The hockey world saw many fantastic individual performances over the course of the 2013-14 season. Few, however, rivaled the performance of forward Teuvo Teräväinen (CHI), who is the Hockey's Future 2014 Prospect of the Year.
A teenage phenom playing in Finland's top professional league, Teräväinen managed 44 points in 49 games with Jokerit. He finished second in the league with 35 assists and was the only teenager to post over 40 points. The 19-year-old started the 2013-14 season strong, but his profile grew considerably during Finland's gold medal run at the 2014 World Junior Championship. Teräväinen assisted on all three of Finland's goals in the gold medal-winning game and led the tournament in scoring with 15 points.
Teräväinen was red hot upon his return from the WJC, going on a 13-game, 23-point tear, which included seven multi-point games. For his efforts, he was named to the Liiga's All-Star team.
He joined the Chicago Blackhawks following the completion of his third season in the Liiga, and while he was not the offensive sensation in the NHL that he was in Finland, he showed flashes of the deft playmaking ability that makes him such a highly regarded prospect. The Blackhawks eventually reassigned him to their AHL affiliate, the Rockford IceHogs, where he managed a goal in four games.
The future is bright for the young Finn. He does not possess the requisite size for an NHL player, standing at only 5'10" and 175 pounds, but his hockey IQ and skill level are off the charts. He is expected to compete for a spot on the Blackhawks 2014-15 NHL roster.
Johnny Gaudreau, W, Boston College Eagles (Hockey East)
The 2013-14 season was one for the ages for Johnny Gaudreau, who led the nation with 36 goals, 44 assists, and 80 points in 40 games. Gaudreau's 80 points were the most by a Boston College player since 1990-91 and the most of any college hockey player since Peter Sejna managed 82 points with Colorado College in 2002-03. Gaudreau was a model of consistency throughout the season and at one point went on a 31-game, 61-point tear that tied Paul Kariya's Hockey East single season scoring streak. He was held off the scoresheet on only two occasions and posted 22 multi-point games. Gaudreau collected a lot of hardware for his efforts, including the 2014 Hobey Baker Award, which is given annually to the top player in NCAA Men's Ice Hockey, and the Walter Brown Award, which is given to the top American-born college hockey player in New England. He was also named the Hockey East Player of the Year for the second straight season.
Gaudreau was unable to lead the Eagles to a National Championship, but got mighty close, losing to Union College in the national semifinals. He, along with Eagles teammate Bill Arnold, signed with the Calgary Flames the following day and made their NHL debuts shortly thereafter. Gaudreau capped off the 2013-14 regular season by scoring on the first shot of his first NHL game.
Standing at 5'7", Gaudreau's size will remain a concern until he is able to prove otherwise. He is extremely shifty and quick, but will still need to adapt to bigger, faster players at the professional level.
Selected third overall by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2013 NHL Draft, it was a bit of a surprise to see forward Jonathan Drouin reassigned to the QMJHL for the 2013-14 season. With former teammate Nathan MacKinnon (COL) bound for the NHL, it was up to Drouin to lead the offensive charge for the Mooseheads, and he did just that. The slick forward finished 2013-14 season third overall in QMJHL scoring with 108 points, including a league-leading 79 assists, in just 46 regular season games. He was held off the scoresheet on only six occasions and registered 32 multi-point games. His totals would have been even higher if not for a head injury he sustained in early December, which forced him to miss several games.
Drouin managed to return to health in time to represent Team Canada at the 2014 WJC. While Canada did not medal, Drouin had a strong individual performance, posting three goals and six assists through seven games.
The 19-year-old was also very productive during the Mooseheads playoff run, scoring 13 goals and adding 28 assists in 16 games. Though he was unable to lead Halifax to consecutive Memorial Cup appearances, Drouin moved into second place in career QMJHL playoff scoring with 102 points, surpassing Hall of Fame forward Mario Lemieux.
Anthony Mantha, W, Val-d'Or Foreurs (QMJHL)
Heading into the 2013-14 season, there was no questioning Anthony Mantha's potential. Standing at 6'5" and around 200 pounds, Mantha possesses a rare blend of size, skill, and speed. He was also the only player in the QMJHL to manage 50 goals during the 2012-13 regular season. Still, many pundits felt he was capable of more, that with his size and strength, he should be dominating other junior age players.
Mantha did just that and more over the 2013-14 season, as he led the QMJHL with 57 goals and 120 points, and was recognized as the league MVP. He was remarkably consistent as well, held pointless on only six occasions and never more than two games in a row. He was selected to the QMJHL's First All-Star Team and recognized as the QMJHL First star of the Month in September and October. Mantha has been strong during the Foreurs' post-season run, as well, and currently has 20 goals and 10 assists through 20 games.
The 19-year-old was also a standout for the Canadian WJC team, where he managed five goals and six assists through seven games.
Mantha has little left to prove at the junior level. He is expected to join the Detroit Red Wings AHL affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins, for the 2014-15 season.
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