With the Stanley Cup Qualifiers set to begin Saturday, NHL.com is taking a closer look at key storylines for each of the 24 teams.
The Qualifiers include the top four teams from each conference, based on points percentage, playing a three-game round-robin to determine seeding for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and the Nos. 5-12 seeds playing in eight best-of-5 series to advance to the first round of the playoffs.
Today, we look at 12 prospects (listed alphabetically) who made final rosters for the Qualifiers and could make a contribution to their teams. Eligibility for this list is age 25 or under, with fewer than 40 NHL games of experience.
Jake Bean, D, Carolina Hurricanes
Bean, the No. 13 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, has two games of NHL experience, in 2018-19. This season he led American Hockey League defensemen with 48 points (10 goals, 38 assists) in 59 games for Charlotte. The 22-year-old may have a tough time getting into a Carolina lineup that has eight veteran NHL defensemen. However, the health of Dougie Hamilton could open a spot. Hamilton hasn't practiced since Wednesday, when he left the ice in discomfort during power-play drills. The Hurricanes, the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference, will play the No. 11 seed, the New York Rangers, in a Cup Qualifier series at Scotiabank Arena that starts Saturday (Noon ET; NBCSN, NHL.TV, SN, SN360, TVAS, MSG, FS-CR).
Evan Bouchard, D, Edmonton Oilers
Bouchard has one goal in seven games of NHL experience, all in 2018-19. This season the 20-year-old scored 36 points (seven goals, 29 assists) in 54 games for Bakersfield of the AHL. Bouchard, the No. 10 pick of the 2018 NHL Draft, was third among AHL rookie defenseman in points and first in power-play goals (four). Oilers defenseman Mike Green opted out of the NHL Return To Play plan, so there could be an opportunity for Bouchard to earn a spot in the lineup. The Oilers, the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference, will play the Chicago Blackhawks, the No. 12 seed, in a Cup Qualifier series at Rogers Place that starts Saturday (3 p.m. ET; NBC, SN).
Video: WSH@EDM: Bouchard scores first NHL goal
Philip Broberg, D, Edmonton Oilers
Broberg, the No. 8 pick of the 2019 NHL Draft, scored eight points (one goal, seven assists) in 45 games, mostly in a third-pair role, with Skelleftea of the Swedish Hockey League. Despite receiving limited time on the power play, the 19-year-old averaged 13:59 per game in ice time and had 56 shots on goal. He had a strong training camp to make himself a candidate to play for the Oilers in the postseason. The Oilers' Cup Qualifier series against the Chicago Blackhawks starts Saturday (3 p.m. ET; NBC, SN).
Bowen Byram, D, Colorado Avalanche
Byram (6-1, 190), chosen with the No. 4 pick of the 2019 draft, is an elite skater and talented playmaker and the 19-year-old is a viable option should the Avalanche sustain any injuries to their more experienced defensemen. Byram scored 52 points (14 goals, 38 assists) in 50 games with Vancouver of the Western Hockey League this season, and also had two assists in seven games to help Canada win the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship. The Avalanche play their first round-robin game at Rogers Place on Sunday against the St. Louis Blues (6:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, NHL.TV, SN360, TVAS2, ALT, FS-MW). They also play the Dallas Stars (Aug. 5) and the Vegas Golden Knights (Aug. 8) to determine seeding for the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the West.
Liam Foudy, F, Columbus Blue Jackets
Foudy (6-2, 182), the No. 18 pick of the 2018 draft, made his NHL debut Feb. 10 and had one assist in two games. Foudy has elite hockey sense and vision and got a long look from coach John Tortorella during training camp. He's got a chance to be in the lineup when the Blue Jackets, the No. 9 seed in the East, play the Toronto Maple Leafs, the No. 8 seed, in a Cup Qualifier series that starts at Scotiabank Arena on Sunday (8 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN, TVAS, FS-O). The 20-year-old scored 68 points (28 goals, 40 assists) in 45 games as captain of London of the Ontario Hockey League, and scored four points (three goals, one assist) to help Canada win the 2020 WJC.
