This week in the prospect roundup, we check in with some quick hits around college and junior hockey as seasons start to wrap up and teams get in position for the postseason.
The 65th annual Beanpot Tournament was captured by Harvard last week, their 11th tournament win overall, and first title since 1993. That team was anchored in net by none other than this guy.
For Carolina Hurricanes fans, however, it was the consolation game between Boston College and Northeastern that was intriguing to watch due to the prospects involved. BC forward David Cotton opened the scoring with his ninth goal of the year, but Northeastern forward Matt Filipe answered back with his eighth and ninth goals of the season, giving the Huskies a 2-1 lead with 13 minutes left in the game. Brendan Collier, a 2012 Canes draft pick who has had a decent senior year for Northeastern, picked up his 11th point of the season on Filipe’s second goal. At the final buzzer, Filipe’s Huskies had a 4-2 upset win over Cotton’s Eagles to earn third place in the Beanpot.
Both Filipe and Cotton have had successful freshman seasons, playing their best hockey down the stretch for BC and Northeastern.
Keeping with the college theme, it’s been a little while since we’ve taken a closer look at how Jack LaFontaine has performed this season. The freshman netminder has been on a bit of a roller coaster, starting nine games for the Wolverines, while fairly equally splitting time with fellow freshman Hayden Lavigne and senior Zach Nagelvoort (EDM).
His 1-6-1 record on the season on paper does not look good, but when you dive deeper into the numbers, it tells a bit more of the story. In the games he has started this season, LaFontaine has gotten little to no support from his offense, as they have only produced nine goals in 14 games with him between the pipes. He has received a higher percentage of shots-per-game in the games he has been in the net, and has the highest save percentage among the three goaltenders.
It has been a forgettable season for Michigan in a rare down year. With Nagelvoort moving on after this season, it will be a battle between the two freshmen to see who can capture the Wolverines’ number-one goaltender spot moving into 2017-18.
WHL Prospect Roundup
I have seen more and more of Elynuik play over the last couple months as I have been tuning in when I can to watch 2017 draft eligible Kailer Yamamoto in preparation for June’s draft. Carolina’s third round pick from last season has improved this year, taking on more responsibility in all situations. He’s a better skater and has been consistently better positionally, especially in shorthanded situations where he has become a bit of a force. His points-per-game rate has jumped from .79 a year ago to 1.14 this season, and he has already bettered his career high in points from a year ago. Here is a nice assist by Elynuik on Yamamoto’s game-winner on Friday.
After his first “slump” of the season, where he had just one point in six games at the beginning of February, Bean has bounced back to his normal point-per-game pace with points in four straight. His offensive game will never be questioned as he’s poised while both skating and distributing. Where he can continue to improve are in one-on-one situations defensively. Bean’s up to 32 points in 29 games after missing the majority of the season with an injury.
OHL Prospect Roundup
Kuokkanen’s scoring pace has dropped off since the CHL Trade Deadline in mid-January, but there’s no real reason to be too concerned. Through 30 games, the forward had 41 points for the London Knights, but has found the scoresheet just 13 times in his last 17 games. London’s lineup additions at the trade deadline, paired with the amount of games that Kuokkanen has played this season could be reasons for the recent production decline. The Knights have 13 more regular season OHL games, and are poised to make a deep playoff run.
Peterborough (Steven Lorentz), London (Kuokkanen), Sault Ste. Marie (Noah Carroll) and Erie (Warren Foegele) have clinched spots in the OHL playoffs, and Kingston (Jeremy Helvig) is sitting in fifth in the Eastern Conference, in good shape. That all five OHL prospects will likely be participating in the postseason is a twofold benefit. First, for the players, who get to continue their seasons and gain meaningful playoff experience, and second, for the Canes scouting staff who gets to see them in higher pressure environments.
We could really just rename this one the Saint John Sea Dogs Roundup. Spencer Smallman, Julien Gauthier and Callum Booth all have been playing well, and have their team sitting in first place in the QMJHL with 82 points.
The trade deadline moves have been good for both Gauthier and Booth, as Booth’s goals against average has dropped from 2.87 with Quebec, to 2.42 with Saint John and Gauthier’s goal-scoring pace has jumped from .30 to .42 since moving over from Val-d’Or. Smallman continues to be a leader and point producer with 60 points in 50 games this season.
Roy is on pace to have his best month of the season, as he already has 18 points in eight games in February. He started out the month with six multi-point games in a row, propelling Chicoutimi to a 6-2 month thus far. The Saguenéens are currently sitting in seventh in the Q with a 32-21-2 record.
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