The seasons for the three CHL leagues are winding down and with playoff races and scoring races coming into focus as we head down the stretch drive, we are going to take a look at the scoring leaders in each league. From draft-eligible stars to undrafted overage players, the scoring leaderboard for all three leagues has interesting storylines and intriguing players near the top.
OHL Scoring Leaders
OHL Scoring Leaders as of Monday, March 2, 2020
This year’s OHL scoring race has been hotly contested between this year’s NHL draft class and last years with this year’s class coming out on top thus far and looking like they could be pulling away as the season comes to an end. The top scorer plays on the top team in the OHL. Marco Rossi has been scoring the lights out this season, coming into the year ranked as a mid-first-round draft-eligible player and has only improved his stock. Despite being only 5’9″, Rossi has those “Crosby Thighs” that help him power through contact. He plays three inches taller than he actually is and has the skill and offensive IQ to dominate at his size. He’s starting to run away with the OHL scoring race and his CHL scoring lead continues to grow as well. The most impressive part about the production that Rossi has been maintaining his lead all while playing in just 53 games due to injuries and a suspension early in the season.
Cole Perfetti is the second 100-point player in the OHL, finding his name on the scoresheet 103 times this year. The diversification of his game this year has been impressive from the start of the season. Having always been a dual-threat, he seemed to have taken on a bit more of a goal-scorer role last season and the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup in August did nothing to dissuade that thought. When his year started and he was dealing with a ~6.5% shooting percentage, he didn’t miss a step and stayed near the top of the OHL scoring race. ‘Goal Perfetti’ became ‘Playmaker Perfetti’ and now we have no choice but to call him ‘Offensive Catalyst Perfetti’ (We need to work on that one). Perfetti’s shooting percentage has risen back up to a reasonable rate and his goal-scoring has regressed back to his normal high rate of production.
Rounding out the top-five of the OHL scoring race is three players from the 2019 draft class. Philip Tomasino (Nashville, Round 1, Pick 24) has benefitted from his trade to the Oshawa Generals from the Niagara IceDogs. He has taken his well balanced offensive game to the Generals and helped make them a truly dangerous playoff team, helping drive up the production of players like Tyler Tullio and Kyle MacLean by giving them both a reliable playmaker and dangerous goal-scorer. Arthur Kaliyev is making NHL teams look a bit silly for allowing him to fall to the second round. He has been putting in goals and expanded his playmaking to another level this season. He’s been particularly dangerous since the addition of Jan Myšák from the Czech Republic. His skating has improved slightly, allowing him to take on a more prominent role in all situations all while taking a step forward offensively. Rounding out the top-five is London Knights star Connor McMichael who only been outscored by Rossi when looking at a points-per-game basis for players who have played at least 30 games. He’s been allowed to take a step and rise to a more prominent role within the consistently loaded Knights roster, showing that sometimes opportunity is all that’s needed for young players.
The likely result of this race is Rossi continuing to lead the way while also attempting to widen the gap for the CHL scoring title, showing that he can be just as dominant in the OHL as any player is in any league across Canada’s major junior leagues. Perfetti will do his best to hold off the trio from last year’s draft class. A hot week could create separation but a slow finish to the year could see all three of Tomasino, Kaliyev, and McMichael passing him. It should be a hot race to the finish with these five players really separating themselves from the pack with just Pavel Gogolev (91 points) as the only other player above 85 points so we can expect to see this group of five stay the same, even if the order shifts a bit.
WHL Scoring Leaders
WHL Scoring Leaders as of Monday, March 2, 2020
Out in Western Canada, we have a bit of a different story. Adam Beckman has been the runaway leader for a little while now, on the cusp of breaking the century mark. The Minnesota Wild prospect has been lights out and taken the step they wanted him to when they chose him in the third round last June. He’s looked like a man amongst boys many times this season, scoring goals at will and driving play on a shift-to-shift basis. His skating has looked improved this year and his IQ has shown to be above average which has allowed him to take a step offensively that many didn’t think possible. His shot has been lethal all season, leading to many questioning what he will be able to do next year in the WHL as he will be too young to go to the AHL but likely not ready to make the jump to the NHL.
