• PROSPECT-UPDATE ARCHIVE
Two days before Christmas, there weren't a lot of Saturday games involving 2018 draft prospects, so only two players qualified for this daily top performances list.
The pace is about to pick up in a big way on Tuesday, when the World Junior Championship gets under way in Buffalo. Depending on final roster cuts, as many as 26 top 2018 prospects will be taking part in the tournament -- way up from last year's 14 prospects for the 2017 draft. No team will have more draft prospects than the Czech Republic, whose roster boasts a whopping nine players who could be among the top 100 picks in June.
That Czech team plays in the WJC opener at noon ET on Tuesday, but for now, here's a look at Saturday's top performances:
BEN HELGESON -- The Minnesota high school center continued his big season with two power-play assists in a 4-2 loss to White Bear Lake. Hill-Murray's captain got the primary assist on the game's first goal at 14:30 of the opening period before picking up another primary assist to make it 2-1 at 4:57 of the second. Hill-Murray ran out of gas after that, but not before Helgeson had increased his scoring totals to 13 points in nine games. The University of Wisconsin recruit's USHL rights belong to Waterloo, and he could end up there next season before entering Wisconsin. (Note: Third appearance on this list in 2017-18)
ANDREI SVECHNIKOV -- Perhaps no player has more to gain from the World Juniors than Svechnikov. If the superstar Russian winger shines, while Sweden's Rasmus Dahlin falters, Svechnikov could come out of Buffalo as the favorite to go No. 1 in the 2018 draft. All eyes will be on him, that's for sure. In his last chance to tune up for the tournament on Saturday, Svechnikov scored in Russia's 3-2 OT shootout win over Slovakia at Rochester, N.Y. His goal, at 1:52 of the third period, got the Russians on the board at 2-1. Russia went on to tie the game late and win it in the shootout. Svechnikov took a turn in the shootout, but did not score. (Note: Seventh appearance on this list in 2017-18)