We’re starting to get to the point in the season where early hot or cold streaks are becoming trends. Many leagues have blown past the 10 games played mark and are pushing near the 20 percent of the season checkpoint. This allows us to more accurately assess what’s happened and better forecast what’s to come.
This week I’ll be highlighting some CHL players that are improving their stocks. Next week we’ll look at the USHL/NCAA and European leagues.
I’ve spoken about Dach a few times over the last 12 months. The massive pivot (6’4 200lbs) has been tremendous for Saskatoon early on. Leading the team in goals (7) and points (22) in 13 contests. The 17-year-old has a strong international resume, was the second overall pick in the 2016 Bantam draft and looks to be a locked-in top 10 prospect for the NHL draft this June.
If he keeps this up, he’ll be pushing for a spot amongst the top three or four selections.
Passed over in two consecutive drafts, Leason has been a man possessed early on in the Dub. The powerful right-winger leads the league in goals (15), shots (88), and points (32) in just 15 games. He’s also led his Prince Albert Raiders to the top of the CHL Power Rankings
My pick to lead the WHL in most scoring categories has not disappointed early on in his fourth WHL campaign. The Golden Knights’ first-rounder leads the league in points-per-game with 2.22. Sits second in assists with 16 and has done so in just nine contests.
He’ll be the top line pivot for Canada at this winter’s World Junior Championships and then it’ll be off to the pro ranks. Glass remains an A-level fantasy prospect.
After nearly making the Devils as a fresh-faced 18-year-old, Smith is back in Spokane and ripping it up. This time though, he’s without one of his favourite running-mates in Kailer Yamamoto. He did get a nice gift when LA returned Jaret Anderson-Dolan a couple weeks back. The two of them will act as co-captains for the club. They should both be with Canada at the World Juniors as well.
Smith has long been regarded as an efficient, poised and speedy two-way defender but he’s showing the world his high-end playmaking ability, even more, this season. So far he’s produced two goals and 16 points in 10 contests – good enough to lead all defenders in points-per-game at 1.6.
The Devils are building a nice stock of talent and one-day Smith will QB a top power play with Hall and Hischier. Who wouldn’t want a piece of that?
The Hamilton Bulldogs winger has begun his draft-eligible campaign with a BANG. The 17-year-old sniper currently sits fourth in OHL points with 23 and second in goals with 13. He’s filling the net on a pretty spectacular 24 percent conversion rate that is likely headed for a market correction, yet that doesn’t diminish his results thus far.
Kaliyev looked set to be a first-round pick come June but with his red-hot start, he’ll be pushing his way into the top half of that group.
After a monster 112-point season last year, the Flyers 2016 first rounder was a sexy pick to crack the NHL lineup this fall. It wasn’t meant to be and he returned to the Greyhounds for a fourth and final OHL campaign. The results thus far have not disappointed.
Eight goals and 24 points in 13 games is already a per-game improvement from last season – 1.67 to 1.85. He’s putting an extra half shot on goal per contest to 3.4 and sits second in league scoring overall.
Frost is a dynamic offensive player who will play a large role with Canada at the WJC this winter. He has a bright future in fantasy leagues.
It’s been a whirlwind few months for the New York Islanders second rounder. Wilde is a mobile, physical and offensive defender that had been a mainstay with the US National Team Development Program for years. He was pegged as a first-round talent for much of last season but slipped at the end of the year and fell to 41st overall.
Part of that may have been concerns about off-ice issues. The 17-year-old had committed to the University of Michigan but de-committed just days before the draft. A similar situation occurred the year before when Eeli Tolvanen couldn’t get into Boston College due to his grades and watched his draft slot slip precipitously.
Well, Wilde is in Saginaw now and his making the most of his first foray into major junior hockey. Thus far, he’s racked up three goals and 13 points in 10 contests.
The Islanders don’t boast the most explosive defense corps or pipeline so Wilde’s development will be key for them in the coming seasons. He owns a big upside with some risk attached.
Heading into the 2017-18 campaign, many had Zavgorodniy as a first-round selection. He was fresh off leading the Ivan Hlinka tournament in scoring with five goals and 10 points in five games. He was heading to the QMJHL after being selected eighth overall in the CHL Import draft.
Things were looking good.
26 goals and 47 points in 62 games, highlighted by inconsistency, a slight stature and a missing two-way game was the story of his draft-eligible season. It landed him a long stay in the bleachers during the Draft in Dallas. Fortunately for him, and the Flames, Calgary stepped up and grabbed him 198th overall.
Zavgorodniy appears to be looking to prove his critics wrong. Through 15 games he leads the Q in points with 26 and power play points with 15. He’s second in goals with 10.
At 5’9 and 169lbs, he’ll need to continue proving himself on each ladder rung. But it’s a great start for the seventh rounder.
As a 16-year-old last season, Lafreniere dominated the Q. He didn’t just succeed. He was tremendous. He joined Sidney Crosby and Vinny Lecavalier as the only 16-year-old in the last 30 years to score 40 goals. He ended the campaign with the sixth most goals (42) and the ninth most points (80) in just 60 games.
He kept things rolling by captaining and leading Canada to Gold at the U18 Hlinka tournament in September. He’s now back swinging a big stick for Rimouski in 2018-19. But this time, It has been more with his playmaking than finishing.
Through 15 contests, the recently-turned 17-year-old has six goals and 25 points. Both his assist (19) and point total sit second in the league. The dynamic left-winger has been building a strong case to go first overall in 2020. He’ll have real competition from the likes of Quinton Byfield but regardless, whoever nabs this kid real life and the fantasy landscape is in for a good time.
There isn’t much hype around Jordan Spence. Taken in the second round of the QMJHL draft by Moncton this past year, the 5’10 defender has made an immediate impact. Two goals and 12 points through 13 games is a solid start to his CHL career.
Spence is sitting third in defensive scoring for the Q and is putting himself on the map for the upcoming draft. He’s a mobile left-shot kid with some nice upside. An afterthought for most ranking makers, Spence could work his way near the top-100 with continued strong play.
Thanks for reading and feel free to follow me on Twitter @Hockey_Robinson
- Robinson: Final 2019 NHL Draft Rankings
- Prospect Deep Dive: Kirby Dach
- Robinson: Final 2019 NHL Draft Rankings (Part 3)
- Robinson: Four (More) Bold Predictions for the NHL Draft
- Hedlund: Top Swedish Prospects for the 2019 NHL Entry Draft
- Prospect Ramblings: 2019 NHL draft by the numbers
- Prospect Deep Dive: Arthur Kaliyev
- DPR Episode 56: First Round Review with Cam Robinson