Future Canadian Superstar Alexis Lafrenière





(Written August 11th 2018)

Team Canada won last night in a way that probably shouldn't have happened. 

A goal was allowed despite it being scored a fraction of a second too late. The arena had the ability to see it wasn't a goal, but due to the tournament not having replay at the other venues, it was deemed unfair to only use it at Rogers Place. This cost the Americans their shot at a Hlinka Gretzky Cup. It's unfortunate for the fans but for Canadians we will still take a win.

After watching Canada win a very controversial game I decided to get off my butt and write an article about my favourite Canadian player in the Hlinka Gretzky Cup so far, Alexis Lafrenière. 

He is the type of player that after watching him play just a few games in this tournament I'm already hooked. He's an addictive player to watch with a type of silent swagger to his game. Lafrenière was also chosen to be the captain despite the fact he is the second-youngest Team Canada player which speaks volumes to what the coaching staff thinks of him. 

Just a brief aside about the Hlinka Gretzky Cup. So far it's been an absolute treat to watch this tournament. These kids are playing at such a high speed and the back and forth action is palpable. If you happened to miss it so far the Gold Medal game is on tonight where Team Canada takes on Sweden... and the Bronze Medal between Russia/USA should be equally entertaining! 

Alexis came onto our radar by scoring 42 goals and notching 80 points in 60 games for the Rimouski Océanic in the QMJHL while being named rookie of the year as a 16 year old. Before that he was drafted first overall by Rimouski in 2017 from his hometown midget AAA Saint-Eustache Vikings. 

Important for comparisons' sake that the only player who had more points then him as a rookie in the QMJHL last season was recent draft pick Filip Zadina (who we covered in a previous article) and Zadina is 2 years his senior.

Alexis Lafrenière is a player you notice the moment he comes over the boards. He's an absolute sparkplug who seems to float around the ice untouchable to anyone. His ability to find teammates in traffic and make quick plays makes me foam at the mouth. He seems to have the puck on a string at times and if he doesn't have the puck he seems to always be wide open or standing around the net like a true goal scorer; hungry for a tip in or juicy rebound. 

If you're still having doubts about this kid you should put them to rest. While some scouts are comparing him to a young Sidney Crosby I think that might be a stretch. He is drawing these comparisons because he became the first 16-year-old in the QMJHL to record a 40-goal season since Crosby did it in 2004 (but keep in mind Crosby also put up a ton of assists and over 100 points that season). 

40 goals in any league is impressive for any player, but its unheard of for a 16 year old in the QMJHL.

The term generational talent gets thrown around a lot these days, but this kid appears to be one. While his game still needs work in certain areas (skating, consistency) his offensive game is an absolute nightmare to defend against. He still has a long road to being drafted so we may put an asterisk beside the word generational, but he's easily the most exciting prospect in the 2020 draft. 

Already standing at 6’0, 170-pounds this  centre is going to be talked about a lot over the coming years and for good reason. Our NHL comparison is a more creative Steven Stamkos. 

Alex is not eligible for the NHL entry draft until 2020 but we urge you to remember his name. I cant wait to see him again at the World Junior Tournament that begins Boxing day and runs through January 5th where team Canada battles for back to back gold's on home turf. 

Start the tank conversations now, he will be worth it. 


Jack Hughes Is A Generational Talent Worth Tanking For

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Written: July 27, 2018


One thing Americans do well these days is make great hockey players. 

The USNDP (United States National Development Program) is easily one of the best, if not THE best program for kids trying to make it to the show. They have an excellent system which allows young prospects to work their way up the ranks to play against much older competitors which furthers their development. Many of the NHL's top players have come out of this program including Patrick Kane, Seth Jones, Zach Werenksi, John Gibson, Jack Eichel, Auston Matthews, Clayton Keller and Jacob Trouba just to name a few.

Jack Hughes' older brother Quinn Hughes was most recently the 7th overall pick of the Vancouver Canucks at this years draft. Both Quinn and Jack are unbelievable skaters, easily at the top of their class and both could compete in the NHL based on skating alone. Both Hughes brothers can make plays at top speed and have elite stickhandling and playmaking abilities. 

These Hughes kids can definitely play in the "new-age" NHL. The main difference between the brothers is that Jack is a centre, a centre who's poised to be the undisputed number one pick in Vancouver at the 2019 NHL Draft.

Jack is not a big kid by any means, in fact he is quite short. Standing at only 5 foot 10 inches and 160 pounds he doesn't fit the typical build of a centre, however nobody cares how big you are when you put up 116 points in 60 games as a 16 year old, only one point shy of the record set by Auston Matthews who was one year older. 

Austin Matthews is by far the best comparison to Jack in terms of ceiling and potential. However there are some subtle differences between them as well. Jack is a bit smaller, but he's also a better skater who dangles more. Some scouts go as far to compare Jack to Connor McDavid, however I think that's a bit of a stretch. Other scouts compare him to Patrick Kane in his draft year, but again I think this fails to capture who Jack really is.

What makes Jack so good is his ability to read the play. He makes plays at incredible speed all while making it look effortless. Furthermore he makes the players around him better; he had two excellent wingers in Farabee and Wahlstrom and he improved both of their draft stock immensely this season. 

