We’re getting near playoff time for a lot of prospect circuits and the NCAA in particular is heading for crunch time, where conference tournaments could mean the difference between a berth in the national bracket or an early ticket home. One team in particular that has been really fun lately is Boston College, led by freshman center Alex Newhook. The Eagles have won seven straight while outscoring their opponents 39-11. Many NHL prospects are also helping their own stock with great second-half performances, including some players who were traded before the deadline in their respective leagues. Let’s take another a whirl around the world of prospects, with a spotlight on one player from each NHL team’s pipeline.
ANA – Here’s Anaheim director of player development Todd Marchant on University of Minnesota freshman defenseman Jackson LaCombe: “Jackson’s had a very strong year as a true freshman. He’s an excellent skater, he likes to get up in the play and he has definitely gotten better in the defensive zone since the beginning of the season. The sky’s the limit for Jackson because of his ability to skate. He can get himself out of trouble and he’s got very good vision coming through the neutral zone to get the puck to players.”
ARI – I asked Boston University coach Albie O’Connell for his assessment of Cameron Crotty, here’s what he said about the blueliner: “Cam is one of the leaders on the team. He’s a very good two-way defenseman. He’s physical, he can play the offensive blueline and he’s good in our own end. I like his demeanor – never gets too excited or too low. He plays a cool game and he’s one of the best two-way guys in our league.”
BOS – If you’re an old-school Bruins fan, you’ll be interested to know that center Trent Frederic leads the AHL with 141 PIM on the season. Frederic has dropped the gloves seven times for Providence so far.
BUF – The Lethbridge Hurricanes have locked up a playoff spot in the WHL and center Dylan Cozens is doing his part with eight points in his past four games. He’s got 81 points in 48 games overall this season.
CGY – Since returning from injury in late January, Dmitry Zavgorodniy has been back at it with 20 points in 14 games for QMJHL Rimouski. The diminutive right winger missed the world juniors and more due to a fractured collarbone.
CAR – Your AHL player of the week is center Morgan Geekie, who posted seven points in four road games for the Charlotte Checkers. Geekie brings a nice blend of skill and grit to the table.
CHI – With 30 points in 34 games, Ian Mitchell is one of the top-scoring players in the NCHC. Oh, and the University of Denver junior is a defenseman…not too shabby.
COL – Freshman Alex Newhook is hot for Boston College. The dynamic center is the top-scoring rookie in the nation with 40 points in 32 games and is currently riding a 10-game streak that has seen him accrue 21 points.
CBJ – I know Jackets fans are excited for his future, so shout-out to Liam Foudy for earning OHL player of the week honors with seven points in three games for the London Knights.
DAL – The WHL’s Winnipeg Ice really needed a veteran D-man this year so they traded for Dawson Barteaux and it’s been a great fit. “Dawson is a really good two-way defenseman and a fantastic character,” said coach James Patrick. “He was fortunate to have Brent Sutter as a coach in Red Deer. This kid’s No. 1 priority is the team and doing whatever it takes to win. We were playing 16, 17-year-olds against top lines and he allowed us to get better match-ups. He skates well and has good lateral mobility.” Before Barteaux arrived, 2021 draft prospect Carson Lambos was leading the Ice blueline in minutes.
DET – Here’s Boston University coach Albie O’Connell on freshman left winger Robert Mastrosimone: “In the first half he was pretty good, in the second half he really hit a better stride. He’s dangerous; he’s a good puck-hunter, always on it. Just a real high level of tracking and second efforts to get pucks back. On top of having a great shot and ability to make a play, he’s got some of the intangibles that you can’t teach a guy. He has that drive to win and get to the net and score.”
EDM – Defenseman Philip Broberg recently got his first goal of the season in SHL on a multi-point night, playing on third pair with former NHL Petter Granberg. I liked his shutdown play at the world juniors.
FLA – Power forward Serron Noel is really catching on with his new OHL team. The big right winger has 10 points in his past five games for Kitchener after spending the first three-plus seasons with Oshawa. He was dealt to the Rangers in January.
