The CHL import draft took place late last week and with the status of European prospects being such a hot topic this year, it’s only prudent The Hot List weigh in on some of the young stars who could benefit from some North American exposure. We’re trimming down to a lean 10 on The List now, so the talent is jam-packed.
1. Nikita Filatov, LW – CSKA 2 (Rus): We all know what an incredible show Filatov can put on and the young Russian told me at the draft he would play junior should he not make the Columbus roster out of camp. This is a great boon for the Sudbury Wolves, who took Filatov first overall and now boast a roster that also includes Jared Staal and OHL No. 1 draft pick John McFarland. Drafted sixth overall by Columbus in 2008.
2. Richard Panik, LW – HC Trinec (Cze): Maybe it just seems like the Windsor Spitfires do everything right, but the OHL squad is certainly on a roll lately and if they could entice the 6-foot-2 Panik overseas, there could really be some chaos in the border city. The Slovakian kid finished third in scoring at the Under-18s with 10 points in six games and would join a loaded team. Draft eligible in 2009.
3. Luca Cunti, C – Chicago Steel (USHL): I’d be very surprised if Cunti didn’t suit up for the Rimouski Oceanic (who took him 17th overall) next season. The Swiss pivot had his heart set on attending St. Cloud State this year, but eligibility issues saw him turn to the USHL instead. Cunti tallied 32 points in 34 games for the Steel and could definitely help the Oceanic attack while he continues to learn the North American game. Drafted 75th overall by Tampa Bay in 2007.
4. Vyateslav Voinov, D – Traktor Chelyabinsk (Rus): Voinov has always been the youngster of the bunch, suiting up in the Russian Super League as a 17-year-old and performing very well at both the Under-18s and world juniors. The Kings picked up the blueliner at the NHL draft this year, so they’re probably hoping the Moncton Wildcats can coax him over for some North American experience. Drafted 32nd overall by Los Angeles in 2008.
5.Dimitri Kugryshev, RW – CSKA 2 (Rus): Filatov also said at the draft he expected his good buddy Kugryshev to join him in North America next season. Kugryshev had 50 points in 29 games for the Army this year and another 11 points in seven playoff games. If Filatov wants to play against his friend, they’ll have to do it in the Memorial Cup, because Patrick Roy’s Quebec Remparts picked up the exciting right winger. Drafted 58th overall by Washington in 2008.
6. Jerome Flaake, C – Kolner Haie Jr. (Ger): It’s almost unfair how the talented Flaake ripped apart the German junior circuit this year, putting up a staggering 80 points in 36 games, which included 35 goals. Needless to say, Flaake led the league in scoring, so maybe a year or two in the Dub with the Prince George Cougars will help him face some stiffer competition. Drafted 130th overall by Toronto in 2008.
7. Tommi Kivisto, D – Jokerit Jr. B (Fin): Kivisto may not have the profile of some of his fellow import draftees, but he’s still young. With Jokerit’s Jr. B team, he was a solid two-way defenseman who got on the scoresheet and kept a positive plus-minus. The Red Deer Rebels called his name sixth overall, so there must be a master plan for the 6-foot-1 D-man, who tallied three points in six games at the Under-18s. Draft eligible in 2009.
8. Andrej Nestrasil, RW – Slava Prague Jr. (Cze): The under-aged Nestrasil put up a very respectable 31 points in 43 games for the Prague juniors this year, but it’s his 6-foot-2 frame that has everyone – especially the Victoriaville Tigres – excited for the future. Draft eligible in 2009.
9. Simon Olsson, C – Chicago Steel (USHL): At 5-foot-8, 170 pounds, there isn’t a lot more to Olsson other than his blinding offensive skills. The transplanted Swede was nearly a point-a-game player for the Steel this year, with 56 in 57 games. The P.E.I. Rockets will have to pry him away from the WCHA’s Alaska-Fairbanks Nanooks, however, as Olsson committed to the NCAA school back in March. Draft eligible in 2009.
10. Toni Ritter, RW – Mannheim Jr. (Ger): Not far behind Flaake in the German junior scoring race was Ritter, who is already 6-foot-3 and nearly 200 pounds. The Montreal Juniors are hoping they can bring that big body over to La Belle Province next year. Draft eligible in 2009.
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.
For more great prospect profiles and news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.