Jack could easily be the first player ever to make the jump from the US U-18 squad straight to the NHL, that is how good he is. However, the more likely route is he goes to the NCAA as a 17 year old. Mississauga still owns his rights if he decided to go the OHL route, but that is the least likely option. 

What is obvious is Jack has nothing left to prove at the USHL level and whoever gets the first pick next year will be getting a generational talent whether he chooses the NCAA or tries to jump straight to the NHL. This kid is truly special, and while tanking doesn't guarantee you the first overall pick, I'll still take those odds at finishing last at 18.5%. 

So what happens if you land pick #2 or #3? Well you're still in luck there's a few good centres poised to go in the top 5 in 2019. There's the speedy and skilled Alexander Newhook from Victoria in the BCHL, or the huge 6 foot 4 Kirby Dach who was #2 overall selection by Saskatoon Blades in the WHL Bantam Draft.

With plenty of bottom feeder teams needing a top centre, this is a good year to be bad... are you listening Senators, Canucks, Red Wings, Sabres and Islanders?

I once saw an interview with Mark Scheifele where he was in his apartment with a few friends just watching and talking hockey. Mark's passion for the game is obvious, he loves the sport so much he can never get enough and I believe it's this quality that helped launch him from a great hockey player to a generational one. 

The Hughes brothers are no different, Jack and his brothers Quinn and Luke-- yes there's a 3rd even younger brother-- all have a passion for the game that is undervalued in today's NHL, a passion that cannot be taught.

Jack has the potential to be better then fellow American centre's Jack Eichel and Auston Matthews. Two players who are both considered generational talents for their respective teams. 

While no prospect is a ever sure thing, this kid looks to be as good as it gets.


How Cale Makar Put The AJHL On The Map

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By https://nhlprospectreport.com

(Written August 10)

Did you know what the AJHL was before you heard of Cale Makar? We would guess probably not. It's the "Alberta Junior Hockey League" FYI. 

I remember a few names that have come out of this little known league in Western Canada. Brent Sutter in 1980, Mason Raymond of the Vancouver Canucks in the 2000's and more recently Colton Parayko of the St. Louis Blues. However it's Cale Makar, the highest drafted AJHL player of all time, who has put the AJHL on the map.

There's a lot to like about Makar. He's a smart player with a great all round game. He can play all three zones and carry the puck on the forecheck with ease. His stick handling and ability to make crisp tape to tape passes will ensure a lengthy career in the NHL. In fact he's one of a select few who I would call a "franchise defenceman." 

Have you missed that in the Rockies? Some may argue you have it in Ty Barrie, but I'd argue the last true franchise d-man was Adam Foote. 

Makar doesnt play physical game that Foote did, but he has the tools to be an equal calibre player.

Cale was outstanding at the WJC for Canada, helping them take home gold. Makar had 8 points in 7 games and was named one of the top three players for Canada in the tournament. 

What I found interesting about Makar was his choice to stay in the AJHL instead of the WHL to maintain his NCAA eligibility. The AJHL isn't exactly the best competition for someone of his calibre. So for good measure he put up 75 points in 54 games. Makar was an absolute beast for the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Brooks Bandits and won Canadian Junior Hockey League’s MVP honours.

Cale Makar clearly impressed the NHL's top scouts too. His ranking climbed heavily all year despite playing in the AJHL. He was ranked #10 in the final NHL Central Scouting rankings and climbed even further on draft day to 4th overall to the Colorado Avalanche. 

Makar posted five goals and 21 points in 34 games for UMass-Amherst during his freshmen season in 2017-18. However a little regression is perfectly normal when you make the jump from the AJHL to the NCAA.

Makar's draft year included a star studded top ten that will be talked about for years to come. The New Jersey Devils cashed in on Switzerland’s Nico Hischier, a forward for the QMJHL’s Halifax Mooseheads. The Philadelphia Flyers nabbed Brandon Wheat Kings centre Nolan Patrick with the second overall pick and then the Dallas Stars welcomed Finland’s Miro Heiskanen, the first defenceman on the board. 

A lot of people, myself included were wondering what would Avalanche GM Joe Sakic do with his 4th overall pick?  As I see it there was four legitimate options available: Elias Petterson, Casey Mittlestadt, Cody Glass and  Cale Makar. 

Three incredible centres were all passed up on for the smooth skating Makar. However I think the choice was easier then meets the eye when you consider they have MacKinnon as their franchise centreman for the next 5 seasons. 

Let's just say I wouldn't want to be picked in front of those three. They are all supremely talented centres who should all contribute to their respective NHL clubs AND contend for the Calder trophy this year. 

Yet somehow even after writing that statement I'm still not concerned about Makar. He will most likely spend another full season in the NCAA in 2019 while his draft mates start putting up NHL points but the extra year of development is a good thing for the undersized Makar (5 foot 11) to put on some more muscle.

It could be easy to forget about Makar seeing as he wont make his appearence until late this season or early next but I can tell you he will be worth the wait. The Avs' have something in Makar and his first season in the NHL will be one to watch.


Dylan Strome: The Long Way To The NHL





John Chayka is the General Manager of the Arizona Coyotes. He became the GM when he was just 26 years old. He got the job as assistant GM the year before, and after one short year as an assistant Arizona ownership made history making him the youngest General Manager in the history of North American Sports. 

