Prospect Impressions: Eichel in OT, pair of firsts from Hyman and Bigras, Vasilevskiy stops 2-on-0, more highlights

By David Hahn
Chris Bigras - Colorado Avalanche

Photo: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Chris Bigras played in 37 AHL games with the San Antonio Rampage this season before receiving his first NHL call-up in January (courtesy of Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

 

 

With the game on the line, Jack Eichel was cool, calm, and collected with just seconds left on the clock. Likewise, David Pastrnak wasn’t even looking at the net when he sniped Cam Ward’s water bottle. This time of year provides young players an opportunity in the NHL, and Chris Bigras and Zach Hyman took advantage of it to score their first NHL goals. Plenty of other highlights are included in a jam-packed edition of Prospect Impressions.

Jack Eichel continues to demonstrate why he’s among the cream of the crop out of the current group of NHL rookies. Showing off his elite-level skill set, Eichel snuck down the boards, corralled a pass, and calmly tucked his 22nd goal of the year home in overtime. As great as the goal was, make sure you have your volume turned up for Buffalo Sabres announcer Rick Jeanneret’s call.

The Boston Bruins have been all over the place in recent drafts, but grabbing David Pastrnak at 25th overall might turn out to be one of the teams best picks in recent memory. The young Czech forward was electric at the World Juniors, averages over a point-per-game in the AHL, and recently cemented his place on the Bruins’ roster. This goal is one prime example of just how elusive he can be, even when he is not looking.

The rebuild is in full swing in Toronto, and with a handful of games left, young stars are assimmilating into the Maple Leafs lineup on a nightly basis. First NHL goals are a memorable occasion, and Zach Hyman joined Nikita Soshnikov and William Nylander as young Leafs who recently picked up their first NHL goals.

It’s no surprise to see Chris Bigras taking a regular shift in the NHL at just 21 years of age. Just one year removed from a 71-point campaign with the Owen Sound Attack in the OHL, Bigras quickly adjusted to the AHL level and was rewarded with a January call-up that put him right into the daily rigors of the NHL. It took 21 games, but Bigras was in the right place at the right time to log his first NHL goal in a game against the Minnesota Wild.

With Ben Bishop requiring some rest as the Tampa Bay Lightning enter the stretch run, Andrei Vasilevskiy has picked up a handful of starts over the last couple of weeks. Syracuse Crunch fans could tell the Lightning what to expect, as they have been treated to a number of highlight-reel performances over the last year-and-a-half. Take a look at these two unbelievable saves by Vasilevskiy when it looked like all hope was lost.

Albany Devils forward Jim O’Brien spent one week with the big club in New Jersey, and while he didn’t pick up a point, O’Brien still should be at the front of the line for the next recall. In a recent game against the Utica Comets, O’Brien turned on the spin cycle and made Comets goaltender Joe Cannata question everything he knows about the position. O’Brien took home first star honors as the Devils pulled out a 4-3 victory thanks to O’Brien’s 11th and 12th goals of the season.

When Erie Otters center Dylan Strome was selected third overall by the Arizona Coyotes, it signaled that expectations are high. He came through once again, logging back-to-back 100-point seasons. So too did Barrie Colts forward Andrew Mangiapane, except the only difference being that he was taken 166th overall. It represents fantastic drafting by the Calgary Flames, while also demonstrating that Mangiapane is one heck of a darkhorse after being selected his second time through the process.

Through almost four full years with the Sherbrooke Phoenix, Montreal Canadiens prospect Daniel Audette continues to dish the puck at a high rate. With 155 assists to his credit in QMJHL competition, Audette is used to threading the needle to find a teammate. As an example of that, take a look at this ridiculous saucer pass through traffic. How did Audette even see that as an option?

Sometimes, all you need is a little help from your friends. The St. Louis Blues were in a pickle when Colton Parayko lost his stick, but his calm demeanor while receiving a handoff from Alex Pietrangelo and his return handoff was equally impressive.

Last week’s Prospect Impressions feature

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