Heading into action Wednesday night against Guelph, Connor McDavid scored had 92 points. He scored his 93rd point – a power play goal – less than seven minutes into the contest with the storm. But it’s his 94th point, a spectacular individual effort, which is going to stand up as one of his best.
Little more than two minutes after his first tally of the evening, McDavid scooped the puck up behind the Erie net and skated up ice with a head of steam. He slipped past one check with relative ease, embarrassed a second defender and finished the goal off in style. It’s a must-see goal from the sure-fire top two pick in the upcoming draft. Read more
He’ll be taking a bus to the game instead of a charter flight, his sweater will have a big ‘K’ on the front instead of a ‘C’ and he’ll be playing with teenagers instead of men, but when you go 145 days between games the way Sam Bennett has, it’s impossible not to be excited.
Bennett draws into the Kingston Frontenacs lineup tonight in Belleville for his Ontario League season debut tonight – and his home debut against the Sudbury Wolves Friday night – 4 ½ months after undergoing surgery on his left shoulder while in training camp with the Calgary Flames. And if the fourth overall pick is harboring any bitterness about not having a chance to play in the NHL this season, he’s doing a very good job of hiding it. Read more
BOSTON – Matt Grzelcyk’s dad has been a Boston arena worker for decades, covering up ice for basketball games, uncovering it for hockey or prepping the building for concerts. Grzelcyk (pronounced “Grizz-lick”) was also drafted by his hometown Boston Bruins, so of course the city’s famous college hockey trophy would be decided on the blade of one of its own.
BOSTON – The Beanpot tournament is a bit of a big deal in Boston. Pitting the four NCAA schools in the city against each other over two weekends, the showdown features blood rivals Harvard, Northeastern, Boston College and Boston University. Defenseman Noah Hanifin grew up around the tourney, so he was amped to play in it this year and helped Boston College win third place after an opening round loss to Northeastern.
“I pretty much went every year since I was five years old,” Hanifin said. “To be able to play in it this year and experience it was unbelievable even though we didn’t get the outcome we wanted.”
Like fellow 2015 NHL draft phenoms Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel (a friend of Hanifin’s), it’s not hard to run out of superlatives when talking about the gifted Hanifin.
Minnesota’s Mr. Hockey Award goes to the state’s most outstanding senior in high school hockey and a perusal of the past winners churns up some pretty impressive names. Ryan McDonagh, Nick Leddy and Nick Bjugstad all earned the honor and each one of them was then taken in the first round of the NHL draft. For years, a Minnesota high schooler always went in the top 30, but those days are gone. Since 2011, the first names called have been second-rounders, but sometimes fifth-rounders. In 2014, a Wisconsin high schooler (Matt Berkovitz, Anaheim) was actually taken before any Minnesota kids, which, traditionally speaking, is insane.
The “State of Hockey” is still producing lots of talent, but those kids are no longer sticking with their schools. Team USA, the United States League, the Western League and prep school Shattuck-St. Mary’s have all taken chunks out of the high school circuit, which still holds its vaunted state tournament at the Minnesota Wild’s XCel Energy Center and packs the house. It’s getting to the point where some scouts are less than enthusiastic about watching the games and a fierce protectionism has frayed relationships at the local level.
Bo Horvat strolled off the ice after the Vancouver Canucks’ Wednesday practice in New York as the quintessential rookie and anything but, all at once.
Horvat wore a turquoise, old-fashioned Jofa helmet emblazoned with teammate Henrik Sedin’s No. 33. The lid perched itself like a toupee, high on Horvat’s head, and looked like something any team would force a rookie to wear. But there was no hazing involved whatsoever. And here’s where Horvat’s contradictory nature comes into play.
“I saw it and wanted to try it on,” Horvat said with a smile. “It doesn’t even fit me, but it’s a cool helmet.”
He saw something he liked and he grabbed it. He wore it with the confident swagger of a seasoned veteran, looking very little like a 19-year-old that played in the OHL nine months ago and more like a filled out 25-year-old at six-foot and 206 pounds.
It’s been abundantly clear since the Canucks withheld Horvat from playing for Canada at the 2015 World Junior Championship that they believe he’s arrived. He’s been as hot as any Vancouver forward of late, amassing eight points in his past 10 games, delivering on the promise that made him the ninth overall pick at the 2013 draft.
He’s come along way considering coach Willie Desjardins didn’t think Horvat had a snowball’s chance in hell of making the team while conferring with GM Jim Benning just a few months ago.
All is not well in Leaf Land, as Toronto has sunk into a funk that has eclipsed the cataclysmic slumps of the recent past. As reported by Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston yesterday, Maple Leafs assistant GM Kyle Dubas has publicly stated that if the team needs to start from scratch, that’s what they’ll do in order to make things right.
Luckily, this is a great time to do so.
Weather permitting, Boston’s NCAA Beanpot tournament will end next week and hopefully I’ll be there. In the meantime, some more important dates were established when the CHL announced the hosts of next year’s Super Series with Russia: Kamloops, Kelowna, Owen Sound, Windsor, Rouyn-Noranda and Halifax. With that out of the way, let’s take a trip around the world of prospects.