NHL training camps are underway and a lot of teens are looking for their first roster spots. Will they graduate from The Hot List right away? Only time will tell, but in the meantime, here’s a look at some players we’re excited to see in the NHL some day.
1. Richard Panik, RW – Windsor Spitfires (OHL): Ohhhh doctor! Tampa GM Brian Lawton is looking pretty good right now, having snagged Panik in the second round. Since coming over to North America, the Slovakian sniper has ripped up the pre-season and already given YouTube an early favorite for most-forwarded goal video of the year. Drafted 52nd overall by Tampa Bay in 2009.
2. Bobby Sanguinetti, D – Hartford Wolf Pack (AHL): The New York Rangers tend to take their sweet time when it comes to working prospects into the big lineup, but with Sanguinetti’s slick skills from the blueline, it’s hard to see him outside the NHL for long. Playing in the American League last year, the offensive defenseman put up an impressive 36 assists and 42 points in 78 games, but he knows bulk is often better for the big league.
“You can always get stronger,” Sanguinetti said. “A lot of it is going to come with age and maturing, but that’s what I planned on doing this summer and it worked.”
As for making the Blueshirts this season, the American-born defender knows he has a good shot.
“There are two spots available at camp right now and three or four of us really competing for them,” Sanguinetti said. “I’m just going to go in and play my game. They said they want me to help offensively and chip in on the power play, so I’m really excited for it.”
Since New York’s power play was 29th overall in the regular season last year and statistically worse in the playoffs, it’s probably time to give the kid a shot. Drafted 21st overall in 2006.
3. Nick Petrecki, D – Boston College Eagles (Hockey East): With a Gordie Howe hat trick in a San Jose rookie-team game against Anaheim, Petrecki served notice that he didn’t leave Boston College for nothing. Look for the youngster to challenge for a spot in the Sharks lineup right away. Drafted 28th overall by San Jose in 2007.
4. Mike Murphy, G – Belleville Bulls (OHL): As the spine of that dynamic Carolina rookie team, Murphy was very impressive at the Traverse City tourney and landed himself a spot at the NHL camp in the process. Not bad for a goalie who wasn’t drafted until after he took his team to the Memorial Cup final. Drafted 165th overall by Carolina in 2008.
5. Aaron Palushaj, RW – Peoria Rivermen (AHL): Another dangerous University of Michigan alum, Palushaj is heading into St. Louis training camp with a full head of steam. And though the Blues are stacked in the youth department, Palushaj’s 50 points in 39 games with the Wolverines last season will be hard to overlook. Drafted 44th overall by St. Louis in 2007.
6. Simon Despres, D – Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL): There may have been questions about Despres’ commitment in the past, but based on his skating and puckhandling at the Kitchener rookie tournament, there is a bright future ahead for the 6-foot-4, 205-pound blueliner. The Pens just keep piling ’em up, don’t they? Drafted 30th overall by Pittsburgh in 2009.
7. Brandon Saad, RW – U.S. NTDP: An underage star with the North American League’s Mahoning Valley Phantoms, Saad will suit up for the stars and stripes under-18 team this season, with games beginning this week. The powerful right winger is incredibly skilled and will get a chance to show that off on the international stage. Draft eligible in 2011.
8. Tomas Kubalik, RW – Plzen (Cze.): On the one hand, Kubalik came away from Columbus’ rookie camp with a lot of experience and some mention on the scoresheet thanks to his work with Matt Calvert. On the other hand, he also apparently received some cracked teeth in the process. Nevertheless, the Czech national – who played in the nation’s top league last year – has a bright future. Drafted 135th overall by Columbus in 2008.
9. Kyle Clifford, LW – Barrie Colts (OHL): The Kings grabbed Clifford ostensibly for his toughness and the Barrie winger paid them back right away. Clifford dropped the gloves four times in two games against the Phoenix rookies last week and will get a chance to do big things with what promises to be a good Colts team this year. Drafted 35th overall by Los Angeles in 2009.
10. Alex Petrovic, D – Red Deer Rebels (WHL): A very consistent performer in the pre-season, Petrovic has that great combination of size (6-foot-3, 180 pounds) and skill coveted by all. Plus, he won gold for Canada at the Ivan Hlinka this summer. Draft eligible in 2010.
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 thehockeynews.com.
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