Prospect Need to Know: Jack LaFontaine is a hidden draft gem in net

Jack LaFontaine (photo courtesy of the NAHL)

The NHL’s Central Scouting Bureau released its latest Watch List today for the 2016 draft and there have been a bunch of movers. This is not surprising, since the early September edition was largely speculative and now the prospects actually have a good sample size of games under their belts, but it is interesting to monitor nonetheless. Also, as I first reported the other day, top 2016 prospect Auston Matthews will return to the ice for Zurich tomorrow in a Swiss Cup game against Ambri-Piotta. Here’s a look at what else is going on in the prospect world:

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Prospect Need to Know: Julien Gauthier gets us pumped up

Julien Gauthier  (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

Can you sense it, folks? It’s almost world juniors time. Sure, the tournament is a month and a half away, but players need to be making impressions on national team brass all the time and for Canadian hopefuls, the CHL-Russia Super Series can be a big boost – just as Lawson Crouse, who caught eyes last year and turned his efforts into gold.

So far, Russia has been blanked, losing all four games to the WHL and OHL. Now it’s the QMJHL’s turn to defend home turf. One player honored with that duty is in our spotlight today. Let’s take a whirl around the world of prospects.

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46 ways to make hockey way, way better. Maybe

If the NHL doesn't want to send its players to the Olympics, how about holding the World Junior Championship there? (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

In 13 years as Editor-in-Chief of The Hockey News, I’ve made a ton of suggestions on how to improve the game. You’d almost think I didn’t like it.

The truth is, I feel it’s part of my job to help stimulate conversation and debate. While hockey is still pretty darned fantastic, nothing is perfect.

What follows is a list of various things I’ve suggested, conceived, advocated or supported during my baker’s dozen years in my ivory tower.
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Prospect Need to Know: Chad Krys has been golden for Team USA

Chad Krys at the All-American Prospects Game (Photo by Jen Fuller/Getty Images)

It’s a busy time in the prospect world with several events wrapping up and others just beginning. In this week’s Prospect Need to Know wrap, I’ll shed the spotlight on players from the World Under-17 Challenge, the Five Nations under-18 tourney and Four Nations under-20 showdown. So we’re getting into all the age brackets today. Also, the CHL-Russia Super Series kicked off, with the WHL taking Game 1 for the major junior side. That’s a series to watch for the next 10 days, as Canada’s world junior scouts will be grading carefully.


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Fedorov believes Mogilny and Tikhonov should join him in Hall of Fame

Alexander Mogilny (left) and Pavel Bure (Photo by B Bennett/Getty Images)

Now that Sergei Fedorov is taking his rightful place in the Hockey Hall of Fame and Pavel Bure was finally inducted in 2012, nine long years after he retired, there is an empty spot that needs to be filled. And next year might just be the time to do it.

Because if Alexander Mogilny is going to find his way into the Hall of Fame, 2016 presents a golden opportunity. For one of the few years ever, there is not a slam-dunk Hall of Famer who retired after the 2012-13 season, so the Class of 2016 is wide open for the likes of Mogilny and Eric Lindros.

And Fedorov, for one, believes Mogilny should be in the Hall of Fame immediately.

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Prospect Need to Know: Carter Hart makes his crease case for 2016

Everett's Carter Hart  (Photo by Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)

It’s been a controversial week in the prospect world, as the CHL-NCAA talent war reached DEFCON 1. First, Toronto pick Jeremy Bracco departed Boston College for OHL Kitchener, then days later Carolina prospect Warren Foegele jetted from New Hampshire for OHL Kingston. This didn’t sit well with social media’s college boosters, but in the end it’s up to the players. As for Kingston, the Frontenacs just traded for Maple Leafs pick Stephen Desrocher, who won a Memorial Cup with Oshawa last year. He’ll add size and a big shot to the blueline of a team clearly going for it all. With that in mind, here’s what you need to know about the world of prospects right now.


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Top prospect Matthews on the shelf

Auston Matthews (Photo by Sparta Prague/Champions Hockey League via Getty Images)

Auston Matthews, the projected No. 1 pick for the 2016 NHL draft, has reportedly sustained a back injury that is expected to keep him out of an upcoming international tournament.

Matthews, a center with Zurich Lions of the Swiss National League, missed his team’s final game before the international break on Friday because of the back ailment, according to Sportnet’s Damien Cox.

The Scottsdale, Ariz., product now isn’t likely to compete for the United States at the Deutschland Cup, which runs from Nov. 6 to 8.

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Top 30 draft rankings for 2016: Matthews leads the pack

Ryan Kennedy
Auston Matthews (Photo by Sparta Prague/Champions Hockey League via Getty Images)

It’s about that time, folks. What follows is my first take on the 2016 draft class, one of course highlighted by American center Auston Matthews. The incredibly talented pivot is currently trailblazing a path in Switzerland (and may be on the shelf for the short-term, but no matter) and he is at the top of the pile. But there are more top talents available, including my No. 2 selection, who is also seen as a sure-fire NHLer, who in another year could have been first overall himself.

Since the season is so young, expect this ranking to change, perhaps radically, by the time my next installment comes out after the world juniors. By then, scouts will have a better handle on the field and the resulting input will paint a more specific picture. Let’s get to the rankings:


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