Reykjavik's future

While the team sits at the bottom of the SICHL standings, the outlook is pretty good for the future.
by Sylvain Tremblay | February 24, 2008, 9:04 PM ET
While the team sits at the bottom of the SICHL standings, the outlook is pretty good for the future. On defense, the team can already count on two young studs in Kevin Bieksa and Paul Ranger. Keith Yandle should join them soon as the base of a younger defensive core for years to come. The team also counts on number of young defensemen that can fill the bottom pairs with Nathan Paetsch, Peter Harrold, Kent Huskins, Greg Zanon, Derek Meech and Aaron Johnson. On top of these players who will be SICHL ready in the next year or two, the Icemen also have several prospects developping well which could have an impact in the years to come. Chris Butler is having another solid year with the University of Denver, Joonas Lehtivuori is maturing well in the FNL, Yannick Weber is having a great year with the Kitchener Rangers in the OHL, Kevin Marshall's game has improved with Lewiston in the QMJHL and a mammoth size defender, Kyle Medvec has improved greatly for the University of Vermont. At the forward position, the team is weaker. The only top six young forward actually playing with the team is Martin Erat. On the third line, Paul Gaustad also appears to be a fixture. Other than that, there's Travis Moen who can play on a third/fourth line. Among the other young forwards who should become permanent fixtures in the near future, there's Chuck Kobasew, good for second or third line duty. On the bubble, there are guys who's future has yet to be determined, like Curtis Glencross, Sean Bergenheim and Eric Christensen. To cover up the lack of top offensive young talent, the team has recently drafted Jakub Voracek, Max Pacioretty and Oscar Moller, with the hope that they will provide top six offense. There are also other forward prospects who have illustrated themselves as potential future NHLers but who are more projects than those bluechippers, like Oskar Osala, the best young forward in the FNL, Tyler Ruegsegger who played for the WJC U20 team and plays a key role for the University of Denver and Tim Kennedy who is once again leading the Michigan State University to the NCAA tournament. Between the pipes, the team hit a recent setback when their closest to being ready prospect, Tomas Popperle, was injured seriously earlier this year. The injury might put back, or even stop, his development for at least a year. Otherwise, there is no prospect between the pipes who will be ready to take over the veterans before two or three years. The three prospects that are going to challenge in the AHL next year are Michal Neuvirth, who's currently injured as well, Jeff Zatkoff, who's having a dream season with the University of Miami and Mark Dekanich, who's leading a weak Colgate team into playoff contention. Here's an updated top 20 for the Reykjavik's Icemen prospects: 1- Jakub Voracek - Scoring at over 2 PPG in the QMJHL, the team is excited about his potential and future as a top liner. 2- Keith Yandle - He is already earning pro-game experience. With his vision, passing and shooting abilities, he could end up as a top pairing defenseman sooner than later. 3- Max Pacioretty - Perhaps the best NCAA freshman this year, he is scoring at a PPG while using his big body to his advantage with the University of Michigan. 4- Jeff Zatkoff - While he is playing behind a good team with the Miami Redhawks, he is still delivering big with his 1.70 AVG and his 93.0% SVPCT. His big frame and sound positioning make him a prime candidate for the team's future starting goaltender. 5- Michal Neuvirth - The Czech goaltender can stand on his head when needed, but is sometimes prone to giving bad goals. He has shown that he could develop in a top goaltender if he can cut down on the bad goals. 6- Oscar Moller - Moller is having an exceptional season with the Chilliwack Bruins of the WHL, posting 70 points so far in 54 games. The Swede showed this year both in the WHL and during the WJC U20 that he can be a force on offense and a key goal scoring player. 7- Yannick Weber - He is leading the Kitchener's Rangers blueline, sometimes playing over 30 minutes a night, while putting up a PPG. If he can adapt to the physical side of the pro-game, he could be a future top pairing defenseman. 8- Mark Dekanich - An often overlooked backstopper, Dekanich opened eyes again when he posted three shutouts in a row for Colgate. 9- Tim Kennedy - Leading the Michigan State forwards again this year, the versatile forward can play in all roles while putting up a PPG in the NCAA. His challenge will be to adapt to the pro-game next year. He could end up being a good second liner or playing a key role on a third line in the future. 10- Oskar Osala - The big forward has been playing well in the FNL, even earning a spot on the national team for tournaments. He has the potential to become a good second or third liner in the NHL with his gritty play and set of hands. 11- Chris Butler - The University of Denver top defenseman plays a complete game and is considered one of the best blueliners in the NCAA. He will need to show that he can keep playing that game at the pro-level next year. 12- Jason Gregoire - The USHL Lincoln Stars scoring leader with 53 points in 41 games, including 25 goals, also plays a good defensive game. His next step will be to earn a spot and make an impact with the University of North Dakota next year. 13- Tyler Ruegsegger - Another University of Denver player, he plays a good two-way game and harbors a great work ethic. 14- Matt D'agostini - The streaky forward has two things going for him: speed and scoring. However, he still needs to raise his work ethic, physical play and defensive game to become an impact player at the next level. 15- Joonas Lehtivuori - The Finn defender plays a good defensive game while packing some offensive potential. He has 21 points in 47 games. 16- Johan Ryno - The big winger has good skills but currently lacks the physical play to thrive in the NA pro game. He will need to bulk up before he has an impact. 17- Kevin Marshall - The rugged defenseman showed improved offensive abilities this year, as well as leadership. He was a near miss for the WJC U20. 18- Brodie Dupont - Another big winger with good skating abilities, he is slowly adapting to the pro game. He needs to learn to convert his chances offensively at the higher level to progress. 19- Nathan Davis - An excellent skater that can play in all situations, Davis has battled injury problems this year and he's only started to produce late this year. 20- Nick Bonino - The big Boston University freshman has been enjoying a good year so far, with 21 points in 31 games so far. His game has progressed nicely, and if he improves his skating and mobility he could become a future power forward.

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