LA – Sniper Arthur Kaliyev is closing in on 100 points with the OHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs and with eight games remaining, he’s gonna hit the mark. Kaliyev had 102 points last year, but has played fewer games this season due to world junior duty with Team USA.
MIN – His frosh year started off slow, but right winger Matthew Boldy has found his groove at Boston College with 16 points in his past 10 games. The Eagles are a lock for the national tournament, so Boldy can continue his great recent work through April.
MTL – The University of Wisconsin needs a Big Ten tournament championship to qualify for the national dance, but freshman Cole Caufield has done his part. The dynamic right winger leads the Badgers with 36 points in 34 games.
NSH – Here’s Trevor Zegras on Boston University linemate Patrick Harper: “He’s a really skilled forward who sees the game well, makes great decisions with the puck and can score. So he’s really easy to play with, for sure.”
NJ – Devils fans, it feels like Ty Smith is ready for the pros. The offensively-gifted defenseman had an eight-point game on the weekend, en route to WHL player of the week honors.
NYI – Center Felix Bibeau has been an ace for the Chicoutimi Sagueneens of the QMJHL, who acquired him from the Quebec Remparts this year. Bibeau has won more than 60 percent of his faceoffs since joining the Sags, while also continuing to put up more than a point per game. Bibeau has already won a QMJHL title and a Memorial Cup from his time in Rouyn-Noranda.
NYR – With 27 points and counting, Nils Lundkvist continues his record-breaking year in the SHL. The previous best for scoring by a junior-aged defenseman was Tim Erixon’s 24 back in 2010-11.
OTT – He already got rewarded with an NHL taste, but Josh Norris got there by destroying the AHL. The speedy Belleville center leads all rookies in the league with 58 points in 52 games.
PHI – A fifth-round gem for the Flyers, defenseman Wyatt Wylie has been one of the top-scoring blueliners in the WHL this season with 61 points in 60 games for the powerhouse Everett Silvertips.
PIT – The Penguins don’t have many prospects, but at least the ones they have are playing well. Nathan Legare, for example, has 11 points in his past five games for QMJHL Baie-Comeau – including back-to-back hat tricks against Val-d’Or.
STL – The Blues got a steal in seventh-rounder Tyler Tucker and now the defenseman is under contract. Tucker has been scorching for the OHL’s Flint Firebirds with 17 points in his past 10 games (including a seven-point night against Sarnia).
SJ – Playing for one of the top programs in the nation, big right winger Jasper Weatherby has upped his offensive game as a sophomore with the University of North Dakota. Weatherby has already tripled his freshman goal and point totals, going from three and five to 10 and 18.
TB – Though young, QMJHL Saint John clinched a playoff spot recently and the recent work of import Maxim Cajkovic really helped. The Slovakian right winger has put up 16 points in his past 10 games for the Sea Dogs.
TOR – I asked goalie Joseph Woll about his rookie pro year with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies: “Dealing with the highs and lows of the season has definitely been an adjustment for me. There’s a lot more games so you really have to put the past behind you quickly and have a short mindset.” Woll says reading the play has become very important.
VAN – Everyone’s favorite Russian son is thriving in the KHL. After going pointless with SKA-St. Petersburg before the world juniors, power forward Vasily Podkolzin is now getting more ice time and the results have followed. Podkolzin has four points in his past five games, including an assist in the playoff opener against Vityaz.
VGK – Here’s WHL Winnipeg Ice coach James Patrick on Peyton Krebs, who has been on fire since returning from a serious achilles injury: “Peyton is a big presence on our team and that’s why we made him captain at 17. He pushes the culture of our team in terms of how they behave in the dressing room, how they prepare, play and compete. He’s our best player and he’s been outstanding for us.”
WSH – Center Eric Florchuk – the very last pick in the 2018 draft (217th overall) – is thriving with WHL Vancouver after a trade from Saskatoon. Florchuk has 31 points in 22 games for the playoff-bound Giants.
WPG – While defense and physicality are his specialties, Dylan Samberg is poised for a career year offensively with the University of Minnesota-Duluth. The big blueliner’s previous high was 19 points and he’s already at 17 with two regular season games, the conference tournament and national tournament to go.
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