Auston Matthews just broke Patrick Kane’s NTDP record for points in a season

Auston Matthews (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

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.

Read more

Prospect Hot List: Vande Sompel charging from the back in Oshawa

Mitch Vande Sompel (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

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.

Read more

Providence wins Frozen Four title after Matt O’Connor’s bizarre own-goal

Josh Elliott
NCAA Div. I champions from Providence (Richard T. Gagnon / Getty Images Sport)

Scoring on your own net in the championship game has to be every hockey player’s nightmare.

Doing it as a goalie only makes it more painful.

Boston University goaltender Matt O’Connor accidentally scored on himself to squander a lead, then surrendered the deciding goal to give the Providence Friars a 4-3 win in the NCCA Div. I championship game on Saturday.
Read more

‘I like Eich’: Jack Eichel snags the NCAA’s Hobey Baker Award

Josh Elliott
Jack Eichel

He may be No. 2 in the draft rankings, but Boston University center Jack Eichel is No. 1 in the eyes of American college hockey.

The 18-year-old from North Chelmsford, Massachusetts won the Hobey Baker Award on Friday as the top player in the NCAA, making him the youngest player to do so in more than 20 years.

Eichel edged out fellow nominees Jimmy Vesey and Zane McIntyre for the honor.
Read more

Ryan Kennedy’s April 2015 NHL draft rankings

Ryan Kennedy
Kingston's Lawson Crouse (Photo by Dennis Pajot/Getty Images)

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:

Read more

Jack Eichel has to win the Hobey Baker Award, right?

Ryan Kennedy
Jack Eichel (Photo by Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images)

The Frozen Four hits Boston next week with the semifinal on Thursday and the final on Saturday. In between those games, the Hobey Baker Award – the most prestigious individual accolade in college hockey – will be handed out.

As a member of the Boston University Terriers, NHL draft phenom Jack Eichel has a shot at winning the Frozen Four in his home state and taking home the Hobey Baker, but it’s also possible the Terriers lose and he gets robbed for the award.

Read more

Prospect Hot List: Zach Senyshyn running with the big dogs

Zach Senyshyn (photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images)

The Frozen Four tournament may be the most deadly in hockey. It’s not long, but that’s the danger: it’s one-and-done, so even titan teams can get grounded in the first round, as top seed MSU-Mankato found out against RIT. But in the end, we have two teams from the two best conferences in the semifinal: Nebraska-Omaha and North Dakota from the NCHC and Hockey East’s Providence College and Boston University. Major junior playoffs are in full swing now too, so let’s look at the kids making noise in the prospect world right now.

Zach Senyshyn, RW – Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)

They’re going for it all in the Soo this year and with the team adding players such as Justin Bailey, Anthony DeAngelo and Nick Ritchie before the trade deadline, it’s almost easier to name the Hounds who haven’t been drafted by NHL franchises at this point. Senyshyn is one, but that’s because he’s not eligible until this summer. In the meantime, he’s been happy to soak up lessons from his elder peers.

“It’s a great learning process every day,” he said. “Working with guys like Jared McCann and Darnell Nurse in practice is a special experience.”

This is actually Senyshyn’s first full year with the Hounds. The skilled, swift skater played most of last year with the Jr. A Smiths Falls Bears near Ottawa. He had his eye on playing NCAA, with Penn State, Princeton and nearby Clarkson all on his radar. But the siren sound of the Hounds drew him to the OHL and he signed with the squad in December, playing a handful of games before returning to the Bears to work on his defense and round out his game. There was a Hounds-Bears link, too.

“The assistant coach in Smiths Falls was Walt Dubas,” Senyshyn said. “He’s Kyle Dubas’ uncle. It’s pretty cool the way things worked out.”

Kyle Dubas of course, was the Hounds’ GM last year and now works for the Toronto Maple Leafs. But it’s a member of the Colorado Avalanche that Senyshyn counts as a role model.

