The Hot List will be representing to the fullest at the world juniors in Buffalo, but before we land for the medal round, let’s spread the love around the hockey world one more time. Once again, here’s a look at some of the kids we’re excited to see in the NHL one day.
Philippe Hudon, RW – Choate Wild Boars (Conn. HS)
An incredible student who shook off the Quebec League in favor of a future at Cornell, Hudon is thriving at the prep school level in Connecticut. A big kid who likes Milan Lucic’s game, Hudon possesses excellent athleticism and isn’t afraid to throw his weight around.
“People have classified me as a power forward,” Hudon said. “I think that is a perfect categorization. My role is to set the tone; get a quick goal or make a quick pass, but also to make a big hit.”
Hudon has switched positions several times in his young career, starting as a defenseman before shifting to center. Playing the wing maximizes his effectiveness, but the Quebec native admits he still has a pivot mentality sometimes and needs to work on staying in his lanes.
“The problem is,” he said, “I have a tendency to be everywhere on the ice.”
Despite playing a little off the map in the prep school circuit, Hudon’s high-end skill was recognized by the NHL when it held its Research & Development Camp over the summer and invited only the best draft prospects.
“I took the camp as something to show everyone,” Hudon said, “that even though I come from a prep school and a league that may not be able to compete with say, the Western League, that I can compete with those players.” Draft eligible in 2011.
Evgeny Kuznetsov, C – Traktor Chelyabinsk (KHL)
Look for Kuznetsov to be an important contributor to Russia’s world junior team. Playing in the Kontinental League, he is still under the yoke of the less-ice-time-for-teens edict, averaging less than 12 minutes per game. But he’s been using that ice time well. Kuznetsov leads all Traktor forwards in scoring with 15 points in 31 games (placing him second on the team behind blueliner Deron Quint) with four of his nine goals coming on the power play. Drafted 26th overall by Washington in 2010.
Tyler Bunz, G – Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL)
Good luck getting a puck past Bunz these days. The Tigers’ top tender has let in just one goal in his past three games, including coming on in relief and helping Medicine Hat rally from a pair of two-goal deficits to beat Lethbridge 6-5. Overall, Bunz’s run has sent him soaring up the Dub stat charts with a 2.39 GAA and .918 save percentage. Drafted 121st overall by Edmonton in 2010.
Maxim Shalunov, RW – Traktor Chelyabinsk 2 (Rus. Jr)
Shalunov has that great traditional Russian offensive skill set, plus a tantalizing 6-foot-3, 185-pound frame. Back home in the KHL’s junior circuit, his 12 goals and 17 points in 21 games are just one off the team lead, while his plus-7 is a Traktor best. Draft eligible in 2011.
Jeff Petry, D – Oklahoma City Barons (AHL)
A two-way defender with great size, the 6-foot-3, 200-pound Petry has been on a great run this season. The former Michigan State Spartan looked good during Edmonton’s rookie camp and has carried that play over to the start of his pro career, notching 21 points in 32 games for the first-year Barons. Drafted 45th overall by Edmonton in 2006.
Steve Michalek, G – Loomis Chaffee Pelicans (Conn. HS)
Michalek is facing a ton of shots for a sub-par Pelicans team this season, but the 6-foot-2, 185-pound goalkeeper is standing tall. He made 50 saves in a loss to Choate including more than a dozen excellent scoring chances. Making more than 35 saves a night is becoming routine for the netminder, who also played for Team USA at the Ivan Hlinka tourney in the summer. Draft eligible in 2011.
J.T. Miller, LW – U.S. NTDP (USHL)
A two-way performer with skill and hockey sense, Miller has contributed to Team USA’s offense no matter where the competition comes from. The left winger has tallied his fair share of points against NCAA schools, international teams and the United States League, where he is tied for third in NTDP scoring with 10 points in 12 games. Draft eligible in 2011.
Malcolm Subban, G – Belleville Bulls (OHL)
Statistically, P.K.’s younger brother is having his best month yet, with a goals-against average of 2.20 and a .932 save percentage. His overall numbers are top-10 in the Ontario League and given that he turned 17 Tuesday (hey, happy birthday Malcolm!) that’s a pretty intriguing start to his junior career. Draft eligible in 2012.
Matt Puempel, LW – Peterborough Petes (OHL)
Playing for a bad team during your draft year can be nerve-wracking, particularly because stats don’t always work in your favor. Puempel has suffered with a minus-18 rating this season, but he is putting up nice numbers offensively to offset that. The left winger with a quick release is riding a five-game point streak and has a team-high 42 points in 33 games. Draft eligible in 2011.
Nicolai Meyer, RW – Malmo RedHawks (Swe. Jr)
The world juniors can really help a player’s career break out and even though Denmark wasn’t playing against the big nations, Meyer made the most of his opportunity. A skinny kid at six-foot, 154 pounds, the Dane led his country to promotion and topped the Division 1B tourney in scoring with eight goals and 12 points in five games. In Sweden, the budding sniper has 17 points in 23 games. Draft eligible in 2011.
The Hot List, a 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 thehockeynews.com. A player is eligible for The Hot List until they play in their first NHL game.
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