The scouting season will hit a fever pitch following the BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game.
No more so than this season will the scouting community really earn their living with a draft class that doesn’t feature a consensus top pick, let alone a consensus top-10 or top-30. Forty of the top prospects left their mark in Calgary, Alta. at the BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game and here are five prospects whose stocks could rise after big performances on Wednesday.
Michael Dal Colle, Oshawa
It shouldn’t be surprising that Michael Dal Colle’s name is being whispered in the conversation for the first-overall pick this summer. In a draft where there is no clear cut top prospect, the top pick is truly open for the taking and Dal Colle is a legitimate candidate at the top of the draft class.
Dal Colle made several big plays throughout the game, showcasing his skill, intensity and intelligence. It took 29 minutes for the game’s first goal, and Dal Colle tied the game eight seconds later with a pinpoint accurate top corner goal to square the affair. He pinged a post with his team down another goal in the second, and drew the penalty that led to the power-play goal early in the third. Dal Colle stole the puck away from Aaron Ekblad at the blue line, then closed his armpit on Ekblad’s stick when he felt the tug. His gamesmanship and situational awareness are huge points in his favour.
Dal Colle’s package of size, skill and intangibles will surely leave some NHL teams discussing his name at the top of the board.
Mason McDonald, Charlottetown
The big south paw hadn’t hid from the scouting community, but his national exposure was rather minimal to this point playing for teams in small markets in Bathurst and Charlottetown. McDonald uses his size extremely well and is square to the shooter. He’s competitive and stays with the play.
His teammates on Team Orr did their best to give him his time in the limelight with such a sluggish start to open the game. McDonald was brilliant in turning aside 15-of-16 shots in his half game, with many of them quality scoring chances.
Perhaps no save was bigger than one on Ivan Barbashev in the first period. The Moncton Wildcats’ forward got behind the defence and had the puck at the top of the crease. Barbashev tried opening McDonald up with some quick moves, but McDonald stared him down and denied the shot. The seventh-ranked goalie by the NHL’s Central Scouting did little to dispel the notion he’s a top goaltending prospect in this draft, especially considering the only goal he allowed was on a picture perfect shot by Dal Colle.
Brendan Lemieux, Barrie
The son of former agitating forward Claude Lemieux is a chip off the old block. Lemieux plays an in-your-face, pesky style that certainly didn’t go unnoticed on Wednesday. He also opened the scoring by driving the net and getting a piece of a point shot.
Lemieux is the type of prospect that could surprise on draft day. Ranked 38th by Central Scouting in the mid-term rankings, it’s inconceivable he wouldn’t be drafted in the first round. Lemieux has the bloodlines, plays an agitating style, can chip in offensively and is well-liked by his teammates. If Stefan Matteau Jr. can be drafted in the opening round with most of these same traits, Lemieux will be too.
There may be more talented players available, but his skill set is dynamic enough that it will warrant a first round draft choice. To get an idea how valuable a commodity Lemieux will be, just imagine how high the price some team would pay the Bruins to acquire Brad Marchand.
Joshua Ho-Sang, Windsor
Perhaps the most polarizing prospect in the draft, Ho-Sang stood out offensively for Team Orr. The puck continued finding the silky smooth sniper, who dangled as if it was it was on a string. There are two trains of thought for Ho-Sang: firstly, he’s got undeniable skill and could be a big time point producer in the NHL. Secondly, there are question marks about his size, play without the puck and concerns over his consistency and character.
The drawbacks to his game notwithstanding, Ho-Sang showed on Wednesday why he’s one of the most supremely-gifted scorers. He can freeze defenders with the puck on his stick and finds the open areas of the ice in the offensive zone. He scored Team Orr’s third goal by driving the net and batting in a rebound at shoulder height, while assisting on Jared McCann’s winner by cutting from one side to the other and spotting McCann coming off the bench. Ho-Sang’s draft stock may be one of the most volatile on draft day but he acquitted himself very well in this showing.
Nikolay Goldobin, Sarnia
Goldobin is another intriguing prospect given his skill. His game is knocked for a perceived lack of intensity. It’s an interesting perception considering he tends to make the big plays when they count most.
Goldobin was a force throughout the game, but never more so than in the third period. He used his quickness to score on a wrap-around, and earned a penalty shot by using his outside speed to cut in before being hauled down. Goldobin then drew a penalty late in the third that led to a power play goal, where he fed Sam Reinhart the puck in front. Team Cherry’s player of the game earned his hardware and may have given scouts another indication that concerns about his game have been greatly exaggerated.