Wednesday night was a big night in the American Hockey League (AHL) as 2020 draft picks by both the Montreal Canadiens and Buffalo Sabres scored their first professional goals. Also, an early playoff in Russia likely means that a New York Rangers prospect is heading to the Big Apple.
Jan Mysak Nets His First Pro Goal
To say things are messy in Montreal these days would be a bit of an understatement. The Canadiens got off to a great start to the 2020-21 season, but the wheels have fallen off to where a coaching change was made back on Feb. 24 with Claude Julien getting shown the door and Dominique Ducharme named as interim head coach.
Down at the AHL level, the Laval Rocket has started 6-3-1-0 and sits in second place of the North Division with 13 points. They have a handful of exciting young prospects performing well, so help could be on the way soon.
One of those players is Mysak, who the Canadiens took in the second round (48th overall) in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. He scored his first professional goal early in the third period of the Rocket’s 3-1 win over the Belleville Senators.
Mysak went directly to the net, where he received a pass from Brandon Baddock and used his backhand to slide the puck between Filip Gustavsson’s legs, becoming the third-youngest player to score in the AHL this season.
The 18-year-old forward should be in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), playing for the Hamilton Bulldogs, where he scored 15 goals and 25 points in 22 games last season. Lukas Vejdemo scored his fourth goal of the season and then picked up an assist later on. He leads the team with four goals and eight points. Goaltender Cayden Primeau made 16 saves in his fourth win this season.
Jack Quinn Finds the Back of the Net
The Sabres are another team in a very messy situation at the NHL level, and it seems that we can say that pretty much every year right around this time. The Rochester Americans are doing better down in the AHL with a 6-3-0-1 to start the season.
That lone shootout loss came last night against the Utica Comets. After falling behind 2-0, Quinn led the comeback with his first goal in the pro ranks.
While on a power play, Brett Murray got a pass through heavy traffic to Quinn in the slot, where he slammed on a one-timer past Jake Kielly to get Rochester on the board. He had an attempt in the four-round shootout, but he was denied. Goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen made 35 saves in regulation and overtime before giving up two in the shootout. The highly-touted prospect has five wins on the season to go along with a .904 save percentage and 3.19 goals-against average.
Quinn, who was selected eighth overall by the Sabres this past October, now has three points in seven AHL games this season. He is another young player getting his first taste of professional hockey because of the delay to the OHL season. He scored 52 goals and 89 points in 62 games for the Ottawa 67’s last season.
Vitali Kravtsov’s Playoff Run Ends
The Kontinental Hockey League’s Gargarin Cup playoffs started last week, and they came to a rather quick end for Kravtsov and Traktor. After winning the opening game of their playoff series with Salavat, they lost their fourth straight game today and have been eliminated in five games.
Kravtsov had a goal in the series-opening 3-1 win. He followed that up with a goal and an assist in a 3-2 overtime loss in Game 3. Traktor was shutout in both Games 3 and 4 before finally getting back on the scoreboard during Game 5. He had the secondary assist on their first goal of the day and first since Game 2. However, Traktor’s two-goal comeback was for not as they lost 3-2.
Now that Kravtsov’s KHL season is over, he is expected to come to North America and join the Rangers, though this has not been made official. If and when he does come back over, he will need to quarantine for 10-14 days before joining the team, so it will be a bit before he is even an option to make his NHL debut. The ninth overall pick of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft struggled in his lone season in North America. He had six goals and 15 points in 39 AHL games for the Hartford Wolf Pack during the 2019-20 season. The Rangers are hoping to see a better version of 21-year-old forward when he arrives.