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A Finn in Minny

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

Team USA clinched the title at a controversial World Jr. A Championship in Camrose, Alta., this week. The outrage wasn’t directed at the Yankees, however; they simply used balanced scoring and hot goaltending to best their foes. Instead, hackles were raised over officiating, which was at the root of a very rude Russian exit earlier in the tourney.

1. Colten Teubert, D – Regina Pats (WHL):
Expect Teubert to make a serious run at a spot on L.A.’s blueline next year. He’s already rock-solid physically, but has taken this year in junior to up his game in other categories. His 18 points in 21 games is just three off his season total from last year and his plus/minus is up 24 points to plus-16. Drafted 13th overall by Los Angeles in 2008.

2. Mike Lee, G – Fargo Force (USHL): Lee has played admirably for the expansion Force, which hasn’t exactly set the scoresheet on fire in front of him. Nonetheless, Lee showed what he can do on the big stage, backstopping the U.S. to gold in Camrose and netting himself an all-star selection in the process. Draft eligible in 2009.

3. Erik Haula, LW – Shattuck St. Mary’s (prep):
In the minds of outsiders, Minnesota and Finland may seem to have a lot in common – both locales love hockey, they’re both cold, plus Minnesota has housed settlers from Northern Europe for quite some time. But to have one of Finland’s brightest prospects playing high school hockey in Faribault? That’s not too common.

Erik Haula is the exception. He made the trek from Scandinavia and is now starring on the famed Shattuck-St. Mary’s prep team, with 24 points in 18 games to lead the Sabres.

“The climate is pretty much the same, Minnesota just gets a little hotter and a little colder,” Haula said. Coming to a strictly regimented program such as Shattuck’s has been a change, however.

“It’s different from home, where you have more free time,” he said. “But I think I like it.”

Scouts like Haula, too. A likely first-rounder this year, the young Finn prides himself on his two-way game as well as his skating and vision. Getting used to the smaller North American ice has been an adjustment, but Haula knows he has time to hone his game – especially the parts he wants to improve upon.

“Shooting is the main point,” he said. “But of course there are a lot of little things that can be worked on.”

With a solid base to work with, NHL teams won’t mind the wait. Draft eligible in 2009.

4. Mike Cichy, C – Tri-City Storm (USHL): Cichy’s 10 points in five games were a tournament best at the World Jr. A Championship and helped him garner the meet’s MVP award, not to mention an all-star selection. The University of North Dakota commit’s game with the Storm is also pacing better than last season. Draft eligible in 2009 (undrafted in 2008).

5. Jamie Benn, LW – Kelowna Rockets (WHL): At more than a goal-per-game pace, it’s no surprise Benn leads the ‘Dub’ in scoring with 32 points (18 goals) in 17 games. He’s also on pace to eclipse what were already impressive numbers from his rookie year. Drafted 129th overall by Dallas in 2007.

6. Louis Boileau-Domingue, G – Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL): True, he has only played three games in the ‘Q’ so far, but LBD has made them count (2.60 goals-against average) and he’s only 16 years old. Ignore Quebec League goaltenders (even the backups) at your own peril. Draft eligible in 2010.

7. Nazem Kadri, C – London Knights (OHL): Kadri was lights-out for Kitchener in the playoffs last year and he is continuing that torrid pace in London now. Looks like a sure-fire top-10 pick at this point in time. Draft eligible in 2009.

8. Ian Cole, D – Notre Dame Fighting Irish (CCHA): The U.S. NTDP product is putting up impressive numbers from the back end so far, totaling eight points in nine games for the Irish. That’s basically double what he did as a freshman. Drafted 18th overall by St. Louis in 2007.

9. Colin Wilson, C – Boston University Terriers (Hockey East): Some questioned Wilson’s decision to stay at B.U., based on his seeming NHL readiness. But the big pivot is making the most of his NCAA time, posting 12 points in seven games, putting him atop the Hockey East scoreboard. Drafted seventh overall by Nashville in 2008.

10. Tim Kennedy, LW – Portland Pirates (AHL): Playing on a kid line with fellow pro rookie Nathan Gerbe and 23-year-old Mark Mancari, Kennedy has been terrorizing the American League so far. In fact, his 17 points in 11 games is a better pace than he ever had at Michigan State, where he won an NCAA title. Drafted 181st overall by Washington in 2005.

The Hot List, a weekly roundup of minor league, junior, college and high school players we’re excited to one day see in the NHL, appears every Tuesday, only on

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