• PROSPECT-UPDATE ARCHIVE
On Thursday night, 5-foot-7 forward Cedric Desruisseaux had a QMJHL hat trick for Drummondville. Perhaps it was a sign that this would be a big weekend for the little guys. Smaller players have done remarkably well this season, and Friday night was a classic example. Four of the top 10 performances by players who are 5-foot-10 or smaller. The game has changed at the NHL level to a point where size is not the issue it once was. It will be interesting to see how many of these undersized guys get drafted in June.
The full list of 10 players includes four players from the European ranks, five major-junior guys, and one from the U.S. NTDP program. Have a look:
JUSTIN BERGERON -- Only one goal was scored in Rouyn-Noranda's 1-0 win at Bathurst on Friday, and it didn't come until 2:16 of overtime. Bergeron, a defenseman, was the player who scored it -- delivering the victory on a breakaway and being named the game's No. 1 star. Bergeron, who had only one point in the eight games he played last season, is emerging this year with three goals and seven points in his first 13 games.
AIDAN DUDAS -- The smallest of the smaller guys on this list at just over 5-foot-7, Dudas continues to star for Owen Sound, as he scored twice, had six shots on net, and won 10-of-16 face-offs in the Attack's 5-2 win at Kitchener. He was named the game's No. 2 star after scoring at 2:20 of the second period to make it 2-1 and again at 1:52 of the third to make it 4-2. With eight goals on the OHL season, he has already matched his total from 2016-17. (Note: Third appearance on this list in 2017-18)
ADAM GAJARSKY -- Czech forward Gajarsky started the season as a candidate for Brno's Extraliga team. Instead, he has bounced between the club's WSM Liga and Under-20 teams. He had a big U20 game on Friday, scoring twice in Kometa's 3-2 shootout win over Pardubice. Gajarsky got his first goal at 11:46 of the third period to force the overtime at 2-2. It was his first U20 goal in three weeks. He then put home the shootout winner to send the fans home happy.
JONATHAN GRUDEN -- The U.S. NTDP Under-18 team gained a 3-2 win over USHL rival Cedar Rapids on Friday, thanks to a strong start. The game was basically put away in its first 10 minutes, as Team USA went up 3-0. Gruden, the game's No. 1 star, was the driving force of that offensive outburst, scoring a goal and assisting on the two others. He got it going at 4:40 of the first period with the game's opening goal. At 7:41 of the first, he assisted on a goal that made it 2-0, and he picked up another assist at 9:57. His linemates, Oliver Wahlstrom and Joel Farabee, were recognized as the No. 2 and 3 stars of the game.
ANDERSON MacDONALD -- MacDonald is a potential first-round pick in June for good reason. He earned a 'B' rating in the Central Scouting preliminary rankings, but the Moncton winger has played like an 'A' prospect for much of the season. On Friday, he led Moncton to a 5-2 QMJHL win over Val d'Or with a goal and an assist. The game's No. 2 star got his goal at 17:46 of the second period to stretch the lead to 4-2. He then had the primary assist on the game's final goal at 3:23 of the third. Averaging just over a point per game, MacDonald has a four-game goal streak and a six-game point streak. (Note: Fourth appearance on this list in 2017-18)
EETU MAKI -- Maki, a 5-foot-9 right wing from Finland, had his best game of the season with three goals on six shots in Vaasa U20's 6-1 rout of Lappeenranta on Friday. Maki scored his first goal at 6:33 of the second period for a 3-0 lead. He got his second at 17:16 of the third period to make it 5-1, and he closed out his hat trick on a power play at 19:03 of the third period.
SERRON NOEL -- Going into Friday night, Noel had missed four games due to injury, but he came back with a vengeance in Oshawa's 4-1 win over Peterborough. Noel, the game's No. 1 star, scored twice for the Generals. His opened the scoring with a goal at 11:20 of the first period, and he made it 3-1 with a goal at 19:38 of the second. Noel has nine goals and 13 points in 10 OHL games, having already exceeded his goals total from last season. (Note: Third appearance on this list in 2017-18)
NIKLAS NORDGREN -- Nordgren, who spent some time in the Liiga with Helsinki IFK, recently returned to IFK's Finnish Under-20 team, and has resumed his high-scoring ways. On Friday, he scored twice in a 4-3 loss at Lahti. His first goal came on a 5-on-3 power play to open the scoring at 17:46 of the first period. He later hit an empty net at 19:37 of the third to close the scoring. Nordgren now has an eight-game U20 point streak. (Note: Second appearance on this list in 2017-18)
JAKUB SKAREK -- There is only one first-year draft-eligible goaltender playing against men this season, and it's Skarek in the Czech Extraliga. On Friday, he continued his strong season with 29 saves in Jihlava's 4-3 shootout win over Chomutov. Skarek, who turns 18 on Nov. 10, has six wins on the season, including two of his last three starts. (Note: Third appearance on this list in 2017-18)
EGOR ZUDILOV --
Size is not a problem for Zudilov, so the NHL scouts have to be happy to see the Russian import
suddenly playing well for Lethbridge over the past few games On Friday, he scored two goals in the Hurricanes' 5-4 WHL win over Calgary and was named the game's No. 1 star. Zudilov had the first goal of the game at 2:46 of the opening period and later scored at 8:02 of the third for a 4-3 lead that propelled his team to victory. Zudilov did not get his first goal until Oct. 22, but he now has three over the past three games.