For the second time in eight years, the University of Minnesota-Duluth has won the men’s Frozen Four. That, plus last year’s appearance in the final, is a testament to the work done by coach Scott Sandelin and his staff in building up the program, which had never won a title before 2011. With a lot of talent slated to return, keep an eye on the Bulldogs again next season. Meanwhile, we’ve got a ton of playoff action going on around the world with plenty of prospect implications, so let’s take a look around the hockey landscape to see who’s making noise.
Scott Perunovich, D, University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs (NCHC): It’s been a pretty good April for Perunovich, who helped the Bulldogs win the national championship in Minnesota. The offensively gifted defenseman also won the Tim Taylor Award as NCAA rookie of the year and though he has been passed over in the draft before, he’s destined to go in the top-75 this summer, perhaps even top-50. NHL arrival: 2020-21
Logan Stanley, D, Kitchener Rangers (OHL): In a tight series with Sarnia, Stanley has yet to be on the ice for a Sting goal. Given that the shutdown D-man has Jordan Kyrou as one of his assignments, that’s pretty impressive. Not only that, but the Winnipeg Jets pick used his rocket shot to create two goals in a Game 1 victory for the Rangers. NHL arrival: 2019-20
Elias Pettersson, C, Vaxjo Lakers (SHL): Ho hum, once again Pettersson is wrecking the best league in Sweden. The gifted Vancouver Canucks first-rounder has nine points in nine playoff games, helping Vaxjo to the final, where they await the winner of Skelleftea and Djurgarden. NHL arrival: 2018-19.
Drake Batherson, RW, Blainville-Boisbriand Armada (QMJHL): The Armada took a big, gnarled stick to Moncton in the first two games of their second round series and Batherson did his part with five points so far. The Ottawa Senators pick has a great work ethic to go along with his skill and as we saw at the world juniors, he can put up points in a hurry. NHL arrival: 2019-20
Jordy Bellerive, C, Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL): With eight goals and 15 points in seven games, Bellerive has been one of the top playoff scorers in the league so far and his Hurricanes hold a 2-0 advantage over Brandon in the second round. Pittsburgh saw the center’s potential this season and signed him after he went undrafted. Now they’ve got a fast and energetic prospect in the system, not to mention Lethbridge’s captain. NHL arrival: 2020-21
Jack Dugan, LW, Chicago Steel (USHL): With 62 points in 52 games, Dugan has been one of the top players in the USHL this season. And according to Mark Divver of the Providence Journal, Vegas wanted to sign their 2017 draft pick recently. That would have killed Dugan’s NCAA plans to play for Providence College, so Dugan has yet to sign. The kid wants to be a Friar first and that’s a perfectly good plan. NHL arrival: 2020-21.
Slava Demin, D, Wenatchee Wild (BCHL): The final is set in the B.C. Jr. A League and Demin’s high-flying Wild will meet the Prince George Spruce Kings. Demin, a 2018 draft prospect, has five points in 15 post-season games and brings an enticing package of size, skating and passing ability. The University of Denver commit could play with more urgency, but he’s smart enough to get there. NHL arrival: 2021-22
Ivan Chekhovich, LW, San Jose Barracuda (AHL): Putting a player in the position to succeed can be crucial to development and San Jose is doing that with Chekhovich. The Sharks pick joined the Barracuda once his QMJHL season was done and he has put up six points in three games so far. Playing with Rudolfs Balcers and Rourke Chartier has been good for the smart and skilled Russian. NHL arrival: 2020-21.
Jack Studnicka, C, Providence Bruins (AHL): Since his OHL season ended, Studnicka has made fast work getting acclimated to the American League with four points in three games. The Boston Bruins prospect combines skill and never-ending compete level to get the job done, something I feel B’s fans will appreciate. NHL arrival: 2019-20
Pavel Francouz, G, Traktor Chelyabinsk (KHL): Despite putting up an incredible .949 save percentage in the playoffs, Francouz couldn’t help Traktor get past Ak Bars in the Western Conference final. On the bright side, the Czech national and free agent can now start contemplating which NHL team he wants to sign with – and there’s a lot of interest. NHL arrival: 2019-20
Update: corrected to reflect that Wenatchee plays Prince George in the BCHL final, not Trail.