Shane Wright lines up for a faceoff. Photo courtesy of Sportsnet
The kids are alright! There have been a number of rookies across the CHL who have lit up the scoreboard across the country. From Shane Wright leading the nation in rookie scoring in his age-15 season to a couple of Czech imports making their mark out west, this year’s CHL rookie has been outstanding, to say the least. Let’s take a look at the top-three scorer’s in each of the three leagues.
Michal Teplý, RW, Winnipeg ICE
6-2 192lbs May 27, 2001 Czech Republic 28G-32A-60P 41.6% PP Point %
Michal Teplý has been a wonderful addition to the Winnipeg ICE lineup this season. The Chicago Blackhawks fourth-round pick last year has come over to North America and shown a lot of the skill and talent that made some believe that he could challenge for a first-round pick prior to his draft-eligible season. He has a strong frame and plays strong on his edges. His shot is NHL-calibre and takes pride in scoring goals. He has been extremely consistent this season, rarely going more than one game without finding the scoresheet.
The young Czech forward makes his presence known on the powerplay, where he generates a great deal of his scoring. He is tied with Cole Sillinger of the Medicine Hat Tigers for rookie powerplay scoring with 25 points but leads all first-year players in powerplay goals with 11. While a great deal of powerplay production isn’t a major red flag, it should come with some tempered expectations as his even-strength play isn’t as impactful. Teplý is a decent skater but he will need to get quicker in his first few steps. His length and size help him close the gap in puck races so there won’t be a major improvement needed. Overall, Teplý should be able to provide a solid scoring punch at the next level but needs a year or two of refinement before he challenges for a roster spot in Chicago.
Dylan Guenther, RW, Edmonton Oil Kings
6-0 170lbs April 10, 2003 Canada 26G-33A-59P 28.8% PP Point %
Dylan Guenther has gone from the first overall pick in the 2018 WHL Bantam Draft to the top scorer from the class in the WHL. He has shown game-breaking ability as the season wore on, growing in his role with the Edmonton Oil Kings. He is a very good skater who has great hands and an advanced hockey IQ. He earned his ice-time and has slowly worked his way to the top-line in the Oil Kings lineup, showing improvement in his 200-foot game throughout the season.
The young Oil King has appeared in most early Top-10’s for the 2021 NHL Draft. His play as a rookie in the WHL has been electrifying at times, scoring highlight-reel goals and making exceptional plays as a passer. His defensive game is still developing, as is the case with most 16-year-old players, but the upside for the second-leading scorer among WHL rookies is sky-high. He should be able to provide some pop at the top end of next year’s draft.
Pavel Novák, RW, Kelowna Rockets
5-10 170lbs April 16, 2002 Czech Republic 25G-31A-57P 28.0% PP Point %
The 2020 draft-eligible forward has been impressive in his first season in North America. Pavel Novák has quick feet, a good shot, and adept passing ability. His ability to locate teammates and put the puck on their tape with a variety of passes that range from a beautiful bank passes up the boards to the soft-touch of a Pavel Novak saucer pass. He sees the ice in the offensive zone at a high-level which makes him dangerous every time the puck is on his stick.
Novák is a good skater who likes to push the pace and get the puck to the middle of the ice. He doesn’t always get there with his feet as consistently as one would like but he filters the puck to the slot with efficiency and consistency. He still plays a bit of a perimeter role at times but his passing and vision are effective from the outside at the junior level. He likely needs to find that extra gear to get to the middle more often at the next level. When he does so in the WHL, he is extremely dangerous and has good hands in tight to find daylight.
Shane Wright, C, Kingston Frontenacs
6-0 183lbs January 5, 2004 Canada 39G-27A-66P 31.8% PP Point %
Shane Wright was granted “Exceptional Status” just over a year ago and he has done nothing but impress at the OHL level since his arrival in Kingston. He has been at-or-near record-breaking scoring pace for players in their 15-year-old seasons and should challenge John Tavares’ record of 77 points. He tied Connor McDavid’s output from his age-15 season with 66 points and now has his eyes set on the Tavares record over the last few games of the regular season. While he is on pace to come up just short with 75, he has been on fire since mid-December so the extra two points he needs to pick up aren’t an impossible task.
The craziest part about Wright’s season is that he is arguably better than both McDavid and Tavares in his own zone at this stage of their OHL careers and he’s still putting up near record-breaking numbers. He does an excellent job in all three zones and while Tavares and McDavid were big parts of their teams at 15 years old, Wright is Kingston. Tavares finished second on his team in scoring but was 22 points behind the team lead. McDavid was three points back. Wright currently leads his team by six points. While this obviously doesn’t mean he is the best of the three, it does say a lot of about just how good Shane Wright is.
