Prospect Impressions: Trio of forwards win championships, “Big Rig” goes down, Hartford’s surprising assist leader

By David Hahn
Hunter Smith - Oshawa Generals

Photo: Oshawa Generals forward and Calgary Flames prospect Hunter Smith turned in his best offensive season of his OHL career, posting 23 goals and 49 points in 57 games in 2014-15 (courtesy of Aaron Bell/OHL Images)



The month of May is reserved for hockey championships, and this week’s Prospect Impressions takes a look at a trio of players who helped seal their team’s success. The NAHL, OHL, and USHL all concluded play, with a nice mix of top prospects and role players being the catalyst for those championships. In the AHL, one player potentially ready to make the jump to the NHL has been an unexpected beacon of hope for Hartford. Finally, what happens when nearly 500 pounds of mass collide in a hockey game? Prospects from the Los Angeles Kings and Calgary Flames answer that question for you in a collision that has to be seen to be believed.

Boston University commit Kieffer Bellows scored 33 times in 58 regular season games in the USHL this year. He added nine more in the playoffs, none more important than this shorthanded, game-winning goal that put the Sioux Falls Stampede ahead for good to win the Clark Cup. Bellows, son of former Minnesota North Stars forward Brian Bellows, put together a phenomenal season alongside USHL veteran Logan O’Connor and 2015 draft-eligible Cooper Marody. The trio was difficult to contain, Bellows in particular.

The jury will be out for a while as to whether or not the Edmonton Oilers were correct to keep Leon Draisaitl as long as they did. That decision looks pretty good after the Kelowna Rockets won the Ed Chynoweth Cup as champions of the WHL. They got there thanks in part to Draisaitl, who finished the regular season with 53 points in 32 games. The playoffs were kind to the talented German, who tied for a share of the WHL playoff scoring lead with Nic Petan (WPG), finishing with 10 goals and 18 assists in 19 games. With the Memorial Cup looming, it will be interesting to see if Draisaitl can continue his torrid scoring pace.

The NAHL’s Robertson Cup was awarded to that league’s champion over the weekend, with an unlikely hero taking center stage. Alex Toscano, more known for his physical game and defensive acumen, took part as the Minnesota Wilderness took home the championship. Early in Game One, take a look as Toscano drives the net and deflects the puck home with a nice display of skill and hand-eye awareness.

The New York Rangers have done just fine without him, but Oscar Lindberg has been a key contributor for the Hartford Wolf Pack, who are in the middle of a deep run towards the AHL’s Calder Cup. Lindberg is a smart, two-way playmaker who has gotten better with the puck as the season has progressed. So far in the AHL playoffs, Lindberg leads the Wolf Pack with 9 assists, just one shy of the AHL lead. He has been a critical element of Hartford’s offense, offering a look at what the Rangers could be adding to the mix next season.

The Erie Otters couldn’t get past the Oshawa Generals to win the OHL Championship, but one defenseman in particular played a major role on defense. Meet Kurtis MacDermid, a Los Angeles Kings prospect who unleashed a series full of punishing hits on the opposition throughout the season. MacDermid was subjected to numerous suspensions during his OHL career, mostly because of his substantial size and physical nature. However, against the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, the 6’4″, 220-pound defender set his sights on 6’6″, 210-pound Hunter Smith, a Calgary Flames prospect affectionately referred to as “Big Rig.”

Stay tuned for more Prospect Impressions coming your way next week!

Follow Dave Hahn on Twitter via @DHahnHockey