• PROSPECT-UPDATE ARCHIVE
The big slate of weekend games arrived on Friday, and there were plenty of great performances to choose from for this top nine list. This draft class is really good, and it continues to remind us of that each week.
The list below includes prospects from the Czech Republic, the U.S. NTDP program, the USHL, and the OJHL. Check them out:
EVAN BOUCHARD -- Bouchard is a lock to get drafted in the first round given the season he is having. On Friday, London's high-scoring defenseman earned No. 1 star honors after erupting for a goal and three assists in the Knights' 6-5 OT win over Saginaw. He kicked it off with the primary assist on a power-play goal that cut the Spirit's lead to 2-1 at 7:40 of the second period. Just under five minutes later at 12:23, Bouchard scored to cut the lead to 3-2. In the third period, he had the primary helper on a goal at 4:51 to tie the score 4-4. He then assisted on a power-play goal at 17:45 of the third to force overtime at 5-5. Bouchard has 16 points in 16 games, tied for second among OHL defensemen. (Note: Third appearance on this list in 2017-18)
MATTHEW KELLENBERGER -- As a rule, Ivy League hockey recruits outside of the Harvard pipeline don't tend to get drafted. But Princeton's program should get a big boost in June when an NHL team picks defenseman Matthew Kellenberger. The Oakville Blades defenseman continued his strong OJHL play on Friday with a goal and assist in his team's 4-0 win at St. Michael's. Kellenberger, the No. 2 star, assisted on the eventual game-winner for a 1-0 lead at 2:00 of the third period and later scored on a power play at 7:48 to make it 3-0. Kellenberger is a point-per-game player this season with 20 in 20 games.
BLAKE McLAUGHLIN -- Looking for a hot prospect in the USHL? Look no further than the Chicago Steel's McLaughlin, who had a goal and three assists in a 5-4 OT win over Green Bay on Friday. The game's No. 2 star kicked off his outburst with the primary assist on a power-play goal at 8:36 of the first period for a 2-1 lead. He then scored his own PP goal at 12:44 of the first to make it 3-1. In the third period, McLaughlin had the primary assist on another power-play goal at 5:07 for a 4-3 lead. He finished his night with one more primary assist on the game-winner at 4:37 of overtime. McLaughlin, a University of Minnesota recruit, has a remarkable four-game point streak in which he has four goals and seven assists. (Note: Third appearance on this list in 2017-18)
RYAN McLEOD -- Four-point nights were in style on Friday, and McLeod managed to do it with four assists. The No. 2 star of Mississauga's 5-4 shootout loss to Owen Sound had two assists in each of the last two periods. In the second, he recorded the primary assist on a power-play goal that cut the lead to 3-1 at 13:46 before assisting on another power-play tally to make it 3-2 at 14:52. In the third period, he assisted on a tying goal at 12:34 and had the lone assist on a go-ahead goal for a 4-3 lead just 47 seconds later. McLeod, riding a dominant 11-game point streak, has 20 points in 15 OHL games. A Grade A prospect, he's sure to be a first-round pick. (Note: Third appearance on this list in 2017-18)
TRISTEN NIELSEN -- Calgary's center was the No. 1 star with two goals in a 6-3 win at Lethbridge. His first goal, at 16:10 of the second period for a 4-2 lead, was the game-winner. His second,, at 6:10 of the third period, made it 5-2. This was Nielsen's first multi-point game of the WHL season and his second No. 1 star selection. (Note: Second appearance on this list in 2017-18)
JAKE PIVONKA -- Michal Pivonka was a really good NHL player. His son, who plays for the U.S. NTDP Under-18 team, is ready to follow in his footsteps. On Friday, Jake Pivonka had a goal, an assist, and six shots on net to help the Under-18's to a 5-4 OT win over Youngstown in USHL action. It was the NTDP's last game before heading overseas for the Five Nations. Pivonka scored on a power play at 4:36 of the second period to make it 3-1, and he assisted on Mattias Samuelsson's winner at 1:05 of overtime.
OTAKAR SIK -- You might not be aware of Sik, a 5-foot-9 winger who has spent the bulk of the season in the Czech Republic's U18 league. On Friday, he joined Karlovy Vary's U20 team and contributed two assists in a 4-3 loss to Olomouc. Sik had the lone assist on the game's first goal at 8:37 of the opening period. He then got the primary assist for a 2-0 lead just four minutes later at 12:30. Sik, who was making his 2017-18 U20 debut, was named as a reserve for the Czech Five Nations team.
GIOVANNI VALLATI -- The Kitchener Rangers' 6-foot-2 defenseman, had two assists in a 4-1 OHL win over Guelph. He assisted on the game-winning goal for a 2-0 lead at 10:51 of the first period, before getting the primary assist on a power-play goal that made it 3-0 at 17:44 of the first. Vallati, a Central Scouting-rated prospect, has back-to-back two-assist games.
FILIP ZADINA -- This guy is amazing and will force NHL scouts to make a tough decision with next June's No. 2 pick. Do you take Andrei Svechnikov or this guy? Zadina continued tearing up the QMJHL Friday night with a hat trick, an assist, and six shots in Halifax's 7-5 win at Gatineau. He scored on a power play at 11:01 of the first period for a 1-1 tie, shorthanded at 4:32 of the second to make it 3-2, and even-strength at 13:48 for a 5-3 lead. He also had the lone assist on the game-winner for a 6-3 lead at 11:53 of the third. It was his first hat trick of the season, but his fifth multi-goal game. He is tied for second in QMJHL scoring with 28 points in 18 games and ranks second in the QMJHL with 15 goals. A year ago, No. 1 pick Nico Hischier had 22 points in 18 games. Zadina is well ahead of that pace. (Note: Seventh appearance on this list in 2017-18 -- leads all draft prospects)