The kids can play and they certainly can score. Two of the NHL’s top 2023 prospects spent Saturday lighting the lamp in prospect showcases. Incredibly, it was their NHL debuts.
Connor Bedard, the Next Great Thing and the overall No. 1 pick, scored three goals and had an assist for the Blackhawks in the Tom Kurvers Prospect Showcase in St. Paul, Minn.
Adam Fantilli, the third overall pick, scored three goals and had two assists for the Blue Jackets in the NHL Prospects Tournament in Traverse City, Mich.
OK, it was only one game for each and it was against fellow prospects and Bedard and Fantilli were top draft choices for a reason.
It’s fairly obvious that Bedard and Fantilli are highly skilled and they sure can find the back of the net.
We report this, Flyers fans, because Philadelphia’s first pick in June, Matvei Michkov, was considered as talented as his peers. He reportedly would have been the second overall pick behind Bedard had he not been playing in Russia.
And when you see Michkov’s peers doing this, well, it’s not unsound to connect the dots and at least wonder how good Michkov will be. And when you saw the Flyers’ 2022 first-round pick Cutter Gauthier dominate at the World Championships in May, you wonder how good he will be, too.
Michkov has two assists in two games with his new Russian team, HC Sochi, after being loaned from SKA St. Petersburg. He is taking regular shifts and reports out of Russia are positive about his play. Michkov had 10 shots in his second game with Sochi. And, of course, Michkov isn’t playing against prospects. The KHL is a league of men.
Bedard humbly downplayed his prospects game debut.
“Yeah, it doesn’t mean too much. It’s just nice to play a game,” Bedard told NHL.com. “So much fun to be with the guys, getting here, the music’s playing, and you just have that mojo going in. That was the best part, just getting back into it and yeah, it was fun.”
Anders Sorenson, coach of Chicago’s AHL team in Rockford, Ill., and coach of the Blackhawks’ prospects said about Bedard: “Yeah, he looked dangerous every time he was on the ice. He came up with 11 shots, right? So that’s pretty impressive.
“I mean, just lots of changing angles [on his release], the way he catches passes, deceptive, the way he can pull pucks in and out. Impressive to watch. It was fun.”
One more point, and it’s another small sample size: Sochi is 2-0 with Michkov. The Blackhawks behind Bedard beat the Blues, 5-0. Fantilli’s Blue Jackets beat the Red Wings, 10-7.
In game two of the Rookie Series on Saturday night, the Flyers lost to the Rangers, 3-1. Zayde Wisdom, who had a strong game in the first game loss, scored the Flyers goal. The Flyers went 0-2 in Allentown.
Flyers, In Case You Missed It:
Flyers second-round pick Carson Bjarnason is hanging around with one of his role models, goalie Carter Hart.
Prospect Alex Ciernik opened some eyes in Rookie Series vs. Rangers.
Around The National Hockey Network:
Boston Hockey Now: Bruins will have three new uniforms this season.
Buffalo Hockey Now: Sabres prospect Matthew Savoie stands out in prospects game.
Carolina Hockey Now: Hurricanes open rookie showcase in style.
Chicago Hockey Now: Keeping expectations reasonable for Connor Bedard won’t be easy.
Detroit Hockey Now: Could Elmer Soderblom, Marco Kasper make Red Wings’ opening night roster?
Florida Hockey Now: Spencer Knight on leaving the Panthers: “I was spiraling.”
Los Angeles Hockey Now: Can Kings’ Jordan Spence steal a defenseman’s slot?
Montreal Hockey Now: Some rookie stars for Canadiens in rookie game against Bruins.
Nashville Hockey Now: Predators prospect Ryan Ufko a co-captain for UMass.
Pittsburgh Hockey Now: What the week looks like for Penguins heading into camp.
San Jose Hockey Now: Prospect Thomas Bordeleau scores two spectacular goals for Sharks.