College hockey players in the United States got some good news about the upcoming season, especially those whose teams might not be playing. Also, an NHL prospect is changing teams in the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) just before the start of training camp.
NCAA Makes Big Rule Changes
With a major uncertainty amongst the ranks of college hockey in the United States, the NCAA made a big announcement on Saturday to help some of the players whose programs have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The wide array of temporary rule changes includes one about outside competition.
Current student-athletes whose institutions will not be playing hockey during the fall semester will be permitted to participate in non-collegiate, amateur competition i.e. junior hockey on an outside team during the fall 2020 term (subject to school and conference approval). These student-athletes may compete on an outside team while remaining enrolled in their NCAA institution, which typically would not be allowed.
An institution or conference may not provide expenses for such competition and the student-athlete must be in good academic standing. A student-athlete who remains enrolled at the institution may not miss class to participate in outside competition. All competition should adhere to federal, state, local and other applicable guidelines related to COVID-19.
The term “junior hockey” is pretty vague and chances are that it does not include the CHL. Because CHL players get compensation, albeit very little, the NCAA considers them to be professional, so it is unlikely that players will be allowed to play there. However, this rule change could help bolster the rosters for some teams in the United States Hockey League (USHL) and North American Hockey League (NAHL).
Sea Dogs Ramp Up for New Season
Just a day before training camp opened, the Saint John Sea Dogs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) made a big trade on Saturday. They acquired forward Vladislav Kotkov from the Chicoutimi Saguenéens for a pair of conditional draft picks; a third-rounder in 2023 and a 10th-round selection in 2022.
“We wanted to augment our group, specifically our right side, with experience, size, and scoring,” said Sea Dogs President & General Manager Trevor Georgie. “Kotkov is an elite offensive weapon and has pro hockey camp and playing experience. We think that he has the chance to be a very dominant player this season.”
Kotkov, a 20-year-old native of Russia, signed an entry-level contract with the San Jose Sharks in July of 2018 after 21 goals and 49 points in his QMJHL rookie season. He scored 34 goals and 61 for the Saguenéens during the 2018-19 season. He also made his American Hockey League (AHL) debut that season, playing one game for the San Jose Barracuda and scored his first professional goal.
His numbers took a bit of a dip last season with 21 goals and 46 points in 51 games before the season was canceled. Kotkov has a goal and five in 10 career QMJHL playoff games.
Prospect of the Day – Hendrix Lapierre
We will stay in the QMJHL and take a look at one of the Kotkov’s now-former teammates with the Saguenéens. Lapierre is ranked as the 13th-best North American skater by NHL Central Scouting heading into the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. THW draft expert Larry Fisher has Lapierre ranked 19th overall in his final list.
Related – 2020 NHL Draft Guide
Lapierre is a dynamic player in both ends of the ice and his talent alone should make him an easy first-round pick. However, there are some major concerns about his durability after dealing with a neck injury and concussions. He was limited to just 19 games during the 2019-20 season, scoring two goals and 17 points.
When he is healthy, Lapierre is a fantastic two-way center with elite playmaking skills. He positions himself very well on the ice is rarely caught in the wrong spot. He combines his vision with creativity to keep the opposition’s defenders on their toes. If anything, he is going to have to trust his shot more in order to become a more well-rounded player.
Our own Brandon Share-Cohen feels that despite the recent bad luck on the injury front, Lapierre has the goods to be a very good NHL player.
Lapierre has the potential to be a top-six center in the NHL but his lack of a high-end scoring touch could hold him back from being a legitimate top-line option. Still, his playmaking is excellent and the fact that he’s so good in all three zones makes him a very viable option for a team’s second-line with room to grow into a top option if he learns to shoot more.
The young forward still needs some work, especially when it comes to his durability and scoring ability. However, his talent could see him selected in the first round, especially by one of the teams who have multiple picks in the opening round.