Prospect Ramblings: CHL Top Prospects Game, Yamamoto Rises & AHL All Stars

Cam Robinson

2018-01-25

 

The big news of Thursday evening was the CHL Top Prospects Game.

 

The top 2018 draft eligible players from around the Canadian Hockey League have descended upon Guelph, Ontario to strut their stuff.

 

In the days leading up to the event, the players were put through their paces both on and off the ice during testing sessions.

 

 

 

The on-ice tests included:

 

  • 30 metre forward skate
  • 30 metre backwards skate with and without a puck
  • Reaction with and without a puck
  • Weave agility with and without a puck
  • Transition agility with and without a puck

 

The off-ice tests included:

  • Vertical jump
  • Broad jump
  • Medicine ball toss
  • Grip (right & left)
  • Pro-Agility (right & left)

 

 

For all results, see here

 

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The competitors were asked who the most difficult opponent was that they’ve ever faced. The answers are pretty interesting:

 

 

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If the pre-testing was the appetizer and the game itself the main course and dessert.

 

Here were the lineups: 

 

The game went decidedly in favour of Team Cherry, as the club featuring Filip Zadina, Joe Veleno, Evan Bouchard, Barrett Hayton and Ty Dellandrea defeated Team Orr 7-4.

 

Bouchard was named player of the game for Team Cherry as he recorded four assists and five shots on goal. It was a terrific showing from the London Knights’ captain as he continues to push further and further up many services’ draft boards.

 

He came into the match leading all draft-eligible players in point production with 54 in 45 games.

 

 

On the flip side of the spectrum, Spokane Chiefs’ rearguard and Team Orr captain, Ty Smith had a night to forget.

 

The 5’11 left-shot defender made several mistakes in his own zone and wasn’t able to showcase his top level skating and two-way play. He ended the night as a minus-four with just one shot on goal. A far cry from the normally steady and consistent player.

 

I spoke on Sportsnet650 earlier this week about how it's rare for a player to see their stock drop much from this game but players can certainly improve their bids for lofty draft selections.

 

Bouchard clearly came out on the right side of this equation while Smith left more than a few scouts wanting more. 

 

Some other players who stood out:

  • Serron Noel – The big bodied winger is extremely raw but oozes potential. He showcased his soft hands and offensive upside by creating several chances and burying an early marker. He's young for this class and has a lot of developing to do, but he could be a beast one day.

 

  • Ryan Merkley – With the game being held in Guelph, he had more than a few fans in the stands and he was his usual creative self, holding onto the puck in the offensive zone and skating it out of the defensive end. He ended the night with one assist and no glaring mistakes on defense – exactly what the doctor ordered.

 

  • Kevin Bahl – The Ottawa 67’s defender is a towering presence at 6’7 231lbs and he played very well, taking home Player of the Game honours for Team Orr after scoring a goal and adding an assist.

 

  • Barrett Hayton – Another draft riser, Hayton looked good in all situations, producing a couple of assists and displaying his calm and cool approach. He’s a pro-style player.

 

  • Filip Zadina – In all the talk about Svechnikov vs. Zadina, this is the second major scouting event that the Halifax Mooseheads’ winger has bested the goal-scoring Russian. Zadina popped two goals and looked dangerous all night long. He currently sits #2 on my board (See Rankings Here) and that caused some stir, but for my money, that two-hole is wide open.

 

  • Ty Dellandrea – The Flint Firebirds’ pivot scored two goals and looked solid throughout. He’s a tweener first rounder for many but certainly helped his stock on Thursday night.

 

 

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Kailer Yamamoto is finally waking from his slumber. The 2017 Oilers’ first rounder has been suspiciously quiet through much of the WHL campaign and World Junior Championships. However, he’s racked up seven goals and 17 points on his current eight game point streak.

 

He now sits with eight goals and 26 points in 19 contests for Spokane.

 

 

**

 

Jordan Kyrou has been named CHL Player of the Week for the second consecutive week. He posted 11 points in three games and leads the OHL in points with 23 goals and 73 points in just 35 games for Sarnia.

 

**

 

Warren Foegele currently sits tied for third in the AHL with 20 goals in 40 games. The first year pro has accomplished that feat while producing a grand total of zero goals with man advantage. The Hurricanes’ 2014 third round pick has potted 16 goals at even-strength and tacked on a league-leading four shorthanded tallies.

 

Foegele has taken a winding path thus far. Drafted out of the Canadian high-school prep circuit, he spent a season and a bit at the University of New Hampshire before leaving early into his sophomore season to join Kingston of the OHL who took him in the seventh round back in 2014.

 

A mid-season trade to Erie amidst the 2016-17 campaign thrust Foegele into the spotlight as that squad pushed all the way to Memorial Cup Final before eventually losing to the host, Windsor Spitfires. Foegele was named the OHL Playoff MVP and was relied on heavily in all situations.

 

Now the 21-year-old finds himself at the AHL All-Star game and fantasy managers should be taking notice.

 

Carolina is blessed with a deep stable of prospects at this time, but don’t sleep on Foegele. He may take a winding path, but the destination appears to be one of substance.

 

 

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Sticking in the AHL, Dylan Strome continues to shred apart the competition for Tuscon. The 20-year-old pivot leads the league in points-per-game with 1.39 and has formed a deadly duo with 2015 first round pick, Nick Merkley who sits third in that category with 1.25.

 

While Arizona remains a tire fire once again this season, the sheer volume of top level prospects is staggering. They need some pieces yet, but even if a couple prospects flame out – as they usually do, this is an organization that should have ability to translate it into proper production and eventually, wins.

 

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The WHL sure loves scoring goals this year. So far, the Dub has two players cresting the 90-point mark and two more having already passed 80 points.

 

They own three players averaging over two points-per-game and are featuring some high-level and exciting play thus far. For years, the WHL took a backseat to the OHL and QMJHL for gaudy point totals, but that pendulum has been swinging to the left coast.

 

Last season was the first time that a WHL scorer – Sam Steel, led the CHL in points since 2012-13 but the boys from Moose Jaw and Swift Current seem prepared to make it back-to-back seasons.

 

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Kole Lind and Aleksi Heponiemi have continued their impressive point streaks.

 

After a two goal, four point night (all primary points) Lind extended his streak to 16 games and 32 points (12+20). The Canucks’ second rounder is now in the top 10 in WHL scoring with 66 points in 38 games and his 1.74 point-per-game average is the seventh best mark.

 

Meanwhile, Heponiemi and his monstrous 28 game streak is out of this world. Another second round pick, this time to the Panthers, the slight winger has piled up 69(!) points over that span. He leads the CHL in points-per-game with 2.4 and his 89 points have already surpassed last season’s total of 86 – only in 35 fewer games.

 

Fire.

 

**

 

That’s all for this week. Feel free to follow me on Twitter @CrazyJoeDavola3 where I’m talking hockey all day every day. 

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