As major junior finals rage on and the USHL has its last two teams about to do battle, we turn to more futures. The USHL Draft is a two-part affair, with Phase 1 for 2003-born players and Phase 2 for older prospects. Lincoln grabbed defenseman Carter Schade with the first selection in Phase 1, while Chicago took NTDP left winger Sean Farrell with the first pick of Phase 2. A couple other names of note: Luke Mittelstadt (Casey’s younger brother) went second to Madison in Phase 1, while Japanese viral sensation Aito Iguchi was taken by Waterloo in the seventh round.
Meanwhile, we’ve got some major drama in the OHL final as star Ottawa 67s goalie Michael DiPietro (VAN) is laid up with an ankle injury. Ottawa lost its first game of the entire playoffs Monday night with DiPietro on the shelf, giving Guelph some daylight in that series. For more of the names making noise in the prospect world right now, let’s go to the list.
Morgan Geekie, C, Charlotte Checkers (AHL): Geekie has played six games in the playoffs and he has points in all of them. The Carolina pick has been great for the Checkers, one of the best teams in the AHL this season. Smart, talented and competitive, Geekie has seven points overall for Charlotte in the post-season. NHL arrival: 2020-21
Alexey Toropchenko, RW, Guelph Storm (OHL): The Storm have life in the OHL final thanks to a big Game 3 win over Ottawa. Toropchenko, the St. Louis Blues prospect, had two goals in that crucial victory, while also posting two in a Game 2 loss. Big, physical and skilled, the Russian import moves well for his size and is finding his offense. NHL arrival: 2020-21
Noah Dobson, D, Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (QMJHL): With the rare chance of winning a QMJHL title with two different teams, Dobson is helping steer the ship in Rouyn-Noranda. The New York Islanders prospect (who won a Memorial Cup with Acadie-Bathurst last year) has 26 points through 17 games, putting him first among ‘Q’ defensemen and fourth overall. NHL arrival: 2019-20
Kaapo Kakko, RW, TPS (Fin.): He skipped the world under-18s in order to prepare for the World Championship and it’s looking like a pretty good decision. Kakko, the second-best prospect in the 2019 draft, has looked great for Finland in exhibition play and his high-end combination of size, strength, creativity is a sight to behold. NHL arrival: 2019-20
Ryan Johnson, D, Sioux Falls Stampede (USHL): One of the top 2019 draft prospects from the USHL this season (non-NTDP, that is), Johnson continues to make plays at both ends of the ice for the Stampede as they get set to take on Chicago in the Clark Cup final. Johnson, a University of Minnesota commit, is a “one-man breakout” according to one scout. NHL arrival: 2021-22
Ian Scott, G, Prince Albert Raiders (WHL): His latest effort only counted 15 shots against, but Scott saved ‘em all for his fourth playoff shutout of Prince Albert’s run to the WHL final. The big Toronto Maple Leafs prospect is rocking a 1.92 goals-against average and .925 save percentage, using a range of physical tools to make stops. NHL arrival: 2021-22
Isac Lundestrom, C, San Diego Gulls (AHL): The Anaheim first-rounder has only played two playoff games for the Gulls, but Lundestrom has made an immediate impact as San Diego put Bakersfield in a 2-0 hole. The talented 200-foot center was particularly deadly in Game 2, ringing up three points in a 4-1 win. NHL arrival: 2019-20
Jeremy Bracco, RW, Toronto Marlies (AHL): He’s been great all year, so it’s not surprising that Bracco is one of the top post-season scorers in the league. The silky playmaker has 10 points in six games for the Marlies, who are currently rolling Cleveland in the second round. Bracco has been putting up points in bunches and opponents don’t have an answer. NHL arrival: 2019-20
Ethan Haider, G, Minnesota Magicians (NAHL): One of the top picks in the USHL’s Phase 2 Draft, Haider’s rights are now owned by Sioux City. That’s a savvy move by the Musketeers, since Haider won’t be heading to NCAA Clarkson until 2020-21. The best 2019 NHL draft prospect from the NAHL this season, Haider has size, athleticism and a competitive attitude. NHL arrival: 2024-25
Nic Hague, D, Chicago Wolves (AHL): Bringing a great combination of size, snarl and skill to the Wolves blueline, Hague has put up four points in eight playoff games, tying him for tops among Chicago D-men. The Vegas Golden Knights pick may be a rookie pro, but he’s certainly contributing early, as the Wolves lead Iowa 2-1 in the second round. NHL arrival: 2020-21