Driving Wheel

This is Jonathan Huberdeau. A late surge during the QMJHL’s regular season moved him into lottery territory. A stunning playoff performance could move him higher and he’s not alone.

Last spring, Taylor Hall ripped up the playoffs and laid waste to the Taylor versus Tyler conversation. Hall went 19gp, 17-18-35 for Windsor and scored one of the most famous goals in Memorial Cup history after taking one of the most famous hits in Memorial Cup history just a few moments earlier.

I believe a strong post-season performance can improve the final number for prospects in two ways: first, prolonged exposure to scouts and second increased opportunity to showcase talent. Even a player who doesn’t do anything special will be more memorable when those scouts sit down in a few weeks to argue lists.


  1. Jonathan Huberdeau, Saint John (QMJHL): 13gp, 13-12-25 (1.92 ppg) is a terrific early playoff run. Now he’s on a stacked team and the difference between the haves and have-nots in the Q is huge, but those boxcars are impossible to ignore. Extremely likely to improve his final number with this run.
  2. Zack Phillips, Saint John (QMJHL): 13gp, 8-14-22 (1,69 ppg) is probably moving up based on these numbers. Phillips plays for a team that boasts SIX players who are over a point per game in the playoffs, so there’s every chance some of this output is due to the team he’s playing on. Having said that, I’m sure his draft number is going to improve as the Sea Dogs roll along.
  3. Ryan Murphy, Kitchener (OHL): 7gp, 2-9-11 (1.57ppg) A terrific puck moving defender and he showed up in the short post-season for the Rangers. He was already projected as a top 10 pick so I’m not certain it would improve his number, but a team that liked him would have had that opinion confirmed during the OHL playoffs.
  4. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Red Deer (WHL) 9gp, 4-7-11 (1.22 ppg) was dominant against the Oil Kings and that added to a terrific stretch at the end of the regular schedule has him right at the top of the overall rankings. If RNH does go number one overall, I think we’ll look back to the month of March: 8gp, 11-8-19 to end the regular year and 4gp, 4-5-9 against Edmonton in the WHL.
  5. Sven Bartschi Portland (WHL) 15gp, 4-14-18 (1.20ppg) This kid is a true rookie in the WHL and because of it I trust this number a little more as an actual reflection of ability. Of all of the forwards on this list not named RNH, he’s the one I’m most interested in as a pro prospect. I think he goes top 10.
  6. Alexander Khokhlachev Windsor (OHL) 18gp, 9-11-20 (1.11ppg) is a pure rookie who had an enormous playoff in the OHL. He lacks size but improved his number by having an impact on a Spitfire team that went deep into the playoffs again this year.
  7. Nathan Beaulieu Sant John (QMJHL) 13gp, 3-11-14 (1.08ppg) has enjoyed offensive success in the post season. I’m a little suspicious of his numbers (Beaulieu is on a loaded team) but he does have a nice range of skills.

I’ll have another list in the next week or so that will focus on European skaters.

  • Quicksilver ballet


    Taylor Hall…when he makes his selections who to go home with he doesn’t usually go for the best looking girls. He’s happy with just a step below the best looking. Really likes his threesomes, he’s often seen leaving with two girls. I don’t know about the rest of your concerns PG.

  • Quicksilver ballet


    Good points. There will always be late bloomers, guys that keep going until they find their niche, and good fortune plays into it all.

    The thing to remember is that for every St Louis, Zetterberg or Datsyuk, there are literally thousands of players that did exactly what was expected – not become great players because they were too small or hadn’t reached a high enough level of play young enough.

    Sometimes I worry that the Oilers seem to be looking for the next one, but the odds are like winning the lottery (not lottery pick), so pick players with the best chance to succeed, not guys with the odds stacked against them.

    The odds usually win.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      Your point is well taken. The nice thing about drafting early is that the odds of getting stiffed are reduced a bit, but you never really know. You demonstrate due diligence, makes your pick and hope for the best. That’s all I’m going to say about this topic. I have to save energy for the Preds.