I remember the day he was promoted to GM like it was yesterday. He was only one year older then me at the time and I was truly floored that someone my age could be the General Manager of a hockey team. Chayka became my personal hero and to this day that hasn't changed

Chayka was given a team that was drowning in the desert, and he's made big strides of late to improve his club. One of those strides is prospect Dylan Strome. Strome was the 2015 third overall pick and Chayka has let him develop for three full seasons and now he will get the call up this season as an NHL regular. 

2015 will always be remembered as the Connor McDavid draft and Strome's seen a lot of his fellow first rounders enjoy success in the NHL ever since. Tons of first round names from 2015 have made big contributions to their clubs like: Eichel, Marner, Hanifin, Barzal, Boeser and Konecny just to name a few. 

So what has the top Arizona prospect been up to the last three years? Let's dive in.

Strome spent two seasons with Erie in the WHL. Medalled twice at the World Junior Championship and last season he spent the majority of the year in the AHL with the Tucson Roadrunners. Even against older competition last season in Tucson he scored 22 goals to go with 31 assists before he got the call up from the Coyotes ending the year with the big club. 

The 21 year old six-foot-three, 194 pound centre was absolutely electrifying for Team Canada at the WJC in Montreal and Buffalo. Strome was a big part of the teams that won silver and gold respectively and has been an exciting playmaker to watch since his draft day. He was named captain of the gold medal team and put up 10 points in 7 games. Even before the WJC Strome represented Canada at the 2014 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup where he won Gold. 

Most scouts compare Strome to a young Ryan Getzlaf, and if he can reach Getzlafian level output he will be worth the three year wait. While I think this comparison is a good one, the major concern I have is Strome probably won't have a young Corey Perry on his wing. 

Another interesting thing to consider is how deep Arizona is up the middle, they have three guys who are locked into their roles in Stepan, Galchenyuk and the newly resigned Dvorak. 

This leaves Strome with two options: move to the wing or be a 4th line centre. Neither of those options screams Calder winning season but there's a chance he moves to centre if someone gets injured. The good news is he will definitely get some powerplay time where he will be able to show off his full offensive skill set. 

What's great about Ryan is his ability to be a leader, he projects to be a future captain or alternate captain for this transitioning team. He leads by example and his tremendous work ethic should raise the level of game in every player in the room. Furthermore Strome has a hard, accurate release on his shot and he is very creative in the offensive zone. He's been a difference maker on every team he's ever played for in every league and the NHL should be no different.

No prospect is ever perfect and although Strome is tall he has always needed to get bigger and stronger, especially in order to be an impact player in the NHL. He also needs to continue to work on his speed and first step but he is making strides in both these areas. 

Last season Clayton Keller was consistently in Calder Trophy talk ultimately losing to Canadian Matthew Barzal. I think a similar script could happen this year with Strome being in the Calder conversation all year long only to lose to either Petterson or Mittlestadt. Regardless, he's a fantastic prospect and if he's utilized properly he could hit 20 goals and 30 assists in his first full NHL season. 

Surrounded by other young talent like Keller, Dvorak and Chychrun and a more stable core of veterans like Stepan, OEL, Hjalmarsson and the newly acquired Galchenyuk Arizona has improved from last season which should create a good environment for Strome.

The Coyotes are improving every year and with a good core of young talent and the addition of a few veterans they should be a more fun team to watch this year. They also improved their goaltending by adding Kuemper as a stable backup to Raanta. Chayka has done a great job making a competitive hockey club in the Desert and now he's primed for his first good season. Strome will be a big part of this team for years to come and it's finally time for the third overall pick in 2015 to show the world what he can do. 

Things are heating up in the desert again.


Oliver Wahlstrom Is The Beginning Of A New Era In Brooklyn

Photo from: https://nhlprospectreport.ca/new-york-islanders

Photo from: https://nhlprospectreport.ca/new-york-islanders



The New York Islanders lost a franchise centre when Tavares moved north to Toronto. So it would be fair to say fans might be a little upset about losing their captain; a guy who single handedly dominates games night in and night out is almost irreplaceable. However, the future looks bright in Brooklyn. 

On June 6th, 2018 the Islanders fired their head coach and GM and replaced the latter with new president Lou Lamoriello. Welcome to the new Islanders. 

When a team loses a top centre, someone must fill the void. Enter Matthew Barzal. Let's just say even after the incredible season he had I don't think he will enjoy the same run of success in the post-Tavares age, at least not immediately. This season's Islanders are probably not going to make the playoffs, but there's more then a few decent prospects in the Islanders pipeline who could make the jump to the NHL this season. 

The best Isles prospects not currently in the NHL are without a doubt goalie Ilya Sorokin (who's been phenomenal in the KHL) and sensational winger Kieffer Bellows. Sorokin is technically signed in the KHL through 2020 but after 4 seasons in the KHL it is probably a good time to bring him over.

I watched Kieffer play at the WJC for the US and he was all over the ice, it was obvious every time he stepped over the boards because he was always buzzing around the puck. I fully expect him to break onto this roster this season or next and immediately make an impact for this rebuilding franchise, possibly on a line with Barzal and Wahlstrom. 

