Thomas Chabot grabs the puck (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
The Quebec League's Saint John Sea Dogs have turned completely around this season and one of the reasons is Chabot, a calm and gifted defenseman who is up for NHL selection this summer. Meet him and nine more top prospects.
Though a lot of draft choices were moved at the NHL trade deadline, not a lot of prospects changed addresses. Dallas got a couple mid-table guys from Detroit in the Erik Cole deal, but the big prize was Maxim Letunov. The smart and skilled Russian went from St. Louis to Arizona, though he’ll hit up Boston University first. Here’s a look at some of the other players making noise in the prospect world.
Thomas Chabot, D – Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL)
While most hockey fans were glued to their phones, computer screens and TVs on Monday morning, Chabot had a workout to complete before he could check out what his Montreal Canadiens did at the trade deadline. As one of the catalysts of Saint John’s return to the top echelon of the Quebec League, the slick blueliner doesn’t want to let up now, especially since the Memorial Cup will take place in Quebec City, just 20 minutes from the small town he grew up in.
“We know we have a lot of talent, so we can do something this year,” he said. “Quebec is the biggest rink in the league so it would be cool to play there.”
It’s amazing that Saint John picked first overall this past summer, but has already clinched a playoff spot with weeks left in the campaign. Chabot has been a big factor and he noted that his rookie foray helped him develop since the pressure was off the rebuilding squad.
“Before Christmas, it was about adaptation,” he said. “After Christmas, I saw we didn’t have a really good team, so I decided I should do more and that gave me more confidence.”
Other Sea Dogs have emerged this year, including newbies Adam Marsh and Jakub Zboril, but scouts love Chabot’s upside, seeing a player that skates effortlessly and makes good decisions with the puck. As a comparable, one of Chabot’s favorite players is Rangers deadline acquisition Keith Yandle.
“It’s more about my offensive game,” Chabot said of his strengths. “My mobility, my hockey sense. I’m at my best when I have the puck – I’m never going to just chip it in and give it to the other team.”
Though he wants to get meaner and tougher to play against, Chabot’s trajectory reminds me of Travis Sanheim last year in Calgary; a high-riser who keeps getting better. And NHL teams love those guys. Draft eligible in 2015.
Alex Tuch, RW – Boston College Eagles (Hockey East)
A lot of the potential has already been realized, but Tuch’s combination of size and skill is going to look even better as he continues to develop at Boston College. The Eagles power forward has 28 points in 33 games, making him one of the top-scoring freshmen in the conference. Drafted 18th overall by Minnesota in 2014.
Anthony DeAngelo, D – Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)
The Ontario League’s player of the week, DeAngelo has come as advertised since the Hounds acquired him from Sarnia. An offensive defenseman par excellence, the New Jersey native has eight points in his past two games and is leading the league in scoring by a blueliner for the second straight year. Drafted 19th overall by Tampa Bay in 2014.
Kris Oldham, G – Omaha Lancers (USHL)
The United States League’s goaltender of the week has won his past six decisions and 15 out of 18 for the hot Lancers. Oldham, who is committed to the University of Nebraska-Omaha, has a big frame and uses it well. His last victory came against a Waterloo team with many dangerous weapons and he looked great. Draft eligible in 2015.
Cole Cassels, C – Oshawa Generals (OHL)
Just to give you a sense of the edge that Cassels brings to the Gens, he did this the other day. A 10-game suspension earlier in the season likely prevented him from achieving bigger numbers this year, but 73 points in 48 games is eye-popping nonetheless. Especially for a kid who is also responsible in his own end. Drafted 85th overall by Vancouver in 2013.
Paul Bittner, LW – Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
It’s all really coming together for Bittner, the power forward on Portland’s top line with Nic Petan and Oliver Bjorkstrand. The 6-foot-4, 202-pounder has caused havoc in the ‘Dub’ lately, with eight points in his past four games. Bittner likes to drive the net and provide a net-front presence for his lineys. Draft eligible in 2015.
Alexander Kerfoot, C – Harvard Crimson (ECAC)
More than a point per game player for the Crimson, Kerfoot showed off just how slippery he can be at the Beanpot last week, notching two points in a 3-2 loss to Boston College. He’s not a big player, but he can dart in and out of traffic to create offense. Drafted 150th overall by New Jersey in 2012.
Filip Ahl, LW – HV 71 (SHL)
A powerful player who is strong on the wall and has a good set of hands, Ahl started off slow this season but regained his footing. He’s playing for HV 71’s top team in the Swedish League, getting in on the fourth line as the regular season winds down. Draft eligible in 2015.
Liam Darcy, D – Berwick Academy Bulldogs (Maine HS)
A big driver for the Bulldogs, Darcy has a great knack for making the first forechecker miss. The University of New Hampshire commit has great elusiveness as a blueliner and nice offensive upside. Confident with the puck on his stick, he will need to get stronger, but there’s time for that. Draft eligible in 2015.
Jacob Olson, D – Hill-Murray Pioneers (Minn. HS)
A big, mean load at 6-foot-3, 210 pounds already, Olson will have his hands full himself when his Pioneers take on top-seeded Lakeville North at the Minnesota state high school tournament. The Harvard commit helped his squad through sectionas with three points in three games. Draft eligible in 2015.