Several high-profile prospects have gotten off to great starts this season and are riding that success into the middle portion of the 2014-15 campaign. First round draft selections scoring at a point-per-game in junior hockey is nothing to sneeze at, but when mid-round selections are scoring nearly two points-per-game and leading their respective league in scoring, you take notice.
Hockey’s Future Prospect of the Month – November 2014
In October, the San Jose Sharks 2014 fifth round selection, Rourke Chartier, was given an honorable mention for Hockey’s Future Prospect of the Month. The unheralded winger posted 17 points, including nine goals, in 11 games. Worries that Chartier had simply gotten off to a great start have since faded away and the Saskatoon native is firmly entrenched as one of the WHL’s top offensive players.
If his play in October put him on Hockey Canada’s watch list for the World Junior Championship, then his November production may have guaranteed his spot. In 14 November games, Chartier scored a whopping 18 goals and added 10 assists for 28 points. Five of his goals came on the power-play, while one was scored shorthanded. Chartier can play all over the ice, and seems to be one of the most improved prospects in all of hockey this season.
His 32 goals this season – he has added three in his first three games in December – have well surpassed last year’s goal total of 24, which took 72 games to accomplish. Chartier is currently the best player on one of junior hockey’s best teams. It will be an injustice if he is left off of the Canadian World Junior team.
William Nylander (TOR)
Currently playing with MODO (SHL)
The flashy Toronto Maple Leafs first rounder, unable to crack the NHL roster in September, has been one of the top forwards in Sweden’s premier hockey league this season. Though he missed a game-and-a-half due to a head injury suffered after taking a skate to the head, Nylander finished the month strong with three points in his final two games of the month and averaging over 20 minutes per game of ice time. Through seven full games in the month, Nylander managed eight points and a plus/minus rating of +4. Over the course of the season, he has maintained a point-per-game average and appears ready to make the jump to the NHL.
It has been a complete turnaround this season for the New York Islanders‘ 2013 fourth round selection, Stephon Williams. After recording a shutout in his first game of the season, Williams’ Minnesota State has lost just once as the netminder holds a record of 11-2, supplanting last year’s starting goaltender Cole Huggins. Williams’ only loss came on the first of November, but since then he has given up just six goals in six games, including a pair of back-to-back shutouts recorded against Lake Superior at the end of the month. He has a 1.86 goals-against average and .914 save percentage this season.
More and more each year, promising prospects fill the rosters of USHL teams. The league has helped with the development of American-born players and has also acted as a springboard for Europeans looking to play college hockey. That’s the case with St. Louis Blues 2014 second round pick, Maxim Letunov, a Russian who scored 43 points in 60 games with the Youngstown Phantoms last season. Committed to Boston University for the 2015-16 season, Letunov is one of the key cogs for the Phantoms; he sits second on the team in scoring with 23 points in 20 games, behind only Kyle Connor (2015). Of Letunov’s 23 points, 15 of them came in 10 November games.
For whatever reason, the St. Louis Blues seem to have wild success with second round picks, and Ivan Barbashev should be no different. Selected with the first of the team’s two 2014 second round picks, Barbashev has been one of the QMJHL’s top players this season. His month of November includes a six-point effort against Victoriaville, a trio of three-point efforts and just one game in which he was held off the scoresheet. All told, Barbashev recorded 24 points in 11 games over the course of the month. Barbashev is the Wildcats’ driving force offensively; twice in the month he recorded nine shots in a single game. He also recorded a 54.6 face-off percentage in 273 face-off attempts throughout the month.
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