Time for a change, folks. I’m tweaking the format for Prospect Need to Know to make it more about the here and now. So this year, the list is going to be less esoteric and more focused on the players who are riding hot streaks. Through features and the Prospect Podcast, you’ll still get a wide breadth of prospect coverage, but this list will now truly be Need to Know. Expect high scorers, dazzling blueliners and stingy goalies. The tops in those categories will make the list, with a rotation of positions and leagues to keep everyone covered. I will also give an estimate on when these players will get to the NHL. Let’s get to it.
Jordan Kyrou, RW, Sarnia Sting (OHL) – The St. Louis Blues prospect had a great WJC summer camp with Canada, finding huge chemistry with Regina’s Sam Steel. Now, the speedster is burning teams in the OHL to the tune of 22 points in 11 games. The reigning player of the week has the Sting in first place with just one loss in 13 games. NHL arrival: 2018-19
Miro Heiskanen, D, HIFK (Fin.) – Since returning from a pre-season concussion, Heiskanen has been crucial for HIFK, which is trying to work its way up the table in Finland’s Liiga. The Dallas Stars lottery pick has five points in five games and leads his squad in ice time, playing 23:21 a night – nearly two minutes more than the next busiest player.
Tyler Steenbergen, C, Swift Current Broncos (WHL) – Arizona took a late-round flyer on Steenbergen one year after he was passed over entirely, but 51 goals couldn’t be ignored. This year, the dynamic center is tearing it up again, leading the ‘Dub’ with 33 points and 21 goals in 11 games. NHL arrival: 2020-21
Drake Batherson, C, Cape Breton Screaming Eagles (QMJHL) – A bit of a late bloomer (he only played 10 games with Cape Breton in his draft year), the Ottawa pick has 24 points and 15 goals in 13 games to lead the ‘Q’ in offense. At 6-foot-2 and 188 pounds, Batherson has a nice frame to build off and he is absolutely tenacious in his pursuit of the puck. NHL arrival: 2020-21
Filip Larsson, G, Tri-City Storm (USHL) – The Detroit Red Wings pick is coming off his first USHL shutout and goalie of the week honors thanks to two wins and a .980 save percentage. The Swedish national is great positionally and tracks the puck well through traffic. NHL arrival: 2021-22
Jimmy Schuldt, D, St. Cloud State Huskies (NCHC) – One of the top college free agents available this season, Schuldt almost came out last year, but wanted to take one more shot with the Huskies first. So far, that’s been great for the solid two-way defenseman, as he leads the conference in offense from the back end with 10 points in five games. NHL arrival: 2019-20
Dylan Sikura, LW, Northeastern Huskies (Hockey East) – This should really come as no surprise, but Sikura is piling up points for the Huskies once again. The Chicago Blackhawks pick is causing havoc with linemate Adam Gaudette (VAN), with the shifty Sikura leading the conference with 12 points and six goals in five games. NHL arrival: 2019-20
Daniel Sprong, RW, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (AHL) – We always knew Sprong could score; the Dutch kid just needed to round out his game away from the puck. As he continues to learn in the AHL, Sprong is terrorizing goalies, leading the league with seven goals and ranking second with 10 points in six games. NHL arrival: 2018-19
Elias Pettersson, C, Vaxjo Lakers (SHL) – Pettersson stepped up from Sweden’s second tier for this season and so far, the SHL hasn’t been too onerous. The skilled and competitive center has eight points in 10 games to lead all junior-aged scorers. The Vancouver first-rounder also has his team second overall in the standings. NHL arrival: 2018-19
Denis Smirnov, C, Penn State Nittany Lions (Big Ten) – Smirnov was a high scorer as a freshman, prompting Colorado to grab him in the sixth round of the draft (size and speed aren’t strong suits) and he’s back to his old tricks as a sophomore. The crafty pivot has 10 points through six games with Penn State, including three game-winning goals. NHL arrival: 2020-21