Mason MacTavish, C, Peterborough Petes
6-1 191lbs January 20, 2003 Canada 29G-13A-42P 21.4% PP Point %
At one point this season, MacTavish may have looked like he couldn’t stop scoring. While he has slowed down a bit as the season has gone on, he remains a deadly shooter. He has only found the back of the net five times since the calendar turned to 2020, scoring 24 goals before the New Year capped off with a hat trick and five-point effort on New Year’s Eve. The young sniper was born in Switzerland but has represented Canada on a number of occasions including his stint with Canada White at the World U17’s.
MacTavish’s skill and goalscoring touch is obvious despite his struggles since the beginning of January. Many 16-year-old rookies go through hot-and-cold spells and MacTavish has done his fair share of occupying space on both ends of that spectrum. For a player who scores a ton of goals, he actually has a decent powerplay points percentage compared to many of his peers. As he grows and develops, he should become a more consistent scorer. Watch for his cold streaks to be shorter next year as he adds strength to his already solid frame.
Francesco Pinelli, C/LW, Kitchener Rangers
6-0 176lbs April 11, 2003 Canada 18G-23A-41P 17.0% PP Point %
Pinelli plays a very competitive game in all three zones. He struggles with inconsistencies at times but he has the ability to flash elite-upside throughout his games. It seems like every game Pinelli does something to make him noticeable in a positive way. Whether it’s an end-to-end rush that shows off his powerful skating or a wicked wrist shot from the faceoff dot, Pinelli has an impressive skillset. The young Kitchener Ranger plays a more complete game than many other 2003 born players near the top of the scoreboard and has the potential to be a legitimate two-way center as soon as next season.
If Pinelli can get all of his tools to click at once, he can be a special talent who is tracking towards a top-20 selection at the draft in June 2021. He has true dual-threat ability as a passer and shooter who plays a solid 200-foot game. His role should grow on the Rangers next season and he could challenge for the team lead in scoring if all goes as planned. His season this year has been impressive and there is so much more in his toolset to uncover.
Isaac Belliveau, LHD, Rimouski Océanic
6-0 172lbs November 26, 2002 Canada 11G-42A-53P 50.9% PP Point %
The only defender in the top-three of any of the CHL scoring lists, Belliveau has put together an insane season that has been buoyed by an insane percentage of points on the powerplay. Slightly over half of his production through 62 games have come on the powerplay, likely aided by some bum named Alexis Lafrenière. While his point totals are likely inflated, you don’t eclipse the 50-point plateau as a defenseman by mistake. He has been a very good puck mover and shows poise and a calmness to his games that would lead you to believe that he is a QMJHL veteran.
Belliveau’s production may seem like it stagnates next season with the loss of some of their stars to the NHL and other pro leagues as they age out of QMJHL eligibility. He will likely take on a more prominent role on the powerplay and at even strength next year but without the stars like Lafrenière upfront, his raw totals could come back down to earth a bit. He’s already the best puck mover on Rimouski’s back end and will hopefully continue to develop in his own zone, making him one of the better defenders heading into next year’s draft.
Zachary Bolduc, C, Rimouski Océanic
6-0 161lbs February 23, 2003 Canada 30G-22A-52P 36.5% PP Point %
Nearly a point-per-game in his rookie year in the QMJHL, he also gets the Lafrenière bump thanks to a PPP% over 35%. He has been one of the top rookies in the QMJHL all season long thanks to a lethal offensive game that lives and dies with his shot. He finds his way into space around the net and finishes with efficiency. He is the top rookie powerplay goal scorer and he ranks fifth in the entire league.
Much like Belliveau, his production may take seem to take a hit initially to start next year it should be offset by his development over the offseason. He will likely take on a more prominent role with the Océanic offense next season and that alone will help him increase his scoring. His two-way game will need to improve as well but he should be a first-round talent heading into next season.
Zachary L’Heureux, C, Moncton Wildcats
5-11 194lbs May 15, 2003 Canada 20G-32A-52P 13.4% PP Point %
One of the most impressive parts of L’Heureux’s season is that most of his production has come at even strength. In fairness, he plays with Alexander Khovanov and Jacob Pelletier quite a bit so that makes things a bit easier for him as well. He plays on the wing a lot, showing some positional versatility as he is naturally a center and projects as one in the long term. He may be the most under-the-radar rookie in the QMJHL in terms of notoriety outside of the QMJHL. He has a strong and sturdy frame, plays with pace and looks to make a difference on every shift.
For L’Heureux to take the next step, he needs to continue to improve his two-way game and get stronger overall. He is already a good skater but if he adds some more strength to his lower body he should be able to improve his top-end speed and first couple of steps. His shot is good but lacks consistency in how effective it is which should improve with the added strength. L’Heureux could have a massive jump in his counting stats as he’s given more of a role on the powerplay and his five-ob-five play continues to develop. Watch for him to be at-or-near the top of the scoring charts for 2003-born players again next season across the entire CHL.
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 myMid-Season Top-100 Rankings with video and analysis on 60+ players including nearly every player in the top-40!