Back to the task at hand. Oliver Wahlstrom. Half Swedish, half American, pure goal scorer. Standing at just over 6 feet tall and already over 200 pounds of pure muscle, this kid is NHL ready. He's a winger with an edge and a perfect linemate for the new number one centre in Brooklyn. 

If I was Matthew Barzal on draft day I would have been fist pumping till the cows come home that Oliver somehow slipped all the way down to the Isles. Islander fans, say hello to your new favorite goal scorer. This is a kid who I think will have consistent 30 goal seasons, and be a dynamic threat on the powerplay. His shot reminds me a little of Brock Boeser's... it's got a quick semi deceptive release to it. 

I had Wahlstrom pegged to go in the top five, ranked as the third best forward in the entire draft. Oliver is a menace in the offensive zone, he has a wicked release on his shot but he also knows when to make a pass too. Furthermore he's hard to contain on the walls, constantly making plays that seem to dazzle defenceman. 

If there was a knock to be had on this dynamic scorer it would be his defence. However he is far from a slouch in his own end. 

Wahlstrom put up over a point-per-game pace last season in a tough league and could potentially crack the opening night roster due to his size and compete level. 

The Isles' can thank a few teams in front of them for passing on this scorer. Pure snipers are rare and snipers that are 200 pounds in their draft year are even more rare. I fully expect this kid to explode onto the scene and never look back. 


The Mighty Sam Steel

photo from: https://nhlprospectreport.ca/anaheim-ducks

photo from: https://nhlprospectreport.ca/anaheim-ducks



Some people are saying the Anaheim Ducks are at a crossroad. Tear down or double down? 

I say it's time to gamble in California. 

Good teams have strong centerman and good defence and the Ducks have both covered. On top of that the Ducks' Rickard Rakell had a career year last season and is the new driving force of the offence in Anaheim. It's been a long time since the best player in Anaheim wasn't one of the veterans but it's great news nonetheless.

Anaheim has an ageing core led by Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Patrick Eaves and Ryan Kesler but they also had a great season last year finishing with a 44-25-13 record. That was good enough for 101 points and second in the Pacific division. "Ageing core" in the NHL means 33-34 years old FYI. Anaheim has a perfect mix of young talent and veterans to make for a very good hockey club.

Sam Steel is the most exciting prospect in Anaheim. Scratch that. He's the most exciting prospect in California not named Jack Hughes. He's a Canadian center who was drafted 30th overall back in 2016 and has all the skills to be an impact player in the NHL. He's been an absolute beast in the WHL and should be an exciting prospect to watch this season.

Sam is also a scoring machine. In a little over four seasons for the Pats he has played in 258 games and put up 338 points (1.31 ppg) in the regular season. Despite those impressive numbers Steel will probably spend time with Anaheim's AHL affiliate the San Diego Gulls this season. He’s only 20 years old and entering into his first professional campaign and while he can play a few games in the NHL before burning that first season the chances are he will probably be sent down after a brief stint with the Ducks to begin the season. 

Steel led his team to the Memorial Cup championship game last season by scoring 13 points in only 5 games being named tournament MVP. Unfortunately his Regina Pats lost to the Acadie-Bathurst Titans in the final. 

I had the pleasure of seeing him both at the WJC and when the Pat's came to Calgary to play against the Hitmen. In the game against the Hitmen he looked like he was playing against pee-wee players. In that game he had a modest one goal and one assist, with his goal being the OT winner. He was a threat every time he was on the ice and could have easily had 4 or 5 points with the amount of grade a chances he created. While the Hitmen played one of their better games of the season it was still "the Sam Steel show" and he was worth the price of admission.

Sam Steel has been impressive everywhere he's played. He was a big part of Team Canada's gold medal winning team at the WJC in Buffalo and has been the best player in Regina for a while. He also played in the Hlinka Cup and won that too. It appears wherever he goes a string of success follows.

Sam is an undersized center (5-11, 185) but he has great speed--something that differentiates him from the other centers in Anaheim. However it will be tough for Sam Steel to become a center in the NHL, at least immediately due to the names in front of him. The Ducks could put him on the 4th line, but grinding out 4th line minutes for a kid who's used to leading his team night in and night out isn't going to be beneficial to his development.  

I expect Sam to spend the first few games of the season with the big club, then spend the majority of the season with the Gulls before finally being called up for the Ducks playoff push, assuming everyone stays healthy.
The Ducks took the long road with Steel and it seems to have paid off, he's gotten better each season and there's no doubt whether he is in the AHL or NHL, he will be productive for his team. 



Everything You Need To Know About Andrei Svechnikov

Andrei Svechnikov (Miranda Zilkowsky Photography)

Andrei Svechnikov (Miranda Zilkowsky Photography)



I love the IIHF World Junior Championship (WJC), more than any other tournament in the world. Which is why it was a shame Svechnikov got buried in Russia's lineup due to his age. 

Despite not getting a huge role he still managed a point per game pace playing on the 4th line. Playing on the 4th line isn't a knock on Svechnikov though as the Russian coaches tend to lean on older players in the WJC.  

The Canes' have a pretty fantastic young core of defenders; I would argue that they are the best in the entire league. 

