Prospect Impressions: Eichel’s beauty, Ritchie stays hot in San Diego, Chabot goes coast-to-coast

By David Hahn
Sam Bennett - Calgary Flames

Photo: After a slow start to his 2015-16 season, Calgary Flames rookie forward Sam Bennett has picked up the pace, posting three goals and nine points in 14 games this season (courtesy of Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images)



Jack Eichel and Sam Bennett score do-it-all goals for their respective teams, and Thomas Chabot didn’t see much of a need to pass the puck, either.  Likewise, Nick Ritchie is on fire in the AHL with eight goals in his first nine games, though his game-winner this week was a little awkward. Finally, an unlikely league with a phenomenal talent is featured in this week’s Prospect Impressions.

With Connor McDavid on the shelf for the next few months, Jack Eichel’s spotlight is shining a little brighter. He has continued to produce for the Buffalo Sabres, who have been playing better as of late themselves. Eichel, the second overall draft pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, looks like a well-seasoned veteran just a few games into his career. Eichel has captivated crowds around the league, thanks in part to individual efforts like this one against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

It’s safe to say that Sam Bennett was sick of losing. On the verge of losing ice time, Bennett has stepped up recently and has started to contribute offensively as the Calgary Flames dig out of an early season hole. Capable of going coast-to-coast, Bennett turned a pair of defenders inside-out on his way to adding another highlight to his personal reel.

Another player getting fans out of their seats is Saint John Sea Dogs defenseman Thomas Chabot. At times, it is almost not fair what Chabot can do with the puck on his stick. One of the premier puck-moving defenders in the QMJHL, Chabot has quietly gone about his business and improved in each consecutive season in the league. The Ottawa Senators have to be pleased, as the 18th overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft is heating up and climbing up the scoring charts.

Nick Ritchie was a force last year in the OHL, and has certainly carried over some of those skills to the AHL with the San Diego Gulls. Ritchie, more known for being a power forward who uses his 6’2″, 225-pound frame to drive the net, recently came up with a creative goal where he put the train in reverse and got a little lucky on the way to scoring his eighth goal of the year.

Good teams sometimes just find a creative way to win, and with a defender sprawled out in front of him, Charlotte Checkers forward Justin Shugg lifted the puck well over a foot in the air – up and over – to find Jake Chelios for the game-winner. Chelios, who bears a last name his father, Chris, made famous looked a little like his old man sneaking in the back door from the point to notch his second career AHL goal.

While it’s not a traditional market, hockey in Great Britain is still catching on and gaining momentum. Ben Bowns, the 2014-15 British Netminder of the Year, came up with a fantastic save this week as he attempts to fend off suitors for his throne. Is it possible that we have found the save-of-the-year already?


Last week’s Prospect Impressions

Follow Dave Hahn on Twitter via @DHahnHockey