It is a very busy day in the world of National Hockey League prospects. One of the top players in the Anaheim Ducks system showed off his skills. The New York Rangers got some bad news from overseas. At the junior level, a recent high pick of the Dallas Stars had a big return to the ice and a pair of Montreal Canadiens prospects continued their big seasons.
Trevor Zegras Scores a Beauty
Ducks fans have been excited about Zegras ever since he was taken with the ninth overall pick of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. The elite two-way center is exactly what the team is looking for as Ryan Getzlaf enters the twilight of his great career.
Zegras showed he was ready for stardom during the recent World Junior Championship where he scored seven goals and 18 points, in seven games, to lead the United States to the gold medal. After some time at the Ducks training camp, the 19-year-old was sent down to the San Diego Gulls in the American Hockey League (AHL) for some more seasoning.
On Sunday, the Gulls and Bakersfield Condors (Edmonton Oilers) played an exhibition tilt in preparation for the Feb. 5 start of the AHL season. The two teams needed a shootout after nothing was decided during regulation and overtime. It was Zegras who gave the Gulls a 4-3 win with this beautiful backhand finish on his shootout attempt. He also assisted on two of the three goals in the third period.
The Ducks’ 2020 first-round pick, defenseman Jamie Drysdale, scored a power-play goal midway through the final frame to cut the Condors’ lead to 3-2. These two teams will open their shortened regular-season schedule with back-to-back games on Friday and Saturday in San Diego.
Vitaly Kravtsov Leaves After Nasty Hit
The Rangers have to pleased with the season Kravtsov has had with Traktor Chelyabinsk in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). After a disappointing first AHL season with the Hartford Wolf Pack, where he scored just six goals and 15 points in 39 games, he has rebounded nicely during his loan this season.
The 2018 first-round pick (ninth overall) has 15 goals and 22 points in 43 KHL games this season. However, he had to leave Monday’s game against Ak Bars Kazan after former Winnipeg Jet Patrice Cormier leveled him along the boards,
Kravtsov remained on the ice for a few moments before eventually skating off on his own power, but he was not in good shape. Cormier was called for a check to the head and was given an automatic game misconduct for the questionable hit. Ak Bars ended up holding on for a 3-2 victory.
Mavrik Bourque Shines in Return
The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) returned to action this past week with their first games since December. Bourque looked like he didn’t miss a beat as the Shawinigan Cataractes dominated during a weekend set at Rimouski Oceanic.
On Saturday, the Stars’ 2020 first-round pick (30th overall), scored a hat trick and added an assist in a 5-4 Cataractes’ win. He scored in all three phases of the game with a shorthanded, power-play and even-strength goal. He scored two more goals in Sunday’s rematch, including the game-winner in overtime.
His big weekend earned him QMJHL Player of the Week honors. He now has an impressive eight goals and 13 points in just 13 games this season.
Sean Farrell & Rhett Pitlick Keep on Rolling
It appears to be a good time to be a Canadiens fan these days. The team is off to a great start and have one of the best records in the NHL. They also have quite a few talented prospects in the system who could be challenging for roster spots in Montreal in the very near future. Two of those potential future NHLers are Farrell and Pitlick, both playing in the United States Hockey League (USHL) this season.
Farrell, selected in the fourth-round (124th overall) by the Habs this past October, continues to put up huge numbers on a stacked Chicago Steel roster. He had four goals and two assists as the Steel salvaged one win during a three-game weekend series with the Muskegon Lumberjacks. He scored a hat trick and added an assist in Sunday’s 7-2 win.
The 19-year-old winger now has 16 goals and a USHL-leading 46 points in just 24 games this season. He is averaging 1.92 points per game as he continues to terrorize defenders and goalies across the league.
Pitlick is another Canadiens’ draft pick (2019, fifth round) enjoying success in the USHL. After starting the season with the Lumberjacks, he was traded to Tri-City Storm in mid-January. On Sunday, he had three assists in their 7-2 win over the Omaha Lancers.
The three helpers gave Pitlick five assists for the Storm in his five games since being acquired. In 22 total USHL games this season, he has seven goals and 19 points. He is committed to play for the University of Minnesota in 2021-22.
With the AHL season starting this weekend, the daily Prospects News & Rumors column will have even more up-and-coming players to give exposure to. Be sure to keep it here for all the coverage and sign up below to stay up to date.
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.