Welcome to the Weekly Prospect Report. Here, we’ll take a look at some key names over the past week that are a big part of the next wave of NHL stars. This column will dive into both NHL-affiliated and draft-eligible prospects, focusing mainly on those outside the NHL.
The NHL Trade Deadline is upon us, and there are still rumours surrounding a few prospects in the league. There has been some very promising prospects on the move and there’s still time for more to be on their way. For all of your trade deadline news, you can check that out here. If the rumours are more your style, here they are.
Devils Land Dangerous Scorer Nolan Foote
Alright, it may have happened just before this past week (Feb. 16), but I didn’t touch on it in last week’s Weekly Prospect Report, so here we are! The New Jersey Devils added to their great looking prospect pool ahead of the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline by sending Blake Coleman to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for Nolan Foote and a conditional first-round pick.
This was quite the haul for the Devils, and while the first-round pick is exciting, acquiring Foote as well is huge. I had Foote pegged as the Lightning’s top prospect, just ahead of his brother Cal.
The younger Foote was just drafted in 2019, 27th overall. He has star written all over him. HE still needs to work on his skating, but his shot is out of this world. It seems to be getting harder and faster. He’s great with the puck, and there’s really not much he can’t do with it.
Imagining Foote on the wing of Jack Hughes or Nico Hischier is something that Devils’ fans should be very excited about. Foote is an immediate improvement to their prospect pool and it won’t be long before he’s knocking down the NHL door.
Madden Adds to Deep Kings’ Prospect Pool
Speaking of players that improved prospect pools, the Los Angeles Kings went out and acquired Tyler Madden from the Vancouver Canucks, along with Tim Schaller and a second-round pick, in exchange for Tyler Toffoli.
Now, I already had the Kings pegged as the top prospect pool in the NHL, but this is almost becoming unfair to the other 30 NHL teams. Madden comes into the absolutely stacked farm system that already includes forwards Alex Turcotte, Samuel Fagemo, Arthur Kaliyev, Akil Thomas, and Gabe Vilardi. Yet, he does add to that pool
He’s one of the most creative prospects in the entire league, with speed for days, and great playmaking ability. Playing in his second year for Northeastern University, the centreman has racked up 19 goals, 18 assists and 37 points in just 27 games. He’s a strong contender for the Hobey Baker Award.
The Kings organization has done an incredible job at stockpiling their farm system, and Madden is a great addition to that. Add a top-10 pick to that pool in the 2020 NHL Draft and there aren’t even words to describe how dangerous this team will be in a few years.
Kings’ Nousiainen Starting to Pile Up Points
Speaking of the Kings, we’ve only touched on their forwards so far. Well, now let’s take a look at the back end. One of their defensive prospects, Kim Nousiainen, has been taking a big step forward recently, and it’s worth taking note of.
Nousiainen is already playing in a men’s league, the Liiga over in Finland for KalPa, and has put up a very respectable stat line of six goals, 12 assists and 18 points in 45 games. Keep in mind, he’s a 19-year-old rookie playing against some of the best men in Finland. However, looking closer at his numbers, he’s been turning it on as of late.
Half of his goals and a third of his assists have all come in the month of February, including a three-assist night and a two-goal night. It’s safe to say that he’s starting to get comfortable and he’s looking good doing it. He’s played an average of 19:08 per game, although that has gone up recently with him playing over 20 minutes a night nearly every game through February, including a 26:29 game against HIFK on Feb. 2.
As DobberProspect’s Jokke Nevalainen pointed out, Noisianinen has been a risk-taker in the past but knew he had to adjust his game for the professional level and he has done just that. That being said, he still takes the occasional risk, jumping up into the play, but his play has significantly improved. That Kings’ prospect pool is something to behold.
Lafreniere, Rossi & Perfetti Hit 100-Point Plateau
You may have heard, but some high-profile 2020 NHL Draft-eligible players his a very impressive milestone this week. Alexis Lafrenière, Marco Rossi, and Cole Perfetti added to their impressive seasons by hitting the 100-point mark in each one of their seasons. Let’s take a look at when they hit the marks.
