A new season begins

The prospect world is already in full swing thanks to NHL rookie tournaments and regular season play in the Quebec League, so life is good again. Edmonton’s Big Three (Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Magnus Paajarvi) and the absence of Vancouver’s Cody Hodgson have dominated the headlines, so let’s look at some other names. In another wrinkle, we’re taking the numbers off the list to clear up confusion – this has always been a list, not a ranking. So here’s another group of 10 kids we can’t wait to see in the NHL one day.

Riley Sheahan, C – Notre Dame Fighting Irish (CCHA)

South Bend was a bummer this summer and not just because the Fighting Irish lost Jarred Tinordi to the London Knights. The program was in the headlines for all the wrong reasons, including a drinking party that netted nine hockey players in police custody. Earlier in the summer, Sheahan had his own dalliance with the cops and alcohol, but he’s ready to ice any concerns over his future.

“We got all that nonsense out of our system,” Sheahan said. “We’re ready to get the season underway.”

And it will be an interesting one. The Irish lost a lot of senior players over the summer and have a pretty nice recruiting class coming in, including United States League standouts Anders Lee and Steve Summerhays. Known as a stifling defensive squad, the Irish helped hone Sheahan’s responsible side on the ice, but now he wants numbers.

“I’m looking forward to proving the offensive side of my game,” he said. “I’m going to take that responsibility.”

As a first round pick of the Detroit Red Wings, it should be no surprise Sheahan is a multi-dimensional player and with his frame (6-foot-2, 202 pounds already), he’ll be a tough assignment at the next level.

“My size I use as an asset and I have good puck protection down low,” Sheahan said. “I feel safe playing in all three zones and I take pride in being responsible.”

That’s great news for fans in South Bend. Drafted 21st overall by Detroit in 2010.

Tomas Jurco, RW – Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL)

It’s fair to say Jurco has found his scoring touch early this season. The slick Slovak has five goals in two games on just seven shots for Saint John. A late birthday, Jurco will have a great chance to show off his skills this year on both the high-flying Dogs and Team Slovakia at the world juniors. Draft eligible in 2011.

Martin Frk, RW – Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)

It took a lot of effort for Halifax to pry Frk away from his Karlovy Vary club team in the Czech Republic, but the Mooseheads are already reaping the rewards. The rookie has four points in his first two games, though he couldn’t help his team to a win in either. Nonetheless, Halifax sees him as a developing premier power forward. Draft eligible in 2012.

Alexander Khokhlachev, C – Windsor Spitfires (OHL)

The Spits have been successful with the import draft lately (Andrei Loktionov, Richard Panik) and Khokhlachev looks like another home run. The youngster has been destroying the competition in exhibition play, racking up nine points in his first three games. Team KoKo, anyone? Draft eligible in 2011.

Olivier Roy, G – Acadie-Bathurst Titan (QMJHL)

Playing net for the Oilers at the Young Stars tournament, Roy was good against Vancouver’s rookies on the weekend, making some flashy saves in a 4-1 victory. Look for the new member of the Titan as a favorite for Team Canada’s net at the world juniors this year. Drafted 133rd overall by Edmonton in 2009.

Kevin Connauton, D – Vancouver Giants (WHL)

The Canucks didn’t have the same star power as Edmonton, but Connauton was solid for Van City against the Oilers. Along with scoring the team’s only goal, Connauton foiled Paajarvi’s hat trick bid with a hustling backcheck. Don’t be surprised to see him thriving with American League Manitoba this year. Drafted 83rd overall by Vancouver in 2009.

Greg McKegg, C – Erie Otters (OHL)

McKegg made a huge leap in offense between his first and second seasons in the Ontario League (85 points up from 18) and this year provides even more offensive opportunity. Playing on a line with Sondre Olden and Kenny Ryan for Toronto’s rookie tournament team, McKegg shined, garnering player of the game honors in the 6-3 opener vs. Chicago. Drafted 62nd overall by Toronto in 2010.

Mike Murphy, G – Albany River Rats (AHL)

Murphy will be suiting up for Carolina’s new AHL team, the Charlotte Checkers, this season and he’s getting some good early practice at the Traverse City prospects tournament. In two starts, he leads the circuit with a 1.00 goals-against average. Between him and Roy, it looks like there’s room for non-giant goalies out there again. Drafted 165th overall by Carolina in 2008.

Guillaume Asselin, RW – Chicoutimi Sagueneens (QMJHL)

Right now, Asselin is best known as the prospect traded from the Juniors for Louis Leblanc, but the youngster is fast making a name for himself this year. Through two games he leads the Sags with five points and a robust plus-3 rating. Both a scorer and playmaker, Asselin has shown improvement in each major junior season. Draft eligible in 2011 (undrafted in 2010).

Tomas Vincour, RW – Vancouver Giants (WHL)

The Dallas rookies have had an uneven journey at Traverse City, with the exception of Vincour. The Czech product has tallied in both games for the Stars and put up a plus-3 rating in the process. Solidly built at 6-foot-2, 205 pounds, Vincour put up some nice totals down the stretch last year after a trade from Edmonton. Drafted 129th overall by Dallas in 2009.

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 regularly throughout the off-season only on A player is eligible for The Hot List until they play in their first NHL game.

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