The big prospect news of the week came with Buffalo sending Sam Reinhart back to junior after a nine-game tryout and one assist. I’m totally on board with this move. Reinhart now gets a chance to do some serious damage at the world juniors for Canada and pull the Western League’s Kootenay Ice out of an early season funk. He’ll get his NHL shot again next year and perhaps one day, the players listed below will, too.
Alexandre Carrier, D – Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL)
Carrier comes from a family of defenseman; father Bernard played two years in the Quebec League for Drummondville and Quebec, while older brother Samuel was a Washington Capitals draft pick who once had a 50-point campaign for Lewiston. And while young Alexandre may turn out to be the best of the three, he has leaned on his brother for guidance throughout his journey.
“It helped a lot,” Carrier said. “I watched my brother play and saw what he did to get there. He taught me how to be a good rookie, then how to be a leader.”
Being a good rookie meant listening, being respectful and not getting too cocky in the dressing room or on the ice. A late birthday now in his third year with the Olympiques, Carrier has every reason to be confident in his skills, though; he led Gatineau in scoring from the blueline last season and is doing it again this year, with 20 points in 21 games.
“My best assets are my vision and hockey sense,” he said. “Also, my stickwork defensively. For sure I want to improve my physical game and for my shot to get stronger.”
A big fan of Minnesota’s Jared Spurgeon, Carrier is also a smaller defender who moves the puck well and in Gatineau, he gets to play in a classic old barn, the Arena Robert Guertin.
“It’s fun, because there’s a lot of history and the fans are crazy,” he said. “It feels dark.”
Until Carrier inevitably lights up opponents with a rush, that is. Draft eligible in 2015.
Jack Eichel, C – Boston University Terriers (Hockey East)
Jack be nimble, Jack be sick: Through five games, the elite freshman has nine points for the best offensive clip in the conference – and he just turned 18 last week. The big center is powerful, fast and skilled and he’s already getting time shorthanded. Draft eligible in 2015.
Mitch Marner, RW – London Knights (OHL)
Coming off back-to-back hat tricks, Marner is on a five-game goal-scoring streak right now and has amassed 22 points in 16 games overall, good for seventh in the Ontario League. An offensively dazzling player, Marner dangles, kills with speed and has a laser beam shot. Draft eligible in 2015.
Madison Bowey, D – Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
I expect Bowey to be a key driver for Canada’s defense at the world juniors this winter. He’s already got the Rockets soaring once again and on an individual basis, his 22 points in 14 games leads all defenders in the Western League. Bowey continues to grow as an all-around blueliner and is looking great right now. Drafted 53rd overall by Washington in 2013.
Brock Boeser, RW – Waterloo Black Hawks (USHL)
The power forward has taken the United States League by storm, leading the circuit with nine goals and putting up 13 points total in nine games, putting him fourth overall. Boeser is a University of Wisconsin commit with a great shot and some nice smarts to his game. Draft eligible in 2015.
Nikolay Goldobin, RW – HIFK (Fin.)
The Sharks are high on Goldobin, which is why they are happy with him playing against men in Finland rather than teens back in Sarnia this season. So far the gambit has worked, as the ultra-talented winger has netted six points in nine games and playing an increasing amount of minutes. Drafted 27th overall by San Jose in 2014.
Mitch Vande Sompel, D – Oshawa Generals (OHL)
An offensively gifted defenseman who can also contribute to the penalty kill, Vande Sompel has churned out 19 points in 16 games to lead all OHL blueliners in scoring. The slick skater computes the game well and will suit up for the OHL in the Super Series against Team Russia. Draft eligible in 2015.
Neil Doef, LW – Smiths Falls Bears (CCHL)
Deadly on both the power play and the penalty kill, Doef is a speedy player with good vision who has almost eclipsed last year’s total offense in half the time. The Princeton commit is tied for tops in the Central Canada Jr. A League with 37 points in 24 games. Draft eligible in 2015.
Jacob Larsson, D – Frolunda Indians (Swe.)
Playing for Frolunda’s junior squad, Larsson has put up eight points in 13 games from the back end and will play for Sweden’s under-18 squad in a Four Nations tournament next weekend. The 6-foot-2, 181-pounder plays a smart game and knows how to handle the puck. Draft eligible in 2015.
Jamie Phillips, G – Michigan Tech Huskies (WCHA)
Michigan hadn’t visited the Huskies for decades and the Wolverines may not be back for a couple more thanks to Tech’s Phillips. The athletic, 6-foot-3 netminder won both games on the weekend and now owns a 1.34 goals-against average and .952 save percentage in his first year as the starter. Drafted 190th overall by Winnipeg in 2012.