• PROSPECT-UPDATE ARCHIVE
It was a busy Saturday, and great performances from 2018 NHL draft prospects came from all over the globe. It was also a particularly strong day for wingers and defenseman, who occupy eight of the 10 slots on the list below. It's no surprise, really, because the top players in the draft pool are wingers and defensemen rather than centers.
Saturday's group of stars include five from the major-junior ranks, two from the Five Nations tournament, and one each from the USHL, NAHL, and NCAA. Half of the 10 are Americans, and three are sons of former NHL stars. Check 'em out:
NICOLAS BEAUDIN -- Drummondville's No. 1 defenseman just keeps getting better and better. It's getting the point where he might be the first QMJHL d-man selected in June -- ahead of Jared McIsaac. On Saturday, he posted a career-high five points with a goal and four assists in the Voltigeurs' 7-4 win over Val d'Or, earning No. 1 star honors. He began the night with an assist at 19:51 of the first period for a 1-1 tie. In the second period, he had the primary assist on a goal at 13:40 for a 3-3 tie. In the third, he erupted for three points -- a primary assist at 1:19 for a 4-3 lead, the game-winning goal at 4:51 to make it 5-3, and a power-play assist at 10:46 for a 6-4 lead. Beaudin now has nine points in his last five games and carries a point-per-game average. (Note: Fourth appearance on this list in 2017-18)
XAVIER BERNARD -- While Beaudin was dominating Drummondville's win over Val d'Or, his defense partner, Bernard, posted a season-high three points on two goals and an assist for No. 3 star honors. Bernard scored at 13:40 of the second period to tie the game 3-3. He assisted on a goal at 1:19 of the third to make it 4-3 and found the net again on a power play with 5:02 to go. It was his second two-goal game of the QMJHL season. (Note: Second appearance on this list in 2017-18)
D.J. BUSDEKER -- Busdeker, an American right wing playing in the OHL, had two goals, an assist, and seven shots on net in Saginaw's 5-2 victory at Erie. The game's No. 2 star assisted on the eventual game-winner at 7:45 of the second period for a 3-1 lead. He followed that up with a shorthanded penalty-shot goal at 18:45 of the second to make it 4-1 and a goal at 4:34 of the third to go up 5-1. His three-point performance was an OHL career high.
PAUL COTTER -- Cotter was the No. 1 star of Lincoln's 5-4 overtime victory over Sioux Falls. Cotter scored at 14:51 of the first period to cut the Stampede lead to 3-2 and assisted on a goal at 5:02 of the third to put his team up 4-3 in a game the Stars had trailed 3-0. Cotter, a Western Michigan recruit in his USHL rookie season, saved his best for last -- scoring at 1:40 of overtime when he alertly followed up a teammate's breakaway where the goalie made the initial save.
ZACHARY EMOND -- Emond is Rouyn-Noranda's backup goaltender, but he sure plays like a starter when he gets the opportunity. On Saturday, he made 42 saves to lead the Huskies to a 4-1 win at Quebec. The game's No. 1 star made 19 saves in the third period alone. Emond was making his first start since Oct. 28 and came away with his first win of the QMJHL season.
ARTTU NEVASAARI -- Get used to this Finnish name, because you are going to hear it fairly early in the 2018 NHL draft. Nevasaari was outstanding on Saturday in leading the host Finns to a 4-3 shootout win over Team USA at the Under-18 Five Nations tournament in Hameenlinna. He scored two goals to help keep the Americans winless. His opened the scoring at 5:03 of the first. Later in the period, he scored shorthanded at 15:19 for a 2-0 lead, and he also scored in the shootout. Nevasaari has four points in three Five Nations games. He also has 13 goals and 17 points in 22 Finnish U20 games this season.
SAM RENLUND -- Renlund started his season in the USHL, but switched to the NAHL, where he has been a top player for the Janesville Jets. On Saturday, he had a goal and two assists in a 5-4 win over Springfield, earning No. 2 star honors. A Colorado College recruit, Renlund had a point in each period. He assisted on a goal just 36 seconds into the game, had the primary assist on a power-play goal at 15:39 of the second period to make it 3-2, and scored into an empty net at 18:46 of the third. That goal ended up as the game-winner, when Springfield later closed the scoring.
MATTIAS SAMUELSSON -- You would expect the son of former NHLer Kjell Samuelsson to be a big defenseman, and he is. You might not expect him to be much of a scorer, however, but he can really put up points in addition to his defensive zone skill. Samuelsson scored two goals on five shots in Team USA's 4-3 shootout loss to the Finns at the Five Nation tournament on Saturday. His first goal, at 15:59 of the opening period, cut the lead to 2-1, and his second, a power-play tally at 16:55 of the second period, tied up Finland at 3-3 to set the stage for the shootout. In his last six games with the U.S. NTDP team, Samuelsson has three goals and two assists.
RILEY SUTTER -- Speaking of sons of former NHL players, how about Ron Sutter's kid on Saturday? Riley Sutter had been in a slump, but he roared back with a goal, an assist, and five shots in Everett's 4-0 win at Prince George. Sutter scored at 9:11 of the second period to stretch the lead to 3-0 and had the lone assist on the game's final goal at 18:01 of the second. They were his first WHL points since Oct. 25, ending an uncharacteristic five-game drought. (Note: Third appearance on this list in 2017-18)
BRADY TKACHUK -- There are some people who believe that Tkachuk, a freshman at Boston University, could be the No. 2 or 3 overall pick in June. Yet another prospect with an NHL dad, Tkachuk has his second two-assist game of the NCAA season on Saturday, helping the Terriers rout New Hampshire 4-0. Both of his assists were primary helpers -- the first on a goal at 8:00 of the third to make it 3-0, and the second at 13:28 of the third to go up 4-0. It's hard to make a mark as a freshman in the NCAA ranks, but Keith Tkachuk's second NHL-bound son is doing just that. (Note: Third appearance on this list in 2017-18)