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Prospect Need to Know: the cream rises to the top

The Frozen Four is set, with a lot of upsets along the way. Elsewhere, the major junior playoffs are heading into the second round. We've got a lot to cover in our weekly wrap of the prospect world.

The Frozen Four regionals are finished and it was one busted bracket after another. American International kicked off the festivities by knocking off No. 1 seed St. Cloud State in their first game, while Minnesota State was also toppled early by Providence College. A lot of exits meant a lot of free agent signings, with Clarkson’s Nico Sturm (Minnesota) and Jake Kielly (Vancouver) two of the prominent names finding homes. Elsewhere, Ottawa draft pick Joey Daccord became the first-ever member of the Arizona State Sun Devils to sign his NHL rookie deal, so that’s pretty fun.

Over in major junior, the Memorial Cup host Halifax Mooseheads forced a Game 7 against Quebec in the first round of the QMJHL playoffs, while Prince Albert and Saskatoon meet in the second round after impressive sweeps over Red Deer and Moose Jaw, respectively. With all that in mind, let’s take a trip around the prospect world to see what’s up.

Filip Larsson, G, University of Denver Pioneers (NCHC): You can’t have a better weekend than Larsson, as the freshman goaltender posted two shutouts to get the Pios through to the Frozen Four. The Detroit Red Wings pick blanked Ohio State and American International, giving Denver a shot at the school’s second title in three years. NHL arrival: 2022-23

Barrett Hayton, C, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL): The Hounds are on the hunt again in the OHL and Hayton is taking center stage after posting 10 points in a five-game series win over Owen Sound. The Arizona Coyotes first-rounder blends skill, character and a 200-foot game, while wearing the captain’s ‘C’ for the Soo. NHL arrival: 2019-20

Cam York, D, U.S. NTDP (USHL): Another day, another record at the NTDP. This time, it’s offensive defenseman and 2019 draft prospect York, who broke the record for career points by a two-year D-man with 87, previously held by Adam Fox. The University of Michigan commit is now up to 89 points as the NTDP continues to steamroll the competition. NHL arrival: 2021-22

Jeremy Bracco, RW, Toronto Marlies (AHL): With 75 points in 69 games, Bracco is tied for the AHL scoring lead thanks to a scorching March that saw the Maple Leafs prospect earn a point in all but one game. An elite playmaker with great lateral moves and hockey smarts, Bracco broke the franchise record for points in a 76-game season when he hit 73 recently. NHL arrival: 2019-20

Isac Lundestrom, C, Lulea (SHL): Lundestrom got his first taste of NHL action with the Anaheim Ducks this year – not to mention his first AHL action with San Diego – but the fast two-way center has spent most of the campaign in Sweden. That’s great for Lulea, because the teen has five points in five playoff games, helping Lulea to the SHL semifinal. NHL arrival: 2019-20

John Leonard, LW, UMass Minutemen (Hockey East): The Minutemen dominated their bracket, so not all top seeds had trouble this weekend. Leonard was a driver on offense with three points in those two wins and the San Jose Sharks pick has a wicked set of hands in tight. He was one of the team’s top scorers this season. NHL arrival: 2020-21

Kevin Mandolese, G, Cape Breton Screaming Eagles (QMJHL): A big netminder with great athleticism, Mandolese put up four straight wins after two losses to Charlottetown to get Cape Breton through to the second round of the playoffs. The Ottawa Senators pick has a .919 save percentage while playing through a heavy workload. NHL arrival: 2023-24

Bowen Byram, D, Vancouver Giants (WHL): The top defenseman available in the 2019 draft, Byram has kept up his resume in the post-season with eight points in six games for the Giants. A smart blueliner who transitions to offense very quickly, Byram can really run a power play, so the Victoria Royals will have to be careful in the second round. NHL arrival: 2020-21

Brandon Duhaime, LW, Providence College Friars (Hockey East): The Friars made a big comeback on Minnesota State before handling Cornell easily and Duhaime contributed two points in both games. The Minnesota Wild pick has great playmaking skills and has improved every year with Providence. NHL arrival: 2021-22

Cole Koepke, LW, University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs (NCHC): With two assists, Koepke helped pace the Dogs over a tough Bowling Green squad in the first round and after a victory over Quinnipiac, UMD has a chance to repeat a national champions. Koepke is a Tampa Bay Lightning pick in his first year with the squad. NHL arrival: 2023-24

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