This will be the last Prospect Need to Know of the calendar year, as I prepare for the World Junior Championship in Vancouver and Victoria. I’ll be in Vancouver for most of the tourney, so look for a lot of blogs on the players and storylines that come out of the big showdown. Rosters are beginning to get culled for the tournament and there have been some surprises. Of note, Winnipeg Jets prospect Kristian Vesalainen has turned down a chance to play for Finland, while Canada has lost Alex Formenton to injury.
Elsewhere on the international stage, Team USA won the World Jr. A Challenge in Alberta, with 2019 draft prospect Bobby Brink earning MVP honors. Germany won the Division 1-A world juniors on home ice in Fussen, so they’ll compete with the big boys when the WJC heads to the Czech Republic next year. Luckily for them, Dominik Bokk (STL) and Moritz Seider (2019) will still be eligible to suit up.
With all that established, let’s take a look at some of the standouts and newsmakers in the prospect world right now.
Ryan Johnson, D, Sioux Falls Stampede (USHL): Though Johnson has already been lauded for his skating and puck skills, the 2019 draft prospect showed off his defensive acumen at the WJAC, helping shut down Russia’s top line in the gold medal game alongside partner Ronnie Attard. Johnson is a University of Minnesota commit. NHL arrival: 2022-23
Dylan Holloway, C, Okotoks Oilers (AJHL): Though he played on the wing at the WJAC for Canada West, Holloway is usually in the middle with Okotoks and looks like an impact player at that position. The 2020 draft prospect has great length, a fluid stride and top-end skills. He’s a University of Wisconsin commit. NHL arrival: 2020-21
Michal Teply, LW, Bili Tygri Liberec (Cze.): I get the feeling we’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg with Teply, a 2019 draft prospect who could attract a lot of interest come June. The Czech left winger has a big frame and the smarts and skills to make an impact as he continues to grow his game. Looked impressive at the WJAC. NHL arrival: 2020-21
Jared McIsaac, D, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL): One of the surprises on Canada’s WJC blueline, McIsaac isn’t the flashiest player, but he has solid two-way skills and a track record with international teams. Nearly a point-per-gamer back with Halifax, the Detroit Red Wings pick will also get a crack at the Memorial Cup this season. NHL arrival: 2020-21
Ilya Nikolaev, C, Loko Yaroslavl (Rus.): The center on Russia’s top line at the WJAC, Nikolaev put up six points in six games, tying him for third in tourney scoring behind liney Vasily Podkolzin and MVP Brink. Nikolaev is a 2019 draft prospect with great vision and playmaking abilities and he also saw some time on the penalty-kill. NHL arrival: 2022-23
Jordan Kyrou, RW, San Antonio Rampage (AHL): Fans of the St. Louis Blues need some good news and Kyrou’s recent AHL performance certainly qualifies. The rookie pro has 13 points in his past six games for the Rampage, using that great speed and shot that he has been known for since his OHL days in Sarnia. NHL arrival: 2018-19
Owen Tippett, RW, Mississauga Steelheads (OHL): When your best asset is goal-scoring, you better do it during a tryout and Tippett gets full marks in that department. The Florida Panthers first-rounder was a consistent threat for Canada’s world junior camp squad in early exhibition play and that bodes well for the big, fast winger when it comes to the final roster. NHL arrival: 2019-20
Yaroslav Askarov, G, SKA Varyagi (Rus): What Askarov did for Russia at the WJAC was very impressive – 16-year-old goalies aren’t supposed to have that kind of poise and impact on a tournament featuring older players. But Askarov, the 2020 prospect, has great quickness in both his legs and catcher, so keep an eye out for him in the coming years. NHL arrival: 2023-24
Dylan Cozens, C, Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL): A fun little sidebar to this year’s draft watch is the scoring race between 2019 prospects Cozens and Kirby Dach out in the ‘Dub.’ Right now, Cozens is in the driver’s seat, as the big, fast center is up to 47 points in 33 games, with 10 in his past four contests. NHL arrival: 2019-20
David Cotton, LW, Boston College Eagles (Hockey East): One of the top snipers in all of college hockey, Cotton is up to 11 goals through 14 games with the Eagles. A big-bodied Carolina Hurricanes prospect, Cotton is a former prep schooler who has been key to Boston College’s recent turnaround in the standings. NHL arrival: 2020-21