Draft Stuff: Tkachuk lights out in London

The London Knights remained a powerful offensive force Friday even with Mitch Marner (TOR) away at Canada's World Junior camp. One key driver was the blend of skill and tenacity supplied by Matthew Tkachuk, who extended his point streak to 11 games with a goal and three assists in the Knights' 8-1 shellacking of Sudbury. Friday's big effort places him second in OHL scoring with 59 points (14+45) in 29 games entering USA's World Junior camp.

Draft eligible winger Cliff Pu recorded his first career two-goal game to add to the Knights' attack, and will have to keep it going to pick up the slack as his teammates play for their countries. Getting bruising forward Max Jones going would also help. Jones had a goal and an assist in the win over the Wolves, and enters Sunday's game at North Bay with 12 total markers and points in four straight.

In the QMJHL, defenseman Luke Green scored a hat trick to earn third-star honors as Saint John lost to Halifax 8-5. The first overall pick in the 2014 QMJHL Draft, Green collected five goals in his previous two games before going without a point in Saturday's win over Cape Breton. His seven total tallies through 29 games eclipses the six he scored all of last season.

With the team's leading scorer Alex Nylander (0+1) getting ready to apply his skill with Team Sweden, Michael McLeod (1+1) and Nathan Bastian (1+0) appeared ready to hold the fort down in his absence Friday as Mississauga posted a 3-0 win over a shorthanded Flint club. McLeod (33GP 15-27-42) has points in 14 of his last 15 games to crush his rookie year totals. The vastly improved Bastian has goals in three straight games. Still, Nylander has been the talk of the town with 21 goals and 49 points in his first three months of North American hockey.

Also of note from Friday was Tyson Jost (Penticton Vees/North Dakota) snagging a goal and an assist to help Canada West to a 5-1 victory over Russia in World Junior A Challenge pre-tournament action. Jost is knocking on the door of the top-10 for the 2016 Draft. A strong performance in a tournament recently dominated by the Americans could keep the two-way leader in the hunt.

Speaking of the Americans, Max Zimmer (Chicago Steel/Wisconsin) and Grant Jozefek (Lincoln Stars/Northeastern) each scored twice in USA's 8-2 pre-tournament win over Canada East.


Team Canada opened their exhibition action in preparation for the 2016 World Juniors Saturday, with powerful scorer Julian Gauthier of the Val-d'Or Foreurs leading the way with a goal and an assist in a 5-4 shootout loss to the CIS All Stars. We've mentioned Gauthier's impressive Cy Young numbers in this space before -- 30GP 29-8-37 -- and now it appears that the hulking 6-foot-4, 224-pound 18-year-old could be in line for a boost in his stock as he stands out among his Canadian U20 peers.

Boston University commits Kieffer Bellows (two goals) and Clayton Keller (assists on both) kept turning heads Saturday as Team USA U18 defeated Princeton 4-1. Bellows now has 22 goals in 26 games with the NTDP this season. Meanwhile, Keller has racked up 52 points (16+36) to produce at a two points-per-game clip. Both are expected to be top-15 picks come June. The only question is which will be selected first.

In Finland, power forward Patrik Laine piled up a season-high three assists and scored the shootout winner to help Tappara dispose of Sport Vaasa 7-6. The triple-helper ends a three-game drought for Laine, who has compiled an impressive 16 points (8+8) in 24 games.

Laine's Finnish draft rival, Jesse Puljujarvi of Karpat, was unable to score in the week's three games. Puljujarvi, who along with Laine is expected to play a vital role for Finland at the upcoming World Junior tourney, has 12 points (5+7) while averaging 14:29 of work in 31 games.

QMJHL defender Frederic Allard has been quietly having a good season in Chicoutimi, On Saturday, the 6-foot-1 Allard extended his point streak to four games with an assist in the Sagueneen's 4-3 overtime win over Blainville-Boisbriand. Allard has 29 points in 31 games this season. He has nine goals on 73 shots for a 12.3% success rate.

Rising prospect Alan Lyszczarczyk used his speed on Saturday to score a goal and add one assist as Sudbury fell to Owen Sound 5-3. The Poland-born Lyszczarczyk, who was rated a "C" prospect on Central Scouting's Players to Watch list, led the Czech under-18 league with 66 points in 42 games last season. He has 22 points (7+15) in his first 30 OHL games after signing with the Wolves as a free agent.

Sam Steel scored the game-winning goal and added an assist to help Regina to a 6-5 victory over Lethbridge. With nine goals and 32 points in 31 games, Steel is doing what he can to keep his name among those considered for the first round come June.

We're going to go ahead and call Alex DeBrincat consistent when it comes to early December. He entered Saturday's tilt in Kingston without a goal in his previous three games. Last season, DeBrincat's longest regular season drought lasted three games. It happened twice, with the first taking place at the exact same part of the calendar. Right on cue, DeBrincat knocked one in versus the Fronts to make sure he didn't get a four-game drought on his OHL resume. Debrincat leads the league with 33 goals in 30 games. Just seven of those 33 have come with the man advantage.

In the same game, Erie's Kyle Maksimovich scored a goal and an assist to continue his recent climb. The 5-foot-9 winger has goals in five of his last six games to boost his season line to 13-24-37.

Everett goaltender Carter Hart stopped 48 of 51 shots over the weekend to guide the Silvertips to victories over Tri-City (Friday) and Seattle (Saturday). Emerging as a top netminder in the draft class, Hart has won 17 of 28 starts, posting a league-best 1.90 GAA and .928 save% (2nd).

Puck-moving wizard Samuel Girard added a pair of third-period assists to his season haul on Saturday as Shawinigan fell in overtime 5-4 at Val-d'Or. The 5-foot-9 Girard continues to lead all QMJHL rearguards with 40 points (5+35) in 33 games.


Sure he scored a goal for Team OHL in the Canada-Russia Series, but the soft start scouts are seeing from Sarnia Sting forward Jordan Kyrou is mildly interesting. I deem it "mild" because Kyrou brings a lot to any lineup regardless of statistics, but the fact that he has scored in just three of 27 games this season, for four goals total, is somewhat noteworthy after potting 13 last season as an OHL rookie. While his assist totals are up, Kyrou needs to light the lamp more often over the second half of the season to force his way back into the early day two discussion.

A similar thought holds true for Saginaw's Tye Felhaber, who has just four goals after scoring 20 times a season ago and dialing up another three in four preseason outings.


For those keeping track of such things, Kingston's Jason Robertson connected for a hat trick plus an assist in the Fronts' 4-1 victory over Sault Ste. Marie on Friday. Eligible for the 2017 draft, Robertson scored goals in six straight games and eight of his previous nine before getting blanked in Saturday's loss to Erie. He potted 12 of his 14 goals in that nine-game span after collecting just two in his first 15 OHL games.
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