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.
Red Wings’ Prospect Seider Starting to Settle into North American Game
One of the most surprising picks from the 2019 NHL Draft was the Detroit Red Wings selecting German defender Moritz Seider sixth overall. It’s also very possible that it will end up being one of the best picks from the draft.
After collecting just one assist in his first seven AHL games with the Grand Rapids Griffins, Seider started to settle in, putting together a five-game point streak with six assists. That brings his stat line to seven assists in 14 games. While he’s still looking for his first goal, it’s a pretty good start for his first season in North America.
There was bound to be some adjusting for the young defenseman, but 0.5 points per game is a good start on the other side of the ocean. As he continues to get accustomed to his new league, I’d expect his totals to continue to rise.
Jets’ Prospect Heinola Heads Back to Finland
After starting the season in the NHL, Winnipeg Jets defender Ville Heinola is heading back overseas. Heinola played eight games with the Jets, collecting a goal and five points before being sent to the AHL. With the AHL’s Manitoba Moose, he added another assist in three games.
Heinola will be joining his former team, Lukko in the top-Finnish league, the Liiga. Last season there, he collected two goals, 12 assists and 14 points in 34 games.
While this might seem like a demotion for Heinola, that’s not the case. The Jets are preaching patience here and that’s a good thing. He’s going to play big minutes with Lukko and will be a big part of the Finnish team for the World Junior Championship. Heinola looked good in his brief North American stint and after another year of development, he’s going to look that much better.
Hurricanes’ Prospect Rees On Fire in OHL
Carolina Hurricanes’ prospect Jamieson Rees’ season didn’t get off to the best start. He was suspended for six games after a nasty blindside hit to Hamilton Bulldogs’ Logan Morrison. After that Sept. 20 game, he didn’t play again until Oct. 17. Ever since then, he’s been a man on a mission.
In that lone September game, Rees didn’t have any points. Since his return from suspension, he has points in eight of nine games. Over that time, he has 10 goals, 16 assists and 26 points. That’s a 2.36 point per game rate.
Rees looks like a steal for the Hurricanes at 44th overall at this point. Last season, he had 10 goals, 22 assists, and 32 points in 37 games. It seems safe to say that the centreman will pass that point total this season – by a large margin.
There’s No Stopping Capitals’ Prospect McMichael
Speaking of steals in the draft, have you checked in on Washington Capitals’ Connor McMichael? If not, you’re missing out. The London Knights centre has been on fire, collecting 19 goals, 22 assists and 41 points through just 16 games.
Even more impressive, the forward has points in all but one of his games. He’s put together streaks of six games and nin games (and counting). In that time, he has 13 multi-point games, collecting five points in one game and even reaching six in another.
It seems that McMichael can’t be stopped. The 25th overall pick has been an offensive machine to start the season. The Capitals and their fans should be very happy about that.
Where is the Rossi Love?
Marco Rossi has been near the top of the early 2020 NHL Draft rankings (11th in my preseason rankings) but hasn’t been receiving as much love as he deserves. He’s a top prospect in the draft but he hasn’t been treated as such – but that’s a mistake.
The Ottawa 67’s star is up to five goals and 22 assists for 27 points in just 13 games. He’s one of the best playmaking prospects in the draft and is likely to be a top-10 pick. There’s a lot of talent at the top of the draft, but it’s very likely that Rossi will be among them.
Rossi’s only had one game without a point this season He’s a dynamic player with great hands, some of the best awareness in the draft, and solid positioning. If you haven’t been watching the play of this future star, you need to start.
Neighbours’ Stock Rising Ahead of Draft
After collecting 11 goals, 13 assists and 24 points through 47 games in 2018-19, Jake Neighbours is exploding for the WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings. The left-winger is seeing his stock rise early on, already at his last year totals. To date, he’s collected four goals and 19 assists for 23 points in just 19 games.
Starting the season in the bottom half of the first round in rankings, he’s starting to raise his profile. The Oil Kings are a strong team this season, and Neighbours is leading that charge.
If he continues at this pace, it’s not hard to see Neighbours entering the top-20 in this very deep draft. He’s yet another player to keep an eye on as the season goes on.
2019 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge Standout Player: Chaz Lucius
The 2019 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge is all wrapped up, with Team Russia coming out on top. The tournament saw a number of players stand out, but one player, in particular, stood out the most from what I saw. The players that I expected to perform well did, but Chaz Lucius put on quite the performance.
Lucius is a top prospect eligible for the 2021 NHL Draft, and he showed why over this past week. He led the tournament in points (10) and goals (seven) through six games.
Top players in the tournament like Shane Wright, Brad Lambert, and Matthew Savoie all played well through the tournament, but I was expecting more. I thought they would come into the tournament and take over, but it was Lucius to do that.
There’s lots of time to catch Lucius play ahead of the 2021 Draft, and you can see him with the U.S. National U17 Team. This season, he’s up to 22 goals and 28 points in 20 games, adding four goals and six points in eight games with the USNTDP Juniors.
Weekly Lafrenière Report: Injury Holds Him Out of Canada Russia Series
Alexis Lafreniere was supposed to be one of the best players in the 2019 CIBC Canada Russia Series, but he was held out of the tournament due to an undisclosed injury.
He played in just two games this past week, one of which was just his fourth game this season without a point. He bounced back though, with two points in his second game (a goal and assist). He’s now up to 13 goals, 32 assists and 45 points in 20 games this season.
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 44.2 goals and 153 points. This will continue to fluctuate through the season but there’s no denying we’re witnessing something special 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.