After a huge season in the American Hockey League (AHL), one Arizona Coyotes prospect is getting ready to travel with the team for their postseason run. Also, one of the top prospects of the 2020 draft class appears to have gotten even better. Finally, one of the leagues in the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) is hoping to start their 2020-21 season on time this fall.
Burke Heading Back Home
The 2019-20 season has been a memorable one for Coyotes’ prospect Brayden Burke. He had a breakout season for the Tucson Roadrunners in the AHL. He was an All-Star and led his team with 21 goals and 52 points. He also set a Roadrunners’ franchise record with 13 power-play goals.
Burke, an undrafted free-agent signing out of the Western Hockey League in 2018, headed to training camp earlier this month to work out with the Coyotes. He impressed head coach Rick Tocchet enough that he will be making the trip to Edmonton this weekend for the Stanley Cup playoffs. The news was extra special for Burke because he grew up in Edmonton.
“It will be weird for sure. … It will probably take a couple days to get used to, but once you kind of get into the feel of the hockey and skating every day, keeping your body in good shape — that’s stuff that I’ve known for years now,” he said. “So once you kind of get over the initial shock of being home and not being able to see anyone, I’m sure I’ll just be able to look forward and put my nose to the grindstone.”Source – “Tucson star Brayden Burke will be at home, but inside a bubble, for Coyotes’ playoff series” by Brett Fera, Arizona Daily Star – 7/23/20
The Coyotes will open their Qualifying Round series versus the Nashville Predators on Sunday, Aug. 2. Only time will tell if Burke actually cracks the Arizona lineup and makes his NHL debut, but no matter what, it will be an experience of a lifetime for a young player.
Perfetti Making Key Improvements
Cole Perfetti is coming off a big season in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). He scored 37 and 111 points in 61 games for the Saginaw Spirit. This was his second straight season with 37 goals and he doubled his assist total from his rookie campaign in 2018-19.
Perfetti is likely to be selected in the top 10 at this fall’s NHL Entry Draft and a recent report might lead him to crack the top five. According to Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News, he has used this time off to improve his skating.
This is the one aspect of his game that many scouts agreed Perfetti could use the most improvement on. Cam Robinson of Dobber Prospects wrote that he “lacks the two-step quickness to be considered a locked-in future star, but he’s not far off.”
If Perfetti has made strides in his skating, this could very well bump him into the top five; possibly landing either Ottawa or Detroit.
The Q Looking to Start on Time
The COVID-19 has turned the hockey world upside down with the postponement of the Stanley Cup playoffs and the cancellation of nearly every other league’s season. The three leagues of the CHL all had to scrap their postseasons and there is still quite a bit of uncertainty about when the 2020-21 seasons will begin.
According to Scott Wheeler of The Athletic, the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) is hopeful to start their season on time.
Traditionally the QMJHL starts their season around the third week of September, so roughly eight weeks from now. As Wheeler points out, the QMJHL does not have any teams from the United States, like the OHL and WHL has, which will make it easier for teams to travel. Most of the league’s teams are in smaller towns and Quebec has gotten their COVID numbers under control. This is a report worth following over the next few weeks to see if they can pull this off.
Prospect of the Day – Justin Barron
Staying in the QMJHL, Barron is the top-rated defenseman from the league; ranked as 16th-best North American skater by NHL Central Skating. The 6-foot-2, 195-pound defenseman is a right-handed shot and has played the last three seasons for the Halifax Mooseheads.
Related: THW’s 2020 Draft Guide
He had a tremendous sophomore season in 2018-19. He set career highs with nine goals, 32 assists and 41 points in 68 games, where he finished with a remarkable plus-42 rating. Those numbers took a dive during a rough 2019-20 season. A blood clot limited Barron to just 34 games, where he scored four goals and 19 points. He was a minus-19 as the Mooseheads finished 17 out of 18 teams.
Despite the rough season, scouts are still very high on Barron. He is a strong, attacking defenseman that does a good job of separating players from the puck. He plays a sound game and is not afraid to bring some physicality when the situation calls for it.
Our own Peter Baracchini feels that he could still be a late first-round pick or fall into the second round of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.
Despite a rough season, Barron does have the potential to be a solid top-four defenseman in the NHL. He’s a complete-package defenseman with size, vision and the ability to move the puck that can play in any situation, which many teams will value.
Barron has a lot of the skills NHL teams look for in their blueliners. He’s got good size and skates well. He is a very smart player who can start the transition came with either his feet or with an accurate pass. While he is not a dynamic offensive threat, he is a solid all-around defenseman with the potential to play big minutes in the NHL one day.
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.