Players who made an impact during World Junior Hockey Championships' evaluation camps

Being that it only lasts one week, it’s dangerous to read too much into the development camps for next year’s World Junior Hockey Championships. Still, these evaluation sessions can be crucial for teams to make certain roster decisions, or at least put some players on their radar. It can also be an interesting sample for teams looking to gather a little more intel for the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

Gare Joyce ran a great blog regarding the camps for ESPN’s NHL section. The author of scouting book “Future Greats and Heartbreaks” provided a “stock watch” based largely on what he saw last week.

One of the biggest movers is Swedish winger Gabriel Landeskog, a player who apparently plays a more “North American style” game than most Swedes. Joyce wrote another story about Landeskog, comparing him to mold-breaking Detroit Red Wings scorers Tomas Holmstrom and Johan Franzen.

Adam Larsson

” … If you viewed Larsson more objectively, he’s probably coming in around a B-level after this week. If you’d never seen him before Lake Placid, however, you’d ask “Who is this guy?” People view him as the potential No. 1 pick in the 2011 draft, though — not as a random top-10 guy — and that brings a certain set of expectations.

His “only OK” game still put him ahead of Oliver Ekman-Larsson, picked by the Phoenix Coyotes in 2009. And honestly, at this point Larrson’s ahead of Victor Hedman at the same age. In Buffalo, he’s going to be on the ice all the time for Sweden and will be seen in a variety of situations. His stock is unchanged right now, but it’s likely going to go up come December.”

Joyce brings up another Swedish forward – center Victor Rask – as someone who might be able to make waves since he’ll be given a nice opportunity during the tournament.

Iiro Pakarinen

The Finnish right wing stands about 6-foot-1 and weighs 205 pounds. He leveled Sweden’s Tim Erixon with a forecheck here and knocked the Swede out of the tournament. Pakarinen was born in 1991, plays for Kalpa in the Finnish league and had a few decent games with the under-19 Finland team in European tournament play. He has passed through a couple of drafts so far, though. He’s a low-risk longshot for a team with some loose change.

While the other players (Miihkali Teppo, Brandon Saad) didn’t see much of a change in their “stock,” American defenseman Adam Clendening‘s position might have improved even despite some struggles. Here is what Joyce said about Clendening.

He looked better in intrasquad games than he did in contests against Sweden and Finland. It might be that he looked good and had a comfort level playing beside Derek Forbort (a first-rounder of the Los Angeles Kings this June); he was less impressive and less effective when he moved beside Brian Dumoulin. One scout in Lake Placid said that Clendening “didn’t have much of a chance to show his shot and his offensive package,” but also said that he should get plenty of chances to do that in Buffalo. Cam Fowler, who was drafted in the first round by the Anaheim Ducks this year, didn’t attend camp but if the Ducks don’t keep him with the big club he can be safely pencilled in at the other PP point; this is a nice mix of left (Fowler) and right (Clendening) shots. Clendening’s stock is rising slightly; he’s a recommended buy.

So those are the movers and shakers in that short week of evaluations and scrimmages. The 2011 IIHF World Junior Championships should be great next year; expect some generous coverage here at PHT.

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    Video: Ovechkin joins elite company with this goal vs. Coyotes

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    Barring a miraculous barrage of goals in the final stretch of games, Alex Ovechkin very likely won’t hit the 50-mark this season.

    Now 31 years old, there has been talk that this could be the beginning of the decline for Ovechkin.

    But on Saturday, he scored the 30th goal of his season, letting that famous Ovechkin shot rip from his favorite spot on the power play.

    For Ovechkin, that’s 12 straight seasons with at least 30 goals scored. He has been consistently prolific since joining the league in 2005-06. He’s an elite player, as everyone has known for years, and he once again joined elite company with this latest goal.

    Per the Capitals, Ovechkin joins Mike Gartner and Wayne Gretzky — he was good — as the only three players in NHL history to score at least 30 goals in each of their first 12 seasons in the league.

    Sharp to undergo hip surgery, expected recovery is 4-5 months

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    Patrick Sharp‘s difficult season is now over.

    The Dallas Stars announced on Saturday that the 35-year-old forward will undergo hip surgery on Tuesday. The recovery time, according to the club, is between four and five months.

    Sharp is in the final year of a five-year contract with a $5.9 million cap hit, per CapFriendly

    “We are going to get the surgery done and let him heal. He’s going to train and let’s take a look at him,” said Stars GM Jim Nill, per NHL.com. “We’ve had conversations. If he comes back, he wants it to be Dallas. He thinks he’s a Dallas Star.”

    Not only has Sharp dealt with injuries on the ice, but he is dealing with a personal matter off it.

