Welcome to the October edition of the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) prospects report, where we will take a look at players in the Chicago Blackhawks system and track their progress throughout the 2019-20 junior hockey season.
Alexis Gravel (G)
Team: Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
Stats: 2-5, 0.878 save percentage in 7 games played
Gravel was able to return from an early season injury on Oct. 13, and initially sparkled. In his first 2 starts he recorded 2 wins, stopping 70 of 73 shots for a save percentage of .959.
Things took a turn over his next three starts, however. Gravel suffered three losses in a row, allowing 13 goals on 86 shots (.849 save percentage). He was yanked in the second of those three games after giving up three goals on 15 shots.
It should be noted his goalie partner Cole McLaren didn’t fare much better in Gravel’s absence due to injury, and the latter’s past 4 starts came against the 3 of the top 4 teams in the QMJHL.
This may just be a down year for Halifax, meaning one of the 19-year-old goalies could be traded before the deadline in the bid for a retool in Halifax.
With both goaltenders playing so well, it poses an interesting scenario for Mooseheads general manager Cam Russell. In all likelihood Russell will have to trade one of them.
”Having two 19-year-old goalies, you know the organization is going to want to get a little younger,” said McLaren. “It will all come down to Christmas time [the league trade deadline] to see what the team’s ultimate plan is, because as we’ve demonstrated so far, we have a very good team still.”
Other teams in the league will likely be looking to make a deal for Gravel, a playoff-proven goaltender. Trading Gravel could bring a big return to Halifax ... But there is another way to look at it. Trading McLaren away for another player who could step right into the Halifax lineup could put the Mooseheads in contention for a league title.
Definitely something to keep an eye on as Gravel also hopes to make a bid for Canada’s World Junior roster.
What they’re saying in Halifax:
You may not know the story of Gravel’s injury, and it’s actually pretty wild.
According to the Chronicle Herald, the goalie has a pet fish and snake, and the aquarium and terrarium in which he houses the creatures crashed to the floor after the table they were on collapsed.
The result was a piece of glass piercing Gravel’s foot and nearly coming out the other side.
Insert barf emoji.
“I only needed three stitches but the cut was six centimetres deep,” Gravel told reporter Willy Palov. “There was a bump on the other side (of my foot) so it was pretty gross.
“It was pretty rough but the doctor said ‘If you had to put a piece of glass into your foot, that was the spot where you wanted it.’ So in the end I got super lucky and they did a great job at the hospital. I couldn’t be happier with how it went after I cut myself.”
As mentioned above, Gravel played great immediately upon his return, and the break after a busy summer may have been a little therapeutic.
“I had a lot of emotions when I left Chicago after training camp,” Gravel said. “It went really well there and I was feeling good coming back, so I needed to get refocused on playing well for the Mooseheads and having a good year here, then I got hurt.”
“It was disappointing but I also think the two-week break might have helped me. It gave me time to really think about being here in Halifax and doing a good job for the Mooseheads. I feel great right now. I’m really excited for our season.”
Again, Gravel faced stiff competition in his past few games and the 7-7-1 Wildcats aren’t quite the powerhouse they have been in years past. But in the Q, things can turn around pretty quick based on the open style of play.
Michal Teply (LW)
Team: Winnipeg Ice (WHL)
Stats: 4 goals, 7 assists, 46 shots in 12 games
Teply’s goal scoring has dried up since we last checked in. The 18-year-old has failed to hit the back of the net in his last seven games. That doesn’t mean he hasn’t been helping the Ice, however.
Teply has recorded four assists in those contests, and has been generating a ton of shots, averaging over four per game in that span.
His 11 total points are also good for the team lead in points, and his 46 total shots are eight more than any other member of the Ice.
Teply’s currently averaging 0.92 points per game, and ranks fifth in points among WHL rookies.
What they’re saying in Winnipeg:
“Winnipeg came away from the 2019 Canadian Hockey League import draft in June with a couple of gems — 6-3, 190-pound Michal Teply from the Czech Republic, taken fourth overall; and Nino Kinder, 6-0, 170 pounds, from Berlin, selected 64th.
Teply doesn’t speak much English, yet the transition to North American-style hockey has been seamless. The 18-year-old left-winger, a fourth-round pick of the Chicago Blackhawks this past summer, leads the Ice with four goals and three helpers (back on Oct. 3).
‘Michal has high-end skill. He’s a big body and he’s got a bomb (for a shot). But he’s heavy on the puck, too. I wondered if he’d be a shooter but stay on the outside, but he hasn’t been like that at all,’ (head coach James) Patrick said.”
Cole Moberg (D)
Team: Prince George Cougars (WHL)
Stats: 1G, 5A, 22 SOG in 9 games played
After scoring the first goal of the season for the Cougars, Moberg suffered an upper-body injury in the second game that kept him out until Oct 11.
The 18-year-old recorded one assist in his second game back, and entered Sunday’s game on a two-game assists streak with a season high four shots in his previous game.
On Sunday, Moberg recorded two secondary assists and five shots on goal, marking his first multi-point game of the season and a new single-game shot benchmark for 2019-20.
What they’re saying in Prince George:
Let’s get some info straight from the Cougar’s mouth!
Moberg himself was recently a guest on the Hartley’s Cat Scan podcast. You can listen to him talk about “the thrill of being drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks, scoring goals for the Cougars and his outlook on the team and his future.”