Peyton Krebs, F, Vegas Golden Knights
The 19-year-old could provide the Golden Knights with secondary offense in a bottom-six role. The No. 17 pick in the 2019 draft, Krebs scored 60 points (12 goals, 48 assists) in 38 games as captain for Winnipeg of the WHL. The Golden Knights play their first round-robin game at Rogers Place on Monday against the Dallas Stars (6:30 p.m. ET; NHLN, NHL.TV, SN1, ATTSN-RM, FS-SW). They also play the St. Louis Blues (Aug. 6) and Colorado Avalanche (Aug. 8) to determine seeding for the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the West.
Video: Golden Knights draft F Peyton Krebs No. 17
Connor McMichael, F, Washington Capitals
McMichael was third in OHL with 102 points (47 goals, 55 assists) in 52 games for London. The 19-year-old may not play during the postseason for a Capitals team that is deep with skilled forwards, but this run will be valuable to his hockey education. The Capitals play their first round-robin game at Scotiabank Arena on Monday against the Tampa Bay Lightning (4 p.m. ET; NBCSN, NHL.TV, SN360, TVAS, NBCSWA, SUN). They also play the Philadelphia Flyers (Aug. 6) and Boston Bruins (Aug. 9) to determine seeding for the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the East.
Nicholas Robertson, F, Toronto Maple Leafs
Robertson impressed during training camp with his speed and determination on the puck. The 18-year-old played on the third line in Toronto's 4-2 victory in an exhibition game against the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday, and had one assist in 10:11 of ice time. The second-round pick (No. 53) in the 2019 draft led the Ontario Hockey League with 55 goals and eight shorthanded goals in 46 games with Peterborough. The Maple Leafs play the Blue Jackets in a Cup Qualifier series that starts at Scotiabank Arena on Sunday (8 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN, TVAS, FS-O).
Victor Soderstrom, D, Arizona Coyotes
The 19-year-old scored 16 points (five goals, 11 assists), had 63 shots on goal and 17 blocked shots in 19:36 of ice time in 35 games with Brynas of the Swedish Hockey League. Selected with the No. 11 pick of the 2019 draft, Soderstrom is an exceptional skater and could be an asset to the Arizona power play. The Coyotes, the 11th seed in the West, will play the Nashville Predators, the No. 6 seed, in a Cup Qualifier series that starts at Rogers Place on Sunday (2 p.m. ET; USA, NHL.TV, SN360, FS-TN, FS-A).
Jack Studnicka, F, Boston Bruins
The 21-year-old made his NHL debut Nov. 26 and had one assist in two games. After a solid training camp, Studnicka now is among those battling to possibly take the lineup spot of forward Ondrej Kase, who has been unfit to play since the start of training camp and has yet to join the Bruins in Toronto. The 21-year-old, a second-round pick (No. 53) in the 2017 NHL Draft, was third among AHL rookies with 49 points (23 goals, 26 assists) and led all players with seven shorthanded goals in 60 games with Providence. The Bruins play their first round-robin game at Scotiabank Arena on Sunday against the Philadelphia Flyers (3 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, TVAS). They also play the Tampa Bay Lightning (Aug. 5) and the Washington Capitals (Aug. 9) to determine seeding for the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the East.
Video: NJD@BOS: Studnicka finds twine with redirection
Owen Tippett, F, Florida Panthers
The 21-year-old has one goal in seven NHL games, all in 2017-18. A wrist injury slowed Tippett's development this season, but he still led Springfield of the AHL with 40 points (19 goals, 21 assists) in 46 games. Tippett, chosen No. 10 in the 2017 draft, can provide quality scoring depth for the Panthers. Florida is the No. 10 seed in the East and will play the New York Islanders, the No. 7 seed, in a Cup Qualifier series that starts at Scotiabank Arena on Saturday (4 p.m. ET; NBCSN, NHL.TV, SN1, TVAS, FS-F, MSG+).
Eeli Tolvanen, F, Nashville Predators
Tolvanen has two points (one goal, one assist) in seven NHL games but none this season. The 21-year-old, selected with the No. 30 pick of the 2017 draft, scored 36 points (21 goals, 15 assists) in 63 games this season for Milwaukee of the AHL, and also scored seven power-play goals. That could work to his advantage if the Predators look to add to a power play that was 25th in the NHL this season at 17.3 percent. The Predators, the No. 6 seed in the West, will play the No. 11 seed, the Coyotes, in a Cup Qualifier series that starts at Rogers Place on Sunday (2 p.m. ET; USA, NHL.TV, SN360, FS-TN, FS-A).