DobberProspects

Prospect Ramblings: CHL Playoff Standouts — Wyatt Johnston, Mavrik Bourque, Joshua Roy, Logan Stankoven

Welcome to my ramblings, where I’ll be writing down my thoughts on NHL and draft-eligible prospects once a week. I’ll be using the ramblings to keep you posted on the week’s events, or let you in on some questions I ask myself often regarding prospects, amateur scouting and player development.

The CHL’s 2022 playoffs are reaching their end, and we can already take a look at the prospects who have stood out as tournament MVPs ahead of the Memorial Cup. Two of the names I’ll mention below haven’t even appeared in their respective leagues’ finals, but still deserve a mention for their outstanding performances in the games they played. We’re talking two points a game, or goal-per-game performances that just can’t go ignored.

Let’s get right into it.

Wyatt Johnston, C/RW — Windsor Spitfires, OHL (Dallas Stars)

Johnston is pretty much single-handedly carrying this Spitfires squad towards the promised land. He has accumulated 14 goals, 25 assists for 39 points in 23 games, 10 points clear of his team’s runner-up, linemate Will Cuylle. The Spitfires don’t offer much defensively, and have relied heavily on their top line to drive results and get them wins. It’s worked so far, but the team is trailing three games to two against the Hamilton Bulldogs, who have much more depth in their lineup and can hurt their team in waves.

Johnston’s puck skills are absurd — the OHL MVP loads pucks in his hip pocket which helps him shoot, pass or deke from the same position. This adds to his already-deceptive mindset with the puck, and his ability to absorb and manipulate opponents with ease. If there’s a roadblock to what he wants to do, he is both able to rid himself of the roadblock, or adjust on the fly to find the second-best option.

He plays with pace and finesse, and has a refined defensive game that makes him one of the best prospects in the CHL, if not the best. Expect him to continue his career in the NHL this fall. The Dallas Stars’ scouting team is next-level in its prospect analysis.

Speaking of which:

Mavrik Bourque, C — Shawinigan Cataractes, QMJHL (Dallas Stars)

Bourque was the primary offensive driver on the Cataractes all the way through their President’s Cup winning postseason, as he scored nine goals and added 16 assists for 25 points in 16 games. He was paired with Oilers first-rounder Xavier Bourgault on the top line, and that one-two punch was simply too much for any of the Q’s teams to handle.

He popped up in dangerous areas multiple times, and used his playmaking to find his teammates in those same areas more often than can be counted. His playmaking is truly next-level, as he can identify breaches and exploit them in a nanosecond while also being able to delay and open up lanes to his trailing teammates.  When Bourque gets the puck, good things happen, and both of his wingers, Bourgault and Olivier Nadeau, made quick note of that, delegating everything from zone entries to cycle plays to him and finding open ice to get pucks back.

Bourque is another player who shouldn’t take too long to find his footing in the NHL, whether next season or the one after. He’ll likely crack the Stars’ thinning lineup, unless they foolishly pack their roster with free agent signings to attempt another middling finish and short playoff run.

Joshua Roy, C/LW — Sherbrooke Phoenix, QMJHL (Montréal Canadiens)

Roy saw his QMJHL-leading 119-point tally in 68 games during the regular season and thought “I can do better”. The Habs’ fifth-round pick then proceeded to score eight goals and add 15 assists for 23 points in 11 postseason games, bringing his point-per-game pace to a playoff-leading 2.09.

He was absolutely clutch in this series, scoring huge goals and making decisive passes in many of the most crucial scenarios for the Phoenix. His sharp shooting and aggressive playmaking mindset led to the puck almost always gravitating towards the opponent’s slot when he was on the ice. Unfortunately, his team was eliminated in the semifinals by the Charlottetown Islanders, who went on to lose against the Cataractes.

His performances earned him an amateur try-out with the AHL’s Laval Rocket, where he played his first professional game and didn’t look out of place in the slightest.

Roy will likely play his nine NHL games next year in hopes of landing a permanent spot on the Habs’ roster, but expect him to return to the Q after that to continue his development. He still needs to continue ironing out his skating and lack of intensity off the puck, but his cerebral game combined with his off-puck positioning and lethal shot should translate well to the NHL sooner rather than later.

Logan Stankoven, C/LW — Kamloops Blazers, WHL (Dallas Stars)

The Stars appear yet again on this list — like I mentioned, their North American scouting team is just out of this world. Stankoven was the most impactful player on the Blazers by a country mile, scoring 17 goals and adding 14 asists for 31 points in just 17 games. His team was eliminated by the Winnipeg Ice in the semifinals, and yet he still leads the league in playoff goals by a margin of four.

Stankoven’s combination of feistiness and puck skills is exemplified in this clip. He hounds pucks with a level of determination that explains the C on his jersey. He has the hands to gain dangerous ice after single-handedly winning pucks back for his team, and the finishing ability to consistently find twine. He has a short, whippy release that just flies off of his stick, and he can shoot from a variety of angles and positions and still retain his deadly accuracy.

Stankoven should not be a Junior player. Size be damned — his skill and intensity are undeniably NHL-level skills. The embarrassment of riches in the Stars’ pipeline might keep him out of their opening-night roster and force him back to the WHL for another year, but the 5-foot-8, 170-pound forward would be better served facing pros, given his undeniably NHL-ready combination of compete, shooting ability and offensive dynamism.

Honorable mentions: Fabian Lysell, Kaiden Guhle, Sebastian Cossa, Xavier Bourgault, Patrick Guay, Logan Morrison, Avery Hayes, Mitchell Russell


Thanks for reading — follow me on Twitter @HadiK_Scouting for all of your prospect-related needs!