NHL rookie camps are winding down and team execs are getting excited about the fruits of their drafting labor, so let’s get excited along with them. Here’s the latest list of players we’re itching to see in the NHL some day.
1. Alexander Fallstrom, RW – Shattuck-St. Mary’s Sabres (prep): The Wild may not have been avoiding Minnesota-reared prospects in recent drafts, but the franchise wasn’t exactly seeking them out, either. That changed in 2009 as the team tabbed native son Nick Leddy, as well as two Europeans playing for Minnesota prep powerhouse Shattuck-St. Mary’s: Finn Erik Haula and Swede Fallstrom.
Fallstrom, who will attend Harvard in the fall, led the Sabres with 80 points in 48 games last season and is happy to be drafted by his ‘home’ team.
“It feels really great,” he said at the draft. “I think it shows the Wild believes in its hockey culture.”
With a Swedish father and English mother, Fallstrom fits seamlessly into North American culture, both off the ice with his language skills and on the ice with his hockey acumen.
“I see my shot and my physical play as my strongest assets,” he said. “Johan Franzen – I think that’s the player I most pattern my game after.”
As for his experience at Shattuck, the youngster couldn’t have been happier with the opportunities afforded to him.
“It’s a great experience,” Fallstrom said. “It’s basically school and hockey – and that’s how it should be.”
Though the Crimson haven’t been a true threat since coach Ted Donato’s playing days, the tandem of Fallstrom and Habs first-rounder Louis Leblanc makes for an intriguing freshman class. Drafted 116th overall by Minnesota in 2009.
2. Anders Lindback, G – Timra (Swe.): Lindback actually played for Brynas last year, backing up highly touted prospect Jacob Markstrom until passing the WJC goalie late in the season. That’s when Lindback and his 6-foot-6 frame took over. Preds pundits are already pulling out the Pekka Rinne card and the switch to Timra will get Lindback more starts. Drafted 207th overall by Nashville in 2008.
3. John Moore, D – Chicago Steel (USHL): True, Moore will not be playing for the Steel again, but no one is sure where he’s going for 2009-10. The slick-skating blueliner texted the Colorado Springs Gazette late last week to say he still hasn’t chosen between WCHA Colorado College and Ontario League Kitchener. This decision has a lot of ramifications for both circuits. Drafted 21st overall by Columbus in 2009.
4. Philip McRae, C – London Knights (OHL): McRae, whose dad Basil played in St. Louis, certainly looked like he was comfortable with his surroundings at rookie camp. The younger McRae notched two goals in his final scrimmage, finding chemistry with T.J. Oshie and impressing with his confidence. Drafted 33rd overall by St. Louis in 2008.
5. Jeremy Morin, LW – Kitchener Rangers (OHL): The former NTDP star has been exciting his future employers in Atlanta with a pure goal-scoring knack at rookie camp. Morin has vowed to clean up his skating with Kitchener this season, which is trouble for the rest of the league. Drafted 45th overall by Atlanta in 2009.
6. Brett Ponich, D – Portland Winterhawks (WHL): Another towering Blues defense prospect at 6-foot-6, 205 pounds, Ponich has been lauded by St. Louis brass for his edgy play during rookie camp. His snarl will complement the skill of future defense corps mates Erik Johnson and Alex Pietrangelo. Drafted 48th overall by St. Louis in 2009.
7. Braden Holtby, G – Saskatoon Blades (WHL): Not that the Caps need another good young goaltender, but Holtby held the Blades together the past two seasons and will likely backup either Simeon Varlamov or Michal Neuvirth in Hershey this year. Drafted 93rd overall by Washington in 2008.
8. Joe Colborne, C – Denver Pioneers (WCHA): Some think the Bruins took a chance on Colborne by tabbing the lanky kid out of Jr. A in the first round last year, but a year in Denver has done wonders. Colborne put on a positive ‘freshman 15 pounds’ and will likely stick to his natural position of center next year for the Pios. Drafted 16th overall by Boston in 2008.
9. Dmitri Kulikov, D – Drummondville Voltigeurs (QMJHL): Whether the young Russian is that good or the Florida Panthers are that desperate, there are whispers Kulikov has a shot at a roster spot with the Cats already. With his skating and offensive upside, maybe it’s not such a bad idea. Drafted 14th overall by Florida in 2009.
10. David Musil, D – Vancouver Giants (WHL): Yep, Frantisek’s kid is coming to the Dub. David Musil, who was born in Edmonton, has been an underage star in the Czech Republic for Dukla Trencin’s program and is already 6-foot-4 as a 16-year-old. Draft eligible in 2011.
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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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