The CHL has begun announcing their rosters for the always enjoyable Canada-Russia Super Series.
The six-game series also will see teams representing the WHL (Nov. 6-7), the QMJHL (Nov. 14, Nov. 16) and the OHL (Nov. 9 and 13).
These games are crucial for bubble players to crack the National team for this winter’s World Junior Championships as well as the upcoming draft crop.
What’s curious to note, is the WHL team is completely void of draft eligible players this year. This despite having some very strong 17-year-olds patrolling the Dub, including sure-fire first rounder – and likely top 10 selection, Ty Smith.
Meanwhile, the OHL has but one draft-eligible player in Evan Bouchard, pegged by many as a likely top-40 selection.
Years’ past has seen far more players from the upcoming crop be featured on these teams. Here’s hoping the QMJHL finds a home for a handful more for the draft junkies out there.
Canucks’ top prospect and the most recent fifth overall draft pick, Elias Pettersson has been playing exceptionally well as a SHL rookie. The 18-year-old forward currently leads his team in scoring with a goal and seven helpers in nine contests, to help propel Växjö near the top of the standings.
With Pettersson’s 19th birthday just under a month away, let’s take a gander at the top U20 performers at this level.
The slick play-maker is currently clicking at a 0.89 point-per-game pace, and while it’s still very early in the campaign, he’s producing at a level that is comparable with some of the best players to waltz from the Swedish top tier and into the NHL.
We haven’t seen a draft-plus one player look this comfortable in the SHL since William Nylander lit it up with MODO to the tune of 20 points in 21 contest before crossing over and exhibiting that same level of dominance in the American league.
It’s a great sign for a Canucks’ squad that desperately needs an infusion of young talent.
Whatdya know, you give Kailer Yamamoto some prime minutes and he produces. Assists in 3 straight. #Oilers— /Cam Robinson/ (@CrazyJoeDavola3) October 20, 2017
The #FreeKyleConnor association got their wish this week, as the former University of Michigan standout had put up three goals and five points in four AHL contests before getting the call thanks to a Mathieu Perreault injury. Connor started the game on the second line with Bryan Little and Patrik Laine only to get jumped up to play with Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler mid-way through.
The 20-year-old scored an even-strength tally and looked dangerous on that left-side. He's slated to start with the top unit in Winnipeg's next game as well.
AHL squads have a handful of games under their belt and we’re seeing some big stats jump out early.
Teemu Pulkkinen and his two goals and nine points in just three games leads the way and is the latest example of a truly elite AAAA player. For those who aren’t familiar with the term, a AAAA player is one who consistently displays excellence at the minor-league level but fails to translate that ability in the NHL.
The history books are littered with players like him who usually have a singular deficiency that holds them back. For Pulkkinen, it’s his skating. It’s a darn shame too, because the 25-year-old has one of the purest releases around.
Mark Jankowski has continued his dominance against AHL-level competition by recording four goals and seven points in four games. The lanky Flames forward has 69 points in 76 career American league contests and looks very much ready to pounce on an NHL gig as soon as the Calgary management decides it’s time.
Nick Suzuki has done nothing but produce since being sent back to Owen Sound of the OHL. The 5’11 pivot has seven goals and 18 points in just nine contests and despite just turning 18 a month ago, it’ll be difficult to imagine him heading back to junior for a fourth season next year.
Vegas may just be forced to move some of those bodies out by next season to make room for the dynamic pivot.
Expect him to play a major role with Team Canada at the World Junior Championships this winter.
Continuing in the CHL, a handful of 2018 top prospects are making their mark in the league in a hurry.
Consensus 1B, and the first overall selection from the most recent CHL Import Draft, Andrei Svechnikov has 10 goals and 14 points in 10 games played. He’s recorded four multi-goal games thus far and leads the OHL in shots-per-game with 4.6.
Don’t get used to him, OHL fans, he’ll be in the NHL next fall.
Meanwhile, Filip Zadina sits second in QMJHL scoring with 10 goals and 18 points in 11 games. The powerful winger is gearing up for a top 10 selection this June and with the rate he’s producing at, will get a nice long look at pushing closer to the top five.
Kirill Kaprizov continues to make fantasy owners drool at his potential while at the same time drown their tears at the fact he will unlikely see NHL ice until 2020.
The 20-year-old Wild prospect is currently on a seven-game point streak in which he’s recorded six goals and 12 points all while seeing just a shade over 14 minutes per contest for CSKA.
His 1.17 point-per-game clip is good for a share of third best in the KHL.
Keep your fingers, toes and nose crossed that he somehow becomes inspired to buy himself out of that extension for 2018-19 once the Olympics are in the bag (but don’t hold your breath).
Jesper Bratt exploded onto the scene a couple weeks back after surprising and making the Devils out of camp. After dazzling through his first three games while putting up three goals and six points, the 19-year-old has failed to hit the scoresheet in the past four games, recording just three shots total over that span.
His last two outings – both going into overtime, Bratt saw just 12:49 and 11:18 and it appears the euphoric adrenaline rush has worn off. With fellow London Knight asset, Alex Formenton already being returned to the OHL-club, don't be overly surprised if Bratt finds himself in Southern Ontario before long.
Taking a moment to step away from the rink, we lost an incredible Canadian, humanitarian and person this week. Gord Downie has long been a personal hero of mine and an individual who has inspired countless lives. His kindness, creativity, passion and beautiful words have transcended music and popular culture.
I truly believe that Gord was one of the most influential Canadians of our time.
It is a momentously sad moment for all who have ever enjoyed Gord’s lyrical wizardry, his infectious spirit and his quest to raise up the underdog.
I was fortunate enough to see him live on several occasions including the first stop on his and the band’s final tour last spring. These are memories I will forever cherish.
"Music brings people together. So my function in anything I do is to help bring people closer in." — Gord Downie, 2014
You brought so many of us in, Gord; and for that, we will forever be grateful.
Rest easy, friend.
As always, feel free to follow me on twitter @CrazyJoeDavola3 where I often give unsolicited fantasy advice that I’m sure at least someone is listening to.
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