The medals have been given out, the champion crowned. The only thing left to say about the world juniors this year is that some classic hockey was played in Ottawa these past few weeks.
Since last week’s The Hot List – our weekly roundup of players we can’t wait to see in the NHL someday – was so heavy on forwards, the spotlight shifts to the defense and goaltending this time around.
1. Jaroslav Janus, G – Erie Otters (OHL): How could he not be No. 1? Janus stole the hearts of hockey fans everywhere – except in Finland and America, where he broke them – and catapulted himself into the draft picture at least for a little while. The Slovakian keeper faced a ton of shots and proved he can win when it counts, even holding off the Swedes for two periods in the semifinal. Draft eligible in 2009 (undrafted in 2008).
2. Erik Karlsson, D – Vastra Frolunda (Swe.): Speaking of Swedes, Karlsson did a lot of damage from the blueline in the tourney, leading his team in scoring and showing off some very sturdy offensive moves, especially with the man advantage. Drafted 15th overall by Ottawa in 2008.
3. Jordan Eberle, C – Regina Pats (WHL): There was a host of fan favorites for Canada this year, but it’s safe to say no one will forget Eberle’s game-tying goal against Russia. In the bigger picture, however, the Oilers must be sweet on the youngster’s speed and finish, not to mention the yeoman’s work he did on the penalty kill. Drafted 22nd overall by Edmonton in 2008.
4. Tyler Myers, D – Kelowna Rockets (WHL): The big question surrounding the 6-foot-7 Myers has always been his mobility and even though scouts have consistently said his skating is good for his size, sometimes you just have to see it on a big stage to buy in. Myers was one of Canada’s best defensemen in the tourney and proved he has the footwork to take it to the next level. Drafted 12th overall by Buffalo in 2008.
5. Jan Kana, RW – Vitkovice Steel Jr. (Cze.): Kana led the Czechs in scoring with six goals and nine points in six games, but more importantly, he showed a willingness to play hard, physical hockey and score against elite competition. Being just 5-foot-8, those are good skills to possess. Kana played with P.E.I. in the Quebec League last year before heading home, where he has lit up the Czech junior ranks with 31 points in 17 games. Draft eligible in 2009 (undrafted in 2008).
6. Kevin Shattenkirk, D – Boston University Terriers (Hockey East): Yeah, the Amerks cratered in the tourney, but Shattenkirk was a highlight to watch. A graduate of the NTDP, Shattenkirk showed a lot of poise in Ottawa, not to mention some nice offensive chops. The blueliner had nine points in six games, tying him with Karlsson and P.K. Subban for tops among D-men. Drafted 14th overall by Colorado in 2007.
7. Jacob Markstrom, G – Brynas IF (Swe.): Despite some truly bizarre behavior in the final, Markstrom was everything he was billed as in the tourney overall. The 18-year-old has been a godsend for Brynas back home and showed why in Ottawa, using his big 6-foot-3 frame to turn aside nearly everything before having a tough go against Canada. Drafted 31st overall by Florida in 2008.
8. Maxim Goncharov, D – CSKA Moscow (KHL): Goncharov had a monster tournament for the Russians, posting five goals and six points in seven games from the blueline and leading the team with a plus-8. Opponents, however, will remember the defenseman for his bone-jarring hits, of which there were many. Drafted 123rd overall by Phoenix in 2007.
9. Juraj Valach, D – HKm Zvolen (Svk.): You’d think being a 6-foot-7, 230-pound Slovak defenseman would open some doors, but Valach had to wait for the quarterfinals against Team USA to get his name on the radar. As you’d guess from his size, Valach is a tower of power on the back end and even chipped in three assists in six games. Very much a late bloomer, there must be an NHL team willing to take a chance on him now. Draft eligible in 2009 (undrafted in 2007 and 2008).
10. Evander Kane, C – Vancouver Giants (WHL): Along with Ryan Ellis, Kane did the most for his draft stock in Ottawa; Tavares, Hedman and Svensson-Paajarvi are all locked in the top-five, but Kane made the most of his time on Canada’s energy line. He played perhaps his best game in the final, showing speed and poise. Six points in six games isn’t bad, either. 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.
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