The Acadie-Bathurst Titan received a commitment from one of their draft picks, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Pittsburgh Penguins swapped some prospects in a big trade, a Saginaw Spirit draft pick has committed to the NCAA, and we take a look at a player who steadily rose the draft rankings as the season went on for our Prospect of the Day.
Titan Receive Commitment From Prospect Bednar
The Titan announced that they have received a commitment from goalie prospect Jan Bednar for the upcoming 2020-21 season. The native of Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic was chosen second overall in the 2020 CHL Import Draft.
Bednar spent this past season playing for HC Banik Sokolov of Czech2 where he managed to collect a goals-against average (GAA) of 3.26 and a .873 save percentage (SV%). He also played in 13 games with HC Energie Karlovy Vary of the Tipsport Extraliga where he posted a record of 2-9-0 to go along with a 4.39 GAA and a .884 SV%.
Bednar will have a chance to continue to develop his game. Currently ranked second amongst European goalies by NHL Central Scouting, he has great size at 6-foot-4 and moves effortlessly in the net. He will need to adjust to the smaller rinks in North America but could become a solid NHL prospect.
Penguins and Leafs Swap Prospects
The Penguins and the Maple Leafs completed a massive trade that saw Pittsburgh acquire Kasperi Kapanen, Pontus Aberg and prospect Jesper Lindgren in exchange for the 15th overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, Evan Rodrigues, David Warsofsky and prospect Filip Hallander.
With this being a prospect piece, I figured we could look at the prospects that were exchanged in the trade. On the Penguins side, they acquired Lindgren, a defenseman who was originally drafted by the Leafs in the fourth round, 95th overall in the 2015 NHL Draft. He spent this past season playing with the Toronto Marlies where he scored one goal and added eight assists for nine points in 31 games played.
On the Leafs side, they acquired Hallander, a forward who was originally drafted by the Penguins in the second round, 58th overall in the 2018 NHL Draft. He spent this past season playing for Lulea HF of the SHL where he tallied five goals and nine assists for 14 points in 27 games.
Although the trade has positives for both sides, I think Toronto won this one. They acquired one of the Penguins’ better prospects and a very good pick in the upcoming draft. With their prospect pool kind of empty as of late, it will be great to add another great player to the fold. I’m sure I speak for a lot of people when I say that it was nice to see a trade go down as it’s been so long since the last one occurred.
Spirit Pick Jovanovic Commits to Notre Dame
The Saginaw Spirit received some disappointing news this past week as Matthew Jovanovic has committed to the University of Notre Dame. The native of Toronto, Ontario was selected by the Spirit with the 31st overall selection in the 2020 OHL Priority Selection.
Related: THW’s 2020 NHL Draft Guide
Jovanovic spent this past season playing for the Toronto Marlboros U16 AAA team where he collected nine assists and 14 penalty minutes in 21 games. He also managed to collect three points in four playoff games.
The Spirit are in a tough position with their draft picks. They also lost first-round pick Adam Fantilli to the United States Hockey League as he committed to the Chicago Steel. They have a really solid team with players such as Cole Perfetti and Damien Giroux, but this has to hurt if you are a Saginaw fan.
Prospect of the Day – Jake Neighbours
For or Prospect of the Day, we will be taking a look at Edmonton Oil Kings left winger Jake Neighbours. Currently ranked 26th amongst North American skaters, Neighbours continually rose up the draft rankings as the season went on.
Neighbours managed to put up over a point per game with the Oil Kings, going on to score 23 goals and adding 47 assists for 70 points in 64 games. Over the course of his three seasons in the Western Hockey League, he has tallied 34 goals and added 64 assists for 98 points in 122 games.
Our own Dayton Reimer believes Neighbours has some similarities to Matthew Tkachuk.
“Neighbours’ blend of physicality and scoring prowess has some comparing him to Matthew Tkachuk. His offensive ceiling might not be as high, but his hockey IQ and vision are definitely assets that could help him achieve that level of success in the NHL. He is very smart when throwing hits and rarely takes bad penalties — he ended the 2019-20 season with just 39 minutes. Few players can get under opponents’ skin like him, and he always will be in their faces, making him a valuable asset on any team he plays for.”
Neighbours has a lot of talent but it will all be up to him to continue to develop his overall game if he hopes to make the NHL. He has the potential to do so and he will garner attention from NHL teams at the draft. It is certainly exciting to watch what he is capable of doing on the ice on a nightly basis.