• PROSPECT-UPDATE ARCHIVE
A busy weekend for the 2018 NHL draft prospects came to a close on Sunday with a flurry of games in Europe as well as a handful in each of the major-junior leagues. The U.S. NTDP official season-opener at Notre Dame was also one to watch. In that game, Team USA lost 4-3 to the older, more experienced Fighting Irish varsity, but the Americans held their own. So many of the players on the Under-18 team will be drafted in June, more than from any other single team. Sunday was a very good night for two of them -- Bode Wilde, who had a pair of assists, and Oliver Wahlstrom who had a goal and an assist.
Those NTDP guys played well, but none of them crach the full HDC complement of 10 star performances from Sunday. The group includes five Canadians, two Russians, two Finns, and a Swede:
EVAN BOUCHARD -- One of the top defenseman available next June, Bouchard had his best game of the young season with three assists in the London Knights' 5-4 OHL loss at Oshawa. All three of Bouchard's assist came within a wild 2:04 span early in the second period. He assisted on a power-play goal to cut the lead to 3-2, had a primary assist on another power-play goal that tied the score, and then helped give the Knights a 4-3 lead with another primary assist at 7:00 of the second. He has a goal and five assists through five games.
PAVEL GOGOLEV -- Gogolev has an interesting story. He came over to Peterborough from Russia last season and recorded only 11 points in 53 OHL games. But it was obviously that he was too skilled to have such low-scoring numbers, and he needs to prove that this season. He is off to a strong start, particularly after Sunday afternoon, when he had two goals, two assists, and a plus-4 rating in the Petes' 8-4 rout of Niagara to earn No. 1 star honors. His goals came at 5:31 of the second period for a 4-1 lead and at 6:49 of the third to make it 6-4. These were his first points of the season, but he is already more than one-third of the way to his 2016-17 totals.
BRADY HINZ -- Hinz put on a show for Sarnia as the No. 1 star of his team's 7-2 win over Ottawa. Hinz, one of the smaller forwards in the OHL, scored two goals and finished plus-3 for the afternoon, scoring at 16:04 of the first period to put his team up 2-1 and at 14:20 of the second for a 4-1 lead. His goals were part of the Sting's six unanswered tallies that wasn't snapped until the game's final minutes. As a rookie, Hinz had five goals. This time around, he's on a much better pace.
KEVIN MANDOLESE -- The Cape Breton goaltender is one of the top Canadian goalies in the 2018 draft pool, and he showed why despite losing 3-1 to Saint John on Sunday. Mandolese stopped all 17 shots thrown at him in the first period and finished the game with 33 saves to earn No. 2 star honors. In two QMJHL starts, he has stopped 51 of 54 shots for a dazzling .944 save percentage. (Note: Second appearance on this list in 2017-18)
IVAN MURANOV -- Muranov is a highly-regarded Russian left wing with NHL power-forward potential because of his great size and skill. On Sunday, he posted two assists in Balashikha Dynamo's 4-3 overtime MHL win vs. Stupino. He had the primary assist on the overtime winner just 71 seconds into the OT and also assisted on the team's first goal at 7:24 of the second to tie it 1-1. Muranov now has 10 points in 10 games after starting his season with a hat trick in the second game.
SERRON NOEL -- Noel kept on rolling for Oshawa with a goal and assist in the Generals' 5-4 win over London. He ranked as the OHL game's third star. His goal was a dramatic one, coming with only three seconds left in the middle period for a 3-1 lead. Noel now has seven points in five games. (Note: Second appearance on this list in 2017-18)
KALLE NURMI -- Finland has produced some great goaltenders, and Nurmi has a chance to be one of them some day. On Sunday, he made 27 saves in Rauma's 6-3 U20 win vs. Helsinki IFK. He is now on a three-game winning streak after starting the Finnish U20 season with four straight losses.
AKIL THOMAS -- Who's the hottest draft prospect at the moment? It might just be Thomas, who continued his OHL scoring binge on Sunday with two goals and an assist in Niagara's 8-4 defeat at Peterborough. Thomas, the game's No. 3 star, scored goals at 9:38 of the second period to cut the Petes' lead to 4-2 and on a power play at 3:46 of the third to make it 4-3. Over three weekend games, Thomas picked up six points, including four goals. Where will he take it from here? (Note: Third appearance on this list in 2017-18)
SANTTU TOIVOMAKI -- Speaking of Finnish goalies, here's another one who made his mark on Sunday. Toivomaki was perfect with 27 saves as Turku TPS shut out Vaasa in Finnish U18 action. In the second period alone, he had 17 stops. He now has a 3-1 record in U18 play, including back-to-back weekend wins. He just might get drafted at this rate.
MARCUS WESTFALT -- Westfalt is a breakout star in the Swedish U20 league. He had a goal, two assists, five shots, a plus-3 rating, and an 8-for-10 faceoff performance on Sunday -- leading Gavle past Leksand 8-6. His goal made it a 3-1 lead 39 seconds into the second period, and he had two primary assists in the third. Westfalt roared through the weekend with seven points (3-4) in two games and has 11 points in seven games. (Note: Second appearance on this list in 2017-18)