Boston College may have been eliminated from Hockey East playoff contention, but a pair of prospects showed why the future is bright in Boston. Two NHL rookies showed off their skill and creativity last week, while a pair of players in the AHL work to adjust to life in professional hockey. Finally, one of the best draft-eligible goaltenders shows why he was ranked as the top North American goalie available this June. All this and more in this week’s Prospect Impressions.
The Boston College Eagles were shocked when Vermont Catamounts completed a 1-0 win in the deciding third game of their playoff series. In a game that could have gotten out of hand, Thatcher Demko was brilliant in the crease for Boston College. The Vancouver Canucks prospect made a diving save against UVM’s Mike Stenerson, keeping the game within reach. Demko finished the season 20-12-3 with a 2.14 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage.
— BC Hockey (@BCHockeyNews) March 16, 2015
Thatcher Demko is Batman, because only a superhero makes saves like that.
— Mike McMahon (@MikeMcMahonCHN) March 16, 2015
#Canucks prospect Thatcher Demko’s year Regular season: 19-10-3 record, 2.18 GAA & 0.927 S%. Playoffs: 1-2-0 record, 1.70 GAA & 0.942 S%
— Ryan Biech (@ryanbiech) March 16, 2015
Earlier in the same series, BC picked up a 4-2 win over UVM thanks to a two-point effort from freshman defenseman Noah Hanifin. The top-ranked defenseman in North America as noted by NHL Central Scouting’s mid-term rankings, Hanifin would likely be the first overall selection were it not for two generational talents named McDavid and Eichel. In 36 games, Hanifin scored five goals and 18 assists, including eight powerplay assists to lead the Eagles.
— Matt Grainda (@graindaiv) March 14, 2015
Incredible how much BC—-a top ranked team in a top conference, is leaning on a U18 defenseman in Noah Hanifin. Every big situation.
— Corey Pronman (@coreypronman) March 15, 2015
The Marko Dano Show was on full display in Columbus last week. Dano showcased why the Blue Jackets made him a first round pick in 2013, doing all the work while setting up Scott Hartnell for a tap-in. He has not been afforded significant icetime, but Dano continues to be productive in a season to forget for Columbus. Through 23 games, Dano has five goals and six assists while maintaining a +3 rating.
— FOX Sports Ohio (@FOXSportsOH) March 15, 2015
— The CBJ Artillery (@TheCBJArtillery) March 14, 2015
Mackenzie Blackwood had a relatively late start to becoming a goaltender, filling in for a teammate when Blackwood was 12 years old. In some regards, Blackwood is still learning how to play the position, but that process has been accelerated in Barrie and for good reason. Billed as the top-ranked North American goaltender by NHL Central Scouting in their midterm rankings, Blackwood has had a fantastic season for the Barrie Colts. His skills were on display in a 38-save shutout over the Peterborough Petes this weekend, and one of those in particular showcased his quick reaction time during a point-blank opportunity. Blackwood has gone 33-14-1 for Barrie, with a 3.10 goals-against average and a .905 save percentage.
— Very Barrie Colts (@VeryBarrieColts) March 15, 2015
Mackenzie Blackwood won 7 games in February while also reaching the 30-save plateau 4 times. He sat 61st in our midterm draft rankings.
— FutureConsiderations (@FCHockey) March 5, 2015
Prized Toronto Maple Leafs‘ prospect William Nylander is working to make the necessary adjustments to life in North America. After making his AHL debut in January, Nylander has started to produce offensively for the Toronto Marlies. Nylander’s impressive puck handling and quick shot release resulted in a goal and assist in the Marlies’ 4-3 loss to Lehigh Valley. He has played 22 games so far, posting six goals and 10 assists along with a +6 for the Marlies.
— Brendan Ross (@RossyYoungblood) March 12, 2015
3G and 1A in William Nylander’s last two games is something to be positive about, if nothing else. Points are starting to come for the kid.
— Jeff Veillette (@Jeffler) March 15, 2015
The Detroit Red Wings affiliate in Grand Rapids is loaded with top prospects. One of their unheralded, under-the-radar prospects is Andreas Athanasiou, a former fourth round pick in 2012. Athanasiou has always been capable of highlight reel goals, but translating some of that success in junior hockey to the professional ranks is a challenge. In last week’s game against Charlotte, Athanasiou rushed down the ice to score his 13th goal of the season, a spectacular effort proving that Athanasiou is meeting that challenge.
— Brendan Ross (@RossyYoungblood) March 11, 2015
Never thought Andreas Athanasiou could do what he did in the OHL in a pro-league setting.. But my god, he can.
— Kyle M (@KyleWIIM) March 11, 2015
At 6’5″ and 225 pounds, New York Rangers forward Kevin Hayes is a difficult player to contain. In the final game between the Islanders and Rangers at Nassau Coliseum, Hayes would not be denied, going one-on-one against Islander defenseman Thomas Hickey. This summer, Hayes opted to test the free agent market after turning down the Chicago Blackhawks, and the Rangers sure are pleased he chose to play for them. Through 65 games, Hayes has 13 goals and 19 assists, good for eighth in NHL rookie scoring.
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) March 11, 2015
— Jameson C. Olive (@JamesonCoop) March 11, 2015
Kevin Hayes told me in Sept. that BC coach Jerry York taught him how to be a pwr frwrd; not a HS finesse guy.York had to be smiling lst nite
— Mike Morreale (@mikemorrealeNHL) March 11, 2015
More Prospect Impressions coming your way next Monday!
Follow Dave Hahn on Twitter via @DHahnHockey