Anaheim DucksArizona CoyotesBoston BruinsBuffalo SabresCalgary FlamesCarolina HurricanesChicago BlackhawksColorado AvalancheColumbus Blue JacketsDallas StarsDetroit Red WingsEdmonton OilersFlorida PanthersLos Angeles KingsMinnesota WildMontréal CanadiensNashville PredatorsNew Jersey DevilsNew York IslandersNew York RangersOttawa SenatorsPhiladelphia FlyersPittsburgh PenguinsSt Louis BluesSan Jose SharksSeattle KrakenTampa Bay LightningToronto Maple LeafsVancouver CanucksVegas Golden KnightsWashington CapitalsWinnipeg Jets

PROSPECTS: BELL – 20 Prospect Points – Gauthier, Firkus, Connelly, Hage and More

BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 06: Boston College Eagles forward Cutter Gauthier (19) skates with the puck during a Dunkin' Beanpot semifinal game between the Boston College Eagles and the Harvard Crimson on February 6, 2023, at TD Garden in Boston, MA. (Photo by Erica Denhoff/Icon Sportswire)

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

This edition dives into the biggest news in the prospect world as of late, Cutter Gauthier’s trade to the Anaheim Ducks, as well as the return of Canadians from the World Juniors, some standout netminders in the AHL, the impressive rise of Trevor Connelly, and much more.

Drafted Prospects

#1 Unless you’ve been living under a rock, the biggest recent prospect news is Cutter Gauthier being traded to the Anaheim Ducks for defenseman Jamie Drysdale. Reports have revealed that he didn’t want to sign with the Philadelphia Flyers, sparking the move. Gauthier joins a very exciting, young group in California with Trevor Zegras, Leo Carlsson, Mason McTavish, Olen Zellweger, and Pavel Mintuykov. The future is looking extremely bright.

#2 Drafted 19th overall back in 2016 by the New York Islanders, it’s been a long, tough road for Kieffer Bellows. But could he finally be putting it all together? He joined the Toronto Marlies on a PTO and impressed with 27 points (15 goals, 12 assists) in 26 games. Now, he’s signed to an AHL deal with the team. Could the NHL be next? This is very much a story to keep an eye on.

#3 It seems that Seattle Kraken prospect Jagger Firkus took exception to not making the Team Canada World Juniors roster right out of the gate (he was added for two games filling in for injury). Back in the WHL with the Moose Jaw Warriors, he’s been absolutely on fire, with 16 points (five goals, 11 assists) in just four games. He’s up to 75 points (!) in 36 games with no signs of slowing down.

#4 Another Warrior and Team Canada returnee, Buffalo Sabres’ prospect Matt Savoie returned to the WHL to make his debut for Moose Jaw. You could say it went well, with Savoie racking up five points (two goals, three assists) after only collecting one assist throughout the World Juniors. Savoie is playing at a 2.42 point-per-game pace this season through just 12 games.

#5 Some disappointing news for Halifax Mooseheads superstar and Columbus Blue Jackets prospect Jordan Dumais, who will be out for some extended time due to requiring double hip surgery and a sports hernia repair. It’s expected that he’ll miss about six weeks, which could put him back on the ice at the end of the regular season.

#6 Alright, one more Team Canada returnee to talk about - Oliver Bonk. It seems to be a pattern that some of these Canadians have returned to their regular teams with a chip on their shoulder after failing to medal at the World Juniors. The Flyers prospect has returned to the OHL’s London Knights and has been on absolute fire. The defender has put up 14 points (six goals, eight assists) in just five games back - his most productive stretch this season. Keep an eye on him moving forward.

#7 Once thought to be in the conversion for the top pick in the 2022 NHL Draft, the Winnipeg Jets’ called Brad Lambert’s name 30th overall. Making the jump to the AHL this season - the Jets absolutely made the right call and potentially got a steal in the young Finn. Lambert was named to the AHL All-Star Classic to represent the Manitoba Moose, after collecting 25 points (12 goals, 13 assists) in 29 games. He may have slid down the draft board, but Lambert is proving to be the skilled player that many thought he could be.

#8 On to the goalies! One of the best goaltending prospects in the world, Nashville Predators’ prospect Yaroslav Askarov has been tremendous in the AHL for the Milwaukee Admirals, earning a call-up to the Preds where he was perfect in relief for 16:40 and then started a game, earning his first NHL win thanks to a .923 save percentage. It seems to have boosted his confidence in returning to the Admirals, where he’s won four straight including three shutouts. Get ready Preds’ fans - he’s coming.

