Well, it’s getting down to crunch time in the prospect world, as the NCAA is in the midst of conference tournaments, while the CHL playoffs are just around the corner. One notable race to watch is in the QMJHL, where potential No. 1 pick Nico Hischier’s Halifax Mooseheads are in serious danger of missing the post-season. The Herd needs a strong finish, but the schedule is tough. Meanwhile, the Minnesota state high school tournament concluded with champions in the A (small schools) and AA (bigger schools) brackets. For more on that and other players we’re excited to see in the NHL some day, let’s get to the list.
Jack McBain, C – Toronto Jr. Canadiens (OJHL): Big, powerful and tough to contain, McBain recently committed to Boston College and it’s a huge get for the Eagles. Just 17 years old, the talented pivot and 2018 NHL draft prospect still has some decisions to make about his future. For example, does he return to the Ontario Jr. A League next season, or head out to the tougher USHL, where the Lincoln Stars own his rights? The OHL’s Barrie Colts will make their case, though the BC commitment doesn’t bode well for that option. So far, McBain has been happy with the Canadiens.
“I’ve had a really good experience,” he said. “I love the guys and the coach (Jeff Angelidis) has been great. I thought we could do really well this year, so we’ll see.”
Right now, the Canadiens are through to the second round of the playoffs thanks to a 4-3 win over St. Mike’s in the opening series. McBain had 10 points in seven games after a successful regular season that saw him play in all situations.
At 6-foot-3 and 185 pounds, McBain has a great frame to build on. He also wants to work on getting faster.
“Definitely my explosiveness, my first three strides,” he said. “At the next level everybody’s faster, everybody’s big, so I want to keep up and get off to a fast start.”
The son of former NHLer Andrew McBain, Jack never got to see his dad play live, but he has taken advantage of the lessons provided by someone who has gotten to the top of the game.
“It’s about how you conduct yourself on the ice and off the ice,” McBain said. “A lot is about what kind of teammate and person you are first, because people watch that. He’s been really good for me.”
And McBain has been really good for Toronto. No matter where he ends up next season, he’ll be one to watch for the draft.
In the Pipeline
Jordan Kyrou, RW (St. Louis): Kyrou is currently rocking a 30-game point streak for the OHL’s Sarnia Sting and is up to 93 points on the season through 64 contests. A fast skater with great offensive creativity, Kyrou is expected to see some AHL duty with the Chicago Wolves once Sarnia’s season is finished.
Chad Krys, D (Chicago): Boston University is on to the Hockey East conference semifinal thanks to Krys, who potted the game-winner to knock out Northeastern. The athletic rearguard now has 10 points in his freshman campaign and the Terriers will need him as they attempt to wreck Boston College’s season next.
Daniel Sprong, RW (Pittsburgh): Charlottetown is red-hot in the QMJHL and Sprong has been a big reason. The Dutch-born sniper has 52 points in 28 games since returning from a shoulder injury and was just named the CHL’s player of the week for his efforts.
Sam Steel, C (Anaheim): Since the Regina Pats just clinched first place overall in the WHL, I felt like it was time to give you an update on Steel, as his league-leading numbers are up to 127 points in 68 games. His hands and hockey sense are incredible; it’ll be fun to see what kind of damage he can do in the playoffs this year.
Brock Boeser, RW (Vancouver): North Dakota knocked off St. Cloud State in the NCHC tournament this past weekend and Boeser had three points in the two wins. There’s speculation that the offensive powerhouse will turn pro after this campaign, so Boeser will no doubt be pushing extra hard for back-to-back NCAA titles.
2017 Draft Stars
Matthew Villalta, G – Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL): Despite being an OHL rookie, Villalta has taken over for the Hounds and now ranks top-five in goals-against average with a 2.47 mark. The kid’s got size, calmness and plays his angles well. The 24-2-1 record’s not bad, either.
Tomas Vomacka, G – Corpus Christi IceRays (NAHL): The South Division star of the week, Vomacka made 71 saves on 74 shots during two starts and a fill-in appearance for the IceRays. A 6-foot-3 netminder who really takes away the bottom of the net, the Czech national is tied for fourth in the NAHL with a .927 save percentage.
Dylan Samberg, D – Hermantown Hawks (Minn. HS): One of the most coveted Minnesota high schoolers in the draft, Samberg led his Hawks to the small-school title at the state tournament, netting the double-overtime winner for Hermantown’s second straight championship. A big, strong and mobile blueliner, Samberg is committed to Minnesota-Duluth.
Mario Ferraro, D – Des Moines Buccaneers (USHL): Now second in USHL scoring among defensemen with 36 points in 51 games, Ferraro makes a nice first pass and knows when to jump into the rush. The UMass commit doesn’t have much size at 5-foot-11, 179 pounds, but he does finish his checks.
2018 Draft Star
Gavin Hain, C – Grand Rapids Thunderhawks (Minn. HS): The Minnesota state tournament may have come in as the Casey Mittelstadt show, but it was Hain and crew who made off with the big-school hardware. The North Dakota commit helped knock off Mittelstadt’s Eden Prairie boys in the semifinal, then the determined and offensively-giften Hain had a hat trick in the championship game to beat Moorhead.
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