Preds Prospects Report: October
Several of the Nashville Predators' prospects are off to a great start.
With October wrapped up, we’re creeping closer to international tournament season and the 2022 World Junior Championship. Every prospect in the Nashville system’s season is in full swing, and there have been a handful of notable performances and highlight-reel goals over the past month.
1. The month of October brought the start of the NCAA and CHL seasons, and with that, Luke Evangelista’s tour de force. The 2020 second-round pick is back in the Ontario Hockey League, captaining the London Knights, after a difficult experience in the AHL last year. Flanking the Knights’ top line, Evangelista is ninth in the league in scoring and first in points per game with 10 goals and 15 points in just eight games. He’s also taken 41 shots on net, scored nine primary points at even strength, and has notched over 4.50 primary points per 60 minutes of even-strength ice time.
Oh my goodness, Luke Evangelista just did THAT. 😳— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) October 30, 2021
🎥: @CHLHockey | @LondonKnights pic.twitter.com/adErUHpLdC
Evangelista, who scored the goal of the year so far the other week, has helped lead the Knights to an 8-0-0 start with dominant performances on and off the spreadsheet. In one game I tracked last month, the winger recorded a 59.3% Corsi, 21.47 shot attempts per 60, and 12.88 high-danger shot attempts per 60.
2. On the other side of Canada, defender Luke Prokop has made waves in the Western Hockey League. The 2020 third-round pick was acquired by the Edmonton Oil Kings last month in their push to contend for the Memorial Cup this season.
It didn't take long for @lukeprokop_6 to get his first as an Oil King!@EdmOilKings | @PredsNHL pic.twitter.com/7mKMDHgIlD— The WHL (@TheWHL) October 16, 2021
In his Oil Kings debut, Prokop made a splash with a two-goal performance against Lethbridge. In seven games for Edmonton, playing top-pair minutes in all situations, Prokop has notched three goals and five points as the Oil Kings are off to an 8-2-2 start.
3. Across the college hockey landscape, Nashville has a few prospects in leadership positions who are finishing up their NCAA careers, including Jachym Kondelik. In his fourth year at the University of Connecticut, Kondelik is second on the Huskies in scoring with two goals and eight points in seven games.
Kondelik’s lack of footspeed and lumbering foot mechanics have hindered his transition play in college. When he can’t get in the offensive zone deep, he doesn’t attempt many shot attempts. This season, however, Kondelik has shown good improvements, demonstrated by his performance against Northeastern last month: 61.7% Corsi, 62.5% zone exit success rate, 71.4% zone entry success rate, and 9.01 shot attempts per 60 minutes of even-strength ice time.
4. On the other hand of the aforesaid UConn–Northeastern matchup was Gunnarwolfe Fontaine. I had my doubts about the 2020 seventh-round pick going into his freshman season in Boston, but he delivered well, scoring 15 points in 21 games as a rookie. This season, I’m still concerned.
Skating on the Huskies’ third line, Fontaine does have a goal and five points through eight games, but his impact has still felt limited to the perimeters of the ice. Against UConn, he recorded 21.47 shot attempts per 60 minutes of even-strength ice time (seven total) but just 4.28 from high-danger areas (one total). He controlled the zone entry on four of his six attempts, but what were his next steps? Already 21 years old, the sophomore should be due for a bigger impact this season.
5. Late last month, the University of Vermont picked up their first win of the season in an impressive 5-4 overtime victory over Boston College. This inexperienced Catamounts team, sitting at 1-5-0, will continue to struggle as head coach Todd Woodcroft rebuilds the program that includes Nashville prospect Isak Walther.
Isak Walther's (#22) first career collegiate goal tonight in @UVMmhockey's 5-4 overtime win over BC.#Preds pic.twitter.com/yJSlcmHeDa— OTF: Preds Prospects (@OnTheFutureOTF) October 30, 2021
The 6’3” Swedish forward picked up his first collegiate goal in that win, taking advantage of the early-season power play opportunities he’s received.
6. On Saturday, Bridgestone Arena played host to the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game after Nashville turned away the Islanders. Chase McLane and the Penn State Nittany Lions stunned the University of North Dakota in a 6-4 win in front of a sea of Fighting Hawks fans.
McLane, who’s scored one goal and three points in seven games this season, is still filling a mostly bottom-six center role for Penn State, but he’s just two points shy of his 2020-21 season total.
ICYMI: #Preds prospect @chase_mclane29 from @PennStateMHKY joined us on today's episode! Topics include a GREAT story on how he learned he was drafted by the Preds, his first development camp, playing North Dakota at Bridgestone Arena, & more!— Locked On Predators (@LO_Predators) November 1, 2021
🎧 LISTEN: https://t.co/hcDj2L6meR pic.twitter.com/7yNO1OdN7T
On The Forecheck’s Ann and Nick caught up with McLane before Saturday’s game on the Locked on Predators podcast.
7. Up in New York, the Clarkson Golden Knights have been backstopped to a 4-2-1-0 record by goaltender Ethan Haider. The 2019 fifth-round pick has posted a 0.921 save percentage with all seven starts and has saved 2.252 goals above average to start the year, including this jaw-dropping stop last weekend:
Missed this unbelievable save from Ethan Haider last weekend. There's a big lapse in coverage from Alex Campbell (#11, green) on the defender creeping down low, but Haider stops the puck in style.#Preds pic.twitter.com/kpYyVF482v— OTF: Preds Prospects (@OnTheFutureOTF) November 3, 2021
8. Haider’s teammate, Alex Campbell, has had a different start to the year. The speedy forward impressed with 17 points in 22 games in his rookie season last year, but he’s notched just two goals (both scored in one weekend against Alaska-Fairbanks) and three points through seven games this year. In the two games I’ve tracked, Campbell has posted a 43.9% Corsi and just 9.32 shot attempts per 60 minutes of even-strength ice time. He’s been more reactionary in attacking the puck this year, mitigating his own speed and worsening his impact on Clarkson’s offensive game. I’m not concerned as the season is still early, but there’s more to be desired from Campbell so far.
9. Late last month, international federations began announcing their rosters for a few upcoming tournaments, including the Karjala Cup. Russia, Finland, Sweden, and the Czech Republic will face each other from November 11 to 14 as part of the Euro Hockey Tour.
Askarov, Chistyakov, and Svechkov on the @russiahockey roster for the Karjala Cup in a couple weeks.#Preds https://t.co/oi4oEphmjb— OTF: Preds Prospects (@OnTheFutureOTF) October 26, 2021
The Russians will be armed with Yaroslav Askarov, Semyon Chistyakov, and Fyodor Svechkov, and Swedish defender Anton Olsson will join his country’s U20 team for a Four Nations Tournament (Russia, Finland, Sweden, and the Czech Republic) from November 12 to 14 as well.
What I’m reading:
- Evangelista playing leading man in return — Gameday London
- NHL Draft ranking: Scott Wheeler’s top 64 prospects for 2022 — The Athletic [$]
- Oil Kings bolster blue line with addition of Luke Prokop — Edmonton Sun
- Nine Standout European Prospects to Open the Season — The Hockey News
- 2021 Draft Prospect Follow Up: Fyodor Svechkov — Drafting Hockey/
All statistics are courtesy of eliteprospects.com or my own manual data tracking.