Which Junior Players are Sticking?

Ronald Martinez

Some potential rookies have already come and gone from NHL training camps but a few fortunate ones remain.

Nothing is finalized yet as most teams still have a few final cuts to make before Friday's deadline but let's take a spin around the league and see which players are on the verge of making the midseason jump directly from Junior to the NHL.

Anaheim - Rickard Rakell, C - Is below a point-per-game in the OHL with Plymouth this season (13+17=30 in 32 games) and didn't record a goal in six games at the WJC but seems to have impressed the Ducks brass enough to earn a few games with the club to start the season. I wouldn't expect him to last long.

Boston - Dougie Hamilton, D - It seems pretty much a lock that Hamilton will occupy a spot on the Bruins defence this year after being named the CHL Dman of the year last season. He could see some PP time this year but look for the B's to bring him along slowly.

Buffalo - Mikhail Grigorenko, C - So far all the reports out of Buffalo are positive on the big Russian and it sounds like he'll start the season with the Sabres. As of now he's pencilled on the 3rd line with Steve Ott & Ville Leino, so he'll need to move up if he's going to be a fantasy factor this year and it could also be a sign that he's likely heading back to junior after a five game audition. This is a situation to keep an eye on.

Carolina - Ryan Murphy, D - His production in the OHL (4+20=24 in 33 games) hasn't been up to the level of his past two seasons and he struggled at the WJC but he nearly made Carolina out of training camp last season and so it shouldn't come as a surprise that he's in the mix again this year. Even if he does make it, there are plenty of offensive types ahead of him in Pitkanen, Corvo, McBain and Faulk, so expecting him to be given top PP unit duties is a bit of a reach.

Florida - Jonathan Huberdeau, LW - He was impressive enough last year to make the team out of camp but couldn't get a contract sorted out. No worries about that this year and he looks set to start the season on the Panthers 2nd line. Of all the players on this list he is likely the most ready to produce at the NHL level and Florida looks like they'll give him plenty of opportunities.

Minnesota - Mathew Dumba, D - The Wild have already announced that Dumba has cracked the roster so he should get into a few games to start the season but with so many new faces in the lineup and no need to rush their young players, we can see Dumba heading back to Red Deer soon. In addition the Wild would have to make room on their reserve list through a trade to make a spot for Dumba. It can be done but he'll have to continue to massively exceed expectations.

Montreal - Alex Galchenyuk, LW - After playing just eight games all last season in the OHL, the sensible thing to do would be to let him finish the season in Sarnia but the Habs hype machine is already on full blast as everyone is salivating over what this guy does in practice. For a team that needs scoring help and some positive PR, he may end up sticking the whole season and could earn a spot on L2.

New Jersey - Stefan Matteau, LW - That the bruising winger was even invited to camp was a bit of a surprise but he has turned some heads this week and is on the verge of cracking the roster. If he does stick then it may only be a few games and I would expect it to just be in an energy line role.

Philadelphia - Scott Laughton, C - This one might be the biggest surprise on the list but the Flyers are set to start the year with Laughton as their #3C. I think he has some underrated offensive ability but he is not likely to be showing it with Philly this year, recall that Sean Couturier played the "new guy" role last year and barely got a sniff of PP time.

Toronto - Morgan Rielly, D - Dave Nonis might be implementing a youth movement and with Jake Gardiner still recovering from a concussion, the time could be right for Rielly to get into a few early season games. The numbers game is likely stacked against him lasting long-term but he could beat the odds if he gets off to a hot start.

Winnipeg - Mark Scheifele, C - Although he started the year in the 'peg last season, he's arguably in a tougher spot this year as Wheeler & Wellwood both established themselves as top six guys and Jokinen & Ponikarovsky were brought in over the summer. Even if he gets a look at the start of the season, unless there are a few key injuries right out of the gate, I don't see room for him to stick it out in Winnipeg all season.

The following guys were already cut and sent back to Junior: John Gibson (ANA), Boone Jenner (CBJ), Radek Faksa (DAL), Brett Ritchie (DAL), Ryan Strome (NYI), Griffin Reinhart (NYI), Stefan Noesen (OTT), Cody Ceci (OTT), Frank Corrado (VAN) and Tom Wilson (WSH).

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