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Prospect Need to Know: Nick Suzuki is running wild

The Vegas Golden Knights pick continues his OHL dominance, while also roughing up the Russians. Find out more about him and other hot prospects in our weekly wrap

The CHL-Russia series is moving on to the Quebec League for its final leg and it’s been a competitive showdown so far. Hard to believe, but the world juniors aren’t that far away and events like this can really help a kid get exposure. Elsewhere, some interesting news out of the USHL, where Chicago Steel left winger Blake McLaughlin announced that he will be staying with the club instead of heading back to his Grand Rapids high school team in Minnesota for the middle of the season (which is what Casey Mittelstadt did last year). It’s a big loss for the Thunderhawks, but given how well the 2018 draft prospect has played so far in Chicago, it’s understandable. Let’s look at some other kids making noise around the prospect world:

Nick Suzuki, C, Owen Sound Attack (OHL) – Suzuki has already put his stamp on the CHL-Russia series with a two-goal, three-point effort in Team OHL’s first win, but the Vegas Golden Knights first-rounder has been hot all season. The dynamic Owen Sound star is tied for third in league scoring with 31 points through 18 games. NHL arrival: 2018-19

Aleksi Heponiemi, C, Swift Current Broncos (WHL) – The undersized-but-deadly combo of Heponiemi and Tyler Steenbergen has been torturing opponents since the first puck-drop of the season, so let’s show some love for Heponiemi this time. The fearless and dazzling Florida Panthers pick is tied for the WHL scoring lead with his liney, to the tune of 46 points in just 17 games. NHL arrival: 2019-20

Andrei Altybarmakyan, RW, SKA St. Petersburg (Rus.) – I was surprised when Altybarmakyan was passed over during his first year of draft eligibility, but the Chicago Blackhawks made sure he didn’t slip through one year later, taking him in 2017’s third round. A smart and dynamic player, Altybarmakyan has been great at the CHL-Russia series and very dangerous on the penalty-kill. NHL arrival: 2020-21

Sebastian Aho, D, Bridgeport Sound Tigers (AHL) – This is the other Sebastian Aho; the Swedish one. Passed over in a couple of drafts, he was finally snapped up by the New York Islanders this summer and has adjusted to the North American pro game quite well. Aho has nine points in 12 games – including a hat trick – from the blueline and if he can keep getting stronger, perhaps the wait was worth it. NHL arrival: 2019-20

Johnathan Kovacevic, D, Merrimack College Warriors (Hockey East) – With a 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame and good agility for a big blueliner, Kovacevic brought a lot of upside to Merrimack. Now a sophomore and a Winnipeg Jets draft pick, the kid is tapping in to that potential with five points in his past three games. Not only that, but the Warriors are winless when he doesn’t hit the scoreboard this year. NHL arrival: 2021-22

Oscar Back, C, Farjestad (Swe.) – The Five Nations tourney was held in Finland this past week and there were some very good under-18 players on display. One Swede that caught my eye in particular was Back, who blends great size and offensive tools to form a solid package. The 2018 draft prospect can also play on the right wing when needed. NHL arrival: 2020-21

Peter Thome, G, University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks (NCHC) – Cam Johnson put a stranglehold on the UND crease in the past couple years, but an injury opened the door for Thome, a titan-sized Columbus Blue Jackets prospect. The freshman has yet to lose a game in four starts and is burnishing a very nice .929 save percentage and 1.92 goals-against average in the process. NHL arrival: 2022-23

Nicolas Beaudin, D, Drummondville Voltigeurs (QMJHL) – The reigning player of the week in the ‘Q,’ Beaudin has great patience with the puck, which often creates scoring chances for his team. A 2018 draft prospect, Beaudin now has 21 points in 21 games for the Volts, making him the top-scoring D-man in the league. NHL arrival: 2021-22

Cooper Marody, C, University of Michigan Wolverines (Big Ten) – A talented Philadelphia Flyers pick who is coming into his own in Ann Arbor after some sophomore adversity, Marody is piling up the points as a junior. The creative and slippery center leads the team with 16 points in 10 games. NHL arrival: 2020-21

Curtis Hall, C, Youngstown Phantoms (USHL) – The USHL’s forward of the week, Hall blitzed Muskegon for a hat trick and six points in two games, helping him to the top of the Youngstown leaderboard. A big kid who plays a solid all-around game and clearly has offense in him, Hall is a 2018 draft prospect and a Yale University commit. NHL arrival: 2021-22


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