The Journey: Players to Watch at the Olympics

by Brad Phillips on February 3, 2018
  • The Journey
  • The Journey: Players to Watch at the Olympics

The Olympics are less than a week away and while there are no NHL players competing this year, that doesn't mean there aren't players worth watching. In addition to a stacked Olympic Athletes of Russia team, a number of prospects will be taking centre stage.

 

Ryan DonatoBOS

Drafted by the Boston Bruins in the second round of 2014, the son of former Bruin Ted Donato is following a path similar to that of his old man. Donato the younger was a scoring star during his four years at the Dexter School in Brookline, MA where he averaged just under two points per game during his career, amassing 227 points in 115 games, and served as the captain in his senior year. A product of nearby Scituate, Donato committed to nearby Harvard where he has proceeded to transform into a lethal scoring machine during his three years on campus. As a freshman he sniped 13 goals, third-most on the team, and was tied for 11th in the nation among all first-year players. In his sophomore year, Donato increased his goal total by more than 60%, surpassed the 20-goal plateau with 21 on the season. This mark was good for second on the team. In addition, he dished out 19 helpers to finish the year with 40 points in 36 games, the fourth-highest total on a very strong Harvard team. 2017-18 has been a simply dominant year for the 21-year-old. Through 21 games Donato has scored 20 times and added nine assists. This gives him 10 more points than his next closest teammate and a whopping 13 more goals than any other Crimson player. Harvard as a team has scored 61 goals so his output represents 32.8% of the team total and, overall, he’s factored in on 47.3% of the team’s goals. Donato leads the entire NCAA in goals, hat tricks (2), and shots per game with 5.62, a full half shot more per game than the next closest competitor. He got hot a precisely the right time for team USA management to take notice as he was named NCAA player of the month for December where he posted both of his hat tricks, recorded 10 points in the month and led the nation in points per game, goals per game, shots on goal, and tied for the lead in goals with eight. It’s all but assured that we’ll see Donato in a B’s uniform in 2018-19, if not sooner.

 

Troy TerryANA

You could argue that no prospect has done a much to raise their profile over the past 14 months than the Ducks’ Troy Terry. Not drafted until the fifth round in 2015, Terry was overshadowed playing on a fairly loaded USNDTP squad that featured nine future first-round picks. He then proceeded to have a so-so freshman year at the University of Denver with 22 points in 41 games, a mark that placed him tied for 39th in the country among first-year players. Where Terry really made everyone sit up and take notice was at the 2017 WJHC where he had a virtuoso shootout performance in the semi-finals against Russia and in the gold medal game against Canada. It seems as if this served as a tipping point for him as he’s been on man on a mission ever since. When he left for the tournament in Montreal he had nine goals and eight assists in 18 games. Since returning Terry has produced 58 points over a 43-game span, leading the Denver Pioneers in scoring in 2016-17 with 45 points in 35 contests and currently in his junior season he sits third on the team with 11 goals and 19 helpers in 26 games. No doubt selected for his prowess in the shootout, you can bet that if the Americans find themselves in one he’ll be first over the boards.

 

Miro HeiskanenDAL

Outside of projected top pick Rasmus Dahlin, the Dallas property will probably be the most heavily scouted player from a prospect point of view at this year’s Olympic tournament. And with good reason. As you would expect from someone with the pedigree of being selected third overall, Heiskanen has always been an immensely talented specimen. But he’s taken his game to a whole new level this year. Patrolling the blueline for HIFK in the Liiga, Heiskanen has skated in 23 games and has put up 11 goals and seven helpers. These 11 goals place him in a tie for second in the league, just four back of the leader who has played twice as many games. He’s also second in the Liiga among defensemen in points per game with a mark of 0.78 and is fifth among all U24 scorers. With a plus-minus rating of plus-13 he leads his squad in that category. Due to a rash of injuries on the back end, the 18-year old has been logging heavy minutes. He hasn’t been immune to the injury bug himself battling some ailments as well. If there has been a down point this season it was his performance at the WJHC which left something to be desired, registering just two helpers. Heiskanen has drawn comparisons to Nik Lidstrom. And while that is jumping the gun to say the least, the youngest member of team Finland will get a chance to strut his stuff at international hockey's marquee event.

 

Thanks for checking out this week’s edition of the Journey. Enjoy the weekend action. Give me a follow on Twitter @BradHPhillips.

 

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