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NHL PROSPECTS/NHL DRAFT: BELL – 20 Prospect Points – Lekkerimaki, Cowan, Dickinson, Masse & More

Easton Cowan of the London Knights. Photo by Natalie Shaver/OHL Images

Welcome to 20 Prospect Points, a bi-weekly column where I dive into the trending news surrounding prospects - drafted and draft-eligible - from around the globe.

This edition dives into the surge of Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Eason Cowan, the scoring prowess of Vancouver Canucks’ star prospect Jonathan Lekkerimäki, and the impressive play of 2024-eligible Masim Massé and Sam Dickinson.

Drafted Prospects

#1 While it was considered a reach when the Toronto Maple Leafs drafted London Knights’ Easton Cowan 28th overall in the 2023 NHL Draft, he’s been making the Leafs’ scouting department look pretty good this season. Cowan is currently riding a 29-game point streak, dating back to before the World Juniors. He’s racked up 55 points over that time, bringing his season total to 83 (30 goals, 53 assists) in just 47 games. While he sits second on the team in points, he’s tied for the league lead in points per game with 1.77. 

#2 With his season in the KHL wrapped up and his contract terminated, Marat Khusnutdinov has signed his entry-level contract with the Minnesota Wild. He appears to be en route to the USA, pending the finalization of his visa to do so, where he should go straight into the Wild’s lineup. With the team fighting for a playoff spot, this shows that Minnesota’s brass has a great deal of trust and faith in Khusnutdinov, believing that he will make the roster better to be worth burning a year of his deal. The youth movement continues in Minnesota.

#3 Jonathan Lekkerimäki just keeps scoring. The Vancouver Canucks prospect put up nine goals through February, in as many games. He sits tied for fourth in the league with 19 goals in 42 games. He also sits 11th all-time for goals scored by a teenager in the league. With four games left on his schedule, he could add to that total and continue to climb the history books.

#4 The Washington Capitals made a very smart move recently, signing Prince George Cougars star forward Zac Funk to an entry-level contract. The undrafted prospect has been on fire this season, racking up 103 points (59 goals, 44 assists) through 60 games. His goal total leads the entire Canadian Hockey League, and he’s just one point behind Jagger Firkus for the point lead. He’s an intelligent forward who has a proven ability to put the puck in the net. He’s likely en route to some hardware this season.

#5 Every trade deadline, some interesting prospects get moved. While we’re still a few days away from the deadline, Artyom Grushnikov is an early name on that list. Drafted 48th overall in the 2021 NHL Draft by the Dallas Stars, the Russian defender was moved to the Calgary Flames in the package for Chris Tanev. While you shouldn’t expect him to bring much in terms of offensive production, Grushnikov projects to be a shutdown defender and is well on his way to the NHL. This could work out well for the Flames.

#6 Speaking of the Stars, how about that Logan Stankoven? By now, if you follow hockey even casually, you’ve heard the story. A shorter prospect, Stankoven slid to 47th overall in the 2021 NHL Draft. But the skill and the motor were there, and many in the public sphere were sure of it. Well, that’s paying off already, with Stankoven sitting second in the AHL in points - in his rookie season. Then he earned his first call-up, putting up four points (three goals, one assist) in four games. The hype is real.

#7 I’ve talked about Carson Rehkopf a lot this season, and rightfully so. The Seattle Kraken forward was the second CHLer to hit the 50-goal mark this season, now sitting at 50 in just 52 games. Being drafted 50th overall in the 2023 NHL Draft, is a remarkable improvement from his 30 goals in 68 games last season. Make sure to keep an eye on him down the stretch and into the playoffs.

#8 It’s been over three months since Captials’ prospect Ryan Leonard went an entire NCAA game without a point. That’s a point streak of 17 games, where he’s collected 31 points (15 goals, 16 assists). The Boston College freshman only has three games this season where he hasn’t recorded a point. And yet, he still sits fourth on the team in points behind Will Smith, Cutter Gauthier, and Gabe Perrault. Leonard’s season is being overshadowed by his teammates, but is very much worth the recognition.

#9 When discussing Russian prospects of the Philadelphia Flyers that were drafted in 2023, you likely think of Matvei Michkov (and rightfully so). But goaltender Yegor Zavragin is commanding some attention. He stuck in the VHL for the majority of the season with Yugra Khanty-Mansiysk, finishing the regular season 13-1-0 with a league-leading .943 save percentage (SV%). That has translated to the playoffs, where he’s 2-1 with a .938 SV%.