The draft-eligible contingent of the WHL top-five scorers is brought to you by the scorching hot Seth Jarvis. Since the calendar turned to 2020, Jarvis has 56 points in 23 games. He’s been outscoring all draft-eligible players in the WHL in that time and he’s been once of the hottest players across the CHL. He is an outstanding skater who finds the puck in dangerous areas and makes good on his chances. Jarvis shoots the puck a ton and does it from within 15 feet and from between the dots. He’s been rising on draft boards all season long and he has a chance to rise even higher in the home stretch.
The next couple of players are 1999-born players who have no NHL rights in James Hamblin and Zane Franklin. Both seem players are taking advantage of their age-20 season, lighting up scoreboards and generating a bit of professional hockey interest. While they might not get NHL deals, they could be in line for AHL deals and work their way to the big leagues. Neither is a future star but they are doing their best to claim stardom at the WHL level.
This brings us to the Buffalo Sabres first-round pick from the 2019 NHL Draft, Dylan Cozens. The Lethbridge Hurricanes star has been one of the best players in the WHL all season. He actually ranks first in points-per-game in the WHL, ever so slightly outpacing Beckman. He joined Team Canada at the World Juniors and looked good overseas at the event with nine points in seven games. He hasn’t had any major dips in his production, going scoreless in only eight of his 48 games and never having back-to-back scoreless games. Cozens would likely be at the top of this list had he not missed time at the World Juniors. How close he gets to the top of the list will be an interesting story to keep an eye on, as he hopes to have a big finish to the year, possibly finding a way into the top-three of the leagues scoring by seasons end.
QMJHL Scoring Leaders
QMJHL Scoring Leaders as of Monday, March 2, 2020
It was no shock to see Alexis Lafrenière atop the QMJHL scoring lead early in the year and the fact that he is still there is still no surprise. The elite-level talent has been setting the pace in the QMJHL for almost two full years and likely doesn’t get the chance to go for the three-peat as he will be on the Senators/Red Wings/Kings/Devils/(insert other cellar-dweller) roster next season. He combines elite IQ, high-end puck skills, a mature cycle game and a game-breaking shot to be one of the most dangerous players not in the NHL. The question of whether he will finish atop the QMJHL scoring list is more of a formality. Whether he can catch Marco Rossi for the top spot in the country is going to be the race to watch. Rossi has played four more games than Lafrenière who missed time due to a suspension for a high hit and the World Juniors so the gap may end up being too much to overcome but Lafrenière has a real shot.
Another Minnesota third-rounder comes in at number two on the QMJHL scoring list as Alexander Khovanov has taken a step this season. The Russian World Junior team member is the only player outside of Lafrenière to pass the 90-point barrier in the QMJHL and has done it largely as the driver of his line. He plays a skilled game and has improved his skating this season which are good signs going forward. He generates a ton of offensive chances and should be a welcome addition to the Minnesota Wild in a couple of seasons. He likely needs some time at the AHL level this year but for now, he will look to maintain his hold on the second spot on the QMJHL Scoring list.
Félix Robert and Cédric Paré are the 1999-born players that find themselves near the top of the QMJHL scoring list. Robert is an undrafted player who is undersized. He’s taken a big step this year offensively but doesn’t have a ton of projectability to his game going forward. He’s set to join the USports circuit at the University of Moncton next year. Paré, on the other hand, is a Bruins sixth-round pick in 2017 and likely jumps to the pro-ranks next season after riding shotgun with Lafrenière this season, building his own stock up as well.
Tied for fourth in league scoring is the undrafted Egor Sokolov. He’s in his draft+1 season and has been scoring the lights out for the Cape Breton Eagles despite clear issues with his skating. He will likely be one of the highest-drafted over-aged players in the draft this year. He has an impressive shot and good playmaking ability. He is the kind of player that’s drafted to a team with an excellent development staff and then turns into a good middle-six scorer a few years down the road after some AHL time and the ability to develop with skills and skating coaches. He likely does catch Khovanov but he has a real shot at climbing to third in QMJHL scoring.
Thanks for joining me for my weekly ramblings, talking all things prospects. Feel free to comment below or reach out to me on Twitter @theTonyFerrari, my DMs are always open! Be sure to check out the Dobber Prospects February Draft Report! This month I took a look at the biggest risers and fallers, an All-Under 5’10” team, and a profile on Marat Khusnutdinov.
Make sure you check out the full Dobber Prospects 2020 NHL DRAFT PAGE! There are over 60 player profiles and a ton more draft content including the January Draft Report with a full breakdown of my Top-100 Rankings with video and analysis on 60+ players including nearly every player in the top-40!