Rambling about Top 3 Draft Eligibles, the hat-trick frenzy in the WHL, the CHL Top Prospects game…
Let's start with the two 2016 Draft eligible Finnish prospects, Patrik Laine and Jesse Puljujarvi, who have slowed from their almost two point per game scoring pace at the WJC, but they're still scoring at a point per game, remember these kids are 17 year-olds playing against other grown men.
Laine returned to his club, Tappara and has four goals, three assists in six games since returning from the WJC, including a hat-trick Saturday against Ilves.
Puljujarvi was welcomed back to his Karpat club hoping he could continue scoring. Puljujarvi has recorded two goals, three assists in six games played and has one helper in two Champions League Playoff games.
The kid who has stepped up his game even further from the WJC, Auston Matthews, yes he is playing even better than he did in that tournament. Since returning to the Zurich Lions, Matthews has seven goals, four assists in seven games played.*
Alright, back to this side of the pond, a ton of prospects have been lighting it up in the CHL, where should we start? Let's go east to west, first up QMJHL.
Timo Meier (SJS) was the biggest acquisition at the QMJHL trade deadline. Meier joined Rouyn-Noranda Huskies on January 6th, and now has seven goals, five assists in seven games played, including a hat-trick and a five point night against Halifax on the 21st of January.
Vitalii Abramov (2016 draft eligible) has had a great January, 11 games played, 10 goals and 12 assists to move into second place in scoring in the QMJHL with 30 goals and 43 assists for 73 total points, which is still 30 points behind Conor Garland (ARI). Yes you read that right, Garland has a 30 point lead in the QMJHL scoring race, if you can even call it a race anymore.
Onto the OHL, Dylan Sadowy (SJS) recorded a hat trick Friday and another three goals and an assist Saturday and Sunday night. Kevin Labanc (SJS) of the Barrie Colts also scored two goals and added five assists in those three games to take the OHL scoring lead with 84 points.
Christian Dvorak (ARI) is only a point back from Labanc at 83 points. In nine games since returning from the WJC, Dvorak has nine goals and nine assists for 18 points.
Kitchener Ranger's captain Ryan MacInnis (ARI), Al MacInnis' son, extended his point streak this past weekend to 21 games, recording an assist Friday, a goal on Saturday and two assists Sunday. During this streak he has 12 goals, 22 assists for 34 total points, dating all the way back to November 11th.
Time to head further west, the WHL, Prince George’s Colby McAuley (undrafted) buried a pair of goals and added two assists Friday night to lead the Cougars to victory over the Kamloops Blazers 9-4.
Brayden Point (TB) also recorded four points, one goal and three assists Friday night to help the Moose Jaw Warriors defeat the Calgary Hitmen. Point now has 53 points in 26 games played, he is 17th in WHL scoring with half as many games played as the leaders, missing time to a shoulder injury as well as the WJC tournament in December and January.
Lethbridge’s Brayden Burke (2016 draft eligible) has taken over the WHL scoring lead with four points, one goal and three assists on Saturday night for a total of 74 points on the season. Burke was in on all four Hurricanes goals in their 4-3 OT victory to the Moose Jaw Warriors.
Everett Silvertips goaltender Carter Hart (2016 draft eligible) won his league leading 27th game last Wednesday night, but has now lost his past two games on Friday and Saturday night.
A hat-trick of hat-tricks on Saturday night in the WHL. Reid Duke (MIN) of the Brandon Wheat Kings, Jackson Houck (EDM) of the Calgary Hitmen and Alex Schoenborn (SJ) of the Portland Winterhawks all recorded hat-tricks to lead their respective teams to victories.
Quick NCAA notes, Michael Brodzinski (SJ) scored a hat-trick Saturday night for the University of Minnesota in their 9-2 win against Wisconsin.
Another Sharks prospect, Sean Kuraly (SJ) had a four point night, one goal and three assists Saturday night for Miami (Ohio). Kuraly's teammate ConorLemirande (undrafted) helped in defeating Nebraska-Omaha 7-3 with the other three goals.
Let’s move on to the professional leagues, first the AHL. Frank Vatrano (BOS) was sent down after David Krejci was activated off of IR. Vatrano has points in three straight games since his reassignment, scoring three goals and two assists for five total points.
Mikko Rantanen (COL) extended his point streak to eight games dating back to December 13th. During this streak he has scored ten points, five goals and five assists. Rantanen missed some games due to the WJC tournament, as well as an upper-body injury when he returned to San Antonio after the tournament ended. On Saturday night Rantanen scored a hat-trick in a 5-2 win against the Bakersfield Condors.
Tristan Jarry (PIT) is only getting spot starts now that Matt Murray (PIT) has been reassigned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, but Jarry hasn't lost a game since December 5th, five games in total with three shutouts. Murray has lost his last three games.
Defenseman TJ Brennan (TOR) is currently on a five game scoring streak, three goals and five assists. In the past nine games he has 14 points, five goals and nine assists. He is currently leading the AHL in scoring with 42 points in 43 games played.
Jayson Megna (NYR) was reassigned to the Hartford Wolf Pack, Megna played in five Rangers games in the two weeks he was called up for. He only put his name on the scoresheet in his first game with the big club, scoring a goal and an assist with three shots. The next four games he was silent with only four shots on goal and a minus-1.
Nikita Zadorov (COL) had another short stint end when he was reassigned January 23rd to the San Antonio Rampage. Zadorov didn't have any positives in the latest five NHL games, zero points, and a minus-2 with five shots on goal.
And let's finish off with the NHL, Griffin Reinhart (EDM) was recalled to the Oilers, recording his first point, an assist, with Edmonton. That assist was just his second career point in 21 NHL games over the past two years. Reinhart was paired up with Eric Gryba and played 18:33 of ice time. Reinhart played one game and was reassigned to Bakersfield.
Tom Kuhnhackl (PIT) recorded his first career NHL point, an assist on Saturday afternoon. Kuhnhackl has played seven games since being recalled on January 7th.
Joseph Blandisi (NJ) has points in two straight games, four in total, one goal and three assists. Blandisi had a short three game stint mid-December which he hadn’t scored. He was then recalled January 10th, has played seven games and has recorded six total points in those seven games.
Thursday January 28th will be the first of five days off for the NHL All Star break and the AHL has a dark night with zero games. Don't fret, the CHL Top Prospects game will be enjoyable. Tune in to watch some of the best CHL/NHL prospects go head-to-head. Don't think this is an all-star style game, these kids play their hearts out and know there is a ton of attention put on this game by GM's, scouts, coaches and fans.
Team Cherry captain Tyler Benson will be unable to play due to injury, Vancouver Giants teammate Ty Ronning will fill in for Benson. Jakob Chychrun will serve as the new Team Cherry captain in place of Benson. Updated rosters can be found here: http://bmotopprospects.ca/page/2016-rosters