Prospect Impressions: Nylander, Soshnikov first NHL goals, McDavid tops Eichel, Kamloops goes old school

By David Hahn
Nikita Soshnikov - Toronto Maple Leafs

Photo: Toronto Maple Leafs rookie forward Nikita Soshnikov had produced 28 points in 50 AHL games for the Toronto Marlies before his current call-up to the NHL (courtesy of Nick Turchiaro/Icon Sportswire)



Prospect Impressions is on fire this week, with a pair of first NHL goals from the Toronto Maple Leafs and the first battle in the McDavid vs. Eichel throwdown. College hockey’s undisputed top line produced two highlight-worthy goals this week, and we have plenty more coverage of all three CHL leagues.

The Toronto Maple Leafs are in the middle of a rebuilding process, and now that the trade deadline has come and gone, a pair of Leafs hopefuls were injected into the lineup and notched their first NHL goals. Nikita Soshnikov showed a mean streak in the AHL, and was heating up with the Toronto Marlies before being recalled. His first NHL goal will be one to remember, maybe not for the shot itself but for the celebration after. Likewise, William Nylander notched his first NHL goal, assisted by Brooks Laich, who oddly enough assisted on Michael Nylander’s final NHL goal.

Forever linked together because of their draft positioning, Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel met up this week for their first head-to-head affair. McDavid took it convincingly by scoring a mere 22 seconds into the game, and then, with the game knotted up at one in overtime, the Edmonton Oilers‘ prodigy turned on the jets and did something special after Eichel’s spin-o-rama attempt went awry.

Is there a better NCAA line in recent memory than Drake Caggiula, Brock Boeser, and Nick Schmaltz? The trio are near the top of all of college hockey in a number of categories, and have rarely been held off the scoresheet this season. Case in point, Boeser opened up and put an unreal shot on net while off balance. Not to be outdone, Schmaltz dangled around a defender and netminder to tuck a tidy effort in the net for his fifth goal of the season.

Army’s sophomore forward Conor Andrle has been their undisputed Most Valuable Player this season. He leads the team in goals (12), assists (20), and power play points (16), and is a full 12 points clear of their next highest scorer. His infectious energy and never quit attitude has been beneficial for Army, traits he displayed this weekend when he dove for a loose puck and managed to somehow put it home from his stomach.

The Kelowna Rockets tore their way through the WHL playoffs last year en route to a championship, and in defense of their title this season, one of the WHL’s most feared defenders is among the Rockets unsung heroes. One of the steadiest defenders in the league, Joe Gatenby often throws thunderous hits and came up with a gem during a Sunday matinee between the Rockets and Kamloops Blazers.

No, that wasn’t a video clip from the 70’s. How about these throwback “Propac” pants? Like the look the Kamloops Blazers were rocking?

Is it too early to give Conor Garland (ARI) all the QMJHL scoring trophies? Garland continues to reach milestones this season as his assault on the QMJHL scoring race glides on. He recently scored his 100th goal in the league, a tidy little backhand roof shot while skating full speed. Is there anything this guy can’t do?

Erie Otters goaltender Devin Williams faced every goalie’s worst nightmare, a two-on-none breakaway featuring two of the OHL’s leading scorers. London Knights forward Mitch Marner (TOR) stripped the puck at the blueline and was joined by Christian Dvorak (ARI) on the break. What happens next was unexpected and an unselfish play by Marner that took Williams by surprise.

Pittsburgh, PA native Alex Berardinelli is a long way from home playing forward for the Lone Star Brahmas in the NAHL. The Brahmas recently clinched a playoff spot in the NAHL’s South Division, thanks in part to Berardinelli’s contributions. He has played in all 50 games for the team, tallying 26 goals and 18 assists. His latest goal just might be the best he has ever scored – what an effort!


Follow Dave Hahn on Twitter via @DHahnHockey