2018 NHL Draft

CHL Top Prospects Game

Zadina, Dellandrea power Team Cherry in TPG romp
Steve Kournianos  |  01/26/2018 |  Nashville  |  

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Flint Firebirds center Ty Dellandrea was one of two players to score twice for Team Cherry in a 7-4 win over Team Orr in Thursday’s CHL Top Prospects Game (Photo: Terry Wilson/OHL Images).

Standouts

LW Filip Zadina (Ranked No. 3)

Zadina had the best performance of any forward by doing exactly what’s he’s been doing for several years — scoring goals and being the most dangerous player every time he hit the ice. He not only scored a pair of goals, but also had a game-high seven shots, plus one that rang off the post after a crafty one-on-four move. The gap between Zadina and top winger Andrei Svechnikov has been tight for quite a while, and the latter’s strong performance at the Top Prospects Game could be enough to move him past his Russian counterpart on several draft boards.

G Olivier Rodrigue (Ranked No. 90)

It’s hard to believe that key saves were necessary in a 7-4 game, but Team Cherry and Rodrigue — a confident, technically-sound goalie — were under a lot of pressure and zone time in the first half of the opening period. He had to come up with several saves to keep the game scoreless, and then held the fort after his mates scored in bunches to break the game open. Rodrigue’s quickness is excellent, and he makes up for an average glove hand by playing above the crease and positioning himself properly to cut down as much white space as possible. Only one of 14 shots beat him, and that was a tip in the slot from Serron Noel.

RHD Evan Bouchard (Ranked No. 19)

Bouchard could have been quiet the whole game and still maintained his standing as one of the top blueliners for the upcoming draft. But the rangy London rearguard was far from unnoticeable, not only for picking up four assists, but also by playing a quick transition game and showing poised puck management. His skating and agility looked absolutely fine, and he validated his high marks from pre-game testing by showing quickness on the backskate and solid closing speed.

C Aidan Dudas (Ranked No. 98)

This kid’s speed and skill was on full display at the TPG, which likely didn’t surprise most of the scouts in the building — Dudas has been doing the deke and dangle thing for quite a while, and his high-energy approach to every shift forced turnovers that led to scoring chances. He’s an excellent stickhandler who has no fear of playing inside, and being 5’7 had little bearing on his ability to win battles and make courageous dashes to the net. Dudas scored a pair of goals and easily could have been names MVP for Team Cherry.

C Ty Dellandrea (Ranked No. 22)

If there was one prospect who i was actively rooting for from a fan’s perspective, it was this two-way center whose solid season in terms of draft rankings has gone relatively unnoticed. Dellandrea is a big kid with above-average puck skills, but there’s a lot more to his game than just scoring. Positioning for forwards is something often overlooked, but Dellandrea is one of the smarter centers in that regard. Thus, he scored a pair of goals in the most important game to date of his draft year — he scored his first off a loose puck in front of the net before adding another with a gorgeous tip-in from the slot.

LHD Kevin Bahl (Ranked No. 45)

Bahl is a big kid with very good mobility who has a reputation for being a very good defender, especially below the circles. Although he had trouble with coverage on occasion, but it was his ability to join the rush and provide offense from the back end that was the most encouraging. He picked up an assist with a quick wrister that was tipped home by Serron Noel, then jumped into a 3-on-2 rush and wired home a loose puck that kicked out to him. The defensive-zone play of Team Orr’s entire blue line corps was surprisingly terrible, yet it was Bahl who did his best to keep his area clear and break up several chances from out in front.

LW Cole Fonstad (Ranked No. 50)

Fonstad is a strong offensive player who showed off his soft hands and hard shot by receiving cleanly a cross-ice pass from Bo Groulx and rifling it home in one motion. He has very good vision and completed several passes through traffic, plus he can stop on a dime or slow things down in order to wait for trailers to come into the picture. Fonstad is a very good skater who applied pressure on the forecheck and finished his checks without entirely taking himself out of a play.

RHD Rasmus Sandin (Ranked No. 49)

A ridiculous move by Andrei Svechnikov notwithstanding, Sandin was the surest of all team Cherry puck movers — not only for his ability to make things across the red line to run smooth, but also for the manner in which he won battles in his own end and jumpstarted the attack. Sandin is not a flashy player, and his offensive upside may be limited (his shot and playmaking skills are average), but the way he controls the puck with his head up, especially while pivoting away from pressure, makes me think that he has an untapped creative aspect to his game.

Notable Prospects

RW Andrei Svechnikov (Ranked No. 1)

A lot of eyes were on Svechnikov and for good reason — NHL’s Central Scouting Bureau recently named him as the top-rated North American prospect for the 2018 draft. Svechnikov was on Team Orr’s top line, but he was relatively quiet in terms of chances outside of a handful of lengthy cycles and some room in the circle on the power play. Additionally, he forced at least three passes into the middle of the ice that were picked off, but none led to anything significant. Overall, there were three plays involving Svechnikov that stood out: a one-arm shove during a zone entry that knocked Nico Gross to the ground; a posterizing move on Rasmus Sandin while shorthanded that nearly led to a shorthanded goal; and rushing the puck into a 3-on-2 at the end of a long shift that led to Kevin Bahl’s goal. He did solid work on the cycle but was kept to the outside for most of the game.

C Joe Veleno (Ranked No. 4)

Veleno has been playing very well since his mid-season trade from Saint John to Drummondville, and he took responsibility of being captain for Team Cherry by centering the top line and both PP and PK units. The speedy playmaker appeared more reserved than normal, but did contribute on the penalty kill and backchecked to negate at least one dangerous opportunity. Offensively, he was involved in several chances around the net and came close to scoring on one. Sans one turnover that led to a 2-on-1 against, Veleno played a solid 200-foot game.

C Barrett Hayton (Ranked No. 17)

Hayton picked up a pair of assists and showed good chemistry with Filip Zadina from start to finish. He’s been a hot topic of conversation heading into the game, not only for being ranked sixth among North American prospects by the NHL’s Central Scouting, but also for his dominance at the on/off ice testing done prior to Thursday’s game. He’s a excellent passer and playmaker who knows his duties as a center go well beyond the scope of point producing.

Burn the Tape

LHD Ty Smith (Ranked No. 5)

Smith is an excellent two-way defensemen who rarely turns the puck over once, let alone the four or five times he did in the first period alone. He was either ridiculously nervous or had skate issues — Smith slipped behind the net several times throughout the night. He was a minus-4 on the stats sheet and for good reason, as both he and partner Noah Dobson were missing assignments and had trouble dealing with the forecheck. That last statement may be hard to believe when you consider his overall body of work, but Smith deserves a longer look to see if any of the mistakes he made on Thursday will spill over into his league play.

RHD Noah Dobson (Ranked No. 16)

This normally sure-handed defender was picked apart by an aggressive forecheck, and on several occasions retreated into untenable situations when the easy play was right there in front of him. Dobson was over-committing a lot, and he was caught chasing multiple odd-man rushes against. Like Smith, however, he revealed solid quickness, especially when he made the choice to pinch and dart down below the circles.