On the other end of the spectrum, Lindberg now has 19 points in his last 19 games while Fast has 10 points in his last nine games. J.T.  Miller also has an assist in three of his last four games.

Cristoval "Boo" Nieves had some more poor luck in a terrible showing by Michigan, losing 4-0 to Penn State on Friday. Nieves had a pretty active game the defensive zone and absolutely ripped a shot off the crossbar; his second post in three games. That's kind of how things have been going for Nieves this season, and while he could help himself and get a bit more involved offensively, his statline does not at all reflect his ability. The shooting luck eventually has to turn around for him. He also was credited with one shot in a 7-3 win against Penn State yesterday.

Mackenzie Skapski won back-to-back games against the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Friday and Saturday, combining to save 55 of 58 shots. Lethbridge is possibly the worst team in the WHL, so he wasn't exactly burdened much, but he was forced to hold down the fort early in the second game, as Kootenay was outshot 19-7 in the first period. That's nine straight wins for Skapski, and a Kootenay team whose playoff hopes were once in doubt are now comfortably in their conference's fifth seed (top 8, like the NHL, make the playoffs).

Troy Donnay did not appear on the statsheet in a 7-2 Erie Otters win last night.

Anthony Duclair had a rare poor showing during Quebec's win last night, putting only one shot on net and missing in the shootout. He did, however, produce a goal and assist on Friday.

Michael St. Croix scored a goal and assist and was named First Star in Greenville's 4-1 win last night. Kyle Jean was +1 with an assist, three shots, and a fight. Sam Noreau was +1 with a shot. Josh Nicholls was -1 with three shots and 2 PIM. Scott Stajcer made 23 saves on 26 shots in a 3-0 loss for Florida. 

 

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