Welcome back to Prospect Need to Know, the gathering formerly known as The Hot List. I’m debuting some new sections this week and there will be a rotation, so don’t worry if things continue to look different from here on out. There’s a lot to cover with the AHL and NCAA getting into full swing, so let’s get to it.
Dillon Dube, C – Kelowna Rockets (WHL): When good junior franchises are humming, they don’t rebuild – they reload. The Rockets are one such franchise and Kelowna has a pretty nice line of succession going on right now thanks to Dube. He’s basically another Nick Merkley, the small but effective Rockets pivot taken 30th overall by Arizona in 2015.
Like Merkley, Dube is a burner on his skates and knows how to produce – the 2016 prospect has 13 points through nine games this season, good for top-20 in the WHL. How does he do it? Once practice is over, Dube just keeps on skating.
“I try to work on my game as much as I can,” he said. “I want to have a really good shot, so I try to shoot pucks more than everyone else. That's what I want to be, a goal scorer.”
So far, so good on that account. Merkley and Dube have been friends since they were younger players in Calgary, but Dube actually lived in the small B.C. town of Golden until he was 11. He only played house league back then, but the amount of hockey he played built up his skills early on.
“It was awesome,” Dube said. “That's where I did a lot of my development. Even though I wasn't playing the best hockey, it was just being around those kids and getting on the ice as much as I could. I think we had 12 guys on our team, so I got to play a ton.”
Dube doesn’t have to play a ton on Kelowna – the Rockets have plenty of weapons – but he is carving out an offensive niche already. At 5-foot-10, 180 pounds, he knows he has to get stronger and playing in the Memorial Cup last year hammered that point home. A past edition of the tournament even gave Dube a role model to watch.
“I like Nathan MacKinnon,” he said. “Watching him in the Memorial Cup, that's when he really stood out for me. I like how explosive he is and he has one of the best shots I've seen.”
Dube has already been to one Memorial Cup and with a couple years left in junior, there’s no reason to doubt he can play for another one.
In the Pipeline
Martin Reway, LW (Montreal): He was one of Slovakia’s heroes at the world juniors last year and now the 2013 Canadiens pick is running the Czech League at the tender age of 20. Crafty and agile, the left winger leads the Extraliga with 15 points in 13 games, playing for first-place Sparta Praha.
William Nylander, C, (Toronto): The eighth overall pick in 2014 has begun his first full AHL season in style with five points in four games for the Toronto Marlies and has looked dangerous in the process. In fact, based on the way he is carrying the puck and creating chances, Nylander may turn out to be more effective in the NHL when his linemates are experienced finishers.
Eamon McAdam, G, (NY Islanders): McAdam was the first Penn State commit ever drafted (Pat Koudys was an RPI transfer), but the Nittany Lions have made him earn his starts. His junior season has kicked off in excellent fashion with wins over Canisius and Notre Dame, giving the big netminder a Big Ten-best .934 save percentage.
Miles Wood, LW, (New Jersey): Wood played a grinding role at the 2015 world juniors for Team USA, but the former New England prep schooler and 2013 Devils fourth-rounder is letting loose on offense now, too. The Boston College freshman leads the Eagles in scoring with five points in three games, causing chaos for opponents as he does it.
Deadly Duo: The University of North Dakota always has a talented team, but keep an eye out on 2014 Chicago first-rounder Nick Schmaltz and his new right winger, 2015 Vancouver first-rounder Brock Boeser. The pair were dominant in their most recent game, combining for five points in a 5-2 win over Bemidji State.
Hot Squad: Philadelphia Flyers picks are killin’ it so far this fall. In Russia, 2015 fourth-rounder Mikhail Vorobyov is a top-10 scorer in the KHL’s junior circuit, putting up 16 points in 14 games for Tolpar Ufa. In Sweden, 2014 fifth-rounder Oskar Lindblom is playing on Brynas’ top line in the SHL and leads all junior-aged scorers with eight points in 10 games. In North America, 2015 first-rounder Travis Konecny is red-hot for OHL Ottawa with 15 points in 10 games – the same stat line defenseman Travis Sanheim (2014 first-rounder) is rocking for WHL Calgary.
2016 Draft Stars
Clayton Keller, C – U.S. NTDP (USHL): Keller, a Boston University commit, is cutting a swath of destruction right now with 20 points in 11 games. Ultra-skilled and not afraid to go to the hard areas despite a slight frame, Keller has seven points in his past three games, all against older NCAA competition: Notre Dame, Dartmouth and his future Terriers teammates. He’s making magic on a line with fellow B.U. recruit Kieffer Bellows.
Samuel Girard, D – Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL): A small, but brilliant offensive defenseman who really knows how to move the puck, Girard is having one heck of an autumn. The Cataractes blueliner is top-10 in ‘Q’ scoring with 20 points through 13 games, including 18 assists – tied for first overall.
William Bitten, C – Flint Firebirds (OHL): A top-five scorer in the league with 14 points through nine games, Bitten is nearly half-way to last year’s offensive totals already. Dynamic and very involved, his energy more than makes up for his smaller frame.
Travis Barron, LW – Ottawa 67’s (OHL): Barron is known as much for his defensive work and grit as he is for his scoring, but he made waves on the weekend with a hat trick for the 67’s. Crazy back story: when Barron was in minor midget, he was misdiagnosed for an ailment late in the season and a second opinion led to an emergency appendectomy. He was back on the ice after two and a half weeks and despite having lost 15 pounds, led the Toronto Jr. Canadiens to their first GTHL playoff crown.
Corrected to reflect that Travis Konecny was drafted in the first round, not the second.