I recently listed my top five candidates for the Calder Trophy as well as some honorable mentions. Now, we’re going to take a closer look at one prospect to watch from each of the 32 NHL clubs, focusing on players who could make an impact in the NHL this coming season.
Anaheim Ducks: Mason McTavish
A third-round selection in the 2021 NHL Draft, McTavish looks ready to make the leap to the NHL full-time this season. He was sent back to the OHL after appearing in nine games with the Ducks last season. It was a successful year for McTavish; he won the OHL Championship with the Hamilton Bulldogs and the Gold Medal with Team Canada at the IIHF World Junior Championship in which he was named tournament MVP. He plays a strong and mean game and has a knack for being net-front, which in return allows for him to pounce on loose pucks and bang home rebounds. With the Ducks in a rebuilding stage, McTavish will surely be a player the club molds its future around.
Arizona Coyotes: Jack McBain
Toronto product McBain was originally chosen in the third round of the 2018 NHL Draft by the Minnesota Wild. McBain spent the last four seasons in the NCAA with Boston College, where he won two Hockey East championships. Last season, he registered 19 goals and 33 points in 24 games with the Eagles and was named to the NCAA Second All-American team. Following his college tenure, McBain requested a trade, and he wound up dealt to the Arizona Coyotes for a second-round pick. He made his NHL debut on April 12 against the New Jersey Devils. He finished the season with two goals and three points in 10 games. The 6-foot-4 power forward has a well-rounded combination of size and skill, and while his developmental path has been a bit of a process, he seems on the right track to having a solid first full season of competition.
Boston Bruins: John Beecher
One of several former Michigan Wolverines on this list, Beecher was selected 30th overall by the Bruins in the 2019 NHL Draft. The 6-foot-3 Elmira, New York product is a dynamic center who uses his size and balance to play a strong net-front game. Following his NCAA tenure, Beecher joined the Bruins’ AHL farm team, the Providence Bruins, on which he registered five points in nine games. While Beecher will likely start the season in Providence, don’t be surprised to see him at the NHL level this season. Top prospect Fabian Lysell is obviously a name to watch, too, though he’s still eligible to return to major junior.
Buffalo Sabres: Owen Power
Power needs no introduction. He is the second Wolverine alumni to appear on the list and quite frankly the favorite to win the Calder Trophy this season. The 6-foot-6 defenseman is coming off an impressive NCAA campaign registering 32 points in 33 games. He even got a taste of the NHL last season, appearing in eight games and totalling three points. As Power sets to embark on his NHL career, it shouldn’t take him long to find his game and excel at the next level as he has continuously done throughout his career.
Calgary Flames: Jakob Pelletier
Pelletier is a former QMJHL superstar who, throughout 210 games, registered 107 goals, and 168 assists for 275 points. Pelletier was also named the QMJHL’s Most Sportsmanlike Player in the 2019-20 season and named to the QMJHL First All-Star team in 2020-21. He made his AHL debut last season with the Stockton Heat – now the rebranded Calgary Wranglers, where he registered 62 points in 66 games. While he has never been the biggest or strongest forward on his team, Pelletier makes up for that with his killer instinct; he’s an opportunistic player who will pounce on any open chance to get his team on the board. He is a natural playmaker who possesses great speed, good vision and a high-end shot. Pelletier has all the right tools to break out as the Flames’ next big young gun.
Carolina Hurricanes: Jack Drury
Jack Drury has had a bit of a journey to get to the NHL. The nephew of former NHLer and current New York Rangers GM Chris Drury was selected in the second round of the 2018 NHL Draft by the Carolina Hurricanes. Following his tenure with the Waterloo Black Hawks of the United States Hockey League, the former captain committed to Harvard University where he played for two seasons. Then in 2020-21, he went to Sweden and played for the Växjö Lakers HC in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL) and registered 30 points in 41 games. Last season, he made his captivating NHL debut in December of 2021 and scored his first NHL goal in his first game. Drury would finish the season with the AHL’s Chicago Wolves, scoring 52 points in 68 games. During the Wolves’ magnificent post-season run, Drury totalled 24 points in 18 games and was a key component to the Wolves winning the Calder Cup. Drury brings a combo of offensive flare and strong defensive tendencies that would suit him well for a bottom-six role within the Canes’ system.