The Halifax Mooseheads are running out of things to play for, but Konrad Abeltshauser has plenty at stake.
As the last-place Mooseheads crawl toward the QMJHL finish line, the 17-year-old German defenceman is working to prove his worth to scouts as a top prospect for June’s NHL draft. And he’s doing a fine job, logging more than 25 minutes a game after bouncing back from some tough early-season injuries.
Abeltshauser and goaltender Mathieu Corbeil are among the draft-eligible Mooseheads likely to be selected. Hard-nosed defenceman Sawyer Hannay is also in the mix.
“Every player has something to play for,” said Abeltshauser, whose Mooseheads host the Bathurst Titan tonight at 7 p.m. “For Corbeil and me and the other 17-year-olds, it’s the NHL draft and we’ll try our best to reach that goal.”
The six-foot-three, 198-pounder has even more at stake than most because injuries held him out of 20 of the Mooseheads’ first 37 games. After spending his entire career in Germany, the injuries led many scouts to question whether Abeltshauser could handle the rigours of the physical North American game.
But Abeltshauser called all his injuries “unlucky.”
On one, a teammate accidently hit him helmet-first in the face. On another, he broke his wrist when his arm got pinned awkwardly along the boards. And most recently, his skate got caught in a hole in the ice and he twisted his knee.
“Every scout asks me, ‘Can you play a tough game? The NHL is harder than it is here,’” Abeltshauser said. “But I’ve never had injuries my whole life, it was just bad luck. I’m pretty sure I’ll play all of next season without any injuries.”
Abeltshauser has three goals and 16 assists for 19 points in 40 games and has become a go-to player for the Mooseheads, even though his 18th birthday isn’t until September.
He plays even strength, power play and penalty kill.
“I’m surprised to get that much ice time, but it’s the best thing for a young player like me,” he said.
“If you get a lot of ice time, you learn a lot. And that’s why I’m here.”
The Halifax Mooseheads’ playoff dream is still alive. The Mooseheads benefited from last night’s 9-7 Lewiston Maineiacs’ loss to the visiting Montreal Juniors. The Maineiacs could have knocked the Mooseheads out of the playoff race with a win. Instead, the Maineiacs remain 14 points ahead of the Mooseheads, who can collect as many as 16 points in their eight remaining games. The Mooseheads, who host the Bathurst Titan tonight at 7 p.m., will officially be out of the playoffs with a regulation loss.