via Ron Morin @ www.sunjournal.com
6'5 - 212 lbs
18 years old
Bad Tolz, Germany
Drafted 6th round, 163rd overall in 2010
This season: 58 GP / 8 G / 19 A / 27 Pts / -36 / 47 PIM
Playoffs: 4 GP / 3 G / 0 A / 3 Pts / -3 / 0 PIM
Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
Another junior season in the books. Well, for Konrad Abeltshauser and the Halifax Mooseheads it is. The QMJHL playoffs continue but in a much more familiar fashion: without the Mooseheads. In brief, the QMJHL has 18 teams and as it works now, 16 of them advance to the playoffs. Yeah, only two teams don't make it and in the two seasons prior to this one, Halifax was one of those teams. This season we saw a little progress by making it into the 15th seed. Louis Leblanc and the Montreal Junior (no 's') swept the Mooseheads in the first round. The scores didn't suggest a blowout series but Montreal was the far better team, as expected.
That's not to say, however, that for certain players this season was a loss. I posted a FanPost midway through the Q season about Abeltshauser's season thus far and now that it's over, allow me to recap the second-half of his season and provide some thoughts about him going forward.
When I posted the previous article, the World Juniors were about to get underway for which Abeltshauser was selected to represent his native Germany. The main German objective for the tournament was to prevent relegation to the 'B' pool and Abeltshauser was to be a leader on the squad. The tourney didn't go so well for the Germans however, as they ended up being relegated to Division I for next year. Abeltshauser finished without a point and was a -2 in five games. He will surely return next year as Germany fights to make it back into the Top Division.
Abeltshauser returned to the Mooseheads for January 7th along with Czech teammate Martin Frk but the Moose followed their return with a seven-game losing streak, their longest of the season.
I no longer live in Halifax but I was able to return for a weekend game on February 19th when the Mooseheads hosted the Val d'Or Foreurs. I tweeted about Abeltshauser throughout the game. One thing that stood out for me in this game was the way Abeltshauser adjusted to an early defensive mistake. Val d'Or scored early on a 2-on-1 with KA as the defenseman. He played the pass (as most are taught) and the shooter scored. Later in the game, Val d'Or had two 2-on-1s on Abeltshauser and both times he pressured the shooter to make a move and both times he broke up the play. I was impressed with the adjustment.
On March 15th, Abeltshauser was suspended for two games for a very out of character play on his part:
No question this was suspension-worthy. Unnecessary and dangerous. As I commented over Twitter though, he is not a dirty player and usually lacks a physical edge. This was obviously just a bad decision. He'd return from suspension for the final game of the regular season against the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles.
On March 20th, the Halifax Mooseheads organization handed out their team awards. Abeltshauser received the award for Outstanding Community Involvement. This attests to his great personality and love for fans. At the end of periods when the team walks through the tunnel back to their dressing room, Abeltshauser was consistently the only player to actually stop and high-five every single fan leaning over the rail. Most other players just walk by or put their arms up and whichever fans' arms they hit, so be it.
Abeltshauser came to play for the playoffs. In Game 1, he scored back-to-back 5-on-3 PP goals from the point to pull Halifax within two goals of Montreal and make a game of it. They ended up losing 5-3, but the game was a runaway before KA's two tallies.
In Game 4, Abeltshauser ended an over-two-game shutout streak by Montreal by striking for Halifax. They obviously lost this one too, but it turned out that Abeltshauser would score 3 of Halifax's 5 goals in the series. Not too shabby for an 18-year-old defenseman. This game was the end of the Mooseheads' season.
It's really tough to judge how Abeltshauser will develop in the next few years but I am thrilled to find out. I don't want to come off as suggesting this guy is the next Duncan Keith or Dan Boyle. With the Sharks young and deep pipe line on defense, he may never even see ice in San Jose. I do however, remain optimistic it could happen; most likely not for another 3-5 years but the possibility is definitely there for him to be a Demers-esque gem. The kid has the unteachable: size and instinct. Wilson and staff obviously saw something in him too, as they traded Henrik Karlsson to CGY at the draft for the pick to select him. Several analyses of him that I've read praise his skating and offensive abilities and suggest he definitely has some NHL potential.
I noticed a very clear improvement in his defensive play from the start of this season to now, which was his biggest flaw. Best part is: Abeltshauser still has two years of junior left. I had the pleasure of watching him play about 10 games this season and it gave me a really good idea of the way he plays and it will give me a great basis upon which to judge his future seasons.
It seems silly of me to suggest you follow me on Twitter now that the junior season is over but once the new season starts up I will definitely be providing updates on Abeltshauser and following his progress.
Thanks for reading and feedback is always appreciated.