• PROSPECT-UPDATE ARCHIVE
It was a big weekend for those looking ahead to the 2018 draft. Several players had breakout performances, and it's now fair to say that there will be second-round picks in 2018 who are better players than first-rounders from the weak 2017 draft pool.
The top 10 performances from Sunday feature two Europeans, four QMJHL players, three from the OHL, and one from the Junior A ranks. There were five WHL games Sunday, but the draft prospects were pretty quiet there. The list follows:
ZACHARY BOUTHILLIER -- Chicoutimi's goaltender snapped a three-game drought as the No. 1 star of the Sagueneens' 2-1 shootout victory over Drummondville. Bouthillier stopped 34 of 35 shots in regulation and four of five in the shootout. His postgame honor was his third No. 1 QMJHL star selection of the season. Given his great size for a goalie, Bouthillier is a lock to get drafted in June, and probably higher than anyone thought. (Note: Third appearance on this list in 2017-18)
SEMYON DER-ARGUCHINTSEV -- Der-Arguchintsev was one of many 2018 draft prospects named No. 1 stars of their respective games on Sunday. He did it in style with two goals and an assist to propel Peterborough to an 8-3 rout of Hamilton. The Russian import, a second-year OHL player, scoredthe game's first goal at 1:35 of the opening period. He later had the primary assist on a power-play goal at 15:39 for a 2-1 lead. Then, at 5:27 of the second, he got the eventual game-winner to make it 4-2. Der-Arguchintsev has six points in his last four games and 12 points in 16 total games.
GABRIEL FORTIER -- One of the top prospects coming out of the QMJHL, Fortier got a Grade B from NHL Central Scouting earlier this month. On Sunday, he had a Grade A game for Baie-Comeau, leading the Drakkar to a 4-3 victory over Shawinigan as the game's No. 1 star. His first point was the primary assist on a power-play goal at 11:27 of the second period, tying the game 1-1. Just over six minutes later at 17:35, Fortier scoredfor a 2-1 lead. He saved his best for last, scoring the eventual game-winner shorthanded at 18:54 of the third period to put Baie-Comeau up 4-2. Fortier has 14 points in 15 games this season and is only three shy of his total from an abbreviated 25-game 2016-17 season. (Note: Third appearance on this list in 2017-18)
JAKE INGHAM -- His highly-rated draft stock fell when he got out to an 0-6 start for the OHL's Mississauga Steelheads. Of late, he has really turned things around to emerge as a strong candidate for 2018. On Sunday, his 31 saves drove the Steelheads to a 4-1 win over Niagara. Since that 0-6 hiccup, he has gone 3-0 with a .951 save percentage in those games.
JACK McBAIN -- When your dad is former NHLer Andrew McBain and you're one of Boston College's highly-prized recruits, you can expect to be drafted high in June. McBain, spending his year in the OJHL as he gets ready to play in the NCAA, picked up three assists on Sunday in the Toronto Jr. Canadiens' 4-1 trouncing of the rival Toronto Patriots. He started off with an assist on the game's first goal on a power play at 16:21 of the opening period. He followed with the primary assist on the game-winner for a 2-0 lead at 10:13 of the second, and then assisted on the closing empty-netter with 1:13 to go. McBain has points in six of his last seven games, with a total of 10 over the span. (Note: Fourth appearance on this list in 2017-18)
JARED McISAAC -- McIsaac, a defenseman, didn't have any points in Halifax's 6-2 win over Charlottetown on Sunday, but he was clearly the best player on the ice as the game's No. 1 star. McIsaac, who had three shots against the Islanders, has long been considered one of the top defense prospects in the 2018 draft pool, but he was being overshadowed in the QMJHL by Noah Dobson. On Sunday, he broke out with his first three-star recognition of the season, reminding scouts why they like him so much.
RYAN MERKLEY -- Speaking of highly-regarded defenseman, one of the 2018 draft's top talents is Guelph's Ryan Merkley, who turned in another great performance on Sunday. Merkley was the No. 3 star of the Storm's 4-0 win over London, scoring a goal and adding an assist. His shorthanded goal at 11:31 of the second period put Guelph up 2-0. He also had the primary assist on a goal at 6:58 of the third for a 3-0 lead. Merkley is riding a four-game point streak with two goals and four assists over the span. He also has a point-per-game average through 15 OHL games. (Note: Third appearance on this list in 2017-18)
FRANTISEK REHAK -- Rehak, a Czech left wing in Switzerland with Kloten's U20 team, starred Sunday with three assists -- one per period -- in the Flyers' 10-2 blowout of Ambri-Piotta. He had the primary assist on a goal at 10:57 of the first period to go up 2-0. He then assisted on the 6-0 goal at 13:13 of the second, and earned another primary assist on the final goal at 17:16 of the third. It was Rehak's second multi-point game of the 2017-18 season. (Note: Second appearance on this list in 2017-18)
JOE VELENO -- Veleno has been a top-tier 2018 draft prospect ever since he was awarded the exceptional status that allowed him to play in the QMJHL at age 15. He hasn't been scoring at an exceptional rate, but was a huge factor Sunday in Saint John's 5-4 overtime win over Rouyn-Noranda. Veleno's three assists, five shots, and 7-for-9 faceoff showing were key. He picked up the lone assist on a goal at 7:40 of the third period to cut the Huskies' lead to 4-3. He then had the primary assist on a power-play goal at 9:04 to tie it. He assisted on the winner at 1:25 of OT. It was Veleno's first three-point game of the season. He now has 15 points in 17 games, and 13 of those 15 points are assists. (Note: Second appearance on this list in 2017-18)
DANILA ZHURAVLYOV -- The Russian defenseman had a chance to represent his country at a recent Under-18 series vs. the Czechs, and he has been on fire since returning. As long as the Russian factor isn't an issue, Zhuravlyov will definitely be drafted in June. On Sunday, he scored the OT winner on a power play, as Kazan's MHL squad beat Chelyabinsk 4-3. Earlier in the game, Zhuravlyov assisted on a power-play goal at 11:40 of the third period to put Kazan up 3-2. His fourth goal of the season came just 53 seconds into overtime. He now has 10 points in 20 MHL games, including a three-game scoring streak.