I’m starting to get the world junior itch, thinking about all the roster possibilities – Taylor Hall, Nazem Kadri, Erik Karlsson – ohhh, it’s gonna be hot in Saskatchewan.
Meanwhile, the World Jr. A Challenge is off and running in P.E.I. with some pretty good prospects in their own right.
With that in mind, here are some of the young players we’re excited to see in the NHL some day.
1. Brock Beukeboom, D – Soo Greyhounds (OHL): It may be early in his career, but Beukeboom already has a signature moment: jarring the Russians on his first shift of the gold medal game at the Ivan Hlinka tournament with a big bodycheck on star Kirill Kabanov. For the Soo defenseman, he was just happy to be contributing.
“I thought it was pretty ironic,” Beukeboom said. “Because I was benched against Switzerland in the first game.”
Team Canada coach Bob Boughner wanted the 6-foot-2, 200-pounder to be more involved and Beukeboom certainly delivered, much as he is doing this season with the Greyhounds. Far from one-dimensional, the blueliner has 12 points in 16 games and credits his footwork for his success.
“I think I’m a pretty good skater,” Beukeboom said. “I like to get up the ice. I find I can skate my way out of trouble.”
Beukeboom, who is indeed the son of former NHLer Jeff Beukeboom, is certainly carving out his own legacy in the game, but admits going up against his dad – who has coached in the Ontario League with Barrie and now Sudbury – can be nervewracking.
“This year it’s not as bad,” said the son. “My first shift against Barrie last year I threw a pass right up the middle and the Colts took it back the other way and almost scored. On the ice I leave it all out there, but off the ice he’s my dad and I love him.” Draft eligible in 2010.
2. Tomas Kubalik, RW – Victoriaville Tigres (QMJHL): Kubalik looked great at the Columbus rookie camp, finding chemistry with Matt Calvert. But who’s worried about chemistry when you can put up eight points in one game? That’s what the playmaking Czech did against Rouyn-Noranda on the weekend, bringing his first-year ‘Q’ totals to 24 points in 17 games. Drafted 135th by Columbus in 2008.
3. Cam Lanigan, G – Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL): Lanigan had a rough introduction to Dub hockey last season, but he’s off to a flying start in 2009-10. The lanky youngster (6-foot-3, 175 pounds) has given up just 12 goals in seven games for a wicked 2.32 goals-against average and .928 save percentage. He’s been in net for just one of Edmonton’s nine regulation losses. Draft eligible in 2010.
4. Marcus Kruger, C – Djurgarden IF (Swe.): Of all the Swedes drafted last year, his name was one of the least prominent. But through 16 games, it’s Kruger leading all junior-aged players in Swedish Elite League scoring with an awesome 18 points, which is also good enough to tie him for fifth overall in the circuit. Drafted 149th overall by Chicago in 2009.
5. Ivan Telegin, C – Saginaw Spirit (OHL): Unhappy with his treatment back home in Russia with Metallurg Novokuznetsk, Telegin sought greener pastures in Michigan – and, so far, he has found them. The 6-foot-3 pivot has 10 goals and 20 points in 16 games and a very nice plus-6 rating as an OHL rookie, though much like Kabanov, don’t expect Russia to include him on international rosters anytime soon. Draft eligible in 2010.
6. Sergey Kostenko, G – Metallurg Novokuznetsk (KHL): While Telegin may not have been happy with Metallurg, Kostenko is making his way through the system and backstopping Russia at the World Jr. A Challenge is his reward. Other than a stickhandling miscue that led to a goal, Kostenko was flawless against Canada West in his tourney opener, stopping 32 of 33 shots, including 16 in the first period. Draft eligible in 2011.
7. Alexandre Comtois, C – Drummondville Voltigeurs (QMJHL): It’s just like the old days in the ‘Q,’ with high-scoring games creating new heroes all the time. It was Comtois’ turn for the Volts on the weekend as he had four points in a 10-3 shellacking of Acadie-Bathurst. The 5-foot-8, 179-pound rookie now has 10 points in 18 games on a deep team. Draft eligible in 2010.
8. Troy Rutkowski, D – Portland Winterhawks (WHL): Talk about good timing. Rutkowski is on fire during his draft year, putting up 20 points through 19 games. His plus-minus has completely turned around (plus-6 after a minus-22 last year) and the Edmonton native has the size at 6-foot-1, 219 pounds that NHL teams crave. Draft eligible in 2010.
9. Corey Tropp, RW – Michigan State Spartans (CCHA): Tropp made all the wrong headlines last year when he slashed a prone Steve Kampfer in the neck. But the Spartans junior is focusing on more positive pursuits now, leading the conference in scoring with 13 points through eight games. Drafted 89th overall by Buffalo in 2007.
10. Beau Bennett, C – Penticton Vees (BCHL): Team USA’s player of the game in a shootout loss to Canada East, Bennett had two points and a shootout goal in Team USA’s opener at the World Jr. A Challenge. 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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