In this week’s Prospect Faceoff, the reigning Vaughn CHL Goaltender of the Week will try and slow down one of the QMJHL’s most proficient scorers. Two Toronto Maple Leafs prospects will go head-to-head in a Thanksgiving Day matinee, while two ‘A’ rated 2016 NHL Draft-eligible skaters clash in the WHL. In the USHL, a pair of Clark Cup champions go one-on-one, while two of the NCAA’s finest freshmen collide.
Dmytro Timashov (Quebec) vs. Keven Bouchard (Baie-Comeau) – QMJHL
After Dmytro Timashov dropped to the fifth round in the 2015 NHL Draft, a number of scouting outlets were puzzled by the fall. Playing with a chip on his shoulder, Timashov is working hard to prove those doubters wrong and simply focus on his game. Born in the Ukraine, Timashov is a Swedish national who could be gaining momentum towards gaining a roster spot at the upcoming World Junior Championship. He scored 19 times and assisted on a remarkable 71 others in 2014-15, and is on pace to surpass those marks this season. He already has 41 points in 23 games, good for sixth overall in QMJHL scoring. Thanks to his hot start, Timashov also has a brand new, three-year entry-level contract courtesy of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Edmonton Oilers goaltending prospect Keven Bouchard has experienced an up-and-down career so far. Bouchard was the second goaltender taken by the Oilers in the 2014 NHL Draft after Zach Nagelvoort, and is attempting to recover from a difficult start to the season. Enduring an abysmal stretch where the Baie-Comeau Drakkar dropped 10 straight games, Bouchard rebounded to pick up a pair of victories last weekend. He stopped 25 of 27 against the Saint John Sea Dogs and followed that effort up by stopping all 41 shots to pick up his first shutout of the season over the Halifax Mooseheads. Bouchard was named the Vaughn CHL Goaltender of the Week, and will carry a hot streak into a difficult matchup against Timashov and company.
Jeremy Bracco (Kitchener) vs. Travis Dermott (Erie) – OHL
In a matchup of two bright young Toronto Maple Leafs prospects, Jeremy Bracco enters this annual Thanksgiving Day tradition as the newest Kitchener Ranger. Bracco began the season with Boston College, but ultimately decided to forgo his freshman season in favor of joining the Rangers. It was a coup for Kitchener, who adds an eagle-eyed playmaker and top-notch offensive threat to an already potent lineup. Bracco’s adjustment has not been lights out, but he has fared well through his first eleven OHL games with the team, picking up three goals and 11 assists.
Opposing him will be fellow Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Travis Dermott, who ended up being the marquee name after the Leafs traded down twice to acquire extra assets. Among the most mobile defenders in the OHL, Dermott’s skating ability has helped the Erie Otters break the puck out cleanly, and has allowed Dermott to be the go-to guy on the Otters’ power play. Dermott got off to a slow start this year, but is racking up the assists – 21 in total so far – and is on pace to break his career-high point total of 45 set last season.
Sam Steel (Regina) vs. Jake Bean (Calgary) – WHL
In 2013, the Regina Pats took Sam Steel with the second overall pick in the WHL Bantam Draft, and then carefully began to introduce him to the WHL style of play. Last season, in Steel’s first full year in the league, he scored 17 times and assisted on 37 others, finishing fourth in rookie scoring. It was a solid beginning, but this year represents an opportunity for Steel to make a name for himself. Success has followed the Edmonton, AB native throughout his minor career, including the Alberta Cup, the Western Canada Challenge Cup, and most recently a gold medal at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament. Regarded as one of the most intelligent players in this year’s draft class, Steel is hoping to break past the point-per-game pace he is currently on in order to improve his draft stock.
Like Steel, Calgary Hitmen defenseman Jake Bean has been listed as an ‘A’ rated skater for the 2016 NHL Draft by NHL Central Scouting. That rating is deserved, too, as Bean could be among the first defensemen drafted thanks to his deadly transition game. Bean is proficient in moving the puck quickly, one trait that has propelled him straight to the Hitmen’s top defense pairing alongside of Philadelphia Flyers prospect Travis Sanheim. The duo has been deadly, especially on the team’s seventh ranked power play unit. With 11 goals already this season, Bean tops the charts for goal-scoring by a rearguard and is just four points behind league leader Joe Hicketts (DET).
Brock Boeser (North Dakota) vs. Mason Appleton (Michigan State) – NCAA
The Vancouver Canucks have not hit on a number of draft picks in recent memory, but may have bucked the trend with Brock Boeser. Only 40 players maintained a point-per-game pace in college hockey last year, and if Brock Boeser can keep up his scoring pace, he could be among that select group this season. With seven goals and seven assists in his first 14 games as a freshman for the University of North Dakota, Boeser is fitting right in on the team’s first line alongside of Drake Caggiula and Nick Schmaltz (CHI). Boeser is in the midst of a four-game point streak, kicked off by a career-high four point effort against Miami University.
