The league’s reigning player of the week tops our weekly look at the kids coming up through the pipelines. And can anyone stop Vancouver’s first-rounder?
It’s only the second week of this feature and I’m already forced to figure out how often I can put Elias Pettersson on the list. I want to have as many different players as possible, but the Vancouver first-rounder is destroying the SHL with Vaxjo. So consider him an honorary member of the list as we spread the love elsewhere for now. But yes, get excited Canucks fans.
Now, let’s get to the list. For the time being at least, I’m going to stick to one player per league, or in the case of the NCAA, per conference. Enjoy!
Dylan Strome, C, Tucson Roadrunners (AHL) – Strome has been under the microscope for a while now, but the demotion from the Arizona Coyotes was a headline-grabber. But like the young pro he is, the big and talented center has taken the AHL by storm, nabbing player of the week honors with seven points in his past three games. NHL arrival: 2017-18 (he’ll get a call-up)
Kirill Kaprizov, LW, CSKA Moscow (KHL) – Kaprizov’s contract in the KHL runs until April 30, 2020 and that feels like so long from these shores. I’m sure the Minnesota Wild have the calendar marked too, because the ultra-dynamic left winger would be a huge addition. Right now, Kaprizov has a team-best 25 points in 22 games for CSKA, leading second-place Valery Nichushkin by a wide margin. NHL arrival: 2020-21
Benton Maass, D, University of New Hampshire Wildcats (Hockey East) – Easily one of the biggest early surprises of the NCAA season, Maass has gone from a deep-round Washington Capitals pick to a top offensive threat from the blueline in dramatically little time. A slick-skating puckmover with size, Maass has nine points (all assists) in seven games to lead all conference blueliners. NHL arrival: 2022-23
Matthew Phillips, C, Victoria Royals (WHL) – Right now, the Calgary Flames pick is cutting a swath of destruction through the WHL with 15 goals and 34 points in 17 games, but I also liked his summer. Phillips looked faster at the World Junior Summer Showcase and we already know he can put the puck in the net. NHL arrival: 2020-21
Jack Dugan, LW, Chicago Steel (USHL) – I liked this pick from the Vegas Golden Knights in the fifth round. Dugan was a raw prospect with a lot of upside and so far his sojourn into the USHL hasn’t been much of a struggle: the Providence College commit is tied for the league lead in scoring with eight goals and 10 points through seven games. NHL arrival: 2022-23
Conor Timmins, D, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL) – Timmins, the Colorado Avalanche prospect, had an eye-opening experience with Canada at the World Junior Summer Showcase, but he is back on track in the Soo now. The smart puckmover has 15 points through 13 games, highlighted by a five-assist outing against Flint. NHL arrival: 2020-21
Jake Evans, C, University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish (Big Ten) – It’s his final year in South Bend and Evans is making it count. The playmaking Montreal Canadiens pick is leading the conference in scoring with 15 points in eight games and acing it in the faceoff circle, winning 62 percent of his draws. NHL arrival: 2019-20
Filip Zadina, RW, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL) – I was hoping that Zadina would hit the ground running in Halifax and he has definitely lived up to expectations. The 2018 draft prospect is one of the top scorers in the ‘Q’ with 24 points in 16 games, using his great toolbox of talents to wreak havoc. Not bad for his first season in North America. NHL arrival: 2018-19
Colton Point, G, Colgate Raiders (ECAC) – Now getting the lion’s share of the minutes at Colgate, the Dallas Stars selection and NCAA sophomore is off to a great start, using his size and poise to post a .955 save percentage and 1.28 goals-against average in six appearances. Colgate lost the only two games he didn’t play in. NHL arrival: 2022-23
Sammy Walker, C, Edina Hornets (Minn. HS) – Before the Minnesota high school seasons starts, there is the High School Elite League, a hothouse tournament featuring many solid prospects. Walker was part of the champions from Team Southwest, with the skilled center racking up seven points in three playoff games to go with two points per game in the regular season. He’s a Tampa Bay pick committed to the University of Minnesota. NHL arrival: 2022-23