we're off! NCAA, Major Junior, USHL, AHL, SEL, SM-Liiga, and the KHL have all commenced action and that means I got to get back into full swing. Prospect notes from my viewings and discussions with scouts from around the prospect world was mostly based on USA action:
Nick Bjugstad, Center, Florida Panthers (Minnesota-WCHA): Bjugstad's skating has taken significant strides over the summer and it could do a lot for his prospect stock. The plus hands, frame, and shot were always what drove his value, but the improvement to his skating and the fact he didn't seem to be making as many mistakes will do a lot for helping him fulfill his massive potential. I'm not ready to say the hockey sense issues are completely gone, though, as the games I saw him in were versus a weak Sacred Heart opponent in a game that didn't have a really fast tempo.
Jesper Fasth, Right Wing, New York Rangers (HV71-SEL): Fasth has gotten off to a tremendous start over in Sweden, and he's currently fourth in SEL scoring as of this writing. While it is still early on and a small sample, I talked to one NHL executive who has watched Fasth who said, "I originally thought he was just going to be a defensive type of player, but now I think he has a chance to be a second line forward." He's a plus skater with an above-average shot, a great work ethic and he's starting to show average prowess and sense with the puck. While the offensive skills outside the skating aren't overwhelming, the package in itself is enough to possibly project as a scoring forward in the league.
Derek Forbort, Defense, Los Angeles Kings (North Dakota-WCHA): Going into the 2010 Draft, Forbort was seen as an "all potential" type of prospect who would need some time to develop. Well, after seeing his play for the USA U-20 team at their camp and his play this weekend, you can see the pieces are starting to come together. For a man his size, the skating, puck skills, and offensive sense are what made him desirable, but it's seeing some of the development in his frame, the battles he's winning along the boards, and making good defensive reads that show the subtle improvements he's making. He still has some work to do, as his decision-making and overall hockey sense are far from perfect, but he's showing he deserves more all-around responsibility and that he can certainly start to break through this year from a counting stats perspective.