The Journey takes a closer look at which drafted prospects shined brightest in the month of January within the junior and college ranks.
Ontario Hockey League
Kevin Labanc – Barrie Colts – 124th in Dobber’s Top 215 Prospects
No, its not just because our names are quite similar. The former 6th round pick of the San Jose Sharks was white-hot in the month of January. Posting 30 points (12G, 18A) in 13 games, Labanc had two hat tricks, five days apart against North Bay and Mississauga. In those two games he also added a combined seven assists, to complement his six goals. Currently sitting second in the OHL in scoring behind Christian Dvorak with 86 points, he is on pace to blow away his 107 points that he tallied in his sophomore season with the Colts. The consummate playmaker, Labanc is averaging 1.26 assists per game this season while helping to push Barrie towards the playoffs. Teammates Dylan Sadowy (SJS) and Andrew Mangiapane (CGY) have had huge months as well.
Michael Dal Colle – Kingston Frontenacs – 18th in Dobber’s Top 215 Prospects
2015 was a season to forget for Dal Colle, culminating in being left off Canada’s disappointing World Junior team. However, the calendar change to 2016 and the trade to Kingston from Oshawa have given the 2014 fifth overall pick life. In his 11 games with his new club (all in January) Dal Colle has 24 points and has only been held off the score sheet once, including seven multi-point games. Kingston’s other in-season addition, Canes prospect Warren Foegele has combined with Dal Colle to propel Kingston to the top of the OHL’s Eastern Conference standings.
Quebec Major Junior Hockey League
Conor Garland – Moncton Wildcats – NR in Dobber’s Top 215 Prospects
I would be remised if I didn’t lead with Garland, considering the numbers he has been putting up all season are staggering. After leading the QMJHL with 129 points last season, the diminutive 5th round pick of the Arizona Coyotes has pushed the gas pedal farther to the floor in 2015-16. Currently sitting with 107 points in only 48 games, Garland leads the CHL in scoring, and has a 29 point lead on his next closest competition in the Q. January was not his hottest month, with only 16 points in 10 games, but when you’ve had scoring months of 30, 26 and 23 points, 16 is going to look pedestrian. It will be interesting to see if Garland can continue his torrid scoring pace when he moves up a league, due to his small stature.
Nicolas Roy – Chicoutimi Saguenéens – 127th in Dobber’s Top 215 Prospects
I have been a card-carrying member of the Nicolas Roy fan club since I saw him skate in Raleigh at the Carolina Hurricanes prospect camp this summer. The former first overall pick of the QMJHL draft has followed up a mediocre season last year with a breakout campaign in 2015-16. Roy totaled points in nine of ten January games, and finished the month with ten goals and eight assists. The 6-4 forward has been a leader for Chicoutimi, playing in all situations, and continues to be a bear in the faceoff circle winning 676 of his 1109 (61%) face-offs on the season.
Western Hockey League
Ivan Provorov – Brandon Wheat Kings – 19th D in Dobber’s Top 215 Prospects
Time to give some love to the puck movers on the blueline. After a solid display for Russia in the WJC (eight assists in seven games), Provorov returned to Brandon and has had one of his best months of the season. With 13 points in ten games, the young defenseman has paced Brandon’s play from the back end and has contributed to their current 33-15-2 record, which is good for tops in the WHL’s Eastern Conference Eastern Division.
Parker Wotherspoon – Tri-City Americans – NR in Dobber’s Top 215 Prospects
The New York Islanders fourth round draft pick from the 2015 draft has already eclipsed the 42 points that he put up in 72 games last season. Wotherspoon has been incredibly consistent for the Americans this year, averaging just under a point per game in 48 contests. His January was impressive, with two goals and ten assists in 12 games, helping Tri-City to seven wins despite only playing four games on home ice.
United States Hockey League
Chase Pearson – Youngstown Phantoms – NR in Dobber’s Top 215 Prospects
Pearson, a fifth round pick of the Detroit Red Wings last season, had his best month of the 2015-16 season with 11 points in 11 games. His 32 points place him in a tie for 16th in the USHL and rank him second among Phantoms skaters. Pearson’s 23 assists are good for a tie for fifth in the USHL on the season and his plus-22 rating is second among all players behind only draft eligible teammate Cameron Morrison. The Alpharetta, Georgia native is committed to the University of Maine for next season.
Kyle Connor – University of Michigan – 74th in Dobber’s Top 215 Prospects
After leading the USHL in scoring last season, Connor hasn’t missed a beat since his jump to the University of Michigan. Currently leading NCAA hockey in scoring as a freshman with 43 points in 24 games, the Michigan native was terrific in January. In only six games, Connor tallied 17 points, including two five point games and a four point game while leading the Wolverines to a 5-0-1 record. This season, Dylan Larkin has made the impressive transition from Michigan to the NHL. Clearly Connor isn’t far behind.
Give Kevin a follow @kleblanchockey for NHL prospect talk and happenings.
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