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.
October is nearing its end and prospect tournaments are right around the corner. Many teams and players have a solid amount of games to look at how they’ve played so far, and the good news is there are a lot more games to come from the next NHL stars. Here’s a look at some of the headlines surrounding the NHL’s future stars after nearly a month of hockey.
Rangers’ Kravtsov Signs with KHL’s Chelyabinsk
I touched on the rumour in the last edition of the Weekly Prospect Report, and now it’s happened. New York Rangers’ prospect Vitali Kravtsov has left the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack and signed with his former KHL team Traktor Chelyabinsk.
After seeing limited ice time with the Wolf Pack (five games, one assist, and one scratch along with a couple of benchings), Kravtsov used a clause in his contract with the Rangers to be able to head back overseas for the remainder of the season. But, he can come back at any time and with all the negativity surrounding him, after many thought he would make the NHL lineup, this looks to be the best move for him.
The KHL is the second-best league in the world – yes, above the AHL. Kravtsov should see a significant increase in minutes there. Last season with Chelyabinsk, the right winger put up eight goals and 21 points in 50 games. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him pass those totals this season if he can regain his confidence. It’s alright Rangers fans, he’ll be back – potentially even this year.
Blues’ Kyrou Sent to AHL’s Rampage
The St. Louis Blues have sent top prospect Jordan Kyrou to the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage. The forward underwent knee surgery in the offseason and has spent the start of the season still recovering. Blues fans shouldn’t look too much into the transaction though – if anything it’s a good sign.
The move of the Blues’ 2016 second-round pick likely means that he’s set to return. The team will want him to get back into form in the AHL and he’s very likely for a call-up once he’s there. Last season, he had 16 goals and 43 points in 47 games with the Rampage and added a goal and three points in 16 NHL games. He’ll hope to build on that when he returns.
The Hockey Writers‘ Blues writer Stephen Ground gave his thoughts on the move, “(The Blues are) Cup champs, but they’re desperate for a player with (Kyrou’s) speed and flash. They don’t have a game-breaking talent like Kyrou on the current roster. So, I hope this is temporary, although the spot for him on the roster isn’t obvious.”
This will be an intriguing player to watch for Blues fans as he gets his skates back on the ice.
Golden Knights’ Prospect Elvenes Leads AHL Scoring Race
There’s a surprising name at the top of the AHL’s scoring race, and it’s Vegas Golden Knights prospect and AHL rookie Lucas Elvenes. Elvenes has been on fire to start the season, racking up the points. He has three goals, 10 assists, and 13 points through his first eight games with the Chicago Wolves.
A fifth-round draft pick in 2017, Elvenes wasn’t exactly a point-producer playing in Sweden. Last season with Rögle BK of the SHL, he had three goals and 17 assists for 20 points in 42 games. In just a quarter of the games in the AHL, he’s nearly at that production.
If he can continue this level of production, the Swedish centreman might just end up looking like a steal for the Golden Knights’ first draft. He’s impressing early, which is a very promising sign for Vegas fans.
Watch Out OHL, Perfetti Is Hot – but Where Are the Goals?
Saginaw Spirit forward Cole Perfetti has five goals and 22 assists for 27 points in 16 games so far. He’s having a good season, but when you look at when those points have come, it’s more impressive as of late.
Through four games, Perfetti torched opposing teams for four goals and nine assists. He now has a third of his points from last season (74) in just a quarter of the games played. It seems like a safe bet to see him passing his totals from last season in 2019-20.
While the points are piling up for likely top-10 2020 draft pick, he’s at just five goals on the season. He’s been known as a goal scorer, as was on display at the 2019 Hlinka Gretzky Cup. Five seems like a slow start for the young player. Don’t panic though, the goals will be coming.
Last season, Perfetti had a 22.42 shooting percentage. That was 37 goals on 165 shots. This season? He has an 8.33 shooting percentage with already 60 shots. I’d expect that shooting percentage to rise very quickly as the season goes on. The shots are there, it’s only a matter of time before “Goal Perfetti” is back in action.
Nybeck Continues to Standout in the SuperElit
Another probable first-rounder for the 2020 NHL Draft is continuing to impress overseas. Zion Nybeck is on fire in the SuperElit, begging some questions as to whether it’s time to call him up to the HV71’s SHL club.
Nybeck has 25 points in 15 games. He’s scored nine goals and added 16 assists within those points, as FC Hockey scout Sam Stern mentions, Nybeck’s output is the highest under-18 rate in the last decade. It’s dropped a bit now to 1.41 points per game, but I think any Nybeck fan will be more than happy with that.
The Swedish forward should be a top-20 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft and he’s making sure everyone knows it. It shouldn’t be long before he makes the jump up to the next league.
Early 2020 Draft Most Underrated Player: Jan Myšák
Jan Myšák was given a C rating. He’s continuously ranked out of the top-20. Yet, he’s playing on a very weak HC Litvinov team, with bottom-six minutes. Oh, and he’s still producing. He has four goals and three assists for seven points in 13 games. On top of that, five of his points (three goals, two assists) have come in the last five games.
Myšák was my 14th-ranked prospect in my preseason rankings. I’d still have him in that area, maybe shifted one or two spots. The point is, stop sleeping on Myšák. His production (0.58 points per game) is actually the highest by an under-18 player in the Extraliga since Jiri Hudler in 2002.
He’s underrated by many but is proving why those people are wrong so far.
Weekly Lafrenière Report: Four-Game Point Streak
Alexis Lafrenière’s on a streak. With Sunday’s performance of three points (one goal and two assists, including the impressive assist below), the projected 2020 number-one pick now has a four-game streak going where he has 10 points. He’s up to 12 goals, 27 assists and 39 points in 16 games. He’s on fire and shows no signs of slowing down.
At the beginning of the season, I predicted that Lafrenière would finish his season with over 40 goals and in the 130-140 point range. He’s currently on pace for 51 goals and 165.75 points. This will continue to fluctuate through the season but what a start we’ve seen from the 18-year-old.
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.
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.