Today will take a trip through three of the top feeder leagues when it comes to National Hockey League prospects. We will start in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), where a Toronto Maple Leafs’ prospect has carried his success into the postseason. From there, it is off the American Hockey League (AHL), where a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning’s pipeline was honored for a big week. Finally, we go to the Western Hockey League (WHL) to check on another talented prospect in the New York Rangers’ system.
Mikhail Abramov Has Hot Start to Playoffs
The QMJHL is the only one of the three Canadian Hockey League (CHL) leagues with a postseason. The WHL will not have playoffs after their abbreviated regular season ends, and the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) never dropped the puck on a 2020-21 season.
The 2021 President Cup playoffs got underway over the weekend, and Abramov got off to a great start with a goal and seven points. His two big performances have the Victoria Tigers up 2-0 in their best-of-five series with Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, the last team to with QMJHL championship in 2019. He was named the league’s Player of the Week for his efforts.
In Game 1 on Friday night, Abramov had two assists, including one on the game-winning goal as the Tigers came from behind to win 3-2. He exploded in Game 2 Sunday afternoon with his first career five-point game. He had four more assists before scoring the game-winning goal midway through the third period.
The Maple Leafs drafted the 20-year-old center in the fourth round (115th overall) of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. He spent this season as Victoriaville’s captain and scored 12 goals and 30 points in 25 games. In three QMJHL seasons, he has 63 goals and 160 points in 150 games. He signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Maple Leafs in March of 2020 and will likely turn pro next season.
Boris Katchouk Nets Player of the Week Honor
It has been a while since Katchouk heard his name called on draft day. The Lightning took him in the second round (44th overall) of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. He spent the next two seasons with the Soo Greyhounds in the OHL, where he put up 77 goals and 149 points in 124 games.
Katchouk’s offensive numbers took a dip during his transition from juniors to the pro game. In his first two AHL seasons with the Syracuse Crunch, he scored 25 goals and 55 points in 135 games. However, he has hit his stride this season and is producing at a high rate.
He was named the AHL’s Player of the Week for his two goals and nine points over four games last week.
His huge week started with three assists in a 6-2 win over the Utica Comets on Monday. He had a goal and two assists for his second straight three-point game in Wednesday’s 7-6 victory at the Rochester Americans. Not bad for a guy who had just one three-point game in his 154 career AHL games heading into the week. From there, he had a goal and assist on Saturday’s win over the Americans before closing out the week with one more helper against the Comets on Sunday.
Katchouk is on a 14-game scoring streak which has seen him score 10 goals and 24 points. His streak is tied for the longest league so far this season. Overall, he has 11 goals and 29 points in 23 games. He is tied for fourth in AHL scoring and is just five points the league-leading Andrew Poturalski of the San Diego Gulls.
Braden Schneider Continues to Impress
The Rangers are stacked with talented young players right now, with many of them making an impact at the NHL level, especially on defense. Schneider is a name that you will hear more of in the years to come. New York selected the 6-foot-2 mobile defenseman with their second first-round pick (19th) overall in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.
Schneider got to play two games with the Hartford Wolf Pack in the AHL before returning for the start of the WHL season. Since the drop of the puck out west, he has been a point-producing machine for the Brandon Wheat Kings.
On Saturday, Schneider scored his second overtime goal in the last three games to lead the Wheat Kings to a 5-4 win against the Prince Albert Raiders.
In 21 WHL games this season, the 19-year-old blueliner has five goals and 27 points. The scouting community touts Schneider for his quick feet, solid positioning, and crisp outlet passes. He could be a very exciting addition to a Rangers defensives corps in the near future.
Greg Boysen has been writing about the Chicago Blackhawks since 2010 and has been a site manager for both FanSided and SB Nation. He has been published in The Hockey News and was fully credentialed for the 2013 Stanley Cup Final. Among his various roles with The Hockey Writers are covering the Blackhawks, the AHL, writing the daily “Today in Hockey History” column, serving as a copy editor, and appearing and hosting multiple YouTube shows, including Blackhawks Banter. He is credentialed with the Chicago Wolves, Rockford IceHogs, and Milwaukee Admirals, while also being a regional scout for the NAHL. And, just because his plate isn’t full enough, Greg hosts trivia in the Chicago area two nights a week. For interview requests or to provide topic suggestions, follow Greg on Twitter and reach out.