The Ivan Hlinka tournament and the Five Nations Cup are finished, with Canada taking the former and the United States the latter. World junior camps also got under way, so with actual hockey to gauge and a lot of movement going on in the prospect world, it’s time for another roundup of players we’re excited to see in the NHL one day.
John Gibson, G – Kitchener Rangers (OHL)
One of the biggest subplots of the summer has been the number of high-profile players spurning the NCAA in favor of the Ontario League and Gibson is high on that list. The NTDP goaltender was committed to Michigan, but like Jack Campbell before him, decided to take on major junior instead and will now play for Kitchener.
“It was really tough,” Gibson said. “I had two really good programs to choose from. At the end of the day, it’s where I felt I would be the most comfortable.”
The first North American goalie taken in the 2011 NHL draft (Sweden’s Magnus Hellberg was selected before him), Gibson cited the OHL’s pro-style schedule and glaring spotlight as two reasons he wanted to play for the Rangers and at 6-foot-3, 206 pounds, it’s fair to say he has the shoulders to do it.
“I use my size and strength the best I can,” he said. “I feel I do that pretty well.”
Gibson knows there will be an adjustment to major junior, particularly since Campbell is a buddy. The new Kitchener netminder also kept tabs on what his other NTDP friends were planning on doing for the upcoming season – including new OHLers Connor Murphy, J.T. Miller and Reid Boucher.
“We talked to each other,” Gibson said. “It was each our own decision, but we let each other know what we were thinking.”
Now the mission will be to stone those former teammates when they bear down on his net. Drafted 39th overall by Anaheim in 2011.
Sebastian Collberg, RW – Frolunda Indians (Swe.)
The Swedes ran all the way to the final of the Ivan Hlinka before getting bushwhacked by Canada, a team they beat in the round robin. Collberg was an offensive star for the Tre Kronor and based on his 17 goals and 33 points in 26 games in Sweden’s under-20 circuit last season, it’s not hard to understand why. Draft eligible in 2012.
Teuvo Teravainen, LW – Jokerit (Fin.)
With four goals and nine points in four games, Teravainen was Finland’s leading scorer at the Ivan Hlinka. Born just four days before the cutoff, Teravainen will be one of the oldest first-time eligible players in the 2012 draft and has a deft goal-scorer’s touch teams will surely covet. Draft eligible in 2012.
Charles Hudon, LW – Chicoutimi Sagueneens (QMJHL)
Nearly a point-per-game player as a rookie in the Quebec League, Hudon is small, but dynamic and proved his worth at the Ivan Hlinka. The 5-foot-8 finesse player tallied twice against the Russians in a 5-0 semifinal victory and added another versus the Swedes in the final, which Canada won 4-1. Draft eligible in 2012.
Boo Nieves, C – Kent Lions (Conn. HS)
A Michigan commit who will be one of the most elite players to watch in the prep ranks this season, Nieves had four points in four games for the Americans at the Ivan Hlinka, ending in a fifth-place finish. The slick center’s highlight was a D-splitting goal against the Russians that is already making the rounds on YouTube. Draft eligible in 2012.
Johan Larsson, LW – Brynas (Swe.)
Team USA held a world juniors evaluation camp last week and the Finns and Swedes came in for some healthy competition. Larsson wrecked that competition with 14 points in five games, which is a bit ironic since his defensive conscience has made him a Sammy Pahlsson comparable in the past. Drafted 56th overall by Minnesota in 2010.
Erik Gudbranson, D – Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)
He likely won’t be available to Team Canada come December – have to assume the Florida Panthers have a couple games scheduled around that time – but Gudbranson made his towering presence felt at Canada’s world junior camp in Alberta, posting three assists in the second intrasquad game. Drafted third overall by Florida in 2010.
Mark Stone, RW – Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)
With eight points in two games at Canada’s WJC camp, Stone raised a lot of eyebrows with his offensive panache. It shouldn’t have been too surprising for a guy who posted 106 points for the Wheaties last season, but Stone has always been overshadowed by teammates such as Brayden Schenn and Scott Glennie. Drafted 178th overall by Ottawa in 2010.
Devante Smith-Pelly, LW – Mississauga-St. Mike’s Majors (OHL)
Continuing his excellent 2011, DSP was huge at Canada’s WJC camp, showing off all the skill and strength that makes him a terror around the opposition net. Some wonder what his offensive totals would have been like on a less structured junior team, but the burly left winger would likely settle on a chance to win gold for Team Canada this year. Drafted 42nd overall by Anaheim in 2010.
Jonas Brodin, D – Farjestad (Swe.)
The leading scorer among defensemen at the Team USA evaluation camp, Brodin essentially reaffirmed why his draft status soared in the second half of the season, exhibiting great offensive punch from the blueline with six points in five games. Drafted 10th overall by Minnesota in 2011.
The Hot List, a 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. A player is eligible for The Hot List until they play in their first NHL game.
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