“I’d say Matt Duchene,” Senyshyn revealed. “He plays the game at such a high pace and uses his creativity to create offense.”

With three points in his first two playoff games, Senyshyn’s not doing too bad in that category himself. Draft eligible in 2015.

Michael Mersch, LW – Manchester Monarchs (AHL)

The former University of Wisconsin Badger tied a franchise record by notching five points in a win over Hershey on Friday, but he didn’t stop there. The sturdy Mersch, who doesn’t mind heading to the front of the net, also collected points in his next two games. Drafted 110th overall by Los Angeles in 2011.

Nicolas Roy, C – Chicoutimi Sagueneens (QMJHL)

When you’re 6-foot-4 and 202 pounds, it pays to use your frame and that’s what Roy has been doing in the Sags’ first-round series against Moncton. Despite being the underdogs, Chicoutimi has the showdown tied 1-1 in part due to Roy’s four points. Defensively responsible, it’s good to see his offense busting out. Draft eligible in 2015.

Mike Robinson, G – Lawrence Academy Spartans (Mass. HS)

A big goaltender who comes in at 6-foot-4, Robinson had to stop a lot of pucks for the Spartans this season and even though it didn’t result in team success, he did catch the eyes of scouts. Along with his size, the University of New Hampshire commit has great technique and quickness. Draft eligible in 2015.

Travis Konecny, RW – Ottawa 67’s (OHL)

The 67’s got Konecny back from injury right in time for the post-season and he has rewarded them with his presence. The highly skilled heart-and-soul captain has come out guns a’ blazing with seven points in the first three games in what has been a high-scoring affair versus Niagara. Draft eligible in 2015.

Joel Ek Eriksson, C – Farjestad (Swe.)

A 200-foot player with size and a good shot, Ek Eriksson couldn’t get Farjestad past the quarterfinal in Sweden’s under-20 playoffs, but it wasn’t for lack of effort. The big pivot had five goals and 10 points in six games for Farjestad, who dropped their second post-season series to Djurgarden. Draft eligible in 2015.

John Quenneville, C – Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)

The Wheaties have aces all through their lineup, but early on in Brandon’s playoff series against Edmonton, Quenneville has been a driver with five points in three games. The sturdy pivot has a great shot, skates hard and really competes. Drafted 30th overall by New Jersey in 2014.

Jake Walman, D – Providence College Friars (Hockey East)

The Friars had the benefit of playing their regional games in Providence, but they still had to beat two very good NCHC teams and Walman was key against Denver in the final. The offensively talented blueliner notched three assists in the 4-1 win over the Pioneers. Drafted 82nd overall by St. Louis in 2014.

Nick Boka, D – U.S. NTDP (USHL)

A noted gym rat, Boka has pretty good size ay 6-foot-1, 197 pounds and generally plays a physical, defense-first game. But the University of Michigan commit can also wheel when he wants to and has a nice offensive upside, even if it’s not his go-to skill. Draft eligible in 2015.

Vaclav Karabacek, RW – Baie-Comeau Drakkar (QMJHL)

Baie-Comeau has taken care of business at home, winning both games in their opener against Saint John, with Karabacek doing a lot of damage. The gifted Czech, who plays at a high pace and has some dazzling skill, has four assists already in the series to lead the Drakkar. Drafted 49th overall by Buffalo in 2014.

NCAA vs. major junior: big choices face teenaged talent early

Ryan Kennedy
Detroit's Brendan Smith hails from Toronto but played NCAA hockey (Photo by Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images)

It’s a Wednesday night in the suburbs between Toronto and Hamilton and Nate Ewell of College Hockey Inc. is busy signing in players for a showcase in front of NCAA coaches representing four different conferences. Even though some of these 15-year-olds had competed in the pressure-packed OHL Cup final two days before, it’s almost impossible to keep a hockey-mad teen off the ice and four teams worth of players have shown up.

If any of these kids can be educated on the merits of college hockey in the U.S., then the night is a success, because recruiting the best teen talent around can be a tough business.

Read more