Prospect Impressions: The 16-20 group in the countdown of the top 20 NHL prospect highlights of 2014-15

By David Hahn
Radel Fazleev - Calgary Hitmen

Photo: Calgary Hitmen forward and Philadelphia Flyers prospect Radel Fazleev posted 18 goals and 51 points along with a +23 rating in 71 WHL games in 2014-15 (courtesy of Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)

 

 

For the past few months, Prospect Impressions has taken a look at the top plays of the week, with numerous players contributing to the series. Now that most teams have completed their seasons, over the next four weeks I’ll count down the top 20 plays of the year from NHL prospects. From big hits to timely saves and the best goals, Prospect Impressions will come to a conclusion with a fine list of tremendous talent.

20. Antoine Bibeau – Toronto Marlies (AHL)

Playing behind Christopher Gibson for the Toronto Marlies, Antoine Bibeau recently concluded his first professional season. He finished the regular season with a 15-10-5 record, posting a 2.69 goals-against average with a .913 save percentage. Of Bibeau’s 15 wins, five of them came via shutout, thanks in part to his ability to make split-second reaction saves. One example of that of that came when the Marlies faced off against the Grand Rapids Griffins, and Bibeau stuck his paddle out to make a great save.

19. Kurtis MacDermid – Erie Otters (OHL)

With all due respect to Chicago Blackhawks prospect Ryan Hartman, who enjoyed his first career NHL action, the title of “Hit of the Year” belongs to Erie Otters defenseman, Kurtis MacDermid. He has been on the wrong end of numerous suspensions throughout his OHL career, some of them coming because MacDermid simply towers over most opponents. That wasn’t the case in the 2015 OHL finals, where he initiated one of the best open-ice hip checks in recent memory.

18. Dylan Larkin – University of Michigan (Big Ten)

One prospect who hs enjoyed an ascension to the top of most prospect rankings is Detroit Red Wings prospect, Dylan Larkin. He has shown off a high level of skill this season, not only in the NCAA, but also on the international stage at the 2015 World Junior Championship and, more recently, at the 2015 IIHF World Championship. Larkin is a gifted playmaker who already possesses many talents that the Red Wings can’t wait to tap into. In fact, Detroit signed Larkin to his entry-level contract where he will likely compete for the Grand Rapids Griffins of the AHL in the Calder Cup playoffs. Good news for the Griffins, as Larkin can single-handedly take over a game, as was the case with this goal in March.

17. Mathew Barzal – Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL) and Thomas Chabot – Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL)

One of the most electric playmakers in the upcoming NHL Draft, Mathew Barzal is going to be a treat to watch next season. He has great vision on the ice, usually driving wide to find his teammate coming in late. It’s a tendency that not only benefited the Seattle Thunderbirds, but also Canada’s U18 team. Barzal teamed up with teammate Thomas Chabot with Canada to create a magical goal showing exactly why both players won’t have to wait long to hear their names called in Sunrise, Florida. Chabot’s puck skills are off the charts, as referenced by this play where Chabot toe-drags around a defender to give Barzal a clear scoring opportunity.

16. Radel Fazleev – Calgary Hitmen (WHL)

The Philadelphia Flyers raised a few eyebrows when they took a sixth round flyer on Calgary Hitmen forward Radel Fazleev. He only put up 25 points last year, but doubled that total this season while showing off why the Flyers drafted him. Fazleev possesses a unique ability to create something out of nothing, and has a great touch around the net. In the WHL playoffs, he took a big step forward and became a major piece of the puzzle for Calgary, scoring four times and assisting on 10 others. Take a look as he dekes around a defenseman and fools a sprawling goaltender with a great play.

Stay tuned, next week we’ll feature plays 15 through 11!

20 – 16 | 15 – 11 | 10 – 6 | 5 – 1

Follow Dave Hahn on Twitter via @DHahnHockey