Tuesday was a busy night across the world of hockey. The American Hockey League (AHL) featured an Anaheim Ducks prospect who has already had some National Hockey League success and a Chicago Blackhawks late-round pick who is red hot. A Minnesota Wild draftee had a big night in the Western Hockey League (WHL) at the junior level. A Calgary Flames prospect had a record-setting game in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). Finally, there is a new and disappointing update from the Canadian Hockey League (CHL)
Trevor Zegras Leads the Way
Zegras has been one of the most talked-about NHL prospects since the Ducks selected him with the ninth overall pick of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. His season started with a gold medal win with Team USA at the World Junior Championship, where he scored seven goals and 18 points in seven games.
From there, he started his professional career with the San Diego Gulls in the AHL. He made his NHL debut on Feb 22 versus the Arizona Coyotes. He picked his first point on March 3 and scored his first goal in the league on March 18. He was sent back to San Diego earlier this month after scoring one goal and seven points in 17 games with the Ducks.
On Tuesday night, the Gulls beat the Ontario Reign 7-4 to improve their record 6-1-0-0 against the Los Angeles Kings’ affiliate this season. Zegras opened the scoring with his second power-play goal and then capped off the night with an empty-net goal. He also picked up two assists for his first professional four-point game.
Zegras now has seven goals and 15 points in 12 AHL games. In his four games since returning from the NHL, he has three goals and six points. The Kings 2019 second-round pick (33rd overall), Arthur Kaliyev, picked up a goal in the loss. He has eight goals and 19 points through the first 28 games of his rookie season.
Josiah Slavin Stays Red Hot
There was very little fanfare when the Blackhawks drafted Slavin in the seventh round (193rd overall) of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. Slavin comes from a very talented hockey family. His older brother Jaccob is a key part of the Carolina Hurricanes’ defense. His younger brother is playing at the triple AAA level is committed to Colorado College, where Jaccob and Josiah played. Their sister Jordan played defense for four seasons at the University of North Dakota.
Once Josiah’s sophomore season at Colorado College ended, he signed an entry-level deal with the Blackhawks and headed to the Rockford IceHogs in the AHL. His pro career has gotten off to a great start, which continued with the opening goal against the Iowa Wild on Tuesday night.
Unfortunately for Slavin and the IceHogs, Iowa scored four unanswered goals to earn a 4-1 victory. He now has three goals and five points through the first four games of his professional run. When it’s all said and done, there might be a lot of NHL general managers who will be kicking themselves for passing up on Slavin.
Adam Beckman Sparks a Comeback
Sticking with the Wild organization, their 2019 third-round draft pick (75th overall) had himself a nice night in the WHL. Beckman is back with the Spokane Chiefs, and he factored in every goal of their 4-3 come-from-behind win over the Everett Silvertips.
After Beckman scored the Chiefs’ opening goal, Spokane found themselves down 3-1 in the second period. However, early in the third period, he scored his second goal of the night to even the score a 3-3.
He later assisted on Eli Zummack’s game-winning shorthanded goal to cap off his four-point night. Beckman now has eight goals and 12 points in 11 WHL games. He was started his season with Iowa in the AHL, where he put up two points and three points in seven games.
Ryan Francis Sets a Franchise Record
Francis, the Flames fifth-round draft pick (143rd overall) this past October, made history Tuesday night during the Saint John Sea Dogs’ 9-2 blowout of the Acadie-Bathhurst Titan. He and his teammate Peter Reynolds each racked up hat tricks. Francis added three assists to tie a single-game franchise record with six points, shared with Steven Anthony and Alexandre Picard-Hooper.
This was Francis’ second hat trick since joining the Sea Dogs midway through the season. He has 10 goals and 27 points in 16 games for Saint John. He started the 2020-21 season with the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, scoring six goals and 21 points in 15 games.
Memorial Cup Canceled Again
Finally, news broke the CHL has officially canceled the 2021 Memorial Cup, which was supposed to be hosted by either the Oshawa Generals or Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL).
“The CHL is committed to the health and safety of our players, their families and billets, our teams, staff and officials, and the communities in which we play. That has driven all of our difficult decisions for the last year as we have dealt with this global pandemic,” said CHL President Dan MacKenzie. “The decision was made based on the limitations on travel, border restrictions, and quarantining requirements that would make it impossible to produce league champions.”
While this decision was expected, it still is a major disappointment. This is the second straight season where the champions from the OHL, QMJHL, and WHL will not get to play to crown the best team in Canadian junior hockey. It is hard not to feel awful for the kids and coaching staffs who have worked so hard over the past two seasons.
Hopefully, 2022 will bring back some normalcy all across the world of hockey, and the Memorial Cup can make a triumphant return. A location and date for next year’s tournament will be made on a future date.