With a power play assist in the first period against Slovakia, Team USA’s Auston Matthews put himself in the history books. The elite center and top prospect for the 2016 NHL draft had himself his 103rd point of the season, breaking the National Team Development Program record of 102, set by Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane in 2005-06.
In a year where Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel have ruled the prospect world, it’s time to give Matthews his due.
Connor McDavid’s astonishing junior hockey career is close to its conclusion, but it feels like every night he plays, the Erie Otters superstar is setting some type of new record in the Ontario Hockey League. That was true Tuesday night when McDavid scored an empty-net goal in the second round of the OHL playoffs to help sweep the London Knights and give the 18-year-old an amazing 14 points in four games, establishing a new franchise mark for points in a post-season series.
The Frozen Four is in the books and it was a classic, with Providence College winning its first-ever hockey title over Boston University. But the season still might not be over for Terriers frosh Jack Eichel, as he and Nashville pick Jimmy Vesey of Harvard were expected to play for Team USA at the World Championship in Switzerland. Meanwhile, we’re getting very close to the world under-18s as well in the Czech Republic. With CHL playoffs still going strong, let’s cruise around the prospect world once again.
The draft lottery is five days away and, just in case there were any teams still doubting the supreme, near ludicrous skill of Connor McDavid, he made yet another other-worldly play Sunday night in the third game of the OHL’s Western Conference semi-final.
Early in the third period, with McDavid’s Erie Otters already up 1-0 over the London Knights, the 18-year-old phenom took the puck behind the net with a check draped all over him. Without even turning his head, McDavid smacked the puck back between his legs to teammate Nick Betz who had an open net and all the time in the world: Read more
David Levin is going to open a whole lot of eyes when he suits up for the Sudbury Wolves next season. The Ontario League franchise announced today that the skilled right winger with the Toronto-based Don Mills Flyers would be their top choice, first overall, in Saturday’s OHL draft. Levin’s a pretty good prospect, but he’s certainly the best to ever come out of Israel.
With Central Scouting releasing its final rankings Wednesday, it seemed like a good time to weigh in on the 2015 draft again myself. But this will be the third installment of four for me. Not only do we still have championships to be decided in all North American development circuits, but there is also the world under-18s approaching this month, which often impact final rankings.
And finally, since THN’s Draft Preview edition is closing in a month, I have been honing the magazine’s top 100 list with the input of NHL scouts and executives, giving me some fascinating insights into their drafting philosophies.
So take this list as an estimation of what will happen on draft day, not a ranking of my personal faves or anything like that. I recognize that I’m courting peril here, since every team values players differently, but I feel it’s the most educational approach for fans.
One of the biggest X-factors here is potential. Some players are universally loved, while others have qualities that give them a higher draft ceiling (size, for example), but also possess flaws that will warn off a number of NHL teams (such as compete level). So who goes first in the rankings? This is a challenge and the answer won’t be known until the picks are made in Florida. But I will try nonetheless.
And since goalies get drafted later these days, I have included my top three, with the admission that the actual slot they get picked in is beyond me.
Here we go:
The CHL playoffs are getting intense already, with Cape Breton pushing the Memorial host Quebec Remparts to a seventh game in the first round, thanks to an overtime victory in Game 6. Some fantastic individual performances have already been logged and with the Frozen Four this week and the world under-18s on the horizon, things will only get crazier. So let’s take a look at some of the prospects we’re excited to see in the NHL one day.
Back in 2011, the Saskatoon Blades went for it. The WHL team traded for A-list prospect Brayden Schenn, giving up three first-round bantam picks and a second-rounder in the process, along with two players. The Blades had a serious roster before Schenn arrived, but with him, the club smelled glory. Instead, Kootenay made a splash of its own by nabbing Cody Eakin from Swift Current and in the second round of the playoffs, the Ice swept Schenn and the Blades into the dustbin.
Someone always has to lose in hockey, but hope springs eternal, especially in the CHL where the cycle of construction and destruction is a tight one. This season is no different. Read more