Prospect Ramblings: Heponiemi’s Streak, CHL Top Prospects Game and More

Cam Robinson

2018-01-21

Mathew Barzal, Ty Smith and Oliver Wahlstrom

 

As we finally start getting used to writing 2018, players are also adapting back to life after the World Junior Championships. Not only are the returnees adjusting, but those players who were left behind to fill in on the top roles are now back in their usual secondary spots.

 

It was a great opportunity for some draft-eligible players to showcase what they can accomplish with further ice and better deployment and with it, came the hope for more opportunities as the season wears on.

 

Keep an eye out for some changes in CHL lineups as the separation in the standings has made itself more prominent post-deadline season. Youngsters on bottom feeders will get their chances, but their quality of line mates has diminished greatly.

 

Conversely, a team like Kingston has loaded up with talented players like Cliff Pu, Gabe Vilardi, Max Jones and Sean Day. This means a player like Jason Robertson may see his deployment diminished.

 

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There are a couple of impressive point streaks going on in the WHL these days.

 

Vancouver Canucks’ prospect, Kole Lind is riding a nice little 15 game, 28-point streak

 

{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Kole Lind with 1+3 tonight (all primary points). He now sits with 22 goals and 62 points in 37 GP. <br><br>He has 28 points (10+18) on his current 15 game streak. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Canucks?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Canucks</a></p>&mdash; /Cam Robinson/ (@CrazyJoeDavola3)<ahref="https://twitter.com/CrazyJoeDavola3/status/954949789635919872?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 21, 2018</a></blockquote>https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js{/source}

 

Lind has been held off the scoresheet just four games this season and is surely making a few GM’s unhappy for passing him up in round one last June.

 

However, it’s Aleksi Heponiemi who is leading the way with an incredible 27 gamer to the tune of 67 points. You heard that right, 67 points.

 

 The Florida Panthers’ prospect has racked up 18 goals and 49 assists over the course of this run and has missed the scoresheet just twice in 34 contests. He currently sits with 23 goals and 88 points.The 5’10 141lbs left-winger totalled 86 points in 72 games during his WHL Rookie of the Year campaign in 2016-17.

 

Do you think he's enjoyed his time in Swift Current thus far?

 

Heponimi leads the CHL in points-per-game with 2.51, with the next closest competitor (teammate, Tyler Steenbergen) sitting at 2.19.

 

It’s been a historic season thus far for Heponiemi as we haven’t seen a WHL player crack 2.5 points-per-game since Ray Whitney accomplished the feat back in 1990-91. In fact, we've only seen three WHL players finish a season with two points-per-game since 2000-01: 

  • Mike Comrie – 79 points in 37 games in 2000-01*
  • Sven Baertschi – 94 points in 47 games in 2011-12 
  • Oliver Bjorkstrand – 118 points in 59 games in 2014-15

* 20-year-old

Stats courtesy of Elite Prospects.

 

 

**

 

Mathew Barzal is starting to run away with the NHL Rookie Scoring Race.

 

The 20-year-old pivot has 12 points in his past five games to jump eight points clear of Brock Boeser.

 

 

We haven’t had a freshman total over a point-per-game over the course of a full season since Evgeni Malkin potted 85 points in 78 games back in 2006-07.

 

Of course, Connor McDavid produced above that clip in 2015-16 but in just 45 games.

 

Barzal is one of the fastest players in the game today, and that’s not just straight away speed, he somehow manages to increase his acceleration with the puck on his stick – something we’re only used to seeing with McDavid (and perhaps Pavel Bure before him).

 

With the team's top two scorers, John Tavares and Josh Bailey, both unsigned for next season, Barzal could become the face of the franchise in a hurry. 

 

**

 

The USNTDP U18 squad has had a nice little boost of late with the addition of 2019 top prospect, Jack Hughes.

 

The 16-year-old was clearly getting weary of destroying the U17 circuit along with the USHL and now finds himself centring top 2018 draft-eligibles, Oliver Wahlstrom and Joel Farabee – both ranking in the top 15 on my latest 2018 NHL Draft Rankings.

 

The trio combined for four goals and six assists in a 7-6 win against Cedar Rapids Friday night and are electrifying on the ice together.

 

Hughes is currently trending towards a superstar status and will have fans clamouring for their team to “tank” next season to get him. Here’s how he stacks up with some other top-level talented from the Program:

 

{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Scoring numbers on the U17 Team at age 16:<br>Jack Eichel 0.94 Pts/GP<br>Clayton Keller 1.31 Pts/GP<br>Auston Matthews 1.38 Pts/GP<br>Jack Hughes 2.00 Pts/GP<br><br>Unreal numbers. Not to mention he had 15 points in 6 games at the WHC-17 tournament</p>&mdash; Jokke Nevalainen (@JokkeNevalainen) <ahref="https://twitter.com/JokkeNevalainen/status/951917807381381122?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 12, 2018</a></blockquote>https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js{/source}

 

He's played just seven games with the U18's thus far, but his 1.86 points-per-game lead the team (2+11=13 in 7 games). 

 

This kid is going to be a good one. 

 

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**

 

Speaking of Wahlstrom…

 

{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Oliver Wahlstrom (2018) has taken 150 shots through 32 games. No one else on the NTDP has cracked 100.</p>&mdash; Ryan Kennedy (@THNRyanKennedy) <a href="https://twitter.com/THNRyanKennedy/status/954072534126915584?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 18, 2018</a></blockquote>https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js{/source}

 

That’s Brock Boeser-level shot production from the draft-eligible product. Don’t’ be surprised when the young American hears his name called very early this June.

 

**

A few more countries have selected their rosters for the upcoming Olympic competition. While we’re all sorely disappointed that NHL/AHL players won’t be competing, there will still be some interesting storylines and quality hockey to enjoy.

 

Sweden is officially bringing soon-to-be first overall pick, Rasmus Dahlin to the event and he will have the lion’s share of the spotlight on him throughout.

 

 

Surprsingly, Canucks’ top prospect and current SHL point-per-game leader, Elias Pettersson was not named to the squad.

The 19-year-old has been historically productive for Växjö this season, having produced 12 goals and 36 points in 29 league games to go along with three goals and nine points in 10 Champions League games to help propel the club to the finals.

 

The roster still has room for two more forwards and National team general manager, Johan Garpenlöv says that four players are up for those two spots: Lias Andersson, Robert Nilsson, Andreas Engqvist and André Petersson. However, it was recently announced that Nilsson is out with a concussion, likely opening up another spot up front and hopefully some consideration for Pettersson.

 

We’ll have to wait and see if the coaching staff decides they want talent over birthdates from the ‘80s.

 

** 

 

 

Flyers’ 2016 second round pick, Wade Allison is out for the rest of the season with a lower body injury. The power winger was enjoying a fabulous sophomore season at Western Michigan where he’d accumulated 15 goals and 30 points in 22 games.

 

He was sitting seventh in the nation for points-per-game with 1.36, but it should be noted he was converting on 28 percent of his shots – clearly an unsustainable mark.

 

**

 

One of my favourite scouting opportunities of the year is quickly approaching in the CHL Top Prospects Game.

 

Ty Smith and Joe Veleno will captain the two squads, while Andrei Svechnikov, Evan Bouchard, Ryan Merkley and Jared McIsaac will wear the A’s.

 

The event will take place this Thursday, January 25th in Guelph.

 

**

 

I’ve opened up the monthly DobberProspects Mailbag on Twitter – Follow me @CrazyJoeDavola3 to ask a question.

 

 

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