CHL Notebook: 2019 NHL Draft prospects lighting the lamp early

Here's a quick recap of Sunday's action from the Ontario Hockey League, including the London Knights doubling up the Sarnia Sting, and two really odd own goals.

With the 2019 NHL Draft still months away, the early prognosis is that it will be a down year for the Ontario Hockey League but that doesn’t mean there isn’t any high-end talent available from Ontario.

Among the early candidates to be the top OHL player selected in June is Hamilton Bulldogs forward Arthur Kaliyev.

The Staten Island, NY product is off to a blazing start with 13 goals in 13 games and sits third in OHL scoring with 23 points.

The sophomore forward is coming off a rookie season with the Bulldogs that saw him score 31 goals on a highly-skilled team that won the OHL title and his coach feels that the sky is the limit for the 17-year-old.

“He’s dynamite,” said Hamilton head coach David Matsos. “You’ve got something special there. When you get these guys that are such elite scorers and guys that think the offensive game differently than anybody else, there are going to be tendencies but the one thing about Artie is that he’s a wonderful teammate. He’s a wonderful kid and he wants to be better. That is so intriguing because the ceiling, I’m not even sure how high it can go.”

Playing on a Bulldogs team that featured top-level talent in the likes of NHL draft picks Robert Thomas and Will Bitten in 2017-18, Kaliyev embraced his role as a rookie and had an impact in the OHL Final against Sault Ste. Marie with points in five of six games as the Bulldogs advanced to the Memorial Cup.

“He understood what he was (last year),” Matsos said. “For us, its to try to get him to add elements to his game to get him drafted as high as we can. We’re talking in the neutral zone and the defensive zone. That’s part of the development.

“He’s one of those kids that’s not developed physically yet, so I’m not even sure how high (his development) can go,” Matsos added. “This kid’s a hockey player.”

The goal now for the highly-touted prospect will be to round out his game as scouts continue to take notice of his increased role in Hamilton this season.

“He’s just got to get stronger,” Matsos said. “The one thing that’s exciting for us is his ability to be stronger. It’s going to make him a better skater. It’s going to make him harder on pucks. And that’s what he wants. He’s very driven.”

Lengthy suspension handed out

The OHL suspended Kingston Frontenacs forward Cameron Hough for 15 games after a hit on Erie Otters rookie defenceman Brendan Kischnick.

Hough was given a major penalty and game misconduct for checking from behind on the play and the league took into consideration the vulnerability of Kischnick on the play as well as his injury.

Kischnick was taken off the ice on a stretcher and to hospital but was released and rejoined the team.

Hough is eligible to rejoin the Frontenacs on Nov. 22.

Lavoie getting the job done

While Rimouski Oceanic forward Alexis Lafreniere is a year away from making further waves in his NHL draft year, Halifax Mooseheads forward Raphael Lavoie continues to emerge as one of Quebec’s top players eligible for the 2019 draft.

Coming off a 30-goal season last winter, Lavoie is leading the Mooseheads with 11 goals and 18 points through 13 games.

Just how good of a season is Lavoie having?

Consider the fact that he’s tied in the QMJHL scoring race with Detroit Red Wings first-rounder Joe Veleno and four points behind the aforementioned Lafreniere.

Lavoie is putting himself in a position to become the next big name drafted from the Mooseheads program, which has produced Nico Hischier and Filip Zadina in recent years.

Dach heads quality WHL draft class

Saskatoon Blades forward Kirby Dach’s offensive progress has taken a leap this season.

Highly-touted for the 2019 NHL Draft, Dach has already matched his career high for goals with seven in just 12 games this season.

The Fort Saskatchewan, Alta. product had seven goals and 46 points in his first full WHL season last year and the 17-year-old looks poised to top that, and soon.

Following weekend action, Dach sits fourth in league scoring behind a trio of veterans in Brett Leason of Prince Albert, Joachim Blichfield of Portland, and Trey Fix-Wolansky of Edmonton.

Dach has yet to play 100 WHL games and leads a Western League draft class that includes Lethbridge Hurricanes forward Dylan Cozens and highly-touted Vancouver Giants defenceman Bowen Byram.

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