• PROSPECT-UPDATE ARCHIVE
It was a very busy Wednesday night for draft prospects, particularly at the major-junior level. Despite the concentration of games in the OHL, QMJHL, and WHL, four players from outside those ranks managed to make the top-10 performances list below. It's getting to be a broken record talking about the great depth of the 2018 talent pool, but seeing players from so many leagues jockey for a better position in June can only make draft day that much more exciting. NHL teams will be getting sure-fire future players at least three rounds deep.
The major-junior outsiders for Wednesday come from European leagues (one Czech, one Swedish), the U.S. NTDP program, and the USHL. Have a look at all of them here:
JUSTIN BLANCHETTE -- Blanchette stopped 43 shots on Wednesday during Baie-Comeau's 4-3 OT loss at Shawinigan. Despite the defeat, he was recognized as the game's No. 3 star. He was a perfect 17-for-17 on saves in the second period alone. Blanchette is the Drakkar's backup goalie, so he has only started three QMJHL games in November. However, he has been remarkably reliable in those starts, posting a .926 save percentage. (Note: Fourth appearance on this list in 2017-18)
DREW DeRIDDER -- The U.S. NTDP Under-18 team's goaltender went up against older players from Adrian College on Wednesday, and delivered a 2-1 OT win. De Ridder finished with 31 saves for his third consecutive victory. During this streak, he has a .932 save percentage. DeRidder will be drafted in June -- it's just a question of how high. His recent play suggests he could go among the top five North American goaltenders. (Note: Fourth appearance on this list in 2017-18)
LUKAS DOSTAL -- On a day of great goaltending, Dostal was among the best. The Czech 17-year-old has been playing against men in his country's WSM Liga, the feeder league for the Extraliga. On Wednesday, he made his ninth start in the men's league and came away with 29 saves in Trebic's 4-1 win at Frydek-Mistek. Dostal has gone 4-3-2 in his WSM starts after dominating Under-20 play. He will be one of the first two Czech goalies picked in June. (Note: Fifth appearance on this list in 2017-18)
AIDAN DUDAS -- How can you not love this guy? Yes, he's small. Very small. But all he does is score goals. On Wednesday, he got two more in Owen Sound's 3-2 shootout win over Niagara. His first came on a power play 63 seconds into the game. His second pushed the lead to 2-0 at 7:36 of the middle period. He also scored in the shootout. Through 22 OHL games, Dudas' 14 goals tie him with Nick Suzuki for the Attack's goal-scoring lead. He is also riding a four-game point streak during which he has averaged two points per game. (Note: Sixth appearance on this list in 2017-18)
FILIP HALLANDER -- He won't turn 18 until after June's NHL draft, but Hallander is already playing against men in Sweden's Allsvenskan. He helped secure Timra's 3-2 OT win over Oskarshamn on Wednesday with two assists. He had the primary assist on Timra's first goal at 9:19 of the opening period, tying the game 1-1. He later assisted on the goal that forced overtime at 16:33 of the third. Hallander is second on Timra in scoring with 12 points in 18 games. (Note: Third appearance on this list in 2017-18)
BLADE JENKINS -- Jenkins left the U.S. NTDP program last summer to join the OHL's Saginaw Spirit. He had a slow adjustment, but found his groove this month. On Wednesday, he continued his scoring with two goals and an assist -- one point in each period -- during the Spirit's 4-1 at Flint. The No. 1 star, Jenkins dominated from the start -- opening the scoring at 15:53 of the first period. In the second, he picked up the primary assist on the eventual game-winner, putting Saginaw up 2-0 at 16:48. He added a goal to make it 3-1 at 6:53 of the third. Jenkins has 10 goals and 16 points in 22 games, but nine of those points -- including six goals -- have come in the past seven games. (Note: Second appearance on this list in 2017-18)
PHILIPP KURASHEV -- Last season, the most talented Swiss player in the QMJHL was Nico Hischier. This year it's Kurashev, who has been a reliable point-producer for Quebec. On Wednesday, he recorded three assists, six shots, and a 9-for-15 faceoff performance in the Remparts' 7-5 loss at Blainville-Boisbriand. The assist parade began on a power play at 1:40 of the second period, when he helped cut the lead to 3-2. He then assisted on another power-play goal just over a minute later at 2:46 to make it a 2-2 game. He finished with the primary assist on a goal at 15:35 of the third, pulling Quebec within a goal at 6-5. Wednesday's effort snapped a four-game scoring drought. (Note: Third appearance on this list in 2017-18)
HUGO LEUFVENIUS -- Swedish forward Leufvenius slipped through the entire 2017 NHL draft, but he has improved his stock in the OHL and will likely get his NHL break in 2018. He flashed his talent on Wednesday with a hat trick on three shots in Sarnia's 4-1 win over London. The game's No. 1 star scored at 17:03 of the first period for a 1-1 tie and then again just 37 seconds into the third to make it 3-1. He sealed the hat trick on a power play at 13:13 of the third. Leufvenius, who joined the Sting through the CHL Import Draft is averaging a point-per-game with nine goals and 15 assists this season.
RYAN O'REILLY -- O'Reilly, a right wing bound for the University of Denver, provided all of the offense Wednesday in Madison's 4-2 loss at Omaha, scoring in the second and third periods. His first goal, at 11:45 of the second, cut the lead to 2-1. His second goal, on a power-play at 16:03 of the third cut it to 3-2. O'Reilly has 11 points in 14 USHL games this season, and 10 of those points are goals. (Note: Third appearance on this list in 2017-18)
WILLIAM POIRIER -- Poirier erupted for two goals and a plus-3 rating in Saint John's 5-4 win at Cape Breton on Wednesday to earn No. 1 star honors -- his first three-star selection of the QMJHL season. Poirier struck while the Sea Dogs were shorthanded at 16:50 of the opening period to put Saint John up 4-2. At 18:28 of the second, he stretched the lead to 5-3.