Photo Credit: Chris Zoeller

With player’s seasons now coming to a close all around the world and the NHL Draft looming ever closer, one prospect’s body of work this season that I think deserves a bit of last-minute recognition is John Mustard’s.

John, who was taken 109th overall out of New Jersey in the 2022 USHL Draft by the Waterloo Black Hawks, was projected at the start of this season as being just another kid who was lucky enough to be selected. But in very little time, he quickly began to change his critics’ minds when he started to shoot up the league’s point standings. Yes, with each passing game, teams and scouts alike began to stand up and pay attention as this 17-year-old rookie proved that he was someone they would have to plan for.

Mustard’s game is one that consists of a lethal shot and incredible on-ice instincts. And, like any good predatory animal does when they are stalking their prey, John can either hurt the opposition by harmlessly floating around the ice until their defense deems him not to be a threat and foolishly takes their eyes off him. Only to find that when they regain sight of him, it is usually too late, as he is already celebrating a goal with his teammates under the glow of that red rotating light. But if John’s elusiveness does not fool them, he has been known to use aggression. When he becomes impatient, or time is simply running out Mustard has been known to rush his opponent and take back what he feels is rightfully his. Once he reclaims his prize (the puck), John is then off to the races and uses his speed and ferocious stick-handling skills to make his way up the ice unscathed, to a position of his choice where he then releases his fatal blast into the back of the net.

This is something that Mustard was able to do an impressive 29 times this year and assisting others to do much of the same for another 27 times for a total of 56 points. And it’s because of these efforts that he was able to go from a seemingly unknown and unranked prospect to one who has been able to climb his way to the top of some teams’ draft boards in just a few short months.

However, potentially being drafted in the second round this summer isn’t the only opportunity that John’s extraordinary play this season has been able to provide him, for it has also afforded him a scholarship offer to play for the Providence Friars of the NCAA, starting in the 2025-2026 season.

With all that being said, it would appear as though John has all the intangibles to develop into a top-six forward in the NHL one day. So, with him doing his part, all we can do is impatiently wait to see if our team is the one lucky enough to end up stepping up to the podium to call his name.