#10 Over in North America, another Russian netminder has been turning some heads in Ivan Prosvetov. Drafted way back in 2018, 114th overall by the Arizona Coyotes, he was claimed off waivers at the beginning of this season and has been extremely strong in his AHL play. Through his first nine games, he went undefeated, repping a .944 SV% and two shutouts, although that did just come to an end at the hands of the Calgary Wranglers - a game where he still had a .935 SV%. Goalies take time, and you never know when they might take off in their development. He’s worth keeping an eye on.

Draft-Eligible Prospects

#11 A top prospect on every draft ranking out there, but still, it seems that not enough people are talking about Sam Dickinson. Perhaps it’s because of the historic play of Zayne Parekh this season in the OHL, but Dickinson’s play deserves some recognition. The defender just ended an 11-game point streak that saw him rack up 20 points, bringing his season total to 63 (17 goals, 46 assists) in 60 games. That mark is third among all defenders in the league, behind the ridiculous seasons of Parekh and Hunter Brzustewicz. 

#12 Maxim Massé appears to be the top prospect in the QMJHL this season, and he’s been proving why as of late. The prospect was one of the most productive draft-eligibles around the globe over the past month, with 17 points (nine goals, eight assists) through 10 games. He’s up to 65 points (31 goals, 34 assists) in 60 games as he looks to solidify his spot as a first-round candidate in the 2024 class.

#13 Some bad news for potential first-rounder Harrison Brunicke, the defenseman is out month-to-month after taking a hard hit on February 19th. The South African-born prospect has 21 points (10 goals, 11 assists) in 49 games this season and could be considered a bit of a polarizing prospect, ranked from 21st down to 90th. He might be done for the year at this point. 

#14 A player that I keep talking about and coming back to is Ondrej Becher. The Czech prospect has been dominant in his second season with the Prince George Cougars (and his season season in North America at all). He’s up to 75 points (22 goals, 53 assists) in 50 games this season, a significant increase from last year’s results of 38 points (16 goals, 22 assists) in 63 games. He’s currently riding an 11-game point streak where he’s added 19 points to his total.

#15 When scouting in a player’s draft year, it’s important to look at where a player is in their development at the beginning of the season versus the middle and the end. This shows how the player continues to progress and how high their ceiling may be. Henry Mews is an interesting player in this regard as he continues to look better and better as the season rolls on. He’s playing a much smarter, more controlled game now than he was at the start of the year. He should be a riser on boards as the draft approaches. 

#16 Alex Zetterberg is making the rare jump from the J20 Nationell this season to the NCAA’s Boston University in the fall. Zetterberg has been having a strong season in Sweden, with 53 points (20 goals, 33 assists) in 41 games, while impressing internationally in the Hlinka, World Junior A Challenge, and various other U18 events. He’s a candidate to slide down draft boards though due to his height at 5-foot-8, but is absolutely one to watch.

#17 If the name Vladislav Bryzgalov sounds familiar, it’s likely because it is. Bryzgalov is the son of former NHLer Ilya Bryzgalov. The netminder recently made the move from the NCDC’s Ogden Mustangs, where he was 14-5-3 with a .933 SV%, to the BCHL’s Alberni Valley Bulldogs where he’s been keeping the impressive run going with a .935 SV%. Looking like a late-rounder at this point, the name alone might be enough for an NHL team to bite.

#18 Looking towards the 2025 NHL Draft, Finnish forward Max Westergård has been truly coming into his own as of late in his first season in Sweden. He’s been proving too good for the J18 and he’s fitting in in the J20 Nationell.In the J18 Nationell, he has yet to play a game this season and not record a point, with 19 (six goals, 13 assists) in 10 games. He had a point per game in his first four J20 Nationell games this season, where he should stick next year. What’s the most intriguing though is his late birthday of September 3rd, meaning he’s just days away from being eligible for the 2026 class. Put him on your watchlist for next year.

#19 Moving even further along to the 2026 class, I’ve already discussed Gavin McKenna in previous pieces, but we need to keep coming back to him. The prospect has been setting the WHL on fire with the Medicine Hat Tigers, with 86 points (29 goals, 57 assists) in 54 games. To put it in perspective, Connor Bedard finished his 16-year-old season (DY-1) with 1.61 points per game (100 points in 62 games). McKenna (DY-2) is on pace for 98 points in 62 games - a 1.58 pace. 

#20 McKenna isn’t the only 2026-eligible capturing attention though. 15-year-old Viggo Björck has been tearing up the Swedish J18 Region this year, up to 98 points (33 goals, 65 assists) in 35 games - as a 15-year-old. He not only holds the assists and points records for the league but destroyed both. The closest assists total was 48 and the closest points total was 72. In his last six J18 games, he has 31 points, including two nine-point performances. You read that right.