Zadina bests Svechnikov at Top Prospects Game in race for No. 2

Evan Bouchard was named player of the game and Team Cherry defeated Team Orr in the CHL/NHL Top Prospect Game.

GUELPH, Ont. – If Filip Zadina’s name ends up being called before Andrei Svechnikov’s at the 2018 NHL draft, his performance on Thursday won’t be the main reason. It can’t hurt, though.

Zadina netted two goals to help Team Cherry crush Team Orr 7-4 at the CHL Top Prospects Game, while Svechnikov was held pointless. The players were ranked second and first, respectively, in NHL Central Scouting’s midterm rankings, released Monday.

“I played well. I did my job. I scored twice and helped the team to win,” Zadina, 18, said.

Zadina scored in very different fashions in the second period. The Pardubice, Czech Republic native first beat his Halifax Mooseheads teammate Alexis Gravel over the glove with a wrister. Depositing a rebound past Kevin Mandolese on a power play came next.

He was constantly in the thick of things in the offensive zone, recording a game-high seven shots on net.

“I think it’s very good for me, but I’m just happy that we won,” Zadina said.

One game doesn’t rewrite the rankings, especially that of an all-star – albeit full speed – variety.

And it’s not like Svechnikov was a passenger. The Barrie Colts winger, too, was dangerous. His best chance came when made he an outside-inside move on Sault Ste. Marie blueliner Rasmus Sandin while coming down the wing. His shot just missed the net.

Still, the night’s events were the latest proceedings to favour Zadina. He starred at the world junior championship, finishing with seven goals and an assist and earning a spot on the tournament all-star team. Svechnikov had five assists in a limited role with Russia.

Zadina trending upwards. For instance, the independent service North American Central Scouting had six-foot, 195-pound winger ranked second overall in its latest rankings, up from sixth in October.

There’s plenty of hockey to be played, but no one’s likely to catch Swedish Olympic defenceman Rasmus Dahlin for first overall. Zadina and Svechnikov are playing for No. 2.

With that in mind, put a small checkmark beside Zadina’s name under the CHL Top Prospect Game category.

“Hopefully this game will help me in the draft,” he said.

Rising record-breaker

His goals came so quickly that they had to be announced in immediate succession.

Ty Dellandrea set a Top Prospects Game record for fastest two goals by one player when he scored 20 seconds apart in the first period. The goals broke J.P. Dumont’s mark of 3:22 in 1996 and doubled Team Cherry’s lead to 4-0.

“It’s really an honour,” he said. “To be in that record book is cool.”

Dellandrea is used to catching people off guard.

He wasn’t even ranked midway through his OHL draft season, but a torrid season gave him 36 goals in 36 games for the Central Ontario Wolves.

That output enticed the Flint Firebirds to select him fifth overall in 2016 and Dellandrea reported when other players said they wouldn’t following Flint’s ownership fiasco.

“In my OHL draft it took a while to get going. It turned out for the better,” he said. “I just try every night to prove myself to whoever’s watching, but most importantly play for my team.”

Dellandrea is now looking to do the same in the NHL draft. While NHL Central Scouting has him rated 76th among North American skaters, NACS has him much higher at 21st overall.

The underrated force

A scout in attendance compared Serron Noel’s game to that of Philadelphia Flyers’ Wayne Simmonds.

Noel, a winger for the Oshawa Generals, is big – six foot five, 205 pounds – packs some speed when he gets going, and is a force in front of the net.

“He’s the best player no one’s talking about,” the scout said of the player ranked ninth among North American skaters.

The latter skill was on display Thursday as the Noel tipped a point shot from Kevin Bahl. Noel was one of the more noticeable Team Orr players.

Goal of the night

Maybe Aidan Dudas should have been on the original roster.

The undersized Owen Sound Attack centre netted the prettiest goal of the festivities when he toe-dragged around Allan McShane and went high blocker on Mandolese.

The goal was the second of the game for the Team Cherry forward. He was the beneficiary of a breakaway in the first period after the puck ricocheted off the stick off Orr blueliner Jared McIsaac.

Not bad for the 131st-ranked North American skater who was only added to the game as an injury replacement on Tuesday.

Save of the night

Allowing five goals on 21 shots in half a game’s worth isn’t ideal. But in one moment, Gravel showed why he’s the top-rated goaltender on this side of the pond.

On a delayed penalty for Team Orr early in the second period, Chicoutimi’s Vladislav Kotkov wired a shot from the slot that was labelled for the top corner. Gravel snared the puck with his glove.

Even if it’s only small consolation on this night, it’s worth mentioning.


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