Among freshmen forwards currently competing in college hockey, Michigan State’s Mason Appleton might be the most consistent through the early going. The Winnipeg Jets draft pick has at least one point in nine of the team’s first 12 games, including multi-point performances against Lake Superior State, Boston College, and Michigan Tech. He has linked up with team captain Michael Ferrantino and St. Louis Blues draft pick Mackenzie MacEachern on the top line, quickly earning the trust of the coaching staff and his peers. Appleton is riding a five-game point streak into this weekend’s contest.
Denis Smirnov (Fargo) vs. Parker Tuomie (Sioux Falls) – USHL
While he has yet to sign his National Letter of Intent, Denis Smirnov could be the brightest young recruit heading to “Hockey Valley” at Penn State University. Before he arrives on campus, Smirnov has some business to tend to in the USHL. After winning a Clark Cup championship with the Indiana Ice in 2014, the diminutive forward was traded to the Fargo Force, where he has indeed been a force. Smirnov notched a hat-trick, including the game-winner, over the NTDP’s U17 team, and was recently named as the USHL Forward of the Week.
Sioux Falls Stampede forward Parker Tuomie is in his final year of junior eligibility and is off to a hot start of his own. Through the first 18 games of the season, Tuomie leads the USHL in scoring with 16 goals and nine assists. The Hassfurt, Germany native knows a little bit about winning the Clark Cup himself, having captured the trophy with Sioux Falls last season. The Stampede captain has been a consistent source of offense, and a veteran voice to help guide a much greener team following the losses of Kieffer Bellows, Cooper Marody (PHI), and Logan O’Connor.
Mitch Marner (London) vs. Sean Day (Mississauga) – OHL
London’s first line of Mitch Marner (TOR), Matthew Tkachuk (2016), and Christian Dvorak (ARI) was too much to handle as the London Knights rolled to an easy 9-4 victory. Marner had three assists, all of them coming with the man advantage, and was named as the game’s second star. Tkachuk had a career-high five-point game, and Dvorak added one goal and two assists of his own. The Mississauga Steelheads were paced by defenseman Stephen Gibson, who scored his first two goals of the season. The Steelheads scratched Sean Day, who is believed to be fighting the flu.
Brandon Carlo (Tri-City) vs. Caleb Jones (Portland) – WHL
The Portland Winterhawks offensive machine kept rolling this weekend, as the team launched 46 shots at Tri-City Americans goaltenders to come away with a 5-2 victory. Alex Overhardt, Jack Dougherty (NSH), Dominic Turgeon (DET), and Colton Veloso each had one goal and one assist in the win, and Caleb Jones (EDM) added an assist and finished with a +2 rating. On the other side of the equation, Brandon Carlo (BOS) replied with an assist of his own, but was otherwise quiet playing behind an Americans offense that had difficulty getting going.
Jakub Zboril (Saint John) vs. Dmitry Zhukenov (Chicoutimi) – QMJHL
In one of the weekend’s best games, the Saint John Sea Dogs and Chicoutimi Sagueneens played a fast paced, back-and-forth affair. Dmitry Zhukenov (VAN) helped to open up the scoring in the first period, assisting on an Antoine Marcoux goal, which ended up being his only point of the game. In his first game back with Chicoutimi after playing in the CHL Canada Russia Series, Nicolas Roy (CAR) added two assists to help send the game to overtime. With the score all square at three, Saint John’s Sam Povorozniouk and Mathieu Joseph (TBL) scored in the shootout to pick up the 4-3 win. Jakub Zboril (BOS) played to an even rating, but extended his scoring drought to six straight games.
Nicolas Roy (Team QMJHL) vs. Evgeny Svechnikov (Team Russia) – Canada/Russia Series
The six-game CHL Canada Russia Series came to a conclusion this weekend, and, after dropping a 3-2 decision to Russia earlier in the week, Team QMJHL rebounded with a 6-4 win. Defenseman Jeremy Lauzon (BOS) scored once and added two assists, Mathieu Joseph scored twice, and Anthony Beauvillier (NYI) added one goal and one assist of his own for the QMJHL. Nicolas Roy, despite seeing regular ice time, was unable to add a point, but finished the game with a +1 rating. Facing off against many of his teammates and friends around the league, Evgeny Svechnikov (DET) was absolutely dynamic, scoring one highlight-reel goal and picking up another playing alongside of Cape Breton Screaming Eagles teammate Maxim Lazarev, who assisted on three of Russia’s four goals.
Zach Werenski (Michigan) vs. Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson (Boston Univ.) – NCAA
Two of college hockey’s long-standing schools matched up this weekend and split a pair of games. On Friday, Boston University erased a two-goal deficit on goals by Danny O’Regan (SJS) and Robbie Baillargeon (OTT), before Doyle Somerby’s (NYI) unassisted marker put BU ahead for good. Both Zach Werenski (CBJ) and Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson (BOS) were held without a point, but the script would change on Saturday. The University of Michigan again got out to an early lead thanks to a pair of first period power play goals by Cooper Marody and Alex Kile, but this time they continued to score and played lock-tight defense in the third period until Forsbacka-Karlsson helped to setup Ahti Oksanen’s seventh of the season. The goal helped close the gap, but ultimately Michigan’s impressive defensive corps shut things down and the Wolverines won by a final score of 4-2.
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