    From the Dallas Morning News:

    But in battling through two concussions, hip pain, and his dad’s fight with leukemia, Sharp has shown significant fortitude. The Dallas chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association nominated Sharp Saturday as its candidate for the Bill Masterton Trophy, given each season to a player who displays the attributes of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.

    “It shows what kind of person he is and what kind of hockey player and leader he is,” said Stars captain Jamie Benn. “I think that’s why he’s a winner at every level he’s played at. I think that’s why he’s a great leader for this team and a great guy for a lot of these young guys to look up to.”

    Sharp was first sidelined with a concussion in October. He was then placed on injured reserve with another concussion in December.

    He has been held to just 48 games, with eight goals — his lowest total since the lockout-shortened season — and 18 points.

    ‘That was embarrassing,’ says Boudreau after Wild lose to Canucks

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    The Wild continue to struggle and fans on Saturday expressed their frustration.

    Think about this: The visiting Canucks are terrible at scoring goals, ranked 29th in the league in that category. Yet they managed to score four goals in the second period against the Wild. So bad was Minnesota’s performance to that point that there was a Bronx cheer directed at goalie Darcy Kuemper after he made a save on a harmless shot and fans later booed the Wild off the ice into the intermission.

    It’s bad when the Canucks, 27th in the overall standings, embarrass an opposing team.

    The Wild failed once again to clinch a playoff spot after a 4-2 loss. That score flattered the home team, which got late goals from Ryan Suter and Eric Staal. Too little, too late. Afterward, coach Bruce Boudreau lit into his team.

    “That was embarrassing. I’m embarrassed,” Boudreau told reporters. “To me, if I was the fans, I’d be booing even more because they pay good money for this.”

    As far as the playoffs are concerned, the Wild are in, even if they haven’t yet officially secured a spot. Sports Club Stats is giving them a 100 per cent chance of qualifying for the post-season.

    But prior to this month, Minnesota looked like a team that could do some serious damage in the playoffs. That’s not to suggest they are suddenly incapable of going on any prolonged run but they very clearly have some issues that need to be addressed over the next few of weeks.

    “Yeah, it wasn’t good enough,” Jason Zucker told the Pioneer Press.

    “We are leaving guys open. We aren’t winning battles. We are hanging our goalies out to dry. … I don’t think we’re prepared enough to start some periods and they score and we’re not being resilient enough to come back.”

    Meanwhile, for the Canucks, this game should provide at least a glimmer of optimism for their fans. Less than 24 hours after his college season ended with a double overtime loss to Boston University, Brock Boeser signed an entry-level deal and made his NHL debut versus the Wild.

    What a debut it was.

    Boeser, a first-round pick of the Canucks in 2015, scored the winning goal and was tied for the team-lead in shots on goal with four alongside Reid Boucher, who also scored twice.

    The unfortunate news? Jack Skille left the game with an ankle injury and didn’t return. The outlook doesn’t look good, as Canucks head coach Willie Desjardins said afterward, “I wouldn’t expect to see Skille in the line-up for a while.”

    Only eight games remain in Vancouver’s season.

    Another shutout for Bobrovsky as he steals one for Blue Jackets

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    Sergei Bobrovsky continued to make his case for the Vezina Trophy on Saturday afternoon when he stopped all 36 shots he faced in a 1-0 win over the Philadelphia Flyers.

    The win helped the Blue Jackets avoid what would have been their first three-game losing streak of the season.

    In a game where his team was outshot by a 36-21 margin and managed just a single goal (an Alexander Wennberg tally in the second period), it would not be unfair to say that he probably stole a couple of points for his team as the Blue Jackets continue to compete with the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins for the top spot in both the Eastern Conference and the entire NHL.

    Bobrovsky being the difference in a game is nothing new for the Blue Jackets lately because he has been a brick wall in their net for much of the season. But for as good as his performance has been overall, it is over the past few weeks where he has really started to establish himself as a Vezina Trophy front runner.

    With his win on Saturday the Blue Jackets are now 9-0-2 in his past 11 starts.

    Bobrovsky remains the NHL’s leader in pretty much every major goaltending category, collecting his 40th win (first in the NHL), raising his overall save percentage to .934 (also first in the NHL), his even-strength save percentage to .940 (also first in the NHL), and recording his seventh shutout (tied for second, just one behind Braden Holtby).

    He has four shutouts in the month of March alone.

    There are a lot of factors you can point to for the Blue Jackets’ massive turnaround this season, but none of them have been bigger at this point than the play of Bobrovsky.

    He has already won the Vezina Trophy once in his career, and he is putting together a pretty convincing argument to win it again this season.