Blood lines

The World Under-18s are still cooking over in Kazan, Russia, and there are a couple players doing real wonders for their draft status in the process.

1. Claude Giroux, RW – Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL):
Not that it should be a surprise at this point, but once again Giroux is carving a swath of destruction in the Q. The Flyers pick has 31 points in just 12 playoff games as the Olympiques hold a 2-0 edge in their conference final tilt against Halifax. Drafted 22nd overall by Philadelphia in 2006.

2. Corey Trivino, C – Stouffville Spirit (OPJHL): As a junior-A grad, Trivino needed to have a good U-18 tournament to keep his name hot for the draft and the Boston U. commit has certainly come to play. Trivino has been a point-per-game player for Canada, playing with Brampton Battalion phenom Matt Duchene. Draft eligible in 2008.

3. David Warsofsky, D – U.S. NTDP (NAHL):
Another Boston Terrier recruit, Warsofsky has been very productive from the point for the Americans and was second among all U-18 defensemen in scoring with six points in six games. Draft eligible in 2008.

4. Evgeny Grachev, C – Yaroslavl (Rus.):
He’s big, he’s strong and he can put the puck in the net. The lack of a Russian transfer agreement will likely factor into his draft position this summer, but with five points in five games at the U-18s, Grachev has shown he’s got skills. Draft eligible in 2008.

5. Brandon Sutter, C – Albany River Rats (AHL):
Brandon Sutter is used to being on the bus. But lately, his route has been drastically changed. When the winger’s junior career with Red Deer of the Western League ended, the Carolina Hurricanes prospect was called up to the American League to help Albany’s run to the playoffs.

“It’s a completely different part of the world,” said Sutter of his move. “So far I’ve been to Syracuse, Wilkes-Barre, Philadelphia and Norfolk. It’s much different from Saskatchewan and the mountains.”

Indeed, Sutter’s environment has gone to urban from cowboy, but Devils coach Brent Sutter’s son hasn’t been afraid to bring his trademark physical game to the pro ranks, even if some of the opponents are nearly twice his age.

“They’re going to hit you, just like you’re going to hit them,” Brandon said philosophically.

“You’re playing against men, not teenagers.”

And the young Sutter is glad to still be playing this year.

“It was a bit of a tough year in junior,” he noted. “Now I have a chance to get back into a competitive situation.”

Sutter had a goal and an assist in Albany’s final seven regular season games and has suited up in all three matches against the Philadelphia Phantoms in the first round of the playoffs.

And even though the 6-foot-3, 170-pound youngster is getting used to his new digs in upstate New York, he shouldn’t get too comfortable; based on what the Hurricanes see in him in the near future, next year may require another move – to Carolina and charter flights.

Drafted 11th overall by Carolina in 2007.

6. Richard Panik, LW – HC Trinec (Svk.):
We’re breaking a new one here at The Hot List. Panik vaulted to the top of the U-18 scoring leaderboard thanks to a hat trick and an assist against Belarus, giving him 10 points in five games. He’s 6-foot-1, 190 pounds, has already played in Slovakia’s Extraliga and just turned 17 in February. Draft eligible in 2009.

7. Zach Boychuk, C – Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL):
Here comes the story of the Hurricanes. The team the opponents came to blame (for beating them). Boychuk leads Lethbridge in playoff scoring with 18 points in 12 games and the Canes have Calgary down 2-0 in the Dub semifinal. Draft eligible in 2008.

8. Marc-Andre Bourdon, D – Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (QMJHL):
Why Bourdon is ranked so low in the draft this year (generally in the 200s) is a mystery. He was a plus-39 in the regular season, defensive player of the week/month/year in the Q, has put up points in the playoffs and he fights. Can anyone explain this? Draft eligible in 2008.

9. Cody Hodgson, C – Brampton Battalion (OHL):
Hodgson leads Team Canada in scoring at the Under-18s with nine points in six games and like Peterborough’s Zach Bogosian, the draft buzz around him keeps getting better and louder. Draft eligible in 2008.

10. Ondrej Roman, LW – Spokane Chiefs (WHL):
The Czech national came over to learn the North American game, but he’s the one taking opponents to school. The 19-year-old leads the Dub in playoff plus-minus (plus-10) and scored the only goal in Spokane’s Game 1 overtime win over Tri-City. Draft eligible in 2008.

11. Brandon Maxwell, G – U.S. NTDP (NAHL):
Maxwell couldn’t get the Americans into the final at the Under-18s, but he took them pretty far. The young netminder gave up eight goals in four games, but five were power play markers. Draft eligible in 2009.

12. Mikkel Boedker, LW – Kitchener Rangers (OHL):
The Rangers continue their march to the OHL final and Boedker has shown he’s a playoff performer. The rising Danish star had a goal and two assists in a crucial Game 4 win over the Soo to give Kitchener a 3-1 conference final stranglehold. Draft eligible in 2008.

13. P.K. Subban, D – Belleville Bulls (OHL):
Belleville is up 3-1 on the high-powered Oshawa Generals and balance is the key. Along with getting big numbers from forwards such as Matt Beleskey and Jan Mursak, the Bulls are getting just more than a point per game from blueliner Subban. Drafted 43rd overall by Montreal in 2007.

14. Brandon Kozun, C – Calgary Hitmen (WHL):
Small is the new big, as Calgary’s 5-foot-8, 146-pound (Seriously? Wow.) rookie can attest. Kozun has 17 points in 14 playoff games for the Hitmen. Draft eligible in 2008.

15. Blake Kessel, D – Waterloo Black Hawks (USHL):
He’s bigger than Phil and plays defense, but the name Kessel means excitement and Blake has delivered. The 6-foot-2, 204-pound University of New Hampshire commit has five points through three playoff games after tallying nearly a point per game in the regular season for the Hawks. Drafted 166th overall by the Islanders in 2007.

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