On a special Prospect Need to Know, we look at the top-end kids who changed addresses in the days (and hours) leading up to the NHL’s trade deadline
There were definitely some excellent performances in the prospect world this past week, from Minnesota’s Kirill Kaprizov scoring the golden goal at the Olympics, to seven-point nights for OHL Sarnia’s Jordan Kyrou (STL) and WHL Spokane defenseman Ty Smith (2018). But you’re all basking in the post-NHL trade deadline glow right now, aren’t you? I get it, and I’m here to appease.
So for this week’s Prospect Need To Know, I’m counting down the top-10 prospects whose rights were traded before the deadline. For AHLers, I’m using the teams they have been playing with, though obviously they will be switching uniforms this week.
1. Filip Gustavsson, G, Lulea (SHL) – The centerpiece for Ottawa in the deal that sent Derick Brassard to Pittsburgh, Gustavsson is a big, athletic netminder with superior positioning. He was the top goalie at the 2018 world juniors (on both the directorate and media ballots) and has very good numbers with Lulea this season. Of course the Sens don’t want to rush him, but Gustavsson can be an NHLer in the near future.
2. Libor Hajek, D, Regina Pats (WHL) – Heading from Tampa Bay to the New York Rangers in the Ryan McDonagh trade, Hajek was excellent for the Czechs at the world juniors, logging big minutes and making an impact at both ends of the ice (with eight points in seven games, he was one of the top-scoring D-men in the tourney). Hajek was also traded in the ‘Dub’ this year, heading from Saskatoon to the Memorial Cup host Pats, who naturally wanted to bolster their lineup for a run.
3. Erik Foley, LW, Providence College Friars (Hockey East) – Winnipeg grabbed Paul Stastny from St. Louis and Foley was part of the return for the Blues. A fast, strong and talented winger at Providence College, Foley has been the Friars’ top scorer this season with 34 points in 32 games. The junior left winger may turn pro after this season, once his Friars are done – they enter the Hockey East tournament as the third seed.
4. Brett Howden, C, Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL) – The other big Tampa Bay prospect to go to the Rangers in the McDonagh deal, Howden is playing for the best team in the WHL right now. The young pivot also happens to be the captain in Moose Jaw, where he plays a 200-foot game and has contributed 58 points in 38 games. Howden is solid on faceoffs and won gold with Canada at the world juniors.
5. Yegor Rykov, D, SKA St. Petersburg (KHL) – Heading from New Jersey to the New York Rangers in the Michael Grabner trade, Rykov is an offensive defenseman with good size who has spent most of the season in the KHL with juggernaut SKA (he has also played some games for their minor-league affiliate). Rykov still needs to work on his defensive play, but he has one more year on his KHL contract to do so before coming over to North America.
6. Philip Holm, D, Utica Comets (AHL) – A free agent grab in the summer, Holm now goes from Vancouver to Vegas in exchange for Brendan Leipsic. Holm was touted as a mobile defensive defenseman when he came over from Sweden, but he showed a nice offensive side in Utica, putting up 29 points in 42 games to lead all Comets blueliners. He’ll play for the Chicago Wolves now.
7. Ryan Lindgren, D, University of Minnesota Golden Gophers (Big Ten) – Going from Boston to the New York Rangers in the Rick Nash deal, Lindgren offers future stability to the Blueshirts’ back end. The Gophers have struggled this season and Lindgren’s numbers aren’t impressive, but he’s a gritty, mobile defenseman who has worn a letter everywhere he has gone. And he’s only a sophomore.
8. Danny O’Regan, C, San Jose Barracuda (AHL) – A fast, intelligent, two-way center, O’Regan goes from San Jose to Buffalo, courtesy of Evander Kane. O’Regan has already played some NHL games with minimal impact, but as an undersized player he can continue to get stronger. You’ll see him with AHL Rochester at first, but with nothing to play for in Buffalo, it would be fun to see the Sabres reunite the old Boston U. line of O’Regan, Jack Eichel and Evan Rodrigues at some point.
9. Rinat Valiev, D, Toronto Marlies (AHL) – Heading from Toronto to Montreal in the Tomas Plekanec trade, Valiev played 10 games for the Leafs last year, but has been in the AHL thanks to Toronto’s depth this season. He’s a big body that plays a simple game and takes care of his own end first. He may end up only playing for AHL Laval, but the Rocket could use him right now.
10. Victor Ejdsell, C, HV71 (SHL) – Going from Nashville to Chicago in the Ryan Hartman traded, Ejdsell is 6-foot-5 and 214 pounds and has some nice offensive tools at his disposal. He has been one of HV71’s top scorers this season with 30 points in 44 games. The big question involves his skating and in today’s NHL game, that is very crucial.