Evander Kane, Zach Bogosian, Tyler Myers and Drew Stafford got the Wednesday headlines. Who are the prospects involved in the Jets/Sabres trade? Here’s a full breakdown.
Shock and awe! Wednesday’s blockbuster between the Winnipeg Jets and Buffalo Sabres was among the biggest in-season swaps in years. The average fan has a strong sense of what Buffalo received in Kane and Bogosian and what Winnipeg has in Myers and Stafford. But what about the other names involved in the trade? Here’s a scouting report on each.
JOEL ARMIA: JOINS WINNIPEG ORGANIZATION
Any Finnish readers of ours know Armia is far from a throw-in. Same goes for any World Junior Championship followers, as Armia was a beast for his country every time he competed in the tournament. The Sabres drafted the scoring right winger 16th overall in 2011. His 6-foot-3, 192-pound frame projects well for the NHL. He played the pro game in the Finnish League with Assat Pori for three seasons before joining the AHL’s Rochester Americans. He’d started to hit his stride this year, tallying 25 points in 33 games.
Pessimists will say Armia has crept toward bust status, as it’s going on four years since he was drafted, and it’s taken him a while to adjust to the North American game in tight spaces. His stock has plummeted in THN’s Future Watch scouting reports, too. He was the NHL’s No. 24 overall prospect in 2012, No. 43 in 2013 and No. 54 last year. He’s still just 21, however, with an intriguing combination of reach, stickhandling and shooting accuracy. Armia’s defensive play has reportedly improved, too. It’s not too late for him to become an impact NHLer, and he brings a skill set Winnipeg needs. If he reaches his potential he’d be a nice power play weapon crashing the net. Without giving away too much about Future Watch 2015, which hits newsstands next month: Rochester’s coaching staff was extremely impressed with Armia this year.
BRENDAN LEMIEUX: JOINS WINNIPEG ORGANIZATION
Claude Lemieux was part of several huge trades in his eventful NHL career, and his son Brendan follows suit before even playing a pro game. It appears the Jets really have something in Lemieux, 18, who was the first pick in round 2 of the 2014 draft. He’s exploded with OHL Barrie this season, notching 36 goals in 47 games.
Unlike, say, Max Domi, who really plays nothing like his dad, Brendan Lemieux is a Claude clone by most accounts. He buzzes the net, he has a hard, quick release and he racks up penalty minutes getting under opponents’ skin. When our staff interviewed scouts for our 2014 Draft Preview, however, in which we ranked Lemieux 37th, not every expert was sold on Lemieux’s toughness.
“It’s much less substance and much more show,” one scout told THN. “That said, when he has the advantage, he takes advantage of you. Guys don’t like playing against guys who do that, and he does that. I just think the physical game is perceived to a much higher level than it actually is.”
Call me crazy, but isn’t that even more of a parallel with Claude?
JASON KASDORF: JOINS BUFFALO ORGANIZATION
The Kasdorf acquisition was a quiet portion of the deal but made a ton of sense for both sides. The Jets are set in goal, with Michael Hutchinson breaking out this year and two outstanding prospects, Eric Comrie and Connor Hellebuyck, waiting in the wings. They could easily spare Kasdorf, who fits nicely on a rebuilding Buffalo team that shipped Jhonas Enroth to Dallas hours after Winnipeg deal. Yes, Anders Lindback came to the Sabres, but he’s a pending unrestricted free agent like Enroth. Nothing to see there.
Unsigned Kasdorf, 22, was viewed as a largely sentimental pick when Winnipeg took him 157th overall in 2011. He’s a Winnipeg native, and the Jets hadn’t yet played their first game after moving from Atlanta. While he isn’t a high-end prospect, there’s potential here. He’s 6-foot-3, and he’s shown some nice potential at the U.S. college level. He excelled as a freshman with RPI in 2012-13 (14-5-2, 1.62 goals-against average, .935 save percentage) before a shoulder injury cost him most of 2013-14. Kasdorf’s numbers have plummeted this year (9-14-0, 2.94, .900), but they’re partially deflated by playing on a bad team. Consider him a project with potential for now.
BONUS ROUND: What about that first-round pick Winnipeg receives?
Just in case any Jets fans out there didn’t read the fine print and jumped for joy, assuming Winnipeg just landed Buffalo’s lottery pick: not quite. Buffalo maintains its “true” 2015 first-round pick, a.k.a. the probable Connor McDavid/Jack Eichel pick. Winnipeg receives one of two other 2015 first-rounders Buffalo acquired in trades. One comes from the St. Louis Blues, one from the New York Islanders. Buffalo will surrender the “later” pick, depending on which of those two teams ends up with the lower draft slot.
Matt Larkin is an associate editor at The Hockey News and a regular contributor to the thn.com Post-To-Post blog. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Matt Larkin on Twitter at @THNMattLarkin