2020 NHL draft: 3 stars of the week

Photo credit: Mika Kylmaniemi

Each week I will be featuring the top three performers among first time eligible players for the 2020 NHL draft. Along with the occasional honourable mention for other noteworthy accomplishments. Here are my three stars for the period from Saturday, October 26th through Friday, November 1st.

1. Joel Blomqvist

Finnish goaltender Joel Blomqvist is one of the top prospects available at his position for the 2020 NHL draft. Remarkably he has allowed one or fewer goals nine times in 19 starts this season. This past week the Karpat U20 netminder was especially stingy.

He began the week with a 36 save shutout in a 3-0 blanking of the first-place Jokerit U20 club. What makes that feat more astounding is the fact that Jokerit had been averaging five goals per game. Following that performance, was another brilliant effort, stopping 21 of 22 shots in a 3-1 triumph over Tappara U20. His two-game total of 57 saves on 58 shots represents a save percentage of .983.

Blomqvist has been selected to the Finnish U18 team and will likely start most of the games in the upcoming Five Nations tournament which begins November 6th, in Sundsvall, Sweden.

2. Ryan Francis

Cape Breton Eagles forward Ryan Francis went on a scoring rampage this past week. The Beaver Bank, Nova Scotia native, isn’t ranked highly on any 2020 NHL draft rankings that I’ve seen but has undoubtedly made his presence known in recent games. With the four goals and four assists that he posted in the last three games, Francis has climbed to fifth place in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League scoring race. Currently, he has 11 goals and 21 assists in 17 games played.

Here is one of his goals from earlier in the week.

3. Alexis Lafreniére

Rimouski Oceanic star Alexis Lafreniére is becoming a fixture in my three stars of the week as he continues to produce points at a prolific rate. He began the week as the game’s first star in a 5-4 shootout loss to the Shawinigan Cataractes scoring once and adding two helpers. In his next outing, he would add four assists, while being selected as the third star of the game. Albeit in the next game, Lafreniére did not manage to hit the scoresheet in a 4-2 victory over the Charlottetown Islanders. In 18 games this season, he has amassed 43 points.

Honourable Mentions

Dawson Mercer of the Drummondville Voltigeurs posted seven points in four contests this past week. The Voltigeurs only managed ten goals in those four games.

Tolpar forward Danil Aimurzin deserves mention for his five points in two games in the Russian MHL.

Kelowna Rockets forward Pavel Novak recorded a hat-trick and an assist in a 6-3 win versus the Prince George Cougars. Novak had six points in the three games he played this week.

These are just a few of the many great performances by prospects that are eligible for the 2020 NHL draft. Undoubtedly there will be many more outstanding efforts to follow. Make sure to come back next week to see which of these terrific young stars are featured.

Rick Warman is a Vancouver Canucks and prospects contributor for Overtime Heroics. Follow him @statman1956 on Twitter

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