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Cole Caufield
Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
Prospects Report

USA looking strong heading into World Juniors

by McKeen's Hockey
Updated On: December 18, 2019, 12:53 am ET

This week we begin our coverage for the 2020 IIHF World Junior Tournament and kick it off with some players to watch from the American team from our Prospects Director, Ryan Wagman. Next week in this space, on Christmas eve, we will cover the rest of the Big Five from the tournament, Canada, the US, Russia, Sweden and Finland with notes on players to watch. On December 21st, McKeen’s Hockey will be releasing its annual IIHF World Junior Championship Guide in magazine format and it will be available to subscribers for download. It will be everything you need to enjoy the tournament and can learn more about it here.

With a third of most league seasons passed, and a good body of games under most prospects belt, the 2020 NHL Draft is starting to come into focus and the path to the final ranking gets interesting. Brock Otten profiles a fast-rising draft eligible prospect in Jack Quinn of the Ottawa 67’s who is just hitting many radars. He is a player to keep an eye on going into 2020.

Enjoy this week’s article and join us on the eve of the biggest prospect tournament of the season next Tuesday for a preview.  The McKeen’s team are scouting and writing about prospects all season long and provide in-depth reports on our website: www.mckeenshockey.com

NBCSN’s coverage of the 2019-20 NHL season continues with Tuesday’s matchup between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here!

Editor's Note: Drafting is only half the battle. Dominate all season long with our Season Pass! Use our NEW Lineup Adviser, get our Weekly and Rest-of-Season rankings and projections, track all of your players and more on your way to a championship! Click here for more!  

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2020 NHL Draft Prospect

Jack Quinn, RW-C, Ottawa 67’s, 6’1”, 180 lbs

2019 Stats: 18 goals and 15 assists in 33 games for Ottawa (OHL)

Patience is something that is often required of OHL teams as they develop their young players. For every Quinton Byfield, who enters the league as an immediate impact player, there are examples like Jack Quinn. Quinn, a late September born winger, was drafted into the OHL at 5’9 and spent the majority of his 16-year-old season with Kanata of the CCHL, not yet physically ready to do battle with 19 and 20-year-old players in the Ontario Hockey League. Fast forward a few years and Quinn now measures in at 6’1 and is a rapid riser for the 2020 NHL Draft because of his strong play for the 67’s. Currently sitting at 18 goals and 33 points in 29 games, Quinn is sixth in the OHL among first time draft eligible players in goals and points and is drawing consideration for the first round come June in Montreal.

At first glance, his statistical output may not be eye catching, especially when you factor in his later birthday. However, one must look past the boxscores to see the whole story with Quinn. Firstly, his stats are not inflated from playing with top draft prospect Marco Rossi. Quinn plays on the second line with veteran (and NJ Devils draft pick) Mitchell Hoelscher, of which he is the driving force. Secondly, he plays in all situations for the 67’s and has evolved into one of the top two-way forwards in the OHL. He has become someone that coach Andre Tourigny can put out there in crucial situations, whether the team is protecting a one goal lead late in the game or fighting to try and overcome a deficit. Thirdly, his game has improved dramatically in the past 12 months. After going through a growth spurt, Quinn has strengthened his lower body and worked hard to become a more explosive skater, in addition to becoming a more consistent player away from the puck. You would be hard pressed to find a more complete winger in the draft this year.

At the core of Quinn’s game is his two-way ability and hockey IQ. He is consistently engaged in all three zones and has a hunger for the puck. He understands his assignments in his own end and has a great understanding of how to use his size and skating ability to force turnovers, especially in his own end and in the neutral zone. However, Quinn is also an extremely creative offensive player whose hands and shot are both well above average. His shot release is particularly impressive, as he is terrific at shooting while cutting to the middle or while in full stride. He can create time and space for himself with his hands and is now strong enough to drive possession by fighting off checks down low. As mentioned, Quinn really is an exceptionally complete player who, thanks to improvements in his skating and strength, does not really have a weakness. 