The Carolina Hurricanes are a team that could easily surprise you in 2018-2019. They have a solid core group of young players in Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teravainen, Haydn Fleury, Jacob Slavin and the newly acquired Dougie Hamilton. 

What they lacked, before this most recent draft, was a scoring winger to take the pressure off Aho and Teravainen. 

Furthermore, goaltending is an issue for the Canes. Entering the season with Scott Darling backed up by Petr Mrazek is not exactly a winning combo, but I digress. 

The Carolina Hurricanes have a few blue chip prospects in center Martin Necas, and power forward Julien Gauthier and stud defenceman Jake Bean. All three guys could easily make the team out of camp, however I expect both Bean and Gauthier to start with Carolina's AHL club the Charlotte Checkers. 

Let's talk about Andrei Svechnikov. If the name sounds familiar it's because Andrei is the younger brother of Evgeny Svechnikov, who was drafted by Detroit in 2015. 

Andrei stands at 6 foot 2 and over 190 pounds of pure Russian power forward. Drafted 1st overall by the Barrie Colts in the CHL Import Draft, there was no doubt of his talent by any scout, and he lived up to the hype.
After coming over from the USHL Svechnikov was impressive right out of the gate notching 14 points in his first 10 games for the Colts. Despite battling injuries he ended the season with an unbelievable 40 goals and 72 points in 44 games. 

Svechnikov is a stat mans dream, his 5v5 goals-per-game average of 0.68 is outrageous, showing that he's not "just a powerplay guy". He has superior puck control and an excellent release on his shot; and because of his massive frame, he can play in the NHL next season and make an impact.  

Svechnikov will become one of league’s dominant forwards. He's dominated in every league he's been in, and the underlying statistics show an elite forward who is going to put up a lot of points in the NHL. 

Andrei plays a style that is entertaining to watch, he hits people and scores goals, does that sound like any other Russian forward you've ever heard of? Starts with an O.... ends with 'vechkin??  Before you get your pitchforks out, I don't think that's a fair comparison. 

What you can expect is someone who's ready to score 25-30 goals and be effective at both 5v5 and on the powerplay immediately. He also helps fill another need on an undersized group of forwards with his physicality, however a lot of scouts were concerned with his discipline. Andrei is also not the most graceful skater and his passing and defensive game isn’t fantastic, but who cares? When you have a guy who can score goals at this clip, comparable to Steven Stamkos in his draft year, you shouldn't care. 

The Hurricanes are pretty lucky that their draft ball moved from 11th all the way down to 2nd. Anytime you draft that early you have a real good chance at getting a franchise player and the Cane's did just that. 

What's exciting for Canes' fans is they get an elite forward they can instantly plug into their lineup. One who should play alongside Sebastian Aho and put up impressive numbers this season and contend for the Calder trophy. 

Don't sleep on this kid; he's the real deal.

Filip Zadina Is Going To Make You Pay


The Detroit Red Wings are an original 6 team, a team that I grew up hating. They were easy to hate, they had a ton of talented players and even more success. After an unbelievable run of making the playoffs from 1990–91 through to 2015–16 (25 years... something that might never happen again) and now they struggle to find an identity. With plenty of young talent in Andreas Athanasiou, Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha there's plenty of reason for optimism in Motor City.

The Red Wings are a FRANCHISE. They know it, and they know how to build it. You don't have a run of success like they've had based on luck alone. They know how to draft and develop players, and they have no shame in sending a guy to the AHL for years until he's deemed ready. It's quite admirable, and furthermore it's easy to deal from a position of strength. Something the Red Wings are well accustomed to. 

However, the Red Wings are no longer a powerhouse, and they are not dealing from a position of strength anymore. This may cause you to think that they might change their plan, but when something works, you don't mess with it. And the Red Wings' farm system works. 

Detroit has one of the most stocked prospect cupboards out of any NHL franchise and they should be proud of what they've been able to do in a relatively short turn around. Big names lie in the wait in Michael Rasmussen, a centre from Tri-City, Tyler Bertuzzi (son of former NHLer Todd Bertuzzi), fast rising defenceman Filip Hronek, centre Joe Veleno and winger Jonatan Berggren. With every one of these prospects deserving NHL minutes, the Red Wings have some tough decisions ahead of them. 

All of these prospects and yet none of them project to be anywhere near the player Filip Zadina is. During the 2018 draft teams like Montreal and Arizona opted to go for a positional need rather then the best player available. Then Ottawa made the bonehead move of passing on Zadina for the gritty Brady Tkachuk. Three teams all expected to be a lock for Zadina all opted to go in a different direction; proving that centreman are arguably the most valuable piece one can add at the draft in the eyes of today's GM. 

However, when you pass on a pure goal scorer, one who carries some swagger, expect to have it bite you in the ass. As soon as Zadina was drafted by Detroit at 6th overall he said, “I was telling my agent, if they will pass on me, I’m going to fill their nets with pucks,” via Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press. “I want to prove to Detroit that they make a pretty good decision.”

Zadina has every right to be cocky. He is an elite power forward scorer from the Czech Republic. Playing for the Halifax Mooseheads he put up impressive numbers in his draft year (44 goals and 82 points in 57 games). 

