Photo credit:Steven Ellis/Daily Faceoff
Cowan joins Marner in Knights record book, Minten making his mark: Leafs Prospect Roundup
By Nick Richard13 days ago
Easton Cowan’s progression from being considered a “reach” of a first-round pick last summer to becoming arguably the most dominant player in the OHL just a few short months later has been an impressive story and a feather in the cap of not only the player but the Leafs’ scouting staff as well.
Cowan has continued to check off milestones as the season has gone on, and he entered Sunday’s contest against the Oshawa Generals riding a 20-game point streak. He fired five shots on goal through regulation against the Generals but was unable to find the scoresheet to extend the streak. Then, as he has done so many times this season, Cowan rose to the occasion in overtime.
With the clock winding down in the extra frame, Cowan took a pass in the neutral zone and held off the defender before making a slick backhand move to beat the goaltender, win the game for the Knights, and extend his point streak to 21 games.
Cowan’s game-winner put him in good company, tying him with current Leafs star Mitch Marner for the third-longest point streak in London Knights history – at least dating back to 1997-98 when the OHL began recording such streaks. The Leafs’ 2o23 first-rounder is now just four games shy of the Knights’ record, set by Sergei Kostitsyn back in 2006-07.
There is a wide range of outcomes between a Marner-like trajectory and that of Kostitsyn, but the Leafs have to be thrilled with the strides Cowan has taken in his offensive game this season. Following Sunday’s overtime win, Cowan is up to a remarkable 53 points over his 21-game streak, and he now has 25 goals to go along with 45 assists in just 39 games so far this season. His mark of 1.79 points per game is tied with Sharks first-rounder Quentin Musty for the most in the OHL, and he has been getting it done in all facets, including a league-leading 11 shorthanded points.
With the NHL’s trade deadline now less than a month away, the noise is sure to pick up around Cowan as the Leafs look to upgrade their current roster for the stretch drive, but he has played his way to near “untouchable” status this season. Barring a deal that lands a legitimate impact player under team control, it’s difficult to imagine the Leafs including their top prospect in any kind of trade talks leading up to the deadline.
Cowan has firmly established himself as a top-tier NHL prospect and could be in the conversation for a spot on the Leafs’ roster as early as next season. For now, will look to continue his stellar run of play and cement his place in the London Knights’ record books.
Notes from the rest of the prospect pool:
- Fraser Minten had his own modest six-game point streak snapped on Saturday, but he has been a productive player for the CHL’s top-ranked team since his return from the World Juniors. In 15 games since rejoining the Blades, Minten has amassed 11 goals and 11 assists while continuing to be a reliable defensive presence down the middle. It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster season for the 2022 second-rounder, going from the Leafs back to Kamloops and then being traded to Saskatoon just ahead of representing Canada over in Sweden. He appears to be settling in with his new club, and he’ll be a big factor in their pursuit of a WHL Championship and a spot in the Memorial Cup.
- Dennis Hildeby’s play dipped following his return from a brief stint backing up Martin Jones in the NHL, but he bounced back with three straight impressive starts before getting shelled in relief of Keith Petruzzelli against Laval on Sunday. Prior to giving up four goals on 19 shots in that relief appearance, Hildeby had stopped 82 of the 84 shots he faced in his previous three outings, winning all three games. Even with a few rough appearances scattered amongst his record this season, Hildeby now owns a 2.35 GAA and a .913 SV% through 24 games. He almost added a goal to his stat line as well:
- Continuing with a bit of a theme here, Nikita Grebyonkin extended his point streak to five games with a goal in Sunday’s shootout loss to Dynamo Moskva. He has four goals and three assists over that span and 10 points in his last 10 games overall. His rate of production has taken a slight step back from a season ago when he was afforded a larger role on a thinner roster, but he has still put together a strong season, and his 38 points in 61 games are the fourth most among all U22 KHL players.
- It has been an incredibly difficult and frankly frightening season for Roni Hirvonen after he nearly lost an eye as the result of a high stick in just his second game with the Marlies back in October. He returned to action at the end of January and picked up his first AHL points with an assist in each of his first two games back from injury. Sunday’s blowout loss to Laval was an ugly showing for the Marlies as a whole, but it came with a nice moment for Hirvonen as he notched his first AHL goal in the losing effort.
- Noah Chadwick has been held without a point in his last three games, but it comes on the heels of a three-assist performance in a 6-0 win over the Calgary Hitmen last week. He has put together an impressive breakout season, leading the charge on Lethbridge’s blue line with nine goals and 33 assists in 48 games – more than double the production from his draft year and in 19 fewer games. Chadwick was drafted as a “toolsy” long-term project, and he has put those tools to use to be one of the most productive defenders in the WHL so far this season.
- It was an ugly start to the season for netminder Vyacheslav Peksa, but he has strung together a couple of impressive starts for the Growlers over the last couple of weeks to boost his numbers. In his last five appearances, Peksa has put together a .924 SV%, and he is inching his way closer to the .900 mark for the season. The season hasn’t gone according to plan for the Growlers, and Peksa in particular, but he is rounding into form, and a strong finish to the season will give him confidence heading into next season when he should push for time with the Marlies.
- Hudson Malinoski had the most productive game of his young NCAA career as Providence took down the University of Maine in overtime on Saturday. He notched his seventh goal of the season and added two assists, including a secondary helper on the overtime winner. Malinoski is up to 14 points in 27 games during his freshman season, tied for sixth in team scoring.
- Veeti Miettinen has already established a new NCAA career-high with 13 goals this season, but his playmaking numbers have taken a big step back from last season when he tallied 24 assists in 41 games. He took a significant chunk out of that deficit over the weekend, picking up a pair of helpers in each of St. Cloud State’s victories over Miami of Ohio on Friday and Saturday. Miettinen has registered 13 goals and 11 assists in 27 games this season, good enough for third in team scoring, and he is making a late push to earn an ELC with the Leafs before his exclusive signing rights expire this summer.
Statistics from EliteProspects.com
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