Welcome to the January edition of the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) prospects report, where we will take a look at players in the Blackhawks system and track their progress throughout the 2019-20 junior hockey season.
Michal Teply (LW)
Team: Winnipeg Ice (WHL)
Stats: 37 GP, 19G, 24A, 43 PTS, 149 SOG
#Blackhawks prospect Michal Teply (@WHLWpgICE) scored two power play goals in a 5-2 win over Victoria.— Czech Prospects (@CZprospects) January 26, 2020
Teply now leads all #WHL rookies in power play goals (8) and game winning goals (6). pic.twitter.com/XHiCvdnArS
Teply leaves the box to put the ICE up by 3! pic.twitter.com/2d8i5fLCZn— Winnipeg ICE (@WHLWpgICE) January 27, 2020
Analysis: Teply is establishing himself as one of the standout rookies in the Western Hockey League. He’s tied in rookie scoring with 19 goals, and is three points back of Medicine Hat’s Cole Sillinger for most among first-year players.
Teply’s trip to the World Juniors, however, puts his point per game average of 1.16 at the top of the rookies list. He also averaged a point per game at the international tournament, recording five assists in as many games to lead the Czech team in scoring.
Clearly Winnipeg is happy they took a chance on this kid, and the Blackhawks no doubt feel the same about their fourth-round pick.
What they’re saying about Teply: From The Athletic’s Scott Wheeler:
“Our coaching staff have been really impressed with his work ethic and until you have a guy every day, you don’t really know,” (Winnipeg Ice general manager) Cockell said. “He’s a big body that is able to hold onto pucks and he’s got a real good release. He’s off to a very good start in our league.”
Teply began his rookie season with goals in three consecutive games and six points. When he left for the world juniors, his 30 points in 29 games made him the team’s leading scorer. His 4.2 shots per game also led the team and ranked in the league’s top 10.
“He has fit in real well. He’s got an NHL shot and the hardest thing to do is score goals and that’s something that he’s real good at and prides himself in,” (Winnipeg director of operations and scouting Jake) Heisinger said. “He has got off to a great start here, but we feel like he’s just scratching the surface and he has a lot more potential.”
Alec Regula (D)
Team: London Knights (OHL)
Stats: 40 GP, 15G, 20A, 35 PTS, 121 SOG
Alec Regula gives London a 3-1 lead on the PP. pic.twitter.com/87OKuuFhtX— ☘️ SPR ☘️ (@TheOilKnight) January 19, 2020
Analysis: Regula was a late cut from Team USA at World Juniors. So late, in fact, that he was in the Czech Republic with the rest of the group, making it that much more heartbreaking.
“Being the last cut is really tough, but I felt like it was a coin toss — me or another guy,” he told Ryan Pyette of the London Free Press. “(USA Hockey) like the guys who played in their national development team and it looks good on them to have them play in the World Junior tournament. I wasn’t too disappointed. I knew that could’ve been a possibility.
“I felt good about the way I played. I don’t have any regrets and I came back to London wanting to play well and make them say, ‘We should have taken him.’ But there’s not much you can do. There are a lot of good players and I was happy to get the opportunity.”
It seems to have lit a fire under him back in the OHL as he has eight points (four goals, four assists) in his past eight games.
Nineteen of his 35 points have come on the power play, and you’d like to see him have a bit more success five-on-five, but the third place (Western Conference) Knights are so loaded, I’m sure he’ll take what he can get and relishes helping out any way he can.
What they’re saying about Regula:
Everyone expected Ryan Merkley to chip in the way he has and co-captain Alec Regula has been a reliable scorer, too.
In fact, Regula’s 14 goals puts him on pace to reach his 20-goal target. If he gets there, he will be the third London d-man to score that many (Adam Boqvist had 20 last season and Evan Bouchard had 25 the year before).
In his net-front role with the man advantage, Regula has 11 power-play goals, which is tied with McMichael. Before Monday’s game, they were at the top of the league in that category.
“Our power play has been great the whole year,” the Blackhawks prospect said. “We have a ton of confidence and work really well together. If things aren’t working in one moment, we know a puck can pop up at any time and we’ll have a chance to score.”
Regula came agonizingly close to making the United States world junior team. As it turned out, the Americans could have used his skill set in the tournament.
(Ryan Pyette, London Free Press)
Alexis Gravel (G)
Team: Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
Stats: 30 GP, 11-17, 0.893 SV%, 1 SO
Analysis: Gravel’s chances at playing at the World Juniors for Canada were dashed by a poor first half of the season, and his struggles were compounded by an early injury.
In seven January appearances, he’s 3-4 with a .901 save percentage, and with the Mooseheads sitting 16th out of 18 QMJHL teams, this season has definitely not gone according to plan.
What matters on the ice is playing well enough to get a contract from the Blackhawks. More on that below.
Off the ice, Gravel recently displayed great maturity by shaving his head after learning his billet father - Phil O’Hara - had been diagnosed with esophageal cancer.
“People don’t always understand the relationship you have with your billets,” Gravel told Willy Pavlov of saltwire.com. “My family is 10 hours from here so they’re far away and this is like my second family. He’s a dad to me and he treats me like a son. It might be hard for people to understand if they didn’t live it but we are really tight.”
Gravel also launched a $5,000 GoFundMe campaign and is already more than halfway to his goal.
What they’re saying about Gravel: The Blackhawks recently signed third-string Rockford goalie Matt Tomkins to a two-year, two-way NHL contract. This could affect Gravel’s future with the organization, especially in light of his numbers this season with the Mooseheads.
The Tomkins news indicates the Hawks aren’t playing around, either. The NHL’s collective-bargaining agreement requires all teams to have at least three goalies under contract at all times. The Hawks entered last week with only (Collin) Delia certain to remain under contract come July. Tomkins increases that number to two.
Prospect goalie Alexis Gravel, who impressed at development camp and in the prospects tournament last offseason and whose draft rights expire this summer unless he is signed, could make it three. (Whether the Hawks will sign Gravel or just keep an eye on his development while betting no other team swoops in remains unclear, but he’s another variable to consider.)
Cole Moberg (D)
Team: Prince George Cougars (WHL)
Stats: 41 GP, 6G, 16A, 22 PTS, 105 SOG
Analysis: Moberg has been a steady presence for a Prince George Cougars squad that ranks near the bottom of the WHL.
Most recently, Moberg recorded the game-winning goal and an assist in a win over the even worse Moose Jaw Warriors. He came close to scoring his second goal of the game, but he rifled a slap shot off the cross-bar after rushing down the right wing.
This performance came the game after he was forced to make an early exit due to a lower-body injury caused by blocking a shot.
It should be noted that five of Moberg’s six goals have come on the power play, and his 22 points put him third in scoring on the Cougars.
He’s not on pace to match the 13 he scored last season, and his shot rate is down almost 0.5 per game as well. That’s more a reflection of the Cougars as a whole, and the fact he’s being called upon to log heavy minutes in his own end.
At the end of the day, Moberg is a sold defenseman with offensive skills and well worth the seventh-round selection in 2019.
What they’re saying about Moberg: It’s a year old but this article on EP Rinkside paints a nice picture of Moberg’s game.