Prospect Ramblings: Barzal Keeps Rolling, Yamamoto Rising & The Five Nations Tournament

Cam Robinson

2018-02-16

 

 

Well, I’m back! I’ve been on the shelf for a few weeks after a little snowboarding incident resulted in the dreaded concussion-like symptoms (aka. a concussion – see it's not that hard to just say it. Take note, NHL clubs) but the keyboard was calling to me and we’ve got a plenty of news and notes to catch up in the world of prospects.

 

If you find any spelling or grammatical errors, just blame it on the conky.

 

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Mathew Barzal is really trying his best to make this Calder race less exciting. The 20-year-old pivot recorded another three assist game on Thursday night to vault his stats to 16 goals and 62 points in 59 games.

 

He’s just one point behind John Tavares for the team lead, he sits 11th overall in league scoring and is now 13 points clear of Brock Boeser.

 

 

You're looking at a bonafide superstar. 

 

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Both the U17 and U18 Five Nations Tournaments are running currently, with most of the eyes focused on the elder statesmen as some of the best 2000 and 2001 born prospects have landed in Plymouth, Michigan to compete in one of the premier scouting events of the year.

 

The American squad is the favourite and for good reason. They boast a plethora of likely first round picks this June including the top line of Oliver Wahlstrom, Joel Farabee and 2019 eligible, Jack Hughes who is destined to hear his name called first.

 

 

Wahlstrom continues to impress has he leads the USNTDP in scoring with 56 points in 40 games and has had a nice start to the tournament with a goal and three helpers through two games.

 

Wahlstrom is a goal scoring winger who plays the point on the power play and can create from all over the ice. He’s widely considered the fourth best forward in this class behind Andrei Svechnikov, Filip Zadina and Brady Tkachuk but the more I watch him the more I think he’s going to have more upside than his former teammate, Tkachuk.

 

 

Day Two witnessed a nice clash between Finland and Russia which featured likely first rounders Jesper Kotkaniemi, Svechnikov, Grigori Denisenko and Alexander Khovanov – the latter trio making up the top line for the Russian squad.

 

Denisenko has bothered me at times when watching him in the MHL, but he has a knack for showing up during international play and it appears this is no different. The projected first rounder has two goals and three points through two contests.

 

Svechnikov took a moment to warm up, but now has three goals, four points and nine shots on goal through two games. 

 

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{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Adam Gaudette – 1st in points and points-per-game (NCAA)<br><br>Elias Pettersson – 1st in points-per-game (SHL)<br><br>Jonathan Dahlen – 2nd in points-per-game (Allsvenskan)<br><br>Thatcher Demko – 4th in SV% (AHL) <br><br>Kole Lind – 7th in points-per-game (WHL)<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Canucks?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Canucks</a></p>&mdash; /Cam Robinson/ (@CrazyJoeDavola3) <a href="https://twitter.com/CrazyJoeDavola3/status/963259676400877568?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">February 13, 2018</a></blockquote>https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js{/source}

 

 

Canucks fans need to be excited about the future, and that’s really the only thing to be excited about these days on the West Coast. The team is a tire fire and much of the fan base was up in arms with the announcement of GM, Jim Benning earning an multi-year extension.

 

Maybe they should send Boeser to the draft lottery this year? He's been the only lucky charm this organization has had in recent memory. 

 

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There wasn’t a ton of ink spilled regarding Kailer Yamamoto’s slow start upon return to Spokane after starting his season with the Oilers; and there hasn’t been much more spilled regarding his massive swing the other way.

 

The spit bug winger had only accumulated five points in 10 games during a stretch in November and that play led to a somewhat underwhelming World Junior Championship. However, Yamamoto is currently riding a run that has seen him hit the scoresheet in 16 of 18 contests while racking up 13 goals and 39 points.

 

That burst has him sitting sixth overall in points-per-game with 46 points in 27 games.

