The WHL, QMJHL and OHL seasons are nearly at an end with all three finals well underway. Out west we have the Swift Current Broncos and Everett Silvertips battling for the right be the second WHL team in the Memorial Cup, along with the host Regina Pats. In Ontario, it’s Sault Ste. Marie versus the Hamilton Bulldogs for the J. Ross Robertson Cup. And in La Belle Province the Armada of Blaineville-Broisbriand and locked in a battle with the Acadie-Bathurst Titan.
Glenn Gawdin – CAL
Drafted by St. Louis in the fourth round in 2015 but not signed after a couple of ho-hum seasons, Gawdin has exploded this year playing on a line with Tyler Steenbergen and Aleksi Heponiemi with the trio combining for an incredible 345 points. more than doubled his previous best season of 59 points by scoring 56 times and adding 69 assists in 67 games. These totals placed him third in the league in goals & assists and finished second in the WHL scoring race behind Jayden Halgbewachs and second in points-per-game with a mark of 1.89. Gawdin hasn’t slowed down in the playoffs as he sits third in scoring and has paced the Broncos with 29 points in 21 games en route to the WHL final. He was signed by the Calgary Flames as a free agent back in November and it looks like a worthwhile gamble on their part. I still have my reservations about him being a legitimate prospect, but a solid first year with the Stockton Heat would go a long way in changing my mind.
Garrett Pilon – WASH
Projected to be anything from an early fourth rounder to a late seventh-round pick in his draft year, Pilon was drafted a bit earlier than expected going 87th overall to the Washington Capitals after a 47 point campaign. But he’s progressed nicely since then following up with a 65 point season in his draft+1 year and an 80 point 2017-18 split between the Kamloops Blazers and the Everett Silvertips. He produced at a rate of 1.2 points-per-game for the Silvertips which works out to an 86 points pace over the course of a full season, giving him the third highest mark on the team. He’s really taken charge in the post-season as he leads Everett with 27 points and is tied for fourth in the WHL. Pilon has some NHL bloodlines with his dad Rich being a tough as nails defenseman over the course of his 631 game NHL career. Signed to his entry-level contract, Pilon will begin his professional journey on a Hershey Bears team that could use some of the offensive talents that Pilon possesses.
Boris Katchouk – TBAY
Another piece of the impressive Tampa Bay Lightning prospect pool, I covered Katchouk a while back here and since then he has continued to produce at an elite level. Katchouk finished the regular season second on the Greyhound in scoring with 85 points in just 58 games and 11thin the OHL in points-per-game with a mark of 1.47. He ended up tied for third in the league in goals with 42, fourth in goals per game with a rate of 0.72, and sixth in the OHL in primary points-per-game with 1.22. His run in the playoffs has been even more impressive as he currently sits in first in OHL playoff scoring with 17 goals and 16 helpers for 33 points in 22 games for a PPG of 1.50, the best mark of anyone that advanced past the first round. Signed by the Lightning a few weeks ago, Katchouk will commence his professional career with Syracuse this fall.
Robert Thomas – STL
A first-round pick of the Blues just last year, Thomas is the most NHL ready of the group and one of the top prospects outside of the NHL. He was traded from the London Knights to the Hamilton Bulldogs shortly after the calendar flipped to 2018 and immediately became the most dangerous offensive player for the Bulldogs. In just 22 games, Thomas registered 29 points for a team-best ppg of 1.32. Add that to the 46 points from London and Thomas set a new career best with 75 in just 49 games for an average of 1.53 points-per-game, the seventh highest mark in the OHL. With 30 primary assists, his rate of 0.61 A1/GP was top-five league-wide. As the Bulldogs have marched to the final, it’s not surprising to see Thomas’ name near the top of the playoff scoring list with 27 points in 18 games to give him a share of third as well as leading the team.
The kid is just a winner. With Hamilton up two games to one, Thomas is looking to add to his trophy case that already consists of a WJHC gold medal, an OHL championship and a Memorial Cup. In my view, there’s a very strong chance he’s a regular with the Blues this fall.
Drake Batherson – OTT
Batherson’s rise up the prospects ranks has been well documented. He went from barely a blip on the radar when he was a fourth-round pick to transforming into a scoring superstar on the biggest stage in junior hockey when he led team Canada with seven goals at the WJHC. In QMJHL play, he hit the ground running and never slowed down producing 77 points over 51 games split between the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles and currently the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada. He finished fourth in the league in both points-per-game and primary points-per-game with marks of 1.51 and 1.16 respectively. He’s been exactly the player that the Armada thought they were getting when they need him most, the playoffs. He’s currently leading the league in playoff scoring sporting 31 points on the back of 12 goals and 19 assists in 19 games. With Ottawa heading into rebuild mode, look to see the Drake get a look or two in 2018-19 before possibly becoming a regular in the Senators lineup in 2019-20.
Antoine Morand – ANA
Selected by the Anaheim Ducks at the tail end of the second round in the 2017 draft, Morand has been an important piece for the Acadie-Bathurst Titan during his three years there. He’s produced at better than a point-per-game each year, topping out in 2017-18 with 26 goals and 50 helpers in 66 games. He led the team in points, was second in assists and finished tied for 14th in QMJHL scoring. Over his career with the Titan, Morand has racked up 200 points across 181 contests. In progressing to the QMJHL final, the Ducks’ property has put together a resume of eight goals and 11 assists giving him a share of fifth in league scoring and places him second on the Titan behind Alex Barré-Boulet. Morand has a nice mix of skill and smart and has the potential makings of an effective middle-six contributor with a bit of sandpaper to his game.
As always thanks for checking out this week’s edition of The Journey. Give me a follow on Twitter @BradHPhillips. Enjoy your weekend!
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