The slow start to the season by Islanders' prospect Michael Dal Colle hasn't gone unnoticed. The 2014 fifth overall pick didn't score his first goal of the season until October 30th, and was recently felled by an injury that's put his already struggling Oshawa Generals in even more of a bind.
In a report today at TSN, Bob McKenzie sheds some light on Dal Colle's slump and injury, and how they could impact the young man's chance at playing on Canada's World Junior team. Also mentioned are the Islanders reaching out to him.
Let's get the grisly stuff out of the way first. Dal Colle's injury was more gruesome than first thought and caused him pain in a few places on his body:
And that was before he had to leave Sunday night's game against Kingston because he blocked a shot that hit him square in the, uh, well, you get the picture. Oshawa general manager Roger Hunt said Dal Colle should be good to go for the Generals' next game Friday. Still, the shot to Dal Colle's nether region was so intensely painful it caused the player to be violently ill on Sunday night.
But the injury was only the latest obstacle thrown in his way. His scoring drought - one goal and nine assists in 14 games after a 93-point season last year - has caught the attention of both Hockey Canada and the Islanders. This is the time of the season in which the World Junior rosters take shape and Dal Colle could be in danger of missing the cut if the brass doesn't think he can snap out of his funk.
The Canadian Hockey League Super Series against the Russians - two games in each of the WHL, OHL and QMJHL - commences next week. Those games, small sample size that may be, go a long way towards determining who gets invited to the national junior team's final selection camp in Toronto on Dec. 10.
Suffice it to say Dal Colle needs to start scoring in the OHL or he could really be under the gun to produce in the one Super Series game he's scheduled to play in at Windsor on Nov. 16.
The Islanders have also taken note of Dal Colle's slow start. Marty Reasoner, who works in prospect development for the NHL team, has already paid Dal Colle a visit this season. The player is being urged to not rely as much on his tremendous natural ability - he has pro size and a pro shot - and put in the work off the ice required to be successful at the next level.
From this side of things, some fans are concerned about his development (and have been since he was returned to junior before the end of Islanders training camp), while others see this as the down section of the usual ups and downs of a young player. For his part, Oshawa GM Roger Hunt says Dal Colle is the victim of simple, original flavor bad luck.
McKenzie also reports that Dal Colle has worked on his skating with a coach this season. He was named Oshawa's captain before the season and is carrying many people's expectations on his preternaturally large shoulders for a kid his age.
In other words, lots of people in lots of places are rooting for Dal Colle to find his groove again.