As the holidays draw near, so does the trade deadline for all teams in the CHL. One massive domino has already fallen in the QMJHL with center Joe Veleno on the move from Saint John to Drummondville. The price was pretty high as three first round and two second round selections were exchanged just for Veleno’s services. This is an interesting move for several reasons, one Drummondville is looking to load up for next year’s run and pays the very high price to secure the services of a top player for a season and a half. And two, everyone will be watching to see how Veleno’s production changes going from a very poor rebuilding team to one that’s on the rise. Veleno has received a lot of criticism for not producing like an exceptional status player or one earmarked for a top 10 draft selection should. With six goals and 31 points in the same number of games, good for second on the team in scoring and off the lead by just one, doesn’t scream poor production to me but Veleno will have the chance for a fresh start now.
Alexander Khovanov is another name to keep in mind from the QMJHL. The second overall selection in the 2017 CHL import draft has reported to the team and is finally aiming to make his North American debut with the Moncton Wildcats after recovering from Hepatitis A over the last few months. Khovanov is in a long line of highly skilled Russian forwards angling for first round selection in the NHL entry draft. He’s expected to get into action after the holiday break and if he begins to produce in Moncton then Khovanov will shoot back up the rankings.
The Oshawa Generals have a duo of draft eligibles who should hear their names called early in Dallas. We already covered towering toolsy power forward Serron Noel but now it’s time to shine the spotlight on his teammate, 5’11 185 lbs left shot center Allan McShane. His game is subtle and takes time to notice and appreciate but when it fully marinates, it’s clear McShane is a smooth assassin. His hockey IQ and hands stand out the most, which makes him a slick playmaker. In a draft where there’s not an abundance of high end centers, McShane is going to look appealing to teams who need help down the middle. His production of doesn’t look eye popping with 10 goals and 30 points but when he does such things as for example one weekend when Oshawa played a weekend set against the Ottawa 67s, McShane scored five goals in a pair of losing efforts, they just so happened to be the only five goals Oshawa scored all weekend. He’s a difference maker and will help a team in many ways.
The World Junior Championship isn’t the only international event going on at year end for draft eligibles. The World Junior A Challenge wrapped up this weekend with Canada West taking home the trophy in a 5-1 victory over USA. As one might recall this is where the hype train on Cale Makar and to an extent Tyson Jost began. This international event features six teams and primarily gives those playing in Junior A leagues a look but Russia always manages to put together a roster of some hot names overseas and even a few from the CHL.
Grigory Denisenko is one that scouts have been waiting to see as he currently play in Russia for Yaroslavl in the MHL. He is a 5’11 175 lbs right shot winger who absolutely flashed high-end skill and then some and could be a first round consideration as he chipped in four points in four games. He dazzled and looked clearly a level above the rest when it came to raw talent with his combination of skating, hands and shot. Other possible first or second rounders in the tournament include big 6’3 196 lbs left shot center Jack McBain who with his size and tools is going to be an intruiging option but currently playing for Toronto in the OJHL has his game a bit raw. McBain is smart and a good playmaker but needs to work on skating and using his size, though he is a lot for the opposition to handle already. He tied the tournament lead in scoring with two goals and six points in four games for Canada East. Defenseman Jonny Tychonick, who is the counterpart to our own Nicky Leivermann with Penticton in the BCHL, was part of the championship Canada West squad, named to the tournament all-star team and added two points in five games. He’s a 5’11 170 lb left shot and mobile puck mover with potential for a good all-around game. All three were a treat for scouts to watch and should go early on draft weekend in Dallas.
And finally, the roster for the CHL Top Prospects Game was released in advance of the January 25th event and is full of interesting names for the upcoming draft. This is an especially strong group from the QMJHL with 15 participants, and is a record for the league, just edged by the OHL with 16 and the WHL trails with 9. Really pleased to see personal favorite Kody Clark make the cut who was profiled HERE along with Alexander Alexeyev and Serron Noel.
Keep dialed in here as we get to the fast and furious second half of the season which will include more CHL trades, WJC results, the Top Prospect Game, CHL and NCAA playoffs, the U18 tournament and of course the draft itself!