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Future NHL stars are developing in the Canadian Hockey League this season. Each week, will highlight a few of the top NHL-affiliated prospects in the Quebec Maritimes Junior Hockey League, the Ontario Hockey League and the Western Hockey League.

Denton Mateychuk has accomplished a lot this season, from a 23-game point streak to open the season with Moose Jaw to his first WHL hat trick against Medicine Hat on Jan. 26 to a season-high four points (one goal, three assists) in a 6-4 win at Red Deer on Friday.

The Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman prospect also became a viral video sensation.

To promote their coverage of the 2024 IIHF World Junior Championship, TSN worked with Mateychuk on a video having fun with his wide-eyed Blue Jackets training camp photo and "Captain Serious" persona.

"Some of things that I was doing were a bit interesting," Mateychuk said. "First time doing that sort of acting stuff, it was a bit interesting, but I really enjoyed it. Some of the lines it's like, 'Oh [boy], I don't want to mess it up,' because you've got to be serious all the time. It was definitely a fun experience for sure."

The fun on the ice has come a bit more naturally for Mateychuk, who had 35 points (six goals, 29 assists) during his point streak, which is tied for the longest in the WHL this season.

The 19-year-old has 52 points (13 goals, 39 assists) in 35 games, is tied for fourth in scoring among WHL defensemen, and has more games with at least three points (five) as he does with zero points (four). 

He also had four assists and led Canada in average ice time per game (24:32) in five games at the WJC.

As much as the offense has stood out, Mateychuk said he feels he's become more of a well-rounded player this season, with improvements to his defensive game.

The Blue Jackets certainly have been impressed by what they've seen from the No. 12 pick in the 2022 NHL Draft.

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"I've seen it grow especially down low in the defensive zone around his net, closing plays off below the goal line and essentially just getting the puck back as fast as he can," Columbus development coach Tommy Cross said, "because he's a player that can make a difference in the game when the puck's on his stick.

"His aggressive mentality to close on guys, separate and get the puck back, helps him play to his strengths and helps his team transition pucks and go the other way."

Mateychuk was a standout for the Blue Jackets during the 2023 NHL Prospects Tournament in Traverse City, Michigan, when he had seven assists in two games, and he had four assists in three NHL preseason games.

But Cross said the best path for Mateychuk has been going back to Moose Jaw, where he can play big minutes on a team with Memorial Cup aspirations.

"He played two or three games in Traverse City against his peers, put up seven points and was a really dominant player and he continued that play in training camp," Cross said. "I know that there's a plan for Denton and he's working along that plan and getting great experience.

"Being in Moose Jaw, being relied on heavily to produce and lead his team and gain that experience is invaluable, to go along with the World Junior experience and playing for his country. These are all steps in the process that Denton is taking and he's doing a great job of continuing to develop and work at his craft and be a leader for his team."

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Colby Barlow, LW, Owen Sound: The Winnipeg Jets prospect scored 10 goals in a seven-game streak that ended in a 5-4 overtime loss at Saginaw on Friday, but had an assist to extend his point streak to eight games (17 points; 10 goals, seven assists). Barlow, who turns 19 on Wednesday, had his first four-point game of the season at Ottawa on Jan. 21, and his 100th OHL goal against London on Feb. 3. Selected by the Jets with the No. 18 pick in the 2023 NHL Draft, he has 39 points (25 goals, 13 assists) in 32 games this season.

Mathieu Cataford, LW, Halifax: The Vegas Golden Knights prospect scored a goal and assisted on the game-tying goal for Halifax in a 4-3 win at Drummondville on Feb. 2. It was the 18-year-old's 25th multipoint game in 50 games this season, more than the 21 he had in 68 games last season. Selected in the third round (No. 77) of the 2023 draft, Cataford is tied for second in the QMJHL with 74 points (32 goals, 42 assists) this season, one off the 75 points (31 goals, 44 assists) he had last season.

Reid Dyck, G, Swift Current: The Boston Bruins prospect made 28 saves in a 6-0 win against Lethbridge on Jan. 31, and in his next game made 26 saves in a 3-0 win at Regina on Feb. 2. They were the 20-year-old's first two shutouts of the season, and matched the total he had in his previous three WHL seasons. Selected in the sixth round (No. 183) of the 2022 draft, Dyck has a 1.66 goals-against average and .944 save percentage in his past six games, and is 13-6-2 with a 2.81 GAA and .913 save percentage in 22 games this season.

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