Daily 2018 Draft Prospect Updates

Dec. 15, 2017


Friday was the first day that all 2018 NHL draft prospects invited to World Junior Championship training camps were away from their regular-season teams. In addition, several other players were still taking part in the World Junior A Challenge. As a result, the top-performances pickings were a bit slim. While the upcoming World Junior tournament is going to be exciting, the next two weeks of major-junior action will be squeezed by the absence of so many stars.

Despite the absences, there were still enough names to make a full top 10 list for Friday. Goalies had a chance to shine, and you can find three of them here. The Friday group includes players from four North American leagues and two from Europe. Check them all out below:

Stars of the Night

ALEXANDER ALEXEYEV -- Alexeyev, an A-rated prospect by Central Scouting, had a big offensive night in Red Deer's 4-1 win at Medicine Hat on Friday. The Rebels defenseman scored twice in the victory, getting the first and last goals of the game. His goal at 1:21 of the first period opened the scoring, and his empty-netter at 18:47 of the third closed it. Heading into Friday, Alexeyev had not scored since Nov. 1. Having missed some weeks with an injury, now has three goals and 17 points in 24 WHL games. (Note: Third appearance on this list in 2017-18)

TRISTAN COTE-CAZENAVE -- Victoriaville's goaltender stopped 26 shots in the Tigres' 7-2 rout of Shawinigan on Friday for his third straight victory. Although his workload wasn't heavy, he continues to give his team a security blanket in goal, because he is now 4-0-1 in his last five QMJHL starts. (Note: Second appearance on this list in 2017-18)

ALEXIS GRAVEL -- No QMJHL goalie is surging quite like Gravel, who has won back the No. 1 job in Halifax. On Friday, the Mooseheads netminder made 29 saves in a 5-2 win over Bathurst, helping his team win with star forward Filip Zadina away at the Czechs' World Junior camp. Gravel had 20 saves through the first two periods and held a shutout until 2:12 of the third. He has not lost a game in regulation since Nov. 26, going 3-0-1 since then. He will get a chance to further impress as one of four goalies in the Jan. 25 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game. (Note: Sixth appearance on this list in 2017-18)

CAM HILLIS -- The highest-scoring rookie in the OHL this season, Hillis just keeps putting up points. On Friday, he was the No. 1 star of Guelph's 5-4 win over Kingston, scoring a pair of goals. His first came at 5:11 of the opening period for a 3-1 lead. His second, coming 13 minutes later at 18:40, made it 4-1. Hillis, who will play on home ice in the CHL/NHL Top Prospects game, now has 14 goals and 28 points in 31 games and is on a three-game scoring streak. The rookie scoring race will likely be between him and Andrei Svechnikov going forward. (Note: Third appearance on this list in 2017-18)

BRADY HINZ -- Hinz was dominating this list earlier in the season, but the 5-foot-8 right wing's production had tailed off. On Friday, he was back in top form with a goal and two assists in Sarnia's 6-2 win at London. His goal at 13:59 of the second period made it 3-1 and stood up as the game-winner. He also had a pair of primary assists in the third period -- the first at 2:03 and the second on a power play at 10:10 to close the scoring. Hinz has 27 points in 33 OHL games, but he'll need to keep the points coming since his size will hurt him on draft day. (Note: Fourth appearance on this list in 2017-18)

JACK JENSEN -- Jensen, a left wing, might have the hottest stick in Minnesota high school hockey. The University of Minnesota recruit scored twice in the second period on Friday as Eden Prairie breezed to a 6-0 win over defending state champ Grand Rapids at the Edina Holiday Classic. Jensen first goal came just 25 second into the period to make it 3-0. He stretched the lead to 4-0 with a power-play goal at 12:59. He now has a four-game goal-scoring streak and is averaging two points per game. (Note: Second appearance on this list in 2017-18)

RYAN MERKLEY -- Merkley has always been a lock to go in the first round of the 2018 draft, but he's now looking like a definite top 10 pick. His remarkable season continued Friday with a goal and three assists in Guelph's 5-4 win over Kingston. Merkley scored the game's first goal at 3:59 of the opening period, assisted on another goal to make it 2-1 at 4:22, and set up a third goal at 5:11 for a 3-1 lead. He closed his night with the primary assist on the game-winner, making it 5-3 at 7:10 of the third. Averaging over an assist per game, Merkley has 10 goals and 42 points in 31 OHL outings this season. He is in the midst of a 10-game scoring streak, has seven points in his last three games, and leads all OHL defensemen with his 32 assists. He is also the OHL's highest first-year draft-eligible scorer. If the draft were held today, it would be tough to let him slip beyond the top five picks. (Note: Seventh appearance on this list in 2017-18)

YURY PLATONOV -- With so many MHL stars away at the World Junior A Challenge, Magnitogork center Platonov has responded to the Russian roster snub by stepping up his game. On Friday, he erupted for two goals and an assist in the Steel Foxes' 6-3 win over Omsk. His first goal opened the scoring just 4:22 into the game, and his second was the game-winner, making it 4-1 at 6:08 of the second period. He tacked on an assist at 17:21 of the second to make it 5-2. Platonov has nine goals and 16 points in 31 MHL games this season, breaking last year's total of 15 over 51 games. Five of his points have come in the past two games alone. (Note: Second appearance on this list in 2017-18)

DAVID TENDECK -- The Vancouver Giants' No. 1 goalie is remarkably steady, giving his team a great foundation. On Friday, Tendeck stopped 21 Victoria shots in the Giants' 3-1 win over the Royals. The victory was his fifth in a row after opening the WHL season with a 6-6 record. Overall, he has a .907 save percentage this season. In the current five-game win streak, his save percentage is .937. (Note: Second appearance on this list in 2017-18)

JESSE YLONEN -- Ylonen, who has been playing against men in Finland's Mestis league, probably should have been invited to Finland's World Junior camp. Despite the snub, he continues to play at a high level. On Friday, he scored two goals and was plu2-3 in Espoo's 7-0 shutout of Kokkola. Ylonen scored at 16:43 of the second period to make it 4-0 and at 14:01 of the third to close the scoring. His two goals lifted him into fourth in the Espoo team scoring race. He now has 15 points in 24 games, and the fact that his dad was an NHL player can only help his draft position. (Note: Second appearance on this list in 2017-18)