All of our prospects aside from Eetu Makiniemi have begun their seasons, and most of them are having great starts. Guys like Adam Fox and Jack Drury have only played in one game so far, but it’s enough to give them a ranking for the month of October. In this series, I’m ranking our prospects that did not play in more than one NHL, AHL, or ECHL game last season. Our 23 junior prospects and firstyear pros will be ranked based on potential and recent performance. Michael Fora, who was ranked in the previous two rankings, will not be ranked since he is no longer with the organization. Eetu Makiniemi will be ranked even though he hasn’t played this season due to injury. Our highest rising prospect rose up eight spots in this month’s rankings, while our lowest falling prospect fell five spots.
23. Ville Rasanen – Previous Ranking: 22
Rasanen’s season with the Lincoln Stars has been forgettable, and that’s putting it nicely. He’s been Lincoln’s seventh or eighth defenseman most nights, and he can’t seem to do very much. I’ve been puzzled by the Rasanen pick ever since it happened. It’s safe to say that he doesn’t have much of a future professionally.
22. Jake Kucharski – Previous Ranking: 23
Kucharski moves up a spot in this ranking mostly due to a trade that sent him to Omaha. He’s no longer the third goalie on a team but is still the backup. His first start was a solid win and got my hopes up a little bit, but his second start was pretty awful. Kucharski will see more starts with the Lancers, but I’m still not sure if he’ll be a starter at the NCAA level.
21. Luke Stevens – Previous Ranking: 21
Stevens doesn’t move in this month’s rankings, mostly because he’s played one game so far. He scored a goal for Yale in a win against Brown and is seeing more ice time this season. I’m still not convinced about his NHL potential, but he’s had a good start.
20. Eetu Luostarinen – Previous Ranking: 15
Luostarinen is our biggest faller this month. He’s still extremely streaky and just came back from a three-game suspension for a check from behind. Luostarinen has two controversial hits this season that have been penalized, one resulting in a suspension. He’ll need to become more consistent before we consider signing him.
19. Eetu Makiniemi – Previous Ranking: NR
Makiniemi has yet to play this season due to an injury that also kept him out of prospect development camp. Teams are stingy with disclosing injury information, but this is a very long absence. He was loaned to a team in the Finnish second league, so hopefully he’s close to returning.
18. Jack Lafontaine – Previous Ranking: 20
Lafontaine has been great for Penticton so far this season. It’s to be expected considering that he’s one of the oldest players in his league. His GAA is 2.08 and he’s sporting a solid .915 save percentage. Lafontaine has started in 13 games so far, which is the most he’s started in since his draft year. This could be exactly what he needs to get back on track.
17. Matt Filipe – Previous Ranking: 16
Filipe has one assist in four games to start the season. It’s a slow start for him, but he’s looked a lot more comfortable on the ice this season. He’s only moving down because there are other prospects that have outperformed him. I like Filipe as a player and I think that he has some NHL potential, but he’ll need to start scoring more before I can get too excited about him.
16. Brendan De Jong – Previous Ranking: 17
In fourteen games this season, De Jong has nine points. He’s on pace for just about 44 points, which would be 19 more points than the career high of 25 that he set last season. He’s cooled off for the past few games, but it has still been an impressive start for the former sixth round pick.
15. Lenni Killinen – Previous Ranking: 13
Killinen hasn’t played a whole lot this month due to another injury. He did score his first Liiga goal but has missed quite a few games since then. Assat has been terrible and just fired their assistant coach and GM. Killinen did get invited to a tournament in November so that will be exciting to follow.
14. Jesper Sellgren – Previous Ranking: 14
Sellgren stays where he’s at this month, but don’t let that fool you. He’s been excellent through the month of October and is starting to get a lot more comfortable with the SHL. Sellgren has three points through the first fifteen games and just four penalty minutes. The defenseman is averaging over 18 minutes of ice time per game and was also invited to the Kajala tournament, the same tournament that Lenni Killinen is going to.
13. David Cotton – Previous Ranking: 11
Don’t let the numbers fool you. Cotton has four points in four games to start the year, but all of them came in the first game of the season. Like the rest of his team, Cotton has been invisible for the past three games. I don’t expect Cotton to stay at 13 for long, but his start has not been good.
