The Journey: Fastest Rising Forward Prospects (March 2017)

by Kevin LeBlanc on March 18, 2017
  • The Journey
  • The Journey: Fastest Rising Forward Prospects (March 2017)

Tage Thompson was drafted 26th overall by the Blues in 2016.

The Journey examines Dobber’s Top 200 Forward Prospects list, and assesses the fast risers in the March rankings. There is a new number one player, and a lot of shuffling among the Top 200 this month as prospects graduate and the NHL season nears its close. Check back next week when we take a closer look at the fastest rising prospect defensemen for this month.

Tage Thompson – St. Louis Blues – 43rd Overall, Up from 160th Overall

After finishing up his sophomore season at the University of Connecticut, Thompson signed his three-year entry-level contract with the St. Louis Blues. Drafted in 2016, Thompson had played his freshman season prior to hearing his name called in Buffalo last June. He has put up back-to-back 32-point seasons at the college level, averaging just under a point per game.

The 6’5” 19-year-old will spend time with St. Louis’s AHL affiliate in Chicago for the remainder of the season, and likely for next season as well in order to get some professional experience under his belt. The power forward has solid upside and could develop into a top-six, top power-play option for the Blues in the future.

Julien Gauthier – Carolina Hurricanes – 75th Overall, Up from 150th Overall

Keeping with the theme of power forwards drafted in the 2016 first round, Carolina’s Gauthier is up 75 spots in the ranking this month. After starting the season with Val-d’Or, the 21st overall player selected was traded to Saint John at the CHL trade deadline, and should have a good opportunity to play for the Memorial Cup. The Sea Dogs currently rank first in the QMJHL with a 47-14-5 record.

Gauthier’s point production this year is similar to his draft season where he posted 57 points in 54 games. His goal scoring isn’t as high this season with 17 goals in 43 games, but he is playing a more well-rounded game, doubling his assist total from a year ago. Gauthier was a beast for Team Canada in the World Juniors with five goals in seven games. He has a chance to be a difference maker for Carolina in the near future.

Henrik Borgstrom – Florida Panthers – 79th Overall, Up from 207th Overall

Some believed that Florida selecting Borgstrom at the end of the first round in 2016 was a bit of a reach, especially with some of the other players still left on the board. However, after the 19-year-old’s freshman season at University of Denver, they may not feel the same way.

Borgstrom has posted 38 points in 32 games for the NCAA’s number one team, ranking third in points among freshman behind Boston University’s Clayton Keller and 2017 draft eligible Denis Smirnov. His 21 goals were good for first among freshmen, and he also led first-year players with six game-winners. The Helsinki native has provided some of the best highlights of the college hockey season, with his terrific hands and skating ability making lesser players look silly in the process. He’s a crafty, creative player who should fit into Florida’s young core in the future and is likely a player who will be a force on the power play as he continues to develop offensively.

Jordan Greenway – Minnesota Wild – 108th Overall, Up from 247th Overall

Greenway is currently in his second season for Boston University, where he is continuing his development into one of the top power forward prospects in the game. The 2015 second rounder was a key cog in the United States’ gold medal run at this year’s World Juniors with eight points in seven games, showcasing his net front and cycle ability for the Americans.

This season, Greenway’s point totals have grown from 26 in his freshman season to 30 thus far in his sophomore campaign. For fantasy owners, he projects as a middle-six forward who should help in a multi-category capacity, especially in leagues that count hits and penalty minutes. After he finishes his college stint, Greenway will likely spend time in the AHL before making the jump to the Minnesota roster.

Adam Gaudette – Vancouver Canucks – 127th Overall, Up from 352nd Overall

There may not be a prospect who took a bigger jump this season from a relative unknown to potential NHL option then Gaudette. He had a good season in 2015-16 as a freshman at Northeastern University totaling 30 points in 41 games for the Huskies. However, this season his offensive output has jumped dramatically, with 52 points in just 37 games playing alongside Pittsburgh signee Zach Aston-Reese.

Gaudette has played 78 games in college hockey, is averaging over a point-per-game and at this point appears to be outplaying his 149th overall selection slot. Although there were some rumors that Gaudette could potentially sign his entry-level contract with Vancouver this summer, he will return to Northeastern for his junior season.

John Hayden – Chicago Blackhawks – 134th Overall, Up from 301st Overall

After finishing his four-year career with Yale, the Bulldogs senior captain signed his entry-level contract with the Chicago Blackhawks. The 2013 third rounder made his NHL debut for the Hawks on Thursday. Hayden’s first year of his entry-level contract will be burned in 2016-17 due to him playing in the NHL for the remainder of the season. He will have one year remaining starting in 2017-18 before he becomes a restricted free agent.

The 6’3” center had his best season from an offensive perspective, setting career highs in both goals (21) and points (34). Likely as a NHL player, Hayden projects as a third-line center type who is responsible defensively and is able to provide secondary scoring. He does have some upside from a multi-category perspective at a cheap price for salary cap owners.

Jonathan Dahlen – Vancouver Canucks – 163rd Overall, Up from 316th Overall

Vancouver added two prospects in Nikolay Goldobin and Dahlen at the trade deadline for Jannik Hansen and Alex Burrows. Canucks fans hope these two new acquisitions will be staples of their team for the future. Dahlen, who was drafted in the second round in June, is a high-level offensive player who is creative with the puck and has the ability to fill up the net.

In his second Allsvenskan season, Dahlen is near a point-per-game player with 44 points in 45 games, up from the 29 in 51 games that he posted a year ago. The 19-year-old still has room to improve his skating and strength, but his hockey sense is top notch. Don’t be surprised to see him on North American soil sooner rather than later.

Give Kevin a follow @kleblanchockey for prospect talk and happenings.