Prospect Impressions: Gaffe costs BU, McDavid McDazzles, more prospect highlights

By David Hahn
Connor McDavid - Erie Otters

Photo: Erie Otters forward and 2015 prospect Connor McDavid picked up 14 points in his team’s 4-game sweep of the London Knights in the 2015 OHL playoffs (courtesy of Terry Wilson/OHL Images)



In this week’s feature, one unfortunate play does not define a player who has been defying expectations his entire career. A future first-overall prospect does it again, while other top draft-eligible prospects produce highlight reel plays. Other top prospects from around the globe notch game-winners, first professional goals, and one goaltender has the hearts of a city thanks to an improbable run to the playoffs. What more could you ask for from this week’s Prospect Impressions?

In a game to settle the NCAA Championship, Boston University goaltender Matt O’Connor was involved in a play that will be talked about for years. It was a play O’Connor normally makes a few times per game, perhaps hundreds of times over the course of his career, and yet, when the game was at it’s greatest impasse, O’Connor unbelievably let the puck sneak past him. Providence College added another goal shortly after, stealing the NCAA National Championship right from BU’s grasp. Still, O’Connor remained humbled and will likely move on to professional hockey following a 25-4-4 junior year that included a 2.18 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage.

Just when you think you’ve seen it all from future first-overall Connor McDavid, he comes up with another unbelieveable play that transcends the game. Perhaps it should be believeable at this point, considering the success McDavid has had, especially in the playoffs. His Erie Otters have gone on a run of 17 wins in their last 18 games, the lone loss coming against Sarnia in Game One of the OHL playoffs’ opening round. Against London, McDavid secured the first five-goal game in Otters history, then followed that up with a between-the-legs pass that fooled everyone except his teammate for the dagger in a 4-1 win, taking a commanding 3-0 lead in the series.

The Kelowna Rockets sure are glad that Leon Draisaitl was returned to the WHL, while opponents of the Rockets wish he’d stayed with the Edmonton Oilers. Draisaitl has been dynamic in the playoffs, leading the team with two goals and seven assists in six games. Kelowna has yet to take a loss thus far in the WHL playoffs, and with Draisaitl on board and playing the way he is, defeating them will be a difficult task for any opponent. As an example of his play, take a look as Draisaitl maintains puck possession before finding Tyson Baillie out front.

Looking at the draft-eligible defenseman at the beginning of the season, names like Noah Hanifin, Zach Werenski, and Oliver Kylington were on most minds. However, Brandon Wheat Kings defenseman Ivan Provorov shot up the rankings this season, thanks in part to his point-per-game regular season. Provorov’s wicked shot release and ability to skate through traffic have elevated his game into top-10 discussion. Now in the second round of the playoffs, Brandon jumped out to a 2-0 series lead against Regina, thanks in part to Provorov’s two goals and four assists so far these playoffs.

Let’s just get this out of the way early – the Ottawa Senators wouldn’t have made the playoffs without the player affectionately referred to as “The Hamburglar.” The reference, of course is reserved for Andrew Hammond, the owner of an .898 save percentage for the Binghamton Senators of the AHL. That stat immediately stands out, especially when you look at his staggering .941 mark in the NHL. Hammond’s calm and composed nature served him well, but it’s his never-say-die attitude that helps him keep the puck out.

Drawing some parallels between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Kasperi Kapanen, both the organization and the player have had their struggles this season. Yet, despite frustrating moments, they have both found a way to succeed when the light shines brightest. Kapanen, the Penguins’ first round pick in 2014, did not take the expected offensive step forward with KalPa in Liiga, yet still improved his point totals with 11 goals and 10 assists in 41 games. After his season in Finland concluded, Kapanen made his way to the Penguins’ AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre, scoring a goal on his first shot.

The hockey world can be cruel sometimes, and for Charlottetown Islanders forward Spenser Cobbold, his series-clinching overtime goal had to feel good. Previously waived through the OHL last year, he landed with the Islanders who took a chance following in the footsteps of several OHL players who have found success in the QMJHL. Watch as Cobbold sent the Islanders into the second round of the playoffs in fine fashion.

More Prospect Impressions coming your way next Monday!

Follow Dave Hahn on Twitter via @DHahnHockey