Draft Stuff: Ekblad offensive; Virtanen over the hill

Some random CHL notes from the week that was in the 2014 draft chase...

RISING: Travis Sanheim, D - Calgary

Sanheim has shown his excellent footwork all season long, but last week the 6-foot-3 lefthander displayed a keen offensive eye as well with a five-assist night as Calgary smoked Red Deer 7-1 on Monday. Sanheim, who has 11 points in his last six games to up his season take to 4-23-27 (58gp), was rated the 167th North American skater in Central Scouting's midterm ranking.

FALLING: Reid Gardiner, C - Prince Albert

Scouts who arrived for early viewings of highly-touted Leon Draisaitl likely left impressed with the shooting skill of the "other" draft eligible forward on the Raiders roster. Gardiner racked up 19 goals in 37 games through Dec. 31, shooting his way to the 40th spot on Central's list, but then a funny thing happened. The calendar flipped to 2014. Gardiner has bagged just one lamplighter in 23 games since Jan. 1, leaving many scouts asking where the goals went.


Sunday stuff:

Aaron Ekblad (#3 NA CSS) put forth a nice effort to capture his 21st goal of the year in Barrie's 5-3 win over Sudbury. Ekblad's goal haul, which includes 15 with the man advantage, leads all OHL defenders. Ekblad has totaled 45 points in 48 games this season while spending 79 minutes in the box (three fighting majors).

Jake Virtanen (#9 NA) scored his 40th goal on the power play to force overtime with 6:37 left before Calgary fell in a shootout 5-4 to Regina. Virtanen is avoiding the February wall that many young players hit in their draft year, racking up eight goals and 13 points in his last nine games.

Kingston defender Roland McKeown (#15 NA) got in deep to the slot area and banged in his ninth goal of the year in the Frontenacs' 7-2 loss at Oshawa. The strong skating rearguard has 38 points and a plus-28 rating this season.

Michael Dal Colle (#5 NA) recorded three assists for the Generals' win over the Fronts, with the first coming on an early power play when he got a quick shot through from the right side. Dal Colle has points in 10 of his last 11 games for a total of 87 (35+52) on the year.

Josh Ho-Sang (#18 NA) unloaded a one-timer on the power play for his 29th goal as Windsor upended Sarnia 6-2. The slippery scorer has amassed 81 points, including 12 in his last eight games, and a plus-32 rating this season.


More Ekblad eye candy courtesy of a power play rocket to help Barrie to a 2-1 victory over Sudbury. Heavy shot, deadly as a PP marksman.

Staying on the defensive flavor, Sarnia's Anthony DeAngelo (#10 NA) returned from an eight-game suspension to score two even-strength markers plus an assist in the Sting's 6-1 dismantling of Ottawa. The American-born defender, who was docked for a "most inappropriate statement to a teammate", has collected 15 goals and 64 points through 49 games.

Sam Reinhart (#4 NA) extended his point streak to 20 games with a third-period assist in Kootenay's 6-3 loss at Spokane. The secondary helper elevates Reinhart to 90 points (32+58) at the 50-game mark.

In Brandon, Virtanen split the D and flicked his wrist to finish a short break in Calgary's win over the Wheat Kings.

Leon Draisaitl (#2 NA) capped a big week with a three-assist game in Prince Albert's 6-3 loss at Portland. The skilled German, who totaled nine points (3+6) in the week's four games, has showed up on the score sheet in 14 of his last 15 outings to up his season line to 28-56-84.

Brendan Perlini (#8 NA) earned the game's number two star with two goals and a hard-working helper in Niagara's win over North Bay. The big night pushes the Northern Ontario product to 30 goals and 64 points on the year.

The weave was all him, but Nikita Scherbak (#24 NA) proved that good things happen when you get the puck to the net with his 27th goal of the year in Saskatoon's loss to surging Victoria.


Nikolaj Ehlers (#22 NA) scored twice to give him seven goals in his last four games as Halifax trounced Shawinigan 7-1. The quick sniping winger has 37 goals and 83 points while averaging 4.45 shots per game for the always-dangerous Mooseheads.

Peterborough forward Nick Ritchie (#7 NA) showed that he has the accuracy to go with the power, wristing a quick shot for his 32nd goal as the Petes blanked Mississauga.

Conner Bleackley (#31 NA) cleaned up a rebound of a Haydn Fleury (36 NA) point shot as Red Deer downed Vancouver 5-3. The 18-year old captain enters the final week of February with 27 goals and 64 points in 62 games.

Stop. Pop. Keegan Iverson (#64 NA) hit the brakes, bought a few steps of space, and lit the lamp for his 20th goal in Portland's 4-2 doubling Kamloops.

Prior to the Iverson tally, one of the sneakiest offensive players in the draft class, Portland's Chase De Leo (#26 NA), went back door for his 32nd goal in the Winterhawks' victory over the Blazers.

Reinhart kept his point streak alive, entering the zone, holding the puck, drawing three D, and kicking it back to the point for a secondary assist in Kootenay's 3-2 shootout decision over Spokane.

Draisaitl made some nice plays to secure two goals and an assist in Prince Albert's 6-4 win at Tri-City. Two of his three points, including a pretty backhand goal, are a click away.

Nick Magyar (#52 NA) buried a feed from fellow-American Ryan MacInnis (#33 NA) as Kitchener was downed by Owen Sound 3-1. Magyar has 16 goals and 40 points this season, while the 6-foot-4 MacInnis checks in with a line of 14-19-33.


Sam Bennett (#1 NA) collected two assists in Kingston's 4-3 win over Niagara, including a spectacular effort on the overtime tally that saw the speedy center get tripped up and stay with the play to connect with a streaking winger.

While the interview portion of the combine may tell a more complete story, no one will question Ho-Sang's offensive skill. The speedy Spitfire emerged from the circle and used his feet and instincts to score a really nice goal in Windsor's 4-3 loss to Kitchener.


Relatively unheralded draft prospect Ryan Foss (#99 NA) has been quietly putting together a strong season in Windsor. While he's similar to the aforementioned Gardiner in that he's playing alongside a higher rated 18 (Ho-Sang), Foss' trajectory has been different than Draisaitl's running mate. Foss gathered just two assists in his first 18 games. It's been a good run from there with 26 points in his last 32 games to elevate his stock. Two of those points came in Tuesday's 6-5 OT loss to London, including a nice helper that saw him spin out of a hit by Sabres prospect Brady Austin and feed an open puck to Brady Vail for a Spits tally.


And lastly....

"Son, there ain't no draft no more."
"There was one?"

We are happy that there is still an NHL draft. We are deeply saddened, though, by the passing of one of the great comedic minds of our movie-watching years.

Thank you for Stripes. And for Caddyshack. And National Lampoon classics Animal House and Vacation. And Ghostbusters. And of course Back To School. If analytics is your thing, you can thank him for Analyze This as well.

Rest in peace, Harold Ramis. 

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