Sabres' Jack Quinn to make NHL debut Tuesday

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  • Buffalo Sabres
    Buffalo Sabres
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  • Joakim Kemell
    Finnish ice hockey player

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The McKeen’s Hockey team of scouts and analysts are busy working on an update to our 2022 NHL Draft rankings and it should be complete in the next week. We should have lots of draft talk next week. In the meantime, we have a deep look at a prospect that is making noise as a potential #1 overall. Joakim Kemell was a fast-rising prospect when he ranked third on our last board in November. Shane Wright has not had an overwhelming season to date, and as the prospective #1 going back as far as last season, there are questions whether that is a lock anymore. The postponed IIHF World Junior Championship might have answered that question. Sam Happi introduces you to this exciting prospect and what make his game so special.

Clare McManus is back with our regular AHL check-in on the eve of Jack Quinn’s debut this evening for the Sabres. Quinn is having a terrific season, so be sure to tune in to watch a future NHL sniper who will be a big piece of the future puzzle in a group of a very talented youngsters emerging in Buffalo. McManus takes you through the prospects on the farm that are on the rise and making a case for their own role in the NHL.

The McKeen’s team are scouting and writing about prospects all season long and provide in-depth reports on our website: www.mckeenshockey.com

Prospects in the News: AHL Check-in – Jack Quinn Makes his NHL Debut

By Clare McManus

Welcome back to another edition of AHL prospect check-ins. It’s been a while since the last check-in, but there have been many prospects continuing their strong season.

One of those guys who has been on fire this year is Buffalo Sabres prospect Jack Quinn.

The winger has suited up for 20 games with the Rochester Americans this season. He is currently tied for second among AHL rookies with 12 goals. Quinn currently sits 12th in the league in points with 26. Jack is one of seven rookies to hit the 20-point mark in the AHL this year. Since his hot start to the year with the Americans, Quinn has since been called up to the big league with the Sabres and is set to make his NHL debut with the team Tuesday night against the Lightning.

Calgary Flames prospect Jakob Pelletier continues to shine with the Stockton Heat, as he currently sits second in the league in points with 11 goals, 20 assists for 31 points in 29 games played. Pelletier is the sixth AHL player this season to hit the 30-point mark. Will he see a call-up soon? He has definitely earned it.

Florida Panthers prospect Cole Schwindt was recently named December rookie of the month. In the month of December, Schwindt made his NHL debut and recorded two goals and eight assists for 10 points in the month. He has done very well for the Charlotte Checkers this season, having a current point total of nine goals, 10 assists, for 19 total points in 29 games.

Arizona Coyotes 2019 fourth-round pick, Finnish forward Matias Maccelli, has made a sound impact on the Tucson Roadrunners this year. In 23 AHL games, he has recorded eight goals and 15 assists for 23 total points. The Tucson Roadrunners communications member, Jimmy Peebles tweeted that the Roadrunners HC thinks very highly of him. “"He's a dynamic player with the puck, he creates offense. Obviously, you can't win a hockey game unless you score some goals and it's really important to have him in the lineup."

Former University of Notre Dame forward Alex Steeves has produced well in his first AHL season with the Toronto Marlies. Last year, the Maple Leafs signed Steeves as a NCAA free agent. This season, he has appeared in three games with the Leafs, scoring one point. In 17 games with the Marlies, he has posted nine goals and eight assists for 17 points. So far, he’s looking like a decent pickup by the Leafs.

New York Rangers defensive prospect and former UMass product Zac Jones has put up a decent stat-line for the Harvard Wolfpack. Drafted by the Rangers in the third-round in 2019, Jones has played 21 games for the Wolfpack this season, notching four goals and 13 assists for 17 points.

Colorado Avalanche prospect Justin Barron is in the midst of his first pro season. The 2020 first rounder has appeared in two NHL games this season and 18 games for the Colorado Eagles. In those 18 games, Barron has scored four goals and seven assists for 11 total points.

The NJ Devils 2018 fifth-round pick, goalie Akira Schmid, has done great in his first pro season. The Swiss netminder made his NHL debut this year and has appeared in three NHL games. He has played a majority of the year with the Utica Comets, with 10 games. Schmid has a current GAA of 1.69 and a save percentage of .944. Another Devils goaltending product has also done very well. His name is Nico Daws. Daws has played 10 games for the Comets this season, posting a 2.15 GAA and a .926 save percentage. The Devils are looking to have two really solid goaltending prospects in the system.

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Honorable Mentions: JJ Peterka, Lukas Reichel, Valtteri Puustinen, Scott Perunovich, and Amir Miftakhov.

2022 NHL Draft Prospect: Joakim Kemell

By Sam Happi

Joakim Kemell got off to an absolutely torrid start to his draft season, needing no time at all to acclimatize to professional hockey. He recorded 18 points in his first 16 Liiga games, donning the golden helmet as JYP’s top scorer for much of that stretch. The Finn has exploded up draft boards, propelling himself from a top fifteen selection to a player commonly ranked within the top three best players in the 2022 draft. It took a shoulder injury in early November to slow Kemell’s pace, with the Finn going pointless in five December games following his return. Kemell then travelled to Edmonton to participate in the World Junior Championships, where Finland played two official games before the tournament was called off. Kemell was pointless in those two games too. In pre-tournament action, Kemell was the victim of a hit to head by Red Savage that earned Finland a five-minute power play in the last minutes of the game. That penalty enabled a dramatic three goal comeback for the Finnish team, with all three goals, including the overtime winner, occurring during the major penalty.

First and foremost, Kemell is a scorer. His twelve goals thus far this season double his six assists and Kemell has looked most comfortable in Liiga play manning the top of the circle on the powerplay. His one-timer is a tremendous weapon in that role, having produced several of his goals. He will drift up and down the wing as required to find the end of a passing lane, then drop to one knee as he unleashes his one-timer when the cross-ice pass comes. The Finn has an excellent wrister as well which serves as a valuable complement to his one-timer; when the defence manages to shift over in time to deny the one-timer lane, he will catch the puck, drag it into his feet to produce a fresh angle, then send it lasering towards a corner of the net. Rounding out Kemell’s sniping skillset is a terrific set of hands, allowing him to slice off the wall and get into high-danger locations. He is a confident, crafty, and creative puckhandler who will boldly attack defenders. He gives opposing defencemen little chance to take the puck off of him and is a difficult attacker to body up because of how quickly he is able to change direction. Overfocus on the puck and Kemell will pylonize you; try to take the body and he is able to stop on a dime and head right past. Stopping Kemell is a difficult problem that most defenders have yet to identify the answer to.

The contrast between Kemell’s season thus far and that of his JYP teammate Brad Lambert has been one of the most fascinating storylines of the 2022 draft cycle. It was a conversation that came up several times throughout the early part of the World Juniors and surely would have continued to be a prevalent topic throughout Team Finland’s tournament. Most people predicting JYP’s season in the fall probably would have picked Lambert, who is in his second full season of Liiga play, to be the draft eligible player most likely to be topping scoring leaderboards, whereas Kemell realistically could have been expected to experience a bit of trouble finding the scoresheet in his first true professional season. Clearly, the situation has not played out in that fashion. Kemell has excelled, whereas Lambert has just six points in 24 games and has quickly fallen below Kemell on a majority of draft boards. Now without the World Juniors tournament as an opportunity to recover lost ground, Lambert will need a sharp reversal in fortune in order to recapture his standing as a possible top three pick. For Kemell, the focus for the rest of the season will be getting back to his form prior to the shoulder injury. If he can do that, Kemell could be drafted as high as second overall at the 2022 NHL Draft.