Prospects News & Rumors: Ciona, Bedard & Viro
In this edition of the Prospects News and Rumors report, Lucas Ciona of the Seattle Thunderbirds signed his entry-level contract (ELC) with the Calgary Flames. Meanwhile, Connor Bedard had himself yet another dominant weekend with the Regina Pats and Detroit Red Wings prospect Eemil Viro scored his first professional goal.
Ciona Signs ELC With the Flames
On Sunday (Oct. 30), Ciona signed a three-year ELC with the Flames. Out of the eight players that they drafted in 2021, he is the first to sign with the team. Selected all the way down in the sixth round at 173rd overall, he is already looking like an early steal. He is currently ripping up the Western Hockey League (WHL) with seven goals and 17 points in nine games so far, which is tied with Montreal Canadiens’ prospect Jared Davidson and ahead of 2022 first-rounder Reid Schaefer (Edmonton Oilers, 32nd overall) – who has more goals (10), but fewer points (13).
Drafted 32nd overall by the Thunderbirds in the 2018 WHL Bantam Draft, Ciona debuted with the team in 2018-19 and has spent parts of the last four seasons in Seattle. He transitioned full-time to the WHL last season where he scored a career-high 17 goals and 35 points in 53 games, and an impressive nine goals and 14 points in the playoffs as the Thunderbirds made it all the way to the WHL Final.
Now on pace to shatter those totals this season, the 6-foot-2 Edmonton native has all the tools to succeed in a bottom-six role in the NHL one day. Look for Ciona to debut in the American Hockey League (AHL) with the newly-minted Calgary Wranglers as soon as this season (if the Thunderbirds somehow manage to not win the Memorial Cup) or at the latest 2023-24.
Bedard Continues To Pile Up the Points in the WHL
Speaking of racking up points, generational talent, and projected 2023 first-overall pick Connor Bedard has been doing just that and then some ever since the beginning of the 2022-23 season. With another seven points (3G, 4A) over the weekend – including a five-point night against the Tri-City Americans – he is already putting an exclamation point on his status as the best player outside of the NHL right now.
Related: Connor Bedard: A Generational Talent
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After being shut out against the Moose Jaw Warriors in his first game of the season (a game where he had 10 shots), the Pats’ new captain has put on a show with a 14-game point streak in which he has accumulated 13 goals and 29 points. That of course leads the WHL and is eight points clear of second place which belongs to Austin Roest of the Everett Silvertips and Koehn Ziemmer of the Prince George Cougars. Needless to say, he is ready to be crowned the first overall pick in July 2023 and possibly win a Calder Trophy shortly thereafter.
Viro Scores First AHL Goal
Finally, we have Eemil Viro hitting a milestone in the AHL with his first professional goal and first tally in North America. Playing for the Grand Rapids Griffins, he accomplished the feat on Oct. 30 against the Texas Stars scoring on 36-year-old Anton Khudobin, who has 259 NHL games to his credit. A third-round pick of the Red Wings in 2020, the smooth-skating Finn corralled a loose puck around the right face-off dot and fired a wrist shot over the shoulder of the NHLer to tie the game at two. The Griffins then went on to win 4-3 on Austin Czarnik’s goal in the second period.
Not known for being a goalscorer, that wrist shot looked pretty deadly as Viro deftly controlled the puck out of a scrum along the boards and fired it toward the goal. Yes, it may have been luck, but it’s a goal that will live in his mind for the rest of his life.
That does it for another Prospects News & Rumors report here at The Hockey Writers. We will have another one on Friday as we continue tracking all the major stories across the world of prospects.
Matthew Zator is the assistant managing editor at THW and a writer who lives and breathes Vancouver Canucks hockey, the NHL Draft, and prospects in general. He loves talking about young players and their potential. Matthew is a must-read for Canucks fans and fans of the NHL Draft and its prospects. For interview requests or content information, you can follow Matthew through his social media accounts which are listed under his photo at the conclusion of articles like this one about Tyler Motte.
Matthew also hosts The Hockey Writers Prospect Corner on YouTube and is the co-host of The Hockey Writers Podcast & Western Centric Podcast.