• PROSPECT-UPDATE ARCHIVE
I always felt this was an exceptionally deep draft year, and days like Saturday seem to prove it. A wide variety of players turned in dominating performances in a wide variety of leagues. In most cases, the 2018 draft prospects are younger than most of the players they face in their various junior leagues. That's why it's especially impressive that these 17-year-olds are able to play major roles. NHL teams picking in the second and third round can obtain a level of talent that would have been first-round potential in 2017.
The to 10 performances include three from the USHL and three from the OHL -- a reminder of how far American players have come and how much better the USHL is than it was just a few years ago. Here's the list:
BENOIT-OLIVIER GROULX -- Groulx was the No. 1 star of Halifax's 4-3 win at Cape Breton after scoring two goals and assisting on another. Ranked in the top tier of prospects by NHL Central Scouting, Groulx boosted his Round 1 hopes Saturday. His goal at 3:45 of the first period gave the Mooseheads a 2-0 lead. He then got the primary assist on a goal at 8:43 of the first to make it 3-0. Groulx topped it all off with the game-winner, scored on a power-play at 18:44 of the third period. Groulx now has four multi-point QMJHL games in 2017-18, but this was his first three-point game. (Note: Second appearance on this list in 2017-18)
FILIP HASA -- The Gothenburg defenseman who gets all the headlines might be Rasmus Dahlin, but Hasa, who plays for the club's U20 team, has a lot of potential as well. On Saturday, he scored twice in his team's 4-2 win at Karlskrona for his first multi-point game of the season. His initial goal, at 13:02 of the second period, made it 3-2 and stood up as the game-winner. He found the net again at 12:31 of the third to close out the scoring.
BARRETT HAYTON -- Another Central Scouting Grade A player, Hayton returned to a point-per-game average with two goals in Sault Ste. Marie's 7-0 rout at Flint. The No. 3 star scored the game's first goal -- and the game-winner -- on a power play at 2:48 of the first period. He later stretched the lead to 2-0 at 12:39. Hayton enjoyed his first multi-point OHL performance since Oct. 11 and extended his current point streak to seven games. (Note: Second appearance on this list in 2017-18)
CAM HILLIS -- No 2018 draft prospect had a bigger night on Saturday than Hillis. The Guelph Storm center erupted for two goals and two assists in the Storm's 5-4 shootout loss at Erie and was named the game's No. 3 star. Hillis, an OHL rookie, started his spree with an assist at 4:54 of the second period to cut Erie's lead to 3-1. He then had the primary assist on a power-play goal at 9:18 of the second to make it 3-2 and tied the game with a power-play goal at 17:09. His final point, a goal at 9:36 of the third period, gave Guelph a short-lived 4-3 lead. It was both his first two-goal and four-point game of his OHL career. He now has 10 points in 14 games.
KIRILL MARCHENKO -- Marchenko helped Khanty-Mansiysk to a 3-2 shootout win over Tyumen on Saturday, picking up a goal and an assist. His fifth goal of the season, scored at 16:39 of the third period, cut the lead to 2-1, and he later had the primary assist on a goal with 1:16 left in regulation to force the overtime. Marchenko has 12 points in 17 MHL games this season.
BLAKE McLAUGHLIN -- McLaughlin is a highly-regarded prospect with a Grade B rating from Central Scouting. On Saturday, he showed why as the No. 2 star of Chicago's 5-3 USHL win at Lincoln. He scored a goal, had two assists, and was plus-4 for the game. He started with the lone assist on a goal at 14:45 of the second period, cutting the lead to 2-1. He scored at 10:18 of the third to tie it up at 3-3, and he had the primary assist on the game-winner at the 15:00 mark. McLaughlin now has seven points in his last three games after registering only two in his first four. (Note: Second appearance on this list in 2017-18)
KALLE NURMI -- Nurmi is a talented Finnish goalie who has great size and played in the 2017 Hlinka Memorial. But he has had a roller-coaster season so far. He was at his best on Saturday however, stopping 42 shots for a shutout, as Rauma's U20 team rolled over Kouvola 3-0. Nurmi made 18 saves in the first period, 14 saves in the second, and 10 in the third. It was his first victory since Oct. 1 and his first shutout of the season. (Note: Second appearance on this list in 2017-18)
BLAKE PIETILA -- It looks like Michigan Tech has an outstanding goaltender coming its way. The Huskies recruit made 31 saves in Cedar Rapids' 4-3 win over the U.S. Under-17 team on Saturday, handing Team USA its first loss of the 2017-18 USHL season. Pietila has started two games this season, and he has won both. (Note: Second appearance on this list in 2017-18)
SAMPO RANTA -- Ranta scored two goals on nine shots to earn No. 2 star honors in Sioux City's 3-2 USHL shootout loss to Tri-City. Both goals were dramatic. The first, on a power play, tied the game 1-1 at 17:56 of the middle period. The second, score at 11:42 of the third period, forced the overtime. Ranta finished among the game's Three-Star selections for the third time in seven games. (Note: Second appearance on this list in 2017-18)
CARTER ROBERTSON --
Robertson, a defenseman, is one of several draft prospects playing for the OHL's Ottawa 67's this season, and he stood above all the others on Saturday night with a goal and two assists in an 11-3 trouncing of Saginaw. Robertson, who also had five shots and a plus-3 rating, assisted on a goal at 13:38 of the first period for a 3-1 lead. His second point came on a goal at 10:34 of the second period, making it 7-2. He finished up with the primary assist on a goal that made it 10-3 at 9:37 of the third period. These were Robertson's first points of the season since returning from an injury that kept him out of all but the past four games.