Prospect Impressions: Three 2015 top 10 NHL Draft prospects produce highlights, more from domestic and international competition

By David Hahn
Pavel Zacha - Sarnia Sting

Photo: Sarnia Sting forward and 2015 prospect Pavel Zacha appeared in 37 games for the Sting in 2014-15, scoring 16 goals and 34 points on the season (courtesy of Terry Wilson/OHL Images)



The Detroit Red Wings have another seventh round pick setting records in the SHL while producing in critical situations. The OHL playoffs continue as the Oshawa Generals turn to their 6’6″ power forward to help eliminate a rival team, while another OHL veteran heads off to the AHL and immediately makes an impact. Staying with the OHL, the Erie Otters top tandem strikes again, eliminating the London Knights in fine fashion. Also in this week’s Prospect Impressions, highlight-reel goals from the USHL and U18 World Championship are worth a watch, as is a fantastic save from the QMJHL.

It’s not really surprising at this point, but the Detroit Red Wings have apparently again struck gold with a late-round draft pick. This time, the focus is on Axel Holmstrom, the 196th overall pick by the Red Wings in 2014. Holmstrom is plying his trade with Swedish giants Skelleftea, where the team is in the midst of a long playoff stretch. He garnered attention following his goal in a 2-1 victory to draw his team even against Vaxjo in the final round of the SHL playoffs. It wasn’t just the way he scored, but the fact that Holmstrom surpassed an SHL rookie scoring record in the playoffs, quite a feat considering he passed Daniel and Henrik Sedin to accomplish the feat.

Pavel Zacha should be a top 10 pick in this summer’s NHL Draft. The power forward displayed his terrific work ethic and 200-foot game this season for the Sarnia Sting, and has enjoyed success in international tournaments as well for the Czech Republic. He has made appearances in the U18 and U20 tournaments already, and has been a force all year long. Take a look as Zacha takes the puck through the neutral zone, speeds past a defender, and makes a nifty move in tight to score a highlight-reel beauty.

An intimidating presence, Oshawa Generals forward Mike McCarron is having himself a solid playoff run. The Montreal Canadiens prospect was acquired at the trade deadline and that acquisition was an astute one for a Generals team primed for a playoff push. McCarron enjoyed a four-point night in a 7-4 victory over the Niagara IceDogs, en route to ending their season. The towering forward now has six goals and five assists in 10 playoff games after a 68-point regular season. Known more for his ability to drive the net and protect the puck, McCarron surprised with a spinning goal on his backhand, showing that he is more dynamic than previously thought.

Playing on a line featuring Cooper Marody, a top 2015 draft-eligible prospect, and Kieffer Bellows, one to keep an eye on for 2016, underrated forward Logan O’Connor is enjoying a career season in his own right. O’Connor, a native of Calgary, has been a big part of the Sioux Falls Stampede’s success this year. He scored 16 goals and 20 assists in the regular season, and has been huge in the playoffs as the Herd looks to advance to the next round. He might have been channeling his inner Ovechkin with this effort from his back, have a look as O’Connor makes an unbelievable play.

Entering this season, no questions needed to be asked about Connor McDavid‘s game. For fellow Erie Otters teammate Dylan Strome, he had something to prove and managed to win the OHL scoring title on the last day of the season. There has been a lot said of these two players, but this goal in particular sums up the season for the two Otters’ superstars. McDavid, driving wide and pushing the pace to the net, was followed closely behind by Strome, who finished the play with ease. Looking ahead to the NHL Draft, Strome won’t be far behind once again.

While the Edmonton Oilers are rightfully focused on Connor McDavid, one unheralded prospect performing beyond expectations is Kyle Platzer of the Owen Sound Attack. Platzer only scored 17 points in his draft season, but the Oilers correctly saw potential in him, and he is paying it back in spades. The former fourth round selection scored 34 goals and 47 assists in the regular season, leading the Attack in scoring. In the playoffs, Platzer scored one goal and four assists in five games as their season came to an end. Platzer not only enjoyed a career season in the OHL, but his transition to professional hockey seems to be going well in its infancy.

There has been quite a bit of rubber thrown at Halifax Mooseheads goaltender Eric Brassard, and he has been up for the challenge. Through 13 playoff games, Brassard has faced 521 shots, an astonishing total for any goalie to handle. Halifax heads into a critical game seven this week, where Brassard will need to continue to simply make saves if the team wishes to advance into the next round. As an example, take a look as Brassard shut the door with a sprawling save on Ivan Barbashev (STL).

More Prospect Impressions coming your way next Monday!

Follow Dave Hahn on Twitter via @DHahnHockey