#9 Speaking of excellent goaltending prospects, Minnesota Wild rearguard Jesper Wallstedt earned his first call-up and start in the NHL, granted he let in seven goals in a 7-2 loss to the Dallas Stars. He’s had a tough stretch in the AHL lately, but he still has impressive numbers through 20 games with a .917 save percentage. It won’t be long before he gets the promotion again.

#10 Askarov, Wallstedt… Damian Clara? The Italian netminder and Anaheim Ducks prospect has been tremendous in his first full season in the HockeyAllsvenskan for Brynas IF, going 15-3-0 and sporting a .907 save percentage. The 19-year-old is on a seven-game winning streak, including one shutout. The goaltender is an under-the-radar prospect despite being drafted 60th overall. Keep an eye on him.

Draft-Eligible Prospects

#11 One of the hottest draft-eligible prospects out there right now, Trevor Connelly seemingly can’t be stopped. After helping Team USA to a World Junior A Challenge bronze medal last month (and being named to the All-Star Team thanks to his 11 points in six games), he’s returned to the USHL’s Tri-City Storm on fire with nine points (three goals, six assists) in five games. He’s a player on the rise at the mid-point of the year.

#12 Speaking of prospects that are exploding right now, Zayne Parekh may need a permanent place on this list. The OHL’s Saginaw Spirit defender is seemingly unstoppable right now, on pace for the second-best OHL season for a draft-year eligible prospect all time. At this point, he’s a must-watch prospect and is almost sure to stand out in every game.

#13 Over in the WHL, a prospect that hasn’t been earning the discussion that he perhaps deserves, Clarke Caswell has been commanding attention as of late with points in nine of his last 10 games and is up to 47 points (12 goals, 35 assists) in 41 points. If you’re looking for prospects to watch in the back half of the season, be sure to check out Caswell.

#14 While he started off fairly slow (due to limited minutes in the KHL), Ivan Demidov is very much here. Now playing consistent minutes in the MHL with SKA-1946 St. Petersburg, he’s producing at an impressive rate. He has 19 points (eight goals, 11 assists) in his last nine games, playing over two points per game. Crazy what can happen if a player actually plays!

#15 Ondrej Becher was a standout performer at the World Juniors for Team Czechia, en route to a bronze medal for his team. He was instrumental in that bronze medal game, putting up five points (three goals, two assists) in the exciting final game. This should come as no surprise though given his season with the Prince George Cougars, as the Czech prospect has been excellent with 48 points (17 goals, 31 assists) in 32 games.

#16 Another WHL prospect who has been excellent this season is Medicine Hat Tigers’ Cayden Lindstrom. Unfortunately, he’ll be on the sideline for four to six weeks following surgery for an upper-body injury. Lindstrom has 46 points (27 goals, 19 assists) in 32 games and should be back to the WHL playoffs and potentially the World Under 18 Championships. Don’t expect his draft stock to be hit because of this.

#17 Konsta Helenius didn’t have a great World Juniors tournament production-wise with just two points through seven games, but he’s now back in the Liiga with Jukurit and back to putting up the points with two assists in two games (ok, the two assists came in one game). While he wasn’t a standout at the World Juniors, his draft stock remains high and being the youngest player on Team Finland, the tournament shouldn’t impact his ranking.

#18 Another prospect that should have a regular spot on this list, Macklin Celebrini has returned to Boston University on a mission with four points through his two games back. He was arguably Canada’s top forward at the World Juniors, with eight points in five games, and has continued that production back in the NCAA. His No. 1 overall ranking remains extremely firm.

#19 Michael Hage is a prospect that is very much under the radar in this draft class. The 17-year-old is currently leading the USHL’s Chicago Steel in points with 31 (14 goals, 17 assists) in 28 games and was strong in the All-American Game. He’s a player who’s on the cusp of the first round in many public rankings but should be a solid first-rounder by the time the draft rolls around.

#20 We’re looking way out with this one. Gavin McKenna, eligible for the 2026 NHL Draft and the cousin of Connor Bedard, is absolutely dominating the WHL as a 16-year-old. His 1.40 points-per-game ranks sixth all-time for a U17 player in the league, with half of the season still to go. He’s up to 49 points (16 goals, 33 assists) in 35 games and shows no signs of slowing down. It’s a long road to the 2026 NHL Draft, but it’s worth starting to follow the path of this young player.