What impressed me more was his showing at the WJC. The Czech Republic had a decent team with a good powerplay, with plenty of scouts talking about Filip's legendary shot. Boy, they weren't kidding. This kid can fire the biscuit. He put up 6 goals in 6 games played at the World Juniors and every one was well deserved. In fact I got goosebumps every time he touched the puck because you could just feel like it was somehow going in. 

Zadina is an easy forward to project, what's more difficult is figuring out what the Red Wings will do with him. Notorious for shelving prospects to the point of unbelievable frustration. Will they let the 18 year old jump straight from the 'Q', or send him back to Junior. In my opinion, only a fool sends him back to junior. 

The red wings can give Zadina 25 NHL games before he qualifies as a rookie, and I suggest giving him every single one to prove he can play, if not, send him back to Junior in typical Red Wings fashion. Although I seriously doubt that will happen. 

Cheer up Red Wings fans, another streak is on the horizon.



Cody Glass And The Vegas Golden Knights


I wish they just went with the Vegas Knights instead of the Golden Knights. I think it just sounds better.

I could write all day about the Vegas Golden Knights. They are by far the most successful expansion team EVER after one short season, but what does the future hold?

If you asked me before last season what to expect from the Knights I would have said, "They aren't going to be good. In fact, I predict they finish in the bottom five with the best possible outcome being making the playoffs... only to be crushed in the first round." 

I can admit I was very wrong. However I don't think a lot of people had Vegas pegged to go all the way to the Stanley Cup Final, but they did, and history was made. 

The inaugural season for the Knights was fun to watch right out of the gate. With the line of Jonathan Marchessault, William Karlsson and Reilly Smith supplying the offence, and Fleury having an unbelievable year in net they were able to shock the NHL. 

However, to their own detriment, they became "buyers" at the NHL trade deadline. 

For a team that had just stockpiled five picks after the expansion draft in 2017 (one in 2018, three in 2019 and one in 2020) the building process looked optimistic. That is until the NHL trade deadline last year. They sold their first overall pick who turned into Joe Veleno, an exciting centre who joins a loaded group of prospects in Detroit. On top of that they also sent their 2019 2nd-Round Pick and their 2021 3rd-Round Pick. 

That is a premium to pay for any player, let alone Tatar who averaged around 40 points in his last four seasons. The main reason he was so expensive is he is not a rental, he's signed through 2020 and does help add a second line scoring punch they lacked at times in the regular season. 

In my opinion this was the only stupid thing Vegas' GM George McPhee has done so far, so we can forgive him. He killed it in the expansion draft and he absolutely hit on his first ever pick for the Knights with center Cody Glass. 

Glass is a future 1st/2nd line two-way center for this Vegas squad and having him behind the Karlsson line will make for a great 1/2 combo down the middle for years to come.

Cody's coach in Portland compares him to Ryan Johansen, and I agree with the comparison. They are both two-way centers that can contribute offensively. 

They also both played for the Winterhawks and were both the same size and weight in their draft year. If Glass can have a comparable career to Ryan, that would be a fantastic career for any player.  At 6 foot 2 and 180 pounds he still needs to add some more to his frame, but he is definitely NHL ready. Furthermore he is also the only elite prospect in their entire prospect system because the Knights went into "Win Now Mode" which caused a bit of a rift in the prospect pipeline. 

Cody absolutely dominated the WHL in Portland this year putting up 102 points in 64 games. That was good enough to finish tied for 6th in scoring. 

I was able to catch him play against the Calgary Hitmen and he looked like a man among boys. I can't say much about his defence because he didn't spend anytime in his own zone. He and Kieffer Bellows combined for 6 points but they could have easily has 12 at the rate they were going. Knights fans have every reason to be excited about their number one prospect. 

Rumor has it that Glass is coming to the NHL this season as a permanent fixture. A two way center with great playmaking ability and good speed I see him in a 2nd or 3rd line role with about 40-50 points in his rookie year barring injury. 

I expect Vegas to come back down to earth this season and not breeze their way to a cup final. So Vegas fans might think missing the playoffs might not be as fun, but Vegas desperately needs to stock the prospect cupboard. With Glass becoming an NHL regular, the cupboard is basically empty. 

At time of publication Vegas is loaded up with six picks in the first three rounds in 2019. McPhee and his scouts have a lot of work to do to prepare for the 2019 draft to make sure every one is a future NHL’er. 

Vegas were already a fun team to watch last season. Now there's one more reason to follow the most exciting expansion team in NHL history.



American Rookie Casey Mittelstadt Should Be On Your Radar

Photo by Harry Scull Jr/News file)

Photo by Harry Scull Jr/News file)



The gap between a terrible team and a Stanley Cup team has always been wide in the NHL, but not so much anymore. Nowadays we see teams frequently go from the bottom five to playoff contender in just one season.

The prospects that come into the NHL these days are better then ever before. This influx of young talent has changed the NHL in many ways, most importantly, it's a faster NHL. 

The NHL now relies on speed and skill instead of the traditional trap game. It has changed 4th lines too. No longer do you need three guys who can punch the lights out of anyone, hell, you don't even need one. 

What you want is a guy like Tom Wilson (just not at his cap hit). A guy who can defend your talent from getting run headfirst into the boards while still occasionally chipping in offensively. This is the type of player that Buffalo needs, just not right now. 

