• PROSPECT-UPDATE ARCHIVE
Here we go with the countdown to draft day. Tonight marked the opening night of the OHL and QMJHL seasons, as well as the All-American Prospects game. The gathering of 40-plus U.S. prospects in Buffalo wasn't particularly exciting, as it is really just an annual All-Star game with no hitting or defense. Team Leetch beat Team Chelios 6-5, for anyone who really cares.
Usually we will have a Top 10 players listed below, but it was a thin enough schedule that we only ended up with eight for this first report.
ALEXIS GRAVEL -- The Halifax goaltender put on a show at Saint John, making 31 saves for a 4-1 win. Gravel just might be the first goaltender taken next June, and he got his season off to a tremendous start on the road. He lost his shutout bid early in the third period, but he put the QMJHL on notice for sure.
JACK McBAIN -- He can't play major-junior, since he is committed to Boston College, so Andrew McBain's son is biding his time in the OJHL in style. Tonight, he picked up three assists for the Toronto Jr. Canadiens in their 5-4 overtime win at Stouffville. One night earlier, McBain scored a pair of goals against Wellington. Five points in two nights? Not too shabby.
KIRILL NIZHNIKOV -- Wow, just wow on this guy tonight. Nizhnikov picked up four assists in Barrie's 11-2 rout of Ottawa. Needless to say, he was a big help to fellow Russian Andrei Svechnikov, assisting on both of the draft-eligible phenom's goals. Not sure who makes who better here, but Nizhnikov could be looking at a monster year to join Svechnikov in the draft's first round.
JACK RANDL -- Sure, the All-American Prospects Game wasn't much, but Randl took full advantage, scoring three points for Team Leetch. He had a point in each period, assisting on goals in both the first and second before scoring to open up a 5-2 lead early in the third. Randl looks like he's determined to raise his stock -- and make the Michigan hockey program look brilliant -- as he heads for the USHL season, which starts next month.
RYAN SAVAGE -- Speaking of players who made their college programs look good, how about Miami University recruit Ryan Savage, who led all of the All-American prospects with two goals. Both goals came in the second period, as Savage showed off his explosive ability. A memorable night for longtime NHLer Brian Savage's kid.
ANDREI SVECHNIKOV -- You just knew it was coming. The bottom line is this: Andrei Svechnikov is a special player and an inevitable superstar. So what did the possible No. 1 overall pick next year do in his first OHL game? He scored two goals in the rout of Ottawa and showed great chemistry with teammate Nizhnikov. This is only the beginning for this guy, but multi-goal nights might end up being his norm.
BRADY TKACHUK -- When your dad was a potential Hall of Famer, and your older brother is already making his mark on the NHL, you have to figure the desire to excel is there. Tkachuk was certainly hot tonight, scoring the winner in the All-American Prospects Game and picking up an assist. Most of all, he played with heart, coming out hungry for every shift. He will be fun to watch at Boston University next month.
FILIP ZADINA -- Get used to this name, because he is a sure-fire first-round pick who already has experience playing against men in Europe. Zadina scored for the Mooseheads in his QMJHL debut, and his second-period goal was the game's first. It was the first of four unanswered goals. Last year Halifax got Nico Hischier at pick No. 6, and this year it got Zadina at No. 10. Way to own the CHL Import Draft.