Things are getting interesting at the top of the NHL Draft.
Jack Hughes has long been the top prospect for the NHL’s 2019 draft and he hasn’t really played his way off that pedestal. Injuries caused him to miss part of the WJC and the entirety of the Five Nations Cup, two big events on the junior international schedule. But as far as his production goes, Hughes is having another monster year and is just four points off of Clayton Keller’s all-time USNTDP points record of 189.
But Kaapo Kakko is making a late charge with his production at both the WJC and in the Liiga, Finland’s top professional league. On Thursday, he set a new goals record for a first-time draft eligible player, breaking the mark set by Aleksander Barkov in 2012-13.
A key difference here is that Barkov scored 21 goals in 53 games whereas Kakko did it in Game 45. Kakko only has 16 assists so he’s still 10 points shy of that record. Kakko’s 0.84 points per game mark, however, is fourth all-time for a U18 player, behind just Mikael Granlund (0.93), Barkov (0.91) and Jari Torkki (0.88).