12. Cliff Pu – Previous Ranking: 9
Pu has had a tough start to his professional career. He has just one assist through six games and has been a healthy scratch in a couple of games recently. The Checkers are one of the AHL’s best teams so far, and with the way that they’ve been playing, it may be hard for Pu to see playing time.
11. Luke Henman – Previous Ranking: 12
Henman may not be scoring a whole lot this season, but all of his points have been primary points. He’s done well in a very limited role with the Armada this season, and I expect him to see more that nine minutes per game pretty soon.
10. Max Zimmer – Previous Ranking: 18
Last season, I mentioned that Max Zimmer was going to have a breakout season in 2018. He was getting first-line minutes but wasn’t getting on the scoresheet. This season, Zimmer has been on the top line and has six points in as many games while looking comfortable playing top minutes. He’s no longer a timid forward and seems more interested in getting involved in each play. Zimmer is finally able to match pace with his teammates and be on time for every chance. He’s looking good this season and will hopefully be able to smash his career high of nine points.
9. Jeremy Helvig – Previous Ranking: 8
Helvig hasn’t been bad this season. He has a save percentage of .898 in three starts with the Everblades but has been excellent in all three games. Helvig seems to be adjusting to the pros, and if it wasn’t for the dynamic duo of Nedeljkovic and Booth in the AHL, he’d be with the Checkers right now.
8. Luke Martin – Previous Ranking: 7
Martin has been a steady presence for Michigan through five games this season. He has one assist so far. Martin won’t be an offensive force in the NHL but will instead be similar to Brett Pesce. He has been one of their best players defensively and will likely continue to be until he leaves Michigan.
7. Jack Drury – Previous Ranking: 10
Drury had two secondary assists in Harvard’s first game of the season. He looked a lot faster and very comfortable offensively. Drury has a lot of offensive potential as a playmaker and was underrated due to his speed. He seems to have gotten faster, which will be huge for his offensive production.
6. Morgan Geekie – Previous Ranking: 6
It’ll be tough for Geekie to outperform Mattheos this season, but he’s closed the gap. Geekie has six points in nine games to start the season for the Checkers. He’s been lethal on the power play and is adjusting incredibly well to the AHL. We might see Geekie get called up if there’s an injury or if they just want to see him play.
5. Stelio Mattheos – Previous Ranking: 5
Mattheos is one of the WHL’s best forwards from an analytics standpoint and has 21 points in 14 games. The Wheat Kings are an average team with not a whole lot of talent outside of their top line, but that hasn’t stopped Mattheos from being great. Only one of his points is a secondary assist, which is phenomenal. Mattheos is our best junior prospect by a sizeable margin as of right now.
4. Jake Bean – Previous Ranking: 4
Bean had a slow start but has been great as of the past few games, especially when it comes to scoring clutch goals. He has six points in nine games and has been playing primarily on the third pair. Even though he may not be playing as much as Canes fans would like, his ice time has increased over the past few games.
3. Adam Fox – Previous Ranking: 3
Fox isn’t on the same tier as Necas is, but he’s making a case to be considered a top prospect. He had five points in an overtime loss against Dartmouth to start the season. Fox has been a point-pergame player so far in the NCAA and is poised for a big season on a good Harvard team. Fox will likely be signed once his season is over and will be ready for the NHL immediately after.
2. Martin Necas – Previous Ranking: 2
Sending down Necas was the right call. He wasn’t playing much in the NHL, and his linemates couldn’t help him out offensively. Necas isn’t getting a whole lot of playing time in the AHL through five games, but his last game was encouraging. He scored his first AHL goal and also had an assist. His
expected goals numbers are good, and it looks like we’ll start to see him playing more in the next few games.
1. Andrei Svechnikov – Previous Ranking: 1
It’s time to give Svechnikov some better linemates. He was doing well with Martinook and Wallmark for a while, but that line hasn’t been able to do very much for the past five games or so. Svechnikov has made a few rookie mistakes but has been solid for the most part. If they move him up in the lineup, expect him to go on a scoring tear.