As we’re around the halfway point in most of the world’s ice hockey leagues, it’s the perfect time to take a look at some of the standout prospects who’ve been impressing so far:
Connor McMichael, C
London Knights (OHL)
Drafted 25th Overall by the Washington Capitals in the 2019 Draft.
Bar any hyperbole, Connor McMichael may be the best drafted prospect as of right now. His current statline is almost unrealistic, with a staggering 30 goals in 30 games, and 66 points in total. As someone who I had consistently ranked in the top-12 for the 2019 Entry Draft, I can’t say I’m even surprised with his performance. He currently has the second highest NHLeS of all 2019 and is joint fifth place in OHL scoring. He leads the London Knights in goals, points, and primary points, and is second in total assists, shots on goal, and power play points. To say he is an impact player is an understatement. McMichael uses a combination of smarts, speed, and pure skill to dominate the OHL. Although some scouts seem to want to find flaws in his game, he always finds a way to prove them wrong. Don’t be surprised if McMichael gets the call-up to the Capitals roster next season and becomes a mainstay for years to come.
Jan Jeník, LW/RW
Hamilton Bulldogs (OHL)
Drafted 65th Overall by the Arizona Coyotes in the 2018 Draft.
Connor McMichael had a 17 game scoring streak in the OHL this season, which is just the 4th longest in the league. Jan Jeník (probably) said that those were rookie numbers, and decided to have a twenty-six game scoring streak, the longest streak in the OHL since Jordan Kyrou (30) and Alex DeBrincat (27) in the 2016/17 season. Jeník is a very skillful player and very annoying for his opposition. He is currently sitting at 56 points in 27 OHL games, which puts him at the third highest PPG in the league. He certainly isn’t a ‘two-way dynamo’, but he also isn’t a slouch defensively. The Czech winger plays a well rounded game, but there are little to no other players as dangerous as him in the offensive zone. Jeník had a hot start to the 2020 World Juniors, notching 3 points in 3 games, but unfortunately picked up a season-ending injury to cut his monster year short. Jan Jeník has made a large case to be called up to the Coyotes first team next year, and with a good camp, I think he could make an immediate impact on the line-up.
Victor Söderström, D
Brynäs IF (SHL)
Drafted 11th Overall by the Arizona Coyotes in the 2019 Draft.
Moving out of the OHL, but sticking with the Coyotes, Victor Söderström may come out of the 2019 Entry Draft as the best defenseman. Making the jump from the SuperElit to the SHL as a 17-18 year old isn’t always the easiest, but Söderström did it with ease. This season, he has racked up 12 points in 17 games and leads all U20 players in the SHL with 0.71 PPG. Söderström finished joint fourth in defenseman scoring in the 2020 World Juniors and had a great all-around performance. He currently is at a 43.98 NHLeS, which is the best of all 2019 draftees. He is one of the best two-way defenseman I have watched in the past few seasons, and the Swede may have been quite the steal at 11 overall (although the Coyotes had him ranked in the top three on their draft board). Söderström looks to be ready to make the jump to the desert next year, but with the Arizona Coyotes history, nothing is set in stone.
Trevor Zegras, C/W
Boston University (NCAA)
Drafted 9th Overall by the Anaheim Ducks in the 2019 Draft.
Trevor Zegras loves a tournament. As one of the standout players for the United States in the World Juniors this year, Zegras has been on the up and up in many rankings. He is an incredible playmaker, shown by his nine assists in five WJC games and 13 assists in 18 NCAA games this season, and is a fantastic skater. Don’t let the ‘playmaker’ label fool you, though, as he has an absolute cannon of a shot and is one of the best defensive forwards from the 2019 Draft, so it’s pretty safe to say that this kid can do it all. In my opinion, Zegras should definitely be making the Ducks roster for the 2020/21 season and even be getting top 6 minutes. The Calder race for next year is going to be a tight one, but Trevor Zegras has all the assets to come out on top.
Nicholas Robertson, C/LW
Peterborough Petes (OHL)
Drafted 53rd Overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2019 Draft.
As much as I wanted to avoid having three OHL players in this article, Nick Robertson’s season can’t be confined to the Honorable Mentions. After just half a season in the OHL since being drafted, Robertson is already looking like a major steal. He currently has 28 goals and 15 assists in 26 games, which puts him at the 13th best PPG in the OHL this year. He is a major impact player whenever he is on the ice and sits in fourth spot in NHLeS for all 2019 draftees. The small winger picked up two goals and three assists for the United States in the World Juniors and looked very impressive. If he was born just two weeks later than he was, he would’ve been eligible for the 2020 Draft, and with his numbers this season, he would likely be a lock for the top-25.
Matias Maccelli, LW, Arizona Coyotes, Ilves (Liiga)
Alexei Protas, C, Washington Capitals, Prince Albert Raiders (WHL)
Tyler Madden, C, Vancouver Canucks, Northeastern University (NCAA)
Pyotr Kochetkov, G, Carolina Hurricanes, Russkie Vityazi Chekhov (MHL)