Top Prospects Who Will Make a Positive Impact on NHL Teams Dealing with Injuries
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Injuries and under performing veterans have forced a lot of NHL teams to call up top prospects and talented young players from the AHL to add some depth at forward and on the blue line.
Some of these players will be expected to play an important role and contribute to special teams despite the fact that they have very little, or no, NHL experience.
That's a lot to ask of young players, but it's hard for general managers to make trades when prices are too high, so calling up AHLers is the best option to improve the roster.
Let's look at a list of five top-tier prospects who will make a positive impact on NHL teams dealing with injuries.
J.T. Miller, New York Rangers
After two weeks to address the strengths and weaknesses of his NHL roster, Rangers general manager Glen Sather has decided to call up top prospect J.T. Miller from the AHL Connecticut Whale.
It's unknown when he will make his NHL debut, but he could play on Tuesday night against the New Jersey Devils.
Miller will add some much-needed size and skill to the Rangers' lineup. He has the ability to score goals and also set up chances for teammates with his impressive passing ability and vision.
In 37 games for the Whale this season, Miller has scored eight goals with 12 assists. At the 2013 World Junior Championships, Miller was one of Team USA's best players during their gold medal run. He scored two goals with seven assists in seven games at the tournament.
Miller is a smart defensive player and shouldn't have a tough time transitioning into the Rangers' physical style of play since he thrives in that kind of setting.
Since he is only 19 years old, Miller will "burn" one year of his entry-level contract if he plays in more than five games for the Rangers this season.
Miller was selected with the 15th overall pick in the 2011 NHL draft.
Charlie Coyle, Minnesota Wild
The Minnesota Wild added some toughness to their bottom-six forward group on Monday by trading for New York Rangers' forward Michael Rupp in a three-player deal (via Bruce Garrioch of The Ottawa Sun), and the addition of top prospect Charlie Coyle will also give head coach Mike Yeo some more truculence.
With veteran winger Devin Setoguchi and rookie center Mikael Granlund struggling through the first nine games of the season, the Wild needed to add some skill to their lineup.
Wild captain Mikko Koivu is the only center on the roster with more than three points scored and a plus-minus rating above zero.
Coyle will give Minnesota a defensive forward who can score goals, impact games physically with his impressive size (6'2" and 210 lbs.) and he isn't afraid to go into the corners and battle in front of the net.
In 44 games for the AHL Houston Aeros this season, Coyle scored 14 goals with 10 assists. Coyle is a very strong player and has the level of maturity needed to play an important role on a team with hopes of making the playoffs in 2012-13.
The 21-year-old forward was the 28th pick in the 2010 draft.
Ryan Spooner, Boston Bruins
Ryan Spooner was recalled from the AHL Providence Bruins on Monday and will become the third AHLer to join the Boston Bruins' roster since the start of the season. In 35 games for Providence this season, he scored nine goals with 21 assists.
The Bruins have received 14 points from their bottom-six forwards this season, which is a decent amount, but head coach Claude Julien needs more offensive production from his third and fourth lines.
Spooner has fantastic playmaking skills and his high hockey IQ will be a tremendous addition to the Bruins' lineup. He also has great hands and fantastic speed, which is something that the Bruins could use more of.
His defensive abilities are average at best, so it will be interesting to see how much ice time he receives because Julien rarely plays young guys who aren't responsible defensively.
David Rundblad, Phoenix Coyotes
The Coyotes have a surplus of talented young defenseman, and after being added to the NHL roster on Sunday (via James Mirtle of The Globe and Mail), 22-year-old prospect David Rundblad will get another opportunity to reach his potential.
Phoenix has just three defensemen with more than two points through the first 10 games of the season, so head coach Dave Tippett could certainly use a little more offensive production from his blue line.
Rundblad is a puck-moving defenseman who can be a force on the power-play with his passing skills and powerful shot from the point.
Even though Rundblad's defensive skills have plenty of room for improvement, he does have good size (6'2" and 195 lbs.), and playing for a defensive-minded Tippett will definitely help him improve defensively and become more responsible and comfortable in his own zone.
Rundblad will add some scoring and depth to the Coyotes' blue line, which is a group that needs to play well for the team to earn a playoff spot this season.
Tomas Tatar, Detroit Red Wings
Talented forward Tomas Tatar has been added to the Detroit Red Wings' roster from the AHL Grand Rapids Griffins, and according to Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press, he will skate with two of the team's most talented players.
Tomas Tatar getting chance to play with Pavel Datsyuk and Valtteri Filppula tonight when #RedWings face Flames.— Helene St. James (@HeleneStJames) February 5, 2013
Detroit has just three forwards with more than three points through eight games this season, so it's not surprising that Tatar has been brought to the team for more scoring depth.
The Red Wings are 4-3-1 and currently sit in the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. They are ranked 16th in goals scored and their power-play is fifth-worst in the NHL with an 11.1 percent success rate.
Tatar's speed and scoring ability will be quality additions to the Red Wings' top-six forward group, and playing with a playmaker like Pavel Datsyuk will give him plenty of opportunities to showcase his spectacular offensive skills.
Nicholas Goss is an NHL Lead Writer at Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter.
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