Noah Laba

After a much-needed break from the Rangers and hockey in general, I look forward to covering the second half of the prospect calendar this season. There have been some exciting developments since our last check-in, and whereas early in the season it can be hard to separate breakout candidates from those riding hot streaks, it is looking like we can finally make that distinction with more confidence.

Since it has been about a month since our last check-in, this piece will mostly be quick hits on players. Noah Laba steals the show in this update, but don’t sleep on the other NCAA prospects and the kids in Hartford looking to take the next step.

Hartford Wolf Pack

The Wolf Pack have been chugging along at around .500 after a scorching hot start to the season. Losing coach Kris Knobloch has clearly had some effect, but they have also lost key players to the Rangers due to injuries. They still have plenty of games in hand on their division rivals, and I would be surprised if they miss the playoffs. Full disclosure, I only catch these games in spurts and am rarely able to watch one in its entirety.

Brennan Othmann: Othmann has continued to produce at a more consistent rate, with 8 points in his last 10 games. He is still very reliant on powerplay scoring for his production, but we always knew that his prowess on the man advantage was one of his biggest strengths. He needed some time to fully adapt to the professional level, so all we can hope for the rest of the year is that his production remains steady.

Brett Berard: Berard has not struggled to produce at even strength, and with 9 points in his last 10 games, he is also coming into his own as a prolific threat for the Wolf Pack. I did not think he would be this effective so early in his professional career, even though I have been very high on him since draft day. You have to wonder how far down the pecking order he is for a call-up. He is an intriguing trade chip, but I really hope that he is not moved for a rental piece.

Adam Sykora: 7 points in 12 games since returning from the WJC is an impressive haul for a 19-year-old, especially when you consider that his points almost always come at even strength. I am still not convinced the AHL was the right path for him this season, but there is no question that he has proven a useful player for the Pack. He is holding steady at a third-line projection if everything hits right.

Dylan Garand: Garand has continued his strong sophomore season play and is looking more and more like Hartford’s 1A goalie. Shesterkin’s poor play and expiring contract in 2025 have led some to ask what the plan will be for Garand. I believe he will be an NHL goalie in some capacity, and it is not out of the question that Drury lets him battle for the backup spot next year. For now, let’s see how far the 21-year-old can take Hartford if he is asked to shoulder more of the load come playoff time.


Gabe Perreault: Perreault has continued his outstanding play since returning from the World Juniors. He has produced 16 points in 8 games since winning gold, including match-ups against highly ranked Providence College and BU. He surpassed the 40-point mark in BC’s Beanpot loss against BU on Monday and still has 9 more games to play before the Hockey East & NCAA tournaments. It is not out of the question that he could score 60 points as a freshman.

Noah Laba: Laba looks like the clear breakout candidate of the season. Colorado College’s games are not on ESPN, so unfortunately I have not been able to watch much of him this year, but my plan is to buy a one-month subscription to FloHockey so I can clip a couple of his games.

What is clear about Noah Laba is that he has emerged as a big game player for Colorado College, leading them to 7 wins over ranked opponents including Minnesota, North Dakota, Western Michigan, and St Cloud State. 24 points in 25 games is a really impressive return given the quality of his teammates and of his opponents.

Colorado College increasingly looks a threat to make the NCAA tournament, so keep an eye on them over the next month or so!

Jaroslav Chmelar: Not much of an update here, as Chmelar has been out of action since early December following a wrist injury. He will be one to watch when he makes his return, as Providence look primed for a tournament run and he will be a key player for them.

Zack Karpa: I did not like the Karpa pick on draft day and he has failed to prove me wrong so far. His scoring rates have actually decreased in the two subsequent seasons since being drafted by the Rangers. 5 points in 20 games as a Junior is not inspiring and is especially painful when someone like Denver’s Jack Devine was available; a far more talented player from the program who would have been a much smarter swing pick. Harvard has really struggled this year though after years spent at the top of the ECAC ladder.

Hugo Ollas: Ollas has looked like another shrewd late-round goalie pick by the Rangers. Merrimack is at a real disadvantage this year in Hockey East, which is arguably as strong as it has ever been. Ollas is one of just three draft picks on the team, and despite their challenging season, Ollas has managed to keep the team afloat. He is comfortably outperforming his competition in goal with a save percentage nearly 10 percentage points higher. I expect that Ollas will stay for his Senior season, but another strong season would solidify a professional contract with Hartford once he graduates.


Bryce McConnell-Barker: I liked the BMB pick on draft day, believing that he could potentially be a decent bottom-six player. In the summer, I outlined that I wanted to see another production jump and a push to make Team Canada following a promising D+1 season. That has not been the case, but I still think that an eventual fourth-line role is in a play.

BMB has been a key player on a very good Soo team, following one of the worst seasons in their franchise history. I am really interested to see how he steps up in the playoffs; the Soo made a big move for Gavin Hayes and will be expected to make a run.

Dylan Roobroeck: Roobroeck has had a strong season for the East Division-leading Oshawa Generals. He is hovering at around a point per game, which is a production increase from last season, and is another player to keep an eye on once playoff time hits.

I am not optimistic that there is an NHLer there, but it is looking more like he will be worth a contract and can contribute down in Hartford, which I think we are seeing is a valuable role in an organization.


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