It's a good time to be a Buffalo Sabres fan. Everyone and their dog is talking about Rasmus Dahlin and how he's going to be a generational talent for the Sabres blue line but not many people are talking about Mittelstadt.

Before the 2018 draft it was easy to argue that Buffalo was one of the most promising teams in terms of young talent. They have a good core to build around in Eichel, Reinhart, Ristolainen and Mittelstadt; and now with first overall pick Dahlin they have an exciting group of elite players.

They also have some blue chip wingers waiting for their chance in Alex Nylander and Victor Olofsson and with a bevy of talent up the middle, Buffalo needs some scoring wingers. 

Olofsson is an electric scorer coming over from the SHL, one who should make the jump this season due to Buffalo's weak winger corps. He is a true sniper who could really help either Eichel or Mittelstadt on the wing. 

Alex Nylander could also make the jump to the NHL this season. He's the younger brother of Toronto's William Nylander and someone who I've watched in international play and I've always liked his game. Alex has a very high hockey IQ and would be a good fit for either Mittelstadt or Eichel's wing.

The Sabres have a few other prospects who could make an appearance in the NHL. Defensive defenceman Will Borgen and future goaltender Luukkonen. 

Quick aside on Luukonen. He was one of Europe's top goalies coming into the World Juniors where he absolutely crapped the bed. One bad tournament doesn't mean that much... but it was a major red flag. I wouldn't count on this kid to lead you to a Stanley Cup.

The 2017 draft wasn't that long ago, yet if your team's GM could do it all again I bet you the top 10 picks would look a little different, hell even the top three in my opinion wouldnt be Nico Hischier, Nolan Patrick and Miro Heiskanen. I would argue that if those teams could go back it would be a little different. Possibly Petterson, Mittelstadt and Makar. 

I wrote an article on why I think Elias Petterson will win the Calder this year, and I think his biggest competition will be Mittelstadt. I don't normally quote other websites but this sums him up perfectly, " [Casey is] an electric offensive presence on the ice, [he] brings the complete package of speed, skill, and hockey sense. He competes hard with every shift, and has the dynamic puck skills to keep up with his creativity, which is a hallmark of his game." (Eliteprospects.com, 2017). 

Having seen him live I can back up this statement. Watching him at the World Juniors was something to see. On a line with Brady Tkachuk and playing on the powerplay with Isle's prospect Kieffer Bellows, his playmaking abilities were on full display. He was almost impossible to contain in the offensive zone and his transition game was elite, especially in the 3v3 overtime. I predict Casey puts up a solid 60-70 points this season, many of which will come on the powerplay.

In his last season at the University of Minnesota in the NCAA Mittlestadt put up a respectable 11 goals and 19 assists in 34 games. Then in his brief audition in the NHL last season he put up 5 points in his first 6 games with signs that he is definitely NHL ready. 

Casey has all the tools to be an elite point producer in the NHL. Having Eichel and Middlestadt as your 1-2 centres is an intimidating thought for any opposing defenceman or coach. 

Buffalo's biggest problem in the last few years was goaltending and defence. They've addressed both in getting Dahlin in the draft and trading for Carter Hutton (although I feel like Hutton is just a band aid for a bullet wound). Hutton may solve their issues this season but what about the next five years?

Buffalo's a team that's had a long run of disappointment and lets be honest they haven't been good in over five years. However, those five years have been good as far as stockpiling elite talent. It's now time for that talent to shine. Jump on the bandwagon now, it should be a fun ride. 



The New Favourite Russian In Washington

Photo by NHL.com

Photo by NHL.com



If you followed the NHL last season you got a lot of bang for your buck. There was the Cinderella story in Vegas, and finally Ovi' got his chance to lift the cup, and boy did he know how to "celly". 

While the Stanley Cup hangover will probably cause Washington to be slow out of the gate in 2018-2019 one thing fans should be excited for is the fact that they have the best goaltending prospect in the NHL, Russian born goaltender Ilya Samsonov.

Nobody here at NHLProspectReport.ca has talked about a goaltending prospect yet on this site. That ends today. Today we talk about the Washington Capitals and their future number one goaltender, Ilya Samsonov; who was drafted 22nd overall in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.

Ilya has spent the past three seasons in in the KHL playing for his hometown Magnitogorsk Metallurg. He's been nothing short of phenomenal playing against men in one of, if not the most competitive league other then the NHL. 
Samsonov is coming to the NHL and North America this season, and while he may serve as a backup to Brayden Holtby the more likely scenario is he plays for the Caps' AHL affiliate, the Hershey Bears in order to adjust to the smaller ice surface and get significant playing time.

The Washington Capitals made the right choice by sending Samsonov back to the KHL after he was drafted. He played in 73 total games and ended with a remarkable save percentage of .929. He also played in 14 playoff games and his final career playoff save percentage was .920. It is also important to note that Samsonov primarily served as a backup to KHL All-Star goalie, Vasily Koshechkin.

Any time you can have an elite goaltending prospect be mentored by an all-star it will benefit the players development, even if Ilya didn't get as much ice time as some scouts would have liked to see.

Samsonov was arugably the best player on the ice for Russia in the 2016 and 2017 WJC helping Russia earn a Silver Medal in 2016 and a Bronze Medal in 2017. While both teams had offensive flair, they both relied heavily on Ilya to be a brick wall.

