Team Sweden is the first out of the blocks with its world junior roster, so the tourney is almost upon us. Another draft day dandy took a hit last week when Brampton’s Matt Duchene injured his shoulder, but let’s focus on the positives, shall we?
The Hot List – The Hockey News’ weekly rundown of players we’re looking forward to seeing in the NHL one day – trundles on…
1. Jordan Schroeder, RW – University of Minnesota Golden Gophers (WCHA): At 5-foot-9, Schroeder may not be the most physically intimidating player on the ice, but his 19 points in 14 games certainly has goaltenders blinking.
The freshman is making a big impression in Minnesota and is playing on a line with veteran Gophers Ryan Stoa and Jay Barriball to make a formidable trio.
“They’ve really taken me under their wing,” Schroeder said. “Hopefully they learn some things from me, too.”
If it’s how to create buzz, mission accomplished. Schroeder is looking like a top-10 pick in the draft this summer and he credits his time with the U.S. National Team Development Program (NTDP) with helping him along the way.
“It was hard, because they push you,” Schroeder noted, “but now I can play both ends of the ice, not just offense.”
Listing smarts, vision and speed as his best attributes, the Minnesota native also knows what he needs to work on before getting to the next level.
“I like to pass up shots sometimes,” he said, “when I should be shooting more and putting pucks on net.”
Schroeder was a revelation at the world juniors last year, teaming up with James van Riemsdyk and Colin Wilson to give Team USA a killer offensive attack, but that gold medal is still out there, so the slick right winger hopes he gets the chance to represent his country again. An added bonus is the tournament’s location this year.
“Especially being in Canada,” Schroeder observed, “it’ll be nuts.” Draft eligible in 2009.
2. Jacob Markstrom, G – Brynas (Swe.): Not only has Markstrom played in 22 of his Swedish Elite League team’s 27 games, but the teen has done so well there’s debate over whether Brynas would survive losing him to the world juniors. Markstrom is top-five in goals-against average at 2.27 and tied for most shutouts with three. Drafted 31st overall by Florida in 2008.
3. Tyler Toffoli, RW – Ottawa 67’s (OHL): A young’un at just 16 years of age, Toffoli is nonetheless making his presence known in the Ontario League. He’s got some sick offensive moves, maybe in a Matt Duchene kind of way, plus his 23 points in 29 games aren’t too shabby, either. Draft eligible in 2010.
4. P.K. Subban, D – Belleville Bulls (OHL): He may not catch Windsor’s Ryan Ellis for the defensemen scoring title, but Subban is still top-10 overall with 33 points in 26 games. Posting up better than an assist per game can do that for a fellow. Drafted 43rd overall by Montreal in 2007.
5. Marc-Andre Bourdon, D – Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (QMJHL): Scouts slept on Bourdon last year, but that didn’t stop the high-powered blueliner from helping his team to the Quebec League final. The Flyers prospect is at it again, garnering defensive player of the week honors and totaling 30 points in 25 games. Drafted 67th overall by Philadelphia in 2008.
6. Stefan Elliot, D – Saskatoon Blades (WHL): Elliot was very strong over the summer at the Ivan Hlinka tournament for Team Canada and he’s keeping up that play early on. The smooth-skating defenseman is near a point-per-game pace with 24 in 28 games and just four penalty minutes. Draft eligible in 2009.
7. Jeff Frazee, G – Lowell Devils (AHL): Now that New Jersey is contemplating its future in net, Frazee can point to his 1.71 GAA with the farm team as an indicator he’s on his way. The young keeper is 4-1-1 with a shutout in seven appearances. Drafted 38th overall by New Jersey in 2005.
8. Scott Glennie, C – Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL): As a rookie in the Dub, Glennie was magic alongside fellow froshes Brayden Schenn and Matt Calvert. The 6-foot-1, 182-pound pivot has continued that solid play this season, upping his point pace in the process. Draft eligible in 2009.
9. Chad Johnson, G – University of Alaska-Fairbanks Nanooks (CCHA): The senior goaltender is leading the conference in both GAA (1.57) and save percentage (.944) for a Nanooks team hanging tough near the top of the CCHA standings. He’s a big fella, too, at 6-foot-2. Drafted 125th overall by Pittsburgh in 2006.
10. Derek Grant, C – Langley Chiefs (BCHL): Michigan State could probably use Grant’s scoring touch right now, but the Spartans will have to wait until next year for the high-scoring pivot. Grant is buzzing along at a two-points-per-game pace for Langley in the meantime. Drafted 119th overall by Ottawa in 2008.
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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