The Memorial Cup field is nearly set and other leagues have already crowned champions, including the United States League (Indiana) and North American League (St. Louis). The USHL draft is also upon us, so look for some names from that list next week. In the meantime, here are some of the players we’re excited about seeing in the NHL some day.
1. Scott Glennie, C – Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL): As part of Brandon’s dazzling Kid Line alongside Matt Calvert and Brayden Schenn, Glennie’s junior career has been quite impressive so far, culminating in an 18-point playoff performance over 12 games. Unfortunately, that run was ended abruptly by Calgary in the Eastern Conference final, but Glennie knows he’ll get a shot at the Memorial Cup next year when Brandon hosts.
“The Memorial Cup is obviously a huge thing,” Glennie said. “I think we have to look at ourselves as one of the better teams (next year) and we have to play that way.”
Lauded for his skating and shooting ability, Glennie will be a hot commodity at the draft this summer, joining linemate Schenn in the first round. Ironically, playing together alongside Calvert has likely boosted both of their stocks.
“I think we have good chemistry,” Glennie said. “It’s fun out there. We’re all unselfish players and we like to move the puck around.”
Citing Philadelphia’s Jeff Carter as an influence, Glennie is confident in his skills, but knows he doesn’t need to rush himself to the NHL next season, especially with a guaranteed ticket to the Memorial Cup.
“The jump to the NHL is obviously a big step,” he said.
But based on his skill set, it’s not out of the question to see Glennie in a pro jersey sooner than later.
Draft eligible in 2009.
2. Tyson Barrie, D – Kelowna Rockets (WHL): The Rockets completed their amazing WHL final series over Calgary thanks to an overtime goal by Barrie. The offensive blueliner is undersized at 5-foot-9, 165 pounds, but he put up 18 points in 22 Dub playoff games, so he’s obviously not afraid to pay the price. Draft eligible in 2009.
3. Jonas Gustavsson, G – Farjestad BK (Swe.): Gustavsson, 24, managed to improve on already stellar regular season stats once he hit the playoffs, guiding Farjestad to a Swedish League title with a sick 1.03 goals-against average and five shutouts in 13 games. Personal matters affected his playing time at the World Championship, but he will still be a hot commodity for the NHL this summer. Eligible for free agency.
4. Eric Wellwood, LW – Windsor Spitfires (OHL): In winning the Ontario League title over Brampton, the Spits naturally needed a lot of firepower. Wellwood, the younger brother of Vancouver’s Kyle, stepped up in that regard, becoming a point-per-game performer after just 34 points in 61 regular season games. His two-way play didn’t change, though, as his plus-minus remained excellent (plus-14 in the playoffs). Draft eligible in 2009 (undrafted in ’08).
5. Anton Khudobin, G – Houston Aeros (AHL): Think of him as the American League’s Simeon Varlamov. Khudobin has now played more games in the post-season than he had in the regular season this year and his numbers are better when it counts. He has two shutouts in 12 games and a respectable 2.52 GAA, even though he was chased by Milwaukee in Game 6 after two quick goals. Drafted 206th overall by Minnesota in 2004.
6. Zach Golembiewski, C – Indiana Ice (USHL): The Ice won its first USHL championship with a convincing mauling of the Fargo Force and Golembiewski was a significant factor. The Michigan State commit was pedestrian in the regular season, but tallied 14 points in 13 playoff games, including two goals and an assist while shorthanded. Draft eligible in 2009.
7. Nicholas Petersen, RW – Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL): With Petersen’s goal in Game 6, the Cataractes forced a final showdown with Drummondville for the ‘Q’ title. Lanky at 6-foot-3, 183 pounds, Petersen put up a gaudy plus-57 rating in the regular season and has 21 points through 20 playoff games. Draft eligible in 2009 (undrafted in ’08).
8. Gabriel Dumont, LW – Drummondville Voltigeurs (QMJHL): Much like Petersen, Dumont improved on all statistical categories this season, putting up a career-high 49 points in 51 regular season games, including four shorthanded goals. In the post-season, he has 19 points through 18 games and is plus-18. Draft eligible in 2009.
9. Harry Young, D – Windsor Spitfires (OHL): Driven by offense, let’s not forget how important leadership has been for a Spits team that has gone through several emotionally draining losses to its family in the past two years. Young has captained that squad to new heights and the next step is a Memorial Cup title. Drafted 202nd overall by New Jersey in 2008.
10. Brad Marchand, LW – Providence Bruins (AHL): Marchand made a name for himself with Canada at the world juniors and is beginning to round into a solid pro with the Bruins organization. A playoff run that has seen him post 10 points through 10 games has upped his status that much more. Drafted 71st overall by Boston in 2006.
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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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