Fonstad Racking Up The Points
The WHL class for the 2018 NHL Entry Draft is dominated by defensemen, but one forward is really starting to make a name for himself.
Left wing Cole Fonstad of the Prince Albert Raiders is running away with the scoring lead among first-year draft-eligible WHLers. One half of a dynamic duo with Winnipeg Jets overage center Jordy Stallard, Fonstad has record six goals, 17 assists and 23 total points in 16 games so far. He’s tied for 18th in overall WHL scoring, and is 8th in terms of total assists.
He’s not a big player, at a listed 5’10” and 162 pounds, but he possesses excellent offensive awareness and puck skills. He loves to set up from the wall on the powerplay, where he stickhandles away from opponents and scans for options before threading passes through traffic to his teammates.
While not a blazing skater, his acceleration and top speed are good enough, when combined with his mind and his hands, to overcome his small stature.
Alexeyev Making Up For Lost Time
Red Deer Rebels defenseman Alexander Alexeyev missed nearly a month of games due to an upper-body injury suffered in late September, but he’s played six games since returning and hasn’t looked like he’s missed a beat.
The 6’3″ Russian defender had five points in those six games, including his first goal of the year.
Alexeyev is a very intriguing prospect, combining great size with good all-around mobility and some surprisingly quick hands. The concerns, however, are that he’s a late 1999 birthday and has an injury history, also missing a large chunk of last season’s games.
An appearance with Russia at this year’s World Juniors could go a long way in helping to determine just how high he should go in the draft.
Florchuk Flying Under The Radar On Flashy Victoria Royals
The Victoria Royals are off to an explosive start to the WHL season. They’ve potted 93 goals so far as a team, an even 20 more than the next-closest club.
The Royals are led primarily by WHL veterans like Matthew Philipps, Tyler Soy and Dante Hannoun, but one draft-eligible is flying under the radar and contributing at a healthy clip.
Eric Florchuk is a toolsy, well-rounded centre that has recorded 14 points in 19 games in a support role. The former 13th overall pick in the WHL Bantam Draft doesn’t excel in any one particular area, but is serviceable in all avenues of the game. He can score points both by crashing the net and fighting for loose pucks and by showing off crisp puck movement on the rush.
Is Florchuk better than most realize and getting less chances to showcase it by playing on such a deep offensive team, or on the flip side of the coin, is he getting an easy go of things because his older mates draw the toughest competition? Both could be true, which makes him a prospect worthy of much closer inspection as the season goes on.