My Aunt Betty called me from Long Island and told me to write about Mike Del Zotto because he's so good. If my Aunt Betty knows about Mike Del Zotto then so does everyone in your pool and that is not why I'm here. I'm here to write about prospects that are off the radar and can give you an advantage in your pool. I'm here to tell you about prospects like Jason Demers and to tell you that he's the real deal.
Taken in the seventh round, 186th overall in the 2008 draft, the 6'1, 200-pound Demers has received glowing reviews from my insiders in Worcester (Cindy) and San Jose (Chris O'Leary), who both re-enforce what I've seen so far. Demers is a legitimate offensive prospect despite his weak shot and reluctance to use it. No matter. Demers can pass the puck like Tomas Kaberle, and although not as poised as Kaberle, he's yet another legitimate but overlooked offensive defenseman from the QMJHL.
Drafted as a 20 year old after a point-per-game season for woeful Victoriaville in the Q, Demers was sent to Worcester where he continued to do what he's done year after year - lead his team in assists and in plus/minus. Except for his last year in junior, Demers has always had the best plus/minus on his club and that includes this year's San Jose Sharks. Demers and his consistent partner Kent Huskins are both +5, far ahead of second place Shark Ryan Clowe who is even. The only Shark with more assists than Demers is assist-machine Joe Thornton who has 13 to Demers' eight after 10 games.
Last season, as a 20-year-old, AHL rookie, Demers led Worcester in plus/minus with +15 and was second in assists with 31. The one major drawback with Demers is his inability to score goals. In 88 games as a pro he has two goals to go along with his 39 assists.
Musings: Playing regularly on the top line with Brendan Morrow and Mike Ribeiro, Jamie Benn is going to be in the running for the Calder all season. Benn has racked up three goals and eight points in 10 games. A recent Benn wrist shot beat an unscreened Jon Quick from 40 feet, something that precious few NHL'ers could accomplish.
Dmitri Kulikov's mediocre three assists in eight games belie his importance to the Panthers. Kulikov has twice logged the most minutes for Florida and is a fixture in their top four as an 18 year old. Keep an eye on this kid as he will explode offensively although it won't be this year.
Buffalo's lack of offense from the blue line may get Marc-Andre Gragnani a call-up sooner rather than later. Expect Gragnani to be on the Portland-Buffalo shuttle later this season and to see full-time work next season. He has four points in eight games for the Pirates.
Nikita Filatov owners take heart. Columbus has lost two games in a row on a western road trip. If the losing keeps up, Hitchcock will be forced to play with his line-up and give Filatov more than five minutes a game. Filatov has responded patiently to Hitchcock, and his ice time will increase although he won't likely get enough ice time to contend for the Calder.
For what it's worth, I don't like Chris Stewart. Although a better talent, he shows the same inconsistency as his brother.