On Feb. 19, projected first-overall pick Lafrenière became the first CHL player to hit the milestone this season. Facing off against the Moncton Wildcats, the Rimouski Océanic star collected two assists in a 4-3 loss. He became the fifth Océanic player to hit the mark in back-to-back seasons, in a list that includes Sidney Crosby, Vincent Lecavalier, Brad Richards, and Dany Roussin. He’s up to 29 goals, 72 assists, and 101 points in just 47 games this season, definitely looking like a top pick ahead of the draft.
It didn’t take long for Rossi to catch up though, as the Ottawa 67’s centreman hit the milestone the very next night (Feb. 20), picking up an assist in a 6-2 loss to the North Bay Battalion. The following night, he collected another three assists to take over the CHL scoring lead from Lafrenière. This brings his total on the year to 33 goals, 70 assists and 103 points in 49 games. That alone is the 15th-best OHL point total in the last 20 years.
Our third 100-point club member, Perfetti followed the pattern, hitting the 100-point mark on Feb. 21. However, the Saginaw Spirit left winger hit the mark in a winning effort, in a 10-6 win over the Sudbury Wolves. Perfetti collected two assists and now his total on the year is 35 goals, 67 assists, and 102 points in 56 games. He’s only the second Spirit player to ever hit the mark, and his next point will see him take over the franchise record.
The race is on for the CHL scoring title (and the OHL scoring title), and hockey fans everywhere should be paying close attention. If your team will be a lottery team, one of these players could wind up on your team come June.
Keep an Eye on Savoie
Speaking of players hitting the 100-point mark, the next 2020 draft-eligible prospect to keep an eye on isn’t in the CHL, but he is in Canada. Carter Savoie plays for the Sherwood Park Crusaders in the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) and is currently second in the league with 96 points (52 goals, 44 assists in 52 games).
The young player is just the fourth Crusader to hit 50 goals in a season and is the first to do so since 1995. He’s definitely a player to keep an eye on as a high-reward, low-risk prospect ahead of the draft.
Savoie’s biggest strength is likely his shot. He can snipe it in the top corner, or rip a hard shot through a goalie. He’s a good skater and a great puck-handler. He’s projected by many as a second-rounder, and I’d have him there as a high-to-mid prospect.
Miettinen On the Verge of History
Heading overseas, another projected second-round prospect has been putting together a great season and is now approaching history. Veeti Miettinen, playing for Kiekko-Espoo U20 in the Jr. A SM-liiga, has collected 39 goals, 31 assists and 70 points in 49 games.
Miettinen is leading the league in goals (39) and points (70). He has a 15-point lead in points over second place. But wait, it gets better. The right winger is just one goal away from the all-time record of 40 (Sami Blomqvist in 2008-09), and nine points away from the all-time points record of 79 (Eemeli Suomi in 2014-15).
Miettinen is a player that I have liked ever since the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup, and he has seemed to be continuously getting better every since. He’s an offensive threat whether he shoots or passes, and never quits when he’s on the ice. He’s one of my favourite second-round options in the 2020 NHL Draft.
Six Straight Shutouts for Tom Aubrun
In Elliotte Friedman’s latest 31 Thoughts column, he highlighted the play of one NCAA goaltender, Tom Aubrun. Playing in Divison III for Norwich College, the netminder strung together seven-straight shutouts (at the time of Friedman’s post, it was six). Aubrun now has 12 shutouts on the year in only 25 games played.
With that, comes a 0.83 goals against average and a .964 save percentage. He’s let in just 21 goals this season (yes, that reads 21), and he’sput together a 21-2-2 record.
As Freidman points out, the Chamonix, France native is coached by Cam Ellsworth. Ellsworth recruited and worked with another goaltender you may have heard of – Connor Helleuyck. He also notes that NHL teams have “checked out Auburn.” For a goaltender with those statistics, it would be worth a gamble.
Thanks for checking out this edition of the Weekly Prospect Report. Throughout the season, I’ll keep you updated on all of the players not yet in the NHL that you should be keeping an eye on. If ever you’d like me to write about a specific prospect, have any questions or anything else, leave a comment below or send me a message on Twitter: @JoshuaBellTHW.
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Starting out as an Ottawa Senators contributor for The Hockey Writers, Josh is now an editor and at-large contributor, focusing on prospects, the NHL Draft, hockey history, and breaking news stories.