When the Caps sent their 18 year old goaltending prospect to the KHL there was really only three possibilities of what could happen. He's great, average or terrible. If he was terrible, well they would have been mocked for missing on a first round pick. If he was average, probably the same outcome. 

However, the greatest possible outcome happened. He excelled, against men no less. 

What's crazy about NHL goaltending and goaltending prospects, is there have been so many busts that they no longer warrant a first round pick. Goaltenders in general are inconsistent and most don't stand out as an exceptional talent at 18 years old. In fact most teams wait until the later rounds to gamble on arguably the most important position in the sport. 

Fun fact: No goaltender has been taken in the top ten since Carey Price went fifth to Montreal in 2005.

So anytime a goaltender goes in the first round they will immediately be under a microscope. Goaltenders in the NHL cant break through at 18-19 years old, in fact most dont make it until somewhere around 25 years old. That's a difference of 7 years approximately and a lot can happen in that time. 

Now it makes sense why goaltenders are no longer worth a 1st round pick. Why go for a goalie who could take 7 years to develop, when you as a GM might not even have a job by then. Instead you could take a 18 year old scoring sensation who you can plug into your lineup immediately. 

John Chayka, GM of the Coyotes said it best, “People are understanding that the timeline of a goalie’s development path is longer and as the development path gets longer, I think inherently there’s more risk. I think teams are managing risk and they’re understanding that because of the length of that timeline that goalies move and sometimes are on their second or third team before they ultimately become the goalie that he probably expected when you drafted him that high.”

What is interesting about Samsonov is the fact that despite him being the top goaltending prospect in the game, there is still no guarantee he will succeed.

Samsonov takes up a lot of the net but is still very athletic despite his size. However he has been criticized for staying too low and "flopping". While I think he will have a long career in the NHL I am a bit concerned about his ability to play a full season especially because he's primarily been the backup in the KHL. 

While his career numbers say he will be just fine, he hasn't been a full time goaltender yet and the North American game is different. He will need to make adjustments. For these reasons I don't think he will be a super impactful player next season. However, if he can prove his skills in the AHL, the Caps may have no choice in bringing him up this year anyways. 

Samsonov could easily steal Holtby's job in 2019, but for now, Holtby's job is safe.



(Photo by NHL.com)

Why Elias Petterson Will Win The Calder in 2019

(Photo Credit: Bildbyrån/Petter Arvidson)

(Photo Credit: Bildbyrån/Petter Arvidson)



When you mention the Canucks these days you will get a lot of mixed reactions, but I'm here to tell you that the dog days are over. 

The Vancouver Canucks have had a rough couple years since their cup run in 2011 (Spoiler Alert--they lost). They haven't made it past the quarter finals of the playoffs since and Nucks' fans are currently riding a three year streak of no playoffs at all. 

While that may discourage fans from watching the Canucks this season, I am writing this article to prove that you and any other fan of the game will enjoy this season's Canucks. No, the Canucks probably wont win a Stanley Cup this year or next, but the future looks bright with breakout stars Bo Horvat and Brock Boeser already demanding first line minutes. 

Furthermore the prospect pool looks deep beyond those two with big names like Hughes, Juolevi, Dahlen, Lind and Demko waiting for their chance. I'll leave the other Canucks prospects for another day, this article is about the most special prospect the Canucks have ever had, Elias Petterson. 

The Canucks drafted Petterson 5th overall in 2017. When I was watching the draft that day I had Vancouver pegged to draft the big strong centre Cody Glass from the Portland Winterhawks. Instead General Manager Jim Benning opted to go with Elias, although at the time he was the same height as Glass, there was a small concern about his slender 150 pound frame. 

The Canucks in the past had chosen size over skill--see Jake Virtanen over Nylander and Ehlers in 2014, and many fans are still miffed about that draft year, so its good to see that Benning has learned from his past mistakes.

Although both Glass and Pettterson will be NHL regulars, it appears as though Vancouver has found a generational talent with Petterson. It seems in this case drafting skill over size was the right call (something the Nucks' did again in the first round this year)

Petterson dominated the SHL (Swedish Hockey League) this last season taking the Växjö Lakers to the SHL playoff finals and being named playoff MVP all while leading the Lakers to a league championship. If that wasn't enough to raise your eyebrows listen to this. 

Petterson also broke the all-time SHL regular season scoring record for a junior beating out players like Henrik and Daniel Sedin by a considerable margin. Still not enough? How about he set the record for scoring by a U20 player in a single playoffs as well. 

When you have a prospect of this caliber it makes zero sense to throw him out there with 3rd line guys. I predict Petterson will play wing with Horvat and Boeser all season with the three of them being a consistent line all year long. I think each of them could easily get 60-75 points if they can manage to stay healthy. This could easily be one of the best offensive lines in the league. Something the Canucks desperately need, among other things. 

This kid is the future of the franchise, and the Canucks know it. Expect to see Petterson's name in contention all year for the Calder Trophy. This year's possible contenders include big names such as: Svechnikov, Dahlen, Zadina and Middlestadt. All of whom should make big impacts on their respective clubs.

Petterson has now proven that the SHL has nothing left for him. I just hope the Canucks utilize him in a way that continues this unbelievable development.