The NHL draft is achingly close, so in the interest of total coverage, this week’s edition of The Hot List consists of players who maybe haven’t been given the full spotlight in the past, but will be sure to hear their names called in Ottawa later this month. Also, we shed a little light on Saturday’s Quebec League draft. All players are draft eligible this year unless indicated otherwise.
1. Joshua Bailey, C – Windsor Spitfires (OHL): What was supposed to be a fairly innocuous rebuilding year for the Spits was instead a series of dizzying ups and downs.
The biggest ‘down’ of course was the unexpected passing of captain Mickey Renaud midway through the campaign. The ‘ups’ included better than anticipated results on the scoreboard, breakout seasons for youngsters Ryan Ellis and Taylor Hall, plus Coach of the Year honors for Bob Boughner.
Nearly lost in all that was a big season for center Joshua Bailey, who tallied 96 points to lead the team, and while the pivot is happy with his year, next season can’t come fast enough.
“I’m excited,” Bailey said. “I’m ready to go right now.”
The 6-foot-1, 190-pound center is a good bet to go in the middle of the first round at this year’s draft and got a glimpse of the big time at the draft combine two weeks ago.
“It was kind of fun having (teammates) Greg Nemisz and Adam Henrique there with me,” Bailey noted.
And while the skilled center had a solid combine, he was also philosophical about the process.
“You give as much as you can give,” he said. “But it’s not necessarily a bad thing if you’re not in top shape, because then you have room to grow.”
Of course, with a bright future on the ice ahead of him, Bailey can leave the worrying to other prospects.
2. Colby Robak, D – Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL): Robak is ranked as the best defensive prospect after the really big names bandied about for top 10 status and that’s not to diminish what he has accomplished in his junior career to date. A solid all-round blueliner with a big point shot, Robak has size (6-foot-3, 202 pounds) and skill (30 points in 71 games), not to mention some impressive tattoos.
3. Maxime Sauve, C – Val-d’Or Foreurs (QMJHL): Born in France and raised by a prominent Quebec hockey family (Bob’s his uncle, Philippe’s his cousin), Sauve put up some nice numbers on a poor Foreurs team after a mid-season trade from Quebec. He’s best known for his skating and 1-on-1 skills.
4. Colten Teubert, D – Regina Pats (WHL): If there’s one draft prospect you don’t want to meet in the corner when the puck is at stake, it’s Teubert. Lauded as a potential heir apparent to Chris Pronger in the nastiness department, Teubert uses his 6-foot-3, 188-pound frame to punish those who would attempt to score on his goaltender – or even get near the net, for that matter.
5. Tyler Cuma, D – Ottawa 67’s (OHL): It seems as though you can’t turn around this year without finding a gem of a defensive prospect and Cuma is the esteemed representative for the Ottawa 67’s. Physical and competitive, Cuma has a good head on his shoulders and knows the value of hard work.
6. Philip Larsen, D – Frolunda Indians (Swe.): Danish rearguard Larsen spent most of the season playing with the big boys in Sweden, splitting time between Frolunda in the Elite League and Boras in the first division. He put up nice numbers with Boras, notching 10 points in 24 games, but is expected to play for the Indians next year.
7. Louis Boileau-Domingue, G – Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL): The top goalie picked in the Quebec League draft is always going to have some buzz around him because, well, the Q churns out NHL goalies like clockwork. Moncton traded two second round picks to nab Boileau-Domingue. Draft eligible in 2010.
8. Brandon Gormley, D – Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL): The Cats also scooped up No. 1 prospect overall Gormley with the top pick of the draft. The product of the famed Notre Dame Hounds program in Saskatchewan, the 6-foot-2 P.E.I. native tallied 56 points in 42 regular season games from the blueline. Draft eligible in 2010.
9. Sean Couturier, RW – Drummondville Voltigeurs (QMJHL): With the second pick of the Quebec League draft, the Voltigeurs nabbed Gormley’s teammate at Notre Dame, the high-scoring Couturier. The 6-foot-3 winger posted 56 points in 40 games as a 15-year-old. Draft eligible in 2011.
10. Garrett Clarke, D – Lewiston Maineiacs (QMJHL): Another bad day for the NCAA. Clarke, a highly touted blueliner from the Russell Stover program in Kansas, had committed to the Fighting Sioux of North Dakota, but will now suit up for Lewiston, close to his hometown of Moncton. Draft eligible in 2011.
11. Tyler Ennis, C – Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL): Word around the campfire is Ennis gave interviewers all they could handle at the combine and that’s a major Hot List ‘do.’ This kid is serious about his game and with 91 points in 70 hard-fought Dub games, the fact he’s only 5-foot-8 only strengthens the resume.
12. Jacob DeSerres, G – Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL): Another contender for top goalie in the draft status, DeSerres traded off with Tampa pick Riku Helenius in the Seattle net this year and posted better stats than the Finnish starter. His .922 save percentage was tied with fellow draft classer Dustin Tokarski for tops in the league and DeSerres’ 2.28 goals-against average was seventh-best.
13. Danny Kristo, RW – U.S. NTDP (NAHL): Kristo will have to add some weight to his 164-pound frame before he hits the big-time, but maybe he can gain a ‘freshman 15’ at the University of North Dakota next season.
14. James Wright, C – Vancouver Giants (WHL): If there’s an NHL team out there that wants a prospect who can shut ’em down, Wright is the man. The Giants pivot tallied 36 points in 60 games this season, but his real talent is keeping the other team’s best off the scoresheet.
15. Evgeny Grachev, C – Yaroslavl Lokomotiv (Rus.): Grachev is a big forward (6-foot-3, 211 pounds) who is hard to contain. He knows what to do with his frame and is dangerous because of it.
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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