Hurricanes Prospect Update: CHL (10/21 – 10/28)

Just about every Hurricanes CHL prospect had an offensive explosion last week and I was very excited and cautiously optimistic to see how they would build off their performances? Why cautiously optimistic you ask? Because while they definitely showed how good they could be last week, the majority of them had been struggling up until that point and this could have been just a flash in the pan. Obviously I don’t expect them to have multi-point performances every week, but I do have fairly high expectations for some of these players and they haven’t exactly lived up to their billing thus far. I’m not going to drop names but if you have been following any of these prospects, you probably know which players I’m talking about.

Anyway, it turns out that being cautiously optimistic was the best way to go as the six Carolina CHL non-goalie prospects combined to score a total of zero goals and three points over 14 total games. This isn’t that big of a deal when you consider that most of these prospects are defensemen, but it is a little concerning to see that not many of them are making as big of an impact as they could be. The good news is that even with some players struggling to make an impact, there were a few bright spots in the Canes CHL pool this week, one of which being Plymouth Whalers goaltender Matt Mahalak.

Mahalak’s season started off in the worst way possible as he had a save percentage below .890 for most of the year and lost his starting job as the Whaelrs goaltender for a few games. He would get another chance when Riley Corbin was pulled in a game against Owen Sound and performed lights out in relief. He has managed to take control of the starting job since then and it doesn’t seem like he is going to lose it anytime in the near future. This past week was arguably his best stretch of games this season as he stopped 93 of 98 shots, earned wins in two out of three games and looked very poised and confident in net. His save percentage has gone from below replacement level to a much more respectable mark of .914. I’m always weary of goaltending hot streaks because just about every goalie has a good 10-15 set of games in the year, but it would be nice to see Mahalak hold down the starting job for the rest of the year and perform well while doing so.

After the jump, we will discuss Mahalak’s performance in greater detail and talk about the week that was for some of the other players in the Canes CHL pool.

Ryan Murphy, Kitchener Rangers – 3 GP, 0 G, 1 A, 1 PTS, 2 PIM

After that 8 points over 3 games performance last week, Murphy cooled down a little bit and recorded only one assist in the three Ranger games this weekend. This was probably to be expected because no player, especially a defenseman, can continue that kind of point streak over a prolonged period of time. I was expecting a little more offense out of Murphy but he didn’t play too bad in any of the Kitchener games this weekend. He was on ice for only one goal against, which came directly off the face-off, and the Rangers were on the winning side of the shot battle in two of their three games.

The only real ugly stat concerning Murphy is that the Rangers powerplay went 0/9 on the weekend, which is something that Murphy plays a big part in. I tend to value even strength scoring more, but Murphy’s powerplay performance definitely needs to get better.

Brock McGinn, Guelph Storm – 3 GP 0 G, 0 A, 0 PTS, 2 PIM

The Storm ended up suffering ugly home losses to Windsor and Sault Ste. Marie this weekend and McGinn was a combined -8 in Guelph’s three games. I mentioned last week that I don’t use plus/minus that much to evaluate players and I suppose McGinn’s ugly +/- is a result of the Storm being outscored 15-9 rather than McGinn being poor defensively. He did have a couple of noticeable blunders in the Sault Ste Marie game which showed up on the highlight reel, though. McGinn took himself out of position after trying to go for a hit on a SOO forward, but he ended up colliding with his own teammate on accident, which gave the Greyhounds time to set up a play and score. He was also guilty of some poor back-checking on the sixth Greyhounds goal.

The one positive for McGinn was that he scored the game-deciding shootout goal to defeat the London Knights, Guelph’s only victory on the weekend.

Trevor Carrick, Mississauga Steelheads – 3 GP, 0 2 A, 2 PTS, 9 PIM

Carrick and the Mississauga Steelheads had the best weekend of the bunch here as they won all three of their games and outscored their opponents 13-4. His most notable performance came in their 5-1 over Brampton as he recorded two of his assists in that game, one of which came as a result of at terrific individual effort by Carrick to force a Brampton turnover in the defensive zone to set up the eventual goal. The two assists give Carrick 6 points in 13 games, which is a pretty good start for him. The Steelheads also did a great job on special teams as they blanked Sudbury and Belleville on the powerplay.

Carrick also received an instigator penalty and a game misconduct in the Belleville game, and I’m not sure why so someone else might have to fill me in on that.

Keegan Lowe, Edmonton Oil Kings – 2 GP, 0 G, 0 A, 0 PTS, 4 PIM

Nothing much to report on here other than the Oil Kings looked strong in their two victories over Kelowna and Vancouver respectively. Lowe didn’t record any points and was on ice for four Edmonton goals including an empty netter.

Matt Mahalak, Plymouth Whalers – 3 GP, 5 goals allowed on 98 shots, .914 save percentage on the season

As I explained in the intro, Mahalak was simply fantastic this weekend and there wasn’t much he could do about either of the goals he let in against London. His position was a little off on the first goal, but it came off an odd-man rush and he appeared to be screened, as well. The second was off a net-mouth scramble while the Knights were attacking with an extra skater. He also stopped 37 out of 39 shots in the Whalers only loss of the weekend against Kitchener. This was more of the Mahalak we were hoping to see.

Daniel Altshuller, Oshawa Generals – 2 GP, 6 GA on 55 shots, .906 save percentage on the season

The Generals ran into a bit of a road-block this weekend as they went 1-1-0-1 with their only victory coming in the shootout against Ottawa. This was a game where Altshuller played terrific at even strength as he stopped every shot he faced. Unfortunately, he let in three powerplay goals and had a shaky performance against the Saginaw Spirit the next night where he let in three goals on 29 shots. To make matter worse, Altshuller looked very weak on all of them. The first goal was off a harmless looking shot from the blue line that somehow got past him, the second goal he left an open net after diving to make the initial save and the third came off Justin Kea scoring a shorty from his knees. Altshuller’s line for the weekend wasn’t horrible as he still had a save percentage above .900 but the weak goals seem to be a problem for him this year.

He didn’t start in Oshawa’s 3-2 shootout loss to Peterborough.

Tyler Stahl, Victoria Royals

Stahl was scratched in all three Royals game this year.

All in all, it was relatively uneventful weekend for the Canes CHL prospect pool but it is a little interesting to see how much Mahalak has stepped up compared to his performance at the beginning of the year. The question now is whether or not this is just a hot streak and if he will regress to his early season form. Let’s hope there’s a nice medium between the two.