NHL teams are likely to view Quinn as a potential complementary winger inside their top six who can play in any situation and provide versatility to his future coach. With his shot and scoring instincts, he could easily develop into a consistent 30 goal scorer. As such, and as he continues to improve with each passing month, Quinn is also likely to continue to rocket up draft rankings and find himself firmly inside the first round in 2020. – Brock Otten, OHL

Prospects in the News – 2020 IIHF World Juniors Preview – Three to watch on Team USA

While most rosters still have, as of this writing, a few cuts to make, it is Mid-December and the ten nations who will be sending their finest U20 hockey players have already all at least announced their preliminary 2020 WJC rosters.

As is generally the case, the ten nations can be divided into three general groups. The top group consists of the five countries who are regarded as the big five include Canada, United States, Russia, Sweden, and Finland. Looking back at the 10 tournaments from the previous decade (the WJC got the jump on most of the rest of us by ending their decade last January), these five nations won every tournament, and picked up all ten silvers and nine of 10 bronzes. The only times the WJC has been won by any other nation was in the Czech Republic’s glorious run from 2000 to 2001.

The next group includes the Czech Republic and Slovakia, either of which could find themselves in a position to win a medal if everything breaks right but are more likely to find themselves eliminated after the first round of the playoffs.

The final group are the relative minnows, who are expected to be fighting to avoid the worst record and the consequent relegation that accompanies that distinction. This group includes Switzerland, Kazakhstan, and Germany, the last of which was promoted back to the top-level last year. Some would argue that Switzerland should be up with the Czechs and Slovaks, but I have a hard time seeing the 1998 bronze medalists as safe. Not that I’m betting against them, but they only staved off elimination in the relegation games in three straight seasons, from 2015 to 2017. I don’t see a roster that could match last year’s run to the Bronze Medal game either.

While next week in this space we will be examining the rosters of the big five and some key players, for this week I will focus on the US team. The New York Islanders released Oliver Wahlstrom to the team today, but they still have four or five cuts to make. Regardless, it isn’t too early to look at the likely starting goalie, and a contender for the first defensive pairing and the first forward line respectively.

G – Spencer Knight (Boston College)

2019 Stats: 1.73 Goals against average, 0.940 save percentage in 15 games for Boston College (NCAA)

With all due respect to Isaiah Saville and Dustin Wolf, it would be a surprise if either of them played more than twice, no matter how far the American side gets. The aggressive and athletic stopper proved himself to be one of the top U18 goalies in recent memory last year with the USNTDP. After being selected higher in the draft than most common analytics say is wise, he has hit the ice running at the collegiate level, with a fantastic .940 save percentage for Boston College, 5th best figure in the NCAA. Team USA goes as far as Spencer Knight can push them.

D – K'Andre Miller (Wisconsin)

2019 Stats: six goals and five assists in 18 games for University of Wisconsin (NCAA)

A unique blueline prospect, who still carries some of the winger style he brings with him from his time before switching to the defense. Miller has length and a high-end top speed. In addition to his strong skating ability, he is capable of underrated creativity when playing the puck in the offensive end. He also uses his big frame to his advantage, as we can see with his physical style when defending. He has the ability of a Brent Burns or a Dustin Byfuglien to take over games.

F – Cole Caufield (Wisconsin)

2019 Stats: 12 goals and eight assists in 18 games for University of Wisconsin (NCAA)

It is no coincidence that the expected leaders of this American WJC roster are all USNTDP alums. While Knight and Miller are both physical specimens, Caufield’s physical notoriety comes from the exact opposite reason. He is noticeably small. The long-term comparisons to Alex DeBrincat were inevitable, but Caufield has been doing his best to live up to them. Halfway through his freshman season in Wisconsin, he sits one goal shy of the national lead. Caufield can score in so many ways. – Ryan Wagman, McKeen’s Prospect

McKeen's Hockey

McKeen’s Hockey has been writing about NHL hockey and covering prospects for 25 years. Our team of scouts and analysts are in rinks around the world providing insight into the NHL’s future at mckeenshockey.com.