The Kontinental League isn’t thrilled about it, but a lot of young Russians have been in the news recently regarding which teams they may be suiting up for this season.
As the Canadian League’s pre-seasons continue, The Hot List – a countdown of players we can’t wait to see in the NHL one day – also looks forward to action at the NHL’s Traverse City rookie tournament. THL will be on vacation for the next two weeks, but don’t worry – it’s a working holiday and a Dub trip is part of the plan.
1. Olivier Roy, G – Cape Breton Screaming Eagles (QMJHL): There’s a certain prestige with being a top Quebecois goalie in the Q, but there’s obviously the pressure of history as well. For Cape Breton’s Olivier Roy, keeping an even keel is the key to not cracking under the weight of Patrick Roy and Martin Brodeur.
“Those two guys are the biggest,” Roy said. “I try to do my best, but I don’t feel the pressure.”
After a 27-11-3 campaign in 2007-08, not to mention scores of accolades for the rookie, Roy is coming back with a summer full of great experiences. The 17-year-old took part in a special Hockey Canada goalie camp, which also featured Jake Allen, Dustin Tokarski and Chet Pickard. Run by ex-NHLer Corey Hirsch, Roy picked up a lot from another NHL alum.
“Sean Burke,” Roy noted. “He played more than 15 years, so he knew a lot on the ice and helped me with technique.”
Playing for Cape Breton, Roy naturally is a big Marc-Andre Fleury fan, but the current Eagles ‘tender said Rick DiPietro’s game influences him as well.
“I try to match two or three styles,” Roy said.
For Q opponents, that’s often several styles too many to put a puck past. Draft eligible in 2009.
2. Maxim Kitsyn, RW – Metallurg Novokuznetsk (KHL): With the Kontinental League season already underway, a new phenom has emerged in Kitsyn. Still just 16 years old (he’s a late birthday), Kitsyn has three goals in three games for Metallurg. Draft eligible in 2010.
3. Evgeny Grachev, RW – Brampton Battalion (OHL): Wow! Grachev in a Brampton uniform is pretty shocking, considering his coming to North America has always been up in the air. The Rangers want him in Traverse City, but in the meantime he’s found the scoresheet running shotgun with prodigy Matt Duchene. Drafted 75th overall by the New York Rangers in 2008.
4. Ethan Werek, C – Kingston Frontenacs (OHL): As if the Grachev development wasn’t a shocker, Werek signing with the Frontenacs is an earth-mover. Destined for a starring role and a reuniting with Jr. A teammate Corey Trivino at Boston U. for the 2009-10 season, Werek will bring his colossal skills to Kingston instead of the USHL’s Indiana Ice, where he apparently dominated an intrasquad game. Draft eligible in 2009.
5. John McFarland, C – Sudbury Wolves (OHL): There has been a lot of hype around this young man and, well, let’s just say he’s a fast learner: The No. 1 pick in the OHL draft this year got his first exhibition game out of the way in grand fashion, notching a hat trick and four points as the Wolves dusted the Soo 6-2. Draft eligible in 2010.
6. Vyacheslav Voinov, D – Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL): Voinov and fellow Russian and Kings pick Andrei Loktionov are at the center of the latest KHL/NHL contract spat, but the real winner will likely be Moncton, which gets a great two-way defender in the process. Look for Voinov and Loktionov at the Kings’ rookie camp. Drafted 32nd overall by Los Angeles in 2008.
7. Jordan Bernier, LW – Acadie-Bathurst Titan (QMJHL): A strapping young lad, Bernier (6-foot-3, 203 pounds) was a big part of the Titan’s 8-4 lighting up of Saint John this past weekend. The rookie has five points in three pre-season games. Draft eligible in 2009.
8. Dmitri Kugryshev, RW – Quebec Remparts (QMJHL): Nikita Filatov’s former running mate with Red Army’s junior team, Kugryshev has clearly adjusted to the North American game nicely; the right winger has seven points in two pre-season games with Patrick Roy’s squad. Drafted 58th overall by Washington in 2008.
9. Steven Stanford, G – Prince Albert Raiders (WHL): The Raiders won’t be vying for any titles this year, but they can at least take solace in the fact their goaltender will be in the spotlight. Stanford was part of the same Hockey Canada goalie camp as Roy and is already showing during the pre-season that he can handle a lot of shots. Draft eligible in 2009.
10. Luca Sbisa, D – Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL): It may be early, but Sbisa is already in fine form, doing what he does best: moving the puck from the blueline. The Swiss rearguard posted a goal and two assists in a 7-3 win over Moose Jaw Sunday. Drafted 19th overall by Philadelphia 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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