• PROSPECT-UPDATE ARCHIVE
What are the chances that two of the very best prospects in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft pool would register hat tricks on the same night -- particularly on a night when there weren't very many games involving draft hopefuls?
Well, it happened on Tuesday, and it's a reminder of how deep this draft really is. There is so much to choose from that teams are going to be getting very good players as late as the third round. This year's NHL trade deadline should be all about loading up on picks. The team with the most shots at first 100 players drafted will have a very bright future.
Tuesday's list features four major-junior players and one Minnesota high school player. Check them out below:
MICHAEL FARREN -- Farren, a right wing, scored two goals in Saskatoon's 5-3 win over Kootenay on Tuesday to claim No. 1 star honors. It was a big moment for Farren, who had not posted a multi-goal game since Nov. 4, 2016 and had no points in three games leading up to Tuesday. His first goal, at 2:47 of the second period, opened the scoring. His second goal, scored five minutes later at 7:33, put the Blades in the lead for good at 2-1. Farren is not a big-time scorer (he only has 11 points in 45 WHL games), but he is very much on the scouts' radar for his speed and play-making ability.
BEN HELGESON -- The University of Wisconsin has a powerhouse group of recruits coming to Madison in the next two years. Helgeson, a 6-foot center at Hill-Murray School in Maplewood, Minn., is part of that group. On Tuesday, the future Badger scored two goals and added an assist in the Pioneers' 4-1 win over Tartan. The scoring binge began with the eventual game-winner for a 2-0 lead at 8:19 of the first period. He scored again at 3:06 of the third to make it 3-1 before assisting on a power-play goal to close the scoring at8:58. Riding a five-game point streak, Helgeson now has 16 goals and 29 points in 22 games this season. Tuesday's pair gave him his first multi-goal game since Dec. 28. (Note: Fifth appearance on this list in 2017-18)
OLIVIER RODRIGUE -- Rodrigue has clearly established himself as the best North American goalie in the draft, largely because he came into the season as a top prospect and has seemed to improve with every game. He will likely be Canada's main man at the World Under-18's this spring. On Tuesday, Rodrigue bolstered his stellar season with 31 saves in Drummondville's 3-1 win over Rouyn-Noranda. The game's No. 1 star stopped all 15 shots in the first period and all eight in the second. He lost his shutout after 52:10 of perfect play. Rodrigue's QMJHL goals-against average of 2.53 ranks third in the league, and he is tied for the lead in wins (25) and shutouts (3). His .903 save percentage has been steadily improving, as well. Since Jan. 7, Rodrigue is 7-2-0. He has not allowed more than one goal in any of those seven wins. (Note: 10th appearance on this list in 2017-18 -- leads all North American goaltenders)
JOE VELENO -- Veleno provided all the offense needed for Drummondville's 3-1 win over Rouyn-Noranda, netting his first QMJHL hat trick to earn No. 1 star honors on Tuesday. His first goal opened the scoring just 4:20 into the game, and he followed it nine minutes later with the eventual game-winner for a 2-0 lead at 13:06. He capped off the hat trick with an empty-netter at 19:19 of the third to close the scoring. Veleno has rocketed up the QMJHL scoring chart since being traded to the Voltigeurs in December. He now has 13 goals and 50 points in 47 games, tying his career-high for goals. He also has three consecutive three-point games as part of an overall 12 game point streak. Since Jan. 1, Veleno is averaging more than two points per game. He could easily go in June's top 10. (Note: Ninth appearance on this list in 2017-18)
FILIP ZADINA -- When the opposing team's announcer refers to you as a "man among boys", you know you're having a great game. Such was the case Tuesday, as Zadina rolled to the first four-goal game of his QMJHL career. Zadina scored four times on eight shots to power Halifax to a 6-2 win at Charlottetown. The undisputed No. 1 star kicked off his scoring parade with the opening goal at 2:46 of the second period. That gave him 30 goals for the season, but he was far from done. At 13:40 of the second, Zadina scored again to make it 2-0. At 8:23 of the third, he scored his hat-trick goal on a power play for a 4-1 lead, and he stretched that lead to 5-2 with his fourth of the night at the 15:00 mark. Zadina, who has six goals in the past two games, is now up to fourth in the league in goal-scoring (33) and seventh in total points (59). He's a lock to go in the draft's top five and may well be No. 3 overall. (Note: 17th appearance on this list in 2017-18 -- leads all players)