As the season begins to wind down, we’re starting to see some hardware handed out in the prospect ranks. Toronto Maple Leafs hopeful Mitch Marner, for example, just won the OHL’s Red Tilson Trophy as the league’s most outstanding player for his work with the London Knights. Another OHL award-winner is featured below in my weekly wrap-up. Elsewhere in the hockey world, the USHL is in the middle of its two-stage draft. During Phase 1 (for 2000 birthdays), Sioux Falls landed competitive center Gavin Hain with the No. 1 pick. Phase 2 (for 1999s and earlier) happened today. And speaking of the USHL, let’s get to this week’s round-up:
Wade Allison, RW – Tri-City Storm (USHL): Tri-City is battling Waterloo in the second round of the playoffs after sweeping away Sioux Falls and Allison has done his part on the balanced Storm with four points through five games. This is following a sizzling second half for the right winger, who has climbed the draft rankings after a quiet start.
“I was battling small injuries, but I got those out of the way,” Allison said. “A lot has to do with confidence.”
And when Allison is confident, he’s hard to stop. A small-town Manitoba farm boy, Allison grew up around cattle and crops and strength is a big part of his game now.
“I’m a power forward,” he said. “I take the puck to the net and take the body. I try to make the other team’s ‘D’ not want to go back to get the puck.”
A Western Michigan commit, Allison is a nice coup for the Broncos and he’ll head off to Kalamazoo for 2016-17, where the allure of playing for coach Andy Murray was a big factor. The right winger has a lot of great traits in his game, but he’s not satisfied yet.
“I want to get 100 percent into the shotblocking lanes,” he said. “I seem to get half my body in there right now. That’s something we’ve been working on in practice.”
Practice makes perfect and while Allison has made great strides as a player this season, he is still getting better. That’s great news for Tri-City now and Western Michigan in the future.
In the Pipeline
Francis Perron, LW (Ottawa): Perron’s Rouyn-Noranda Huskies have blasted their way to the Quebec League final and the smart, skilled left winger has been the dynamic leader of an explosive offense. Perron has racked up 24 points in 13 games, making him the ‘Q’ leader in offense per game.
Anthony Mantha, LW (Detroit): It’s been and up-and-down career in Mantha’s early days, but the big, potent sniper is currently on an ‘up.’ His scoring prowess has Grand Rapids into the second round of the AHL playoffs, with Mantha potting three goals and four points through three games.
Hot Squad: The New York Islanders have a ton of offensive potential in their system and several of those kids are starring right now. Josh Ho-Sang has the Niagara IceDogs in the OHL final with a team-leading 21 points in 13 games; Anthony Beauvillier leads the Quebec League and finalist Shawinigan with 26 points in 16 games; and Matt Barzal has taken Seattle to the WHL final with 19 points in 13 games, also good for first on the Thunderbirds.
2016 Draft Stars
Mikhail Sergachev, D – Windsor Spitfires (OHL): Sergachev recently took defenseman of the year honors in the OHL thanks to his standout performance for an upstart Spitfires team. Most notably, the all-around blueliner won in a league also featuring his biggest competition in the NHL draft – Sarnia's Jakob Chychrun and London's Olli Juolevi. With Windsor winning Memorial Cup hosting rights next year, we're going to be seeing a lot more of Sergachev.
Samuel Girard, D – Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL): An offensive defenseman par excellence, Girard has continued his assault on the 'Q' in the playoffs. The Cataractes star has 18 points in 16 games, using his talent and self-confidence to dazzle. He's a little undersized and his defense needs work, but there's no denying his potential.
Todd Burgess, C – Fairbanks Ice Dogs (NAHL): While the North American League is better known for goalies (Hellebuyck, Stolarz, Ryan Miller back in the day), scouts are keeping an eye on Burgess, a sniper with a Jimmy Vesey vibe who ironically has been more of a set-up guy during the playoffs. Nonetheless, keep an eye on the R.P.I. commit on the second day of the draft.
2018 Draft Star
Andrei Svechnikov, RW – Ak Bars (Rus.): Huge news this week as the younger brother of Red Wings pick Evgeni Svechnikov signed to play with USHL Muskegon next season. Andrei is seen as The Next Big Thing out of Russia thanks to his potent combination of size, talent and smarts. He played as an underager at the world under-18s and could make an immediate impact with the Lumberjacks.