 

Due to his late 1998 birthdate, the Oilers 2017 first-round pick is eligible to play in the American league next fall – and that’s a viable option, but don’t be surprised if his skills are on full display in a top-six role with Edmonton – everyone and their dog can see that Connor McDavid desperately needs some speed on his wing. 

 

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We got a look at the long-term future of the World Junior Championships and you might say there is a certain…theme.

 

2019 Canada

2020 Czech Rep

2021 Canada

2022 Sweden

2023 Russia

2024 Canada

2025 USA

2026 Canada

2027 Finland

2028 Czech Rep

2029 Canada

2030 USA

2031 Russia

2032 Canada

 

Personally, I love it – but I’m Canadian. That said, the key to filling rinks and creating a dynamic atmosphere isn’t necessarily entrenched in the Canadian landscape. Finding the right locales within a country is the key.

 

Buffalo did not work.

 

Minnesota would work.

 

 

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Joe Veleno sure is enjoying Drummondville. Since the trade out of out of Saint John, the speedy centre has racked up nine goals and 32 points in 19 games. He’s shooting the puck more, creating for his teammates on most shifts and is one of the best power play producers in the QMJHL.

 

The former exceptional status player had slid down more than a few boards, my own included, but he’s steadily tracking back up into the top 10 conversation. In a centre-lite crop, Veleno may very well be the best on the board once again.

 

Here are my most recent Rankings from January.

 

Here are Managing Editor, Peter Harling’s most recent list from earlier this month.

 

 

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The men’s hockey portion of the Olympics fired up late Wednesday night and it saw Eeli Tolvanen making all the headlines.

 

{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Eeli Tolvanen absolutely WIRES a shot to put the Finns up 3-1 over Germany late in the second period. <a href="https://t.co/GqKIX5jFAJ">pic.twitter.com/GqKIX5jFAJ</a></p>&mdash; Dylan Nadwodny (@dnadders) <a href="https://twitter.com/dnadders/status/963994807638069249?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">February 15, 2018</a></blockquote>https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js{/source}

 

A goal and three helpers is quite the impressive start for the 18-year-old. He’s the Predators' top prospect and despite some Rangers’ fans dreaming of a Tolvanen for Rick Nash deal at the deadline, I believe David Poile is far too smart for that.

 

Instead, look for Tolvanen to cross the pond at the end of his season with Jokerit of the KHL and suit up for a little NHL action down the stretch.

 

This kid has 40 goals written all over him down the line.

 

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Meanwhile, Rasmus Dahlin was a healthy scratch for the Swedish squad. The Tre Kronor left some more veteran players at home to bring the soon-to-be first overall pick so you’d have to think they’ll find a way to get him into some action here soon.

 

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As a draft and prospect junkie, sometimes it can be difficult to live in the moment. You’re constantly projecting, positing, and exploring realistic futures. It even goes as far as having trouble simply keeping your mind focused on the draft at hand.

 

This 2018 crop has a lot of intriguing players and storylines and should be a solid group, but I’m constantly being pulled towards the 2019 grouping.

 

Kappo Kakko of Finland, as Corey Pronman recently said, is the next big thing out of Finland. The skilled winger who had his 17th birthday earlier this week is looking strong at the Five Nations and suited up in six Liiga contests thus far – a very impressive feat for the then 16-year-old.

He's one of the younger players at the event and sits tied for second in points with a goal and three helpers through three games and has looked strong in all situations. 

 

Here’s a look at some of his highlights so far this season:

 

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For my money though, no one will be unseating Jack Hughes next June. 

 

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Sticking with the 2019 draft, Alex Newhook, a Newfie kid who played some prep school hockey in Ontario before landing out West to play for the Victoria Grizzlies of the BCHL has broken his wrist and is out for the remainder of the regular season.

 

Newhook was shredding the tier II junior circuit as a 16/17-year-old with 66 points in 45 games before the injury. He’s a legit contender for a top 10 pick and potentially even higher.

 

Newhook is off to Boston College in fall of 2019.

 

 

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Thanks for reading and feel free to follow me on Twitter @CrazyJoeDavola3

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