The Frozen Four kicks off Thursday in Pittsburgh, while CHL playoffs are deep into the second round. As for the next generation of talent, the Ontario League held its draft on the weekend, with Elgin-Middlesex center Travis Konecny going to Ottawa first overall. Underage defenseman Sean Day, the latest to be granted exceptional status by Hockey Canada to join the league early, was taken fourth by Mississauga. Here’s a look at some of the other prospects we’re excited to see in the NHL one day.
Jordan Subban, D – Belleville Bulls (OHL)
The third of the Subban clan to become eligible for the NHL draft, Jordan is smaller than Malcolm and P.K., but has a lot of dynamism to his game. His Bulls are rolling in the playoffs so far, with Jordan contributing two goals and a plus-8 rating through eight games, following up a regular season where his 51 points were good enough for sixth amongst OHL blueliners.
“I’m at my best when I’m skating; moving my feet and moving the puck,” he said. “I’m a smaller guy in the defensive zone so I have to pay attention to that.”
On top of his stellar play on the ice, Subban also excelled off the ice, earning an OHL academic player of the month (East Division) in December.
“I was taking math and business classes when I won that award,” he said. “I know math’s not always a popular course in school for kids, but I like it, I like to solve problems.”
With his last name, Subban will undoubtedly be under more scrutiny than the average player as he works his way up the ranks, but seeing what Malcolm went through as Canada’s world junior goaltender and P.K.’s very public contract talks with Montreal helped Jordan prepare for attention from fans and the media in the future.
“Everyone has to go through it, nobody’s perfect,” he said. “You try not to take it hard and you try to learn from it.”
Seems like Subban is a student through and through. Draft eligible in 2013.
JC Lipon, RW – Kamloops Blazers (WHL)
With second-round opponent Kelowna coming off a grueling series versus Seattle, the Blazers promised to take it right to the Rockets. Lipon has headed that charge, popping in three points in the first two games. Of course, the late-bloomer who blends skill and physicality has been hot the whole post-season, tallying a point in every game so far. Draft eligible in 2013 (undrafted in 2012).
Alex Nedeljkovic, G – Plymouth Whalers (OHL)
Nedeljkovic didn’t come out of nowhere – he’s officially from Parma, Ohio – but you’d be forgiven if it seemed that way. The 17-year-old usurped starter and Carolina prospect Matt Mahalak in the Whalers net and is now driving the bus as the team cuts through the playoffs. His 2.00 goals-against average is even better than his regular season mark (2.28) and the youngster has lost just five games in 32 appearances. Draft eligible in 2014.
Marc-Olivier Roy, RW – Blainville-Boisbriand Armada (QMJHL)
A key member of the Armada attack, Roy has amassed five goals and 13 points through seven playoff games, putting him on an even better pace from the regular season. A smart player with speed and energy who can make plays, Roy has helped the BBs to a 2-0 series lead over Val-d’Or. Draft eligible in 2013.
Scott Wilson, C – UMass-Lowell River Hawks (Hockey East)
An offensive wizard who led the River Hawks in scoring as a sophomore and in his freshman year was only one point short of the top spot, Wilson will be a key player to watch at the Frozen Four. Along with his offensive acumen, the Oakville, Ont. native has ratcheted up his defensive play this season, too. Drafted 209th overall by Pittsburgh in 2011.
Markus Soberg, RW – Frolunda Indians (Swe.)
While the top tier of the under-18s don’t begin until next week, the nations hoping to leap up with the big boys are already in action. Soberg, a lightning-strike Norwegian playing his club hockey in Sweden, got things off to a great start by notching the tying and winning goals in a come-from-behind win over France, firing nine shots on net and earning player of the game honors. Draft eligible in 2013.
Hudson Fasching, LW – U.S. NTDP (USHL)
With his size and potential, a lot was expected of Fasching this season and it hasn’t always been easy. But the University of Minnesota commit is getting hot at the right time, totalling five points in his past five games as Team USA prepares to head off to Sochi, Russia for the world under-18s. Draft eligible in 2013.
Gabryel Paquin-Boudreau, LW – Baie-Comeau Drakkar (QMJHL)
A rookie who played last season in the Quebec midget league, Paquin-Boudreau has gone through growing pains with the Drakkar, but appears to have come out stronger. A gifted offensive player, he was scratched earlier in the season versus Gatineau on a night when many NHL scouts were in attendance. He heated up at the end of the regular season and now has 10 points in seven playoff games as Baie-Comeau finds itself on the cusp of the semifinal. Draft eligible in 2013.
James De Haas, D – Penticton Vees (BCHL)
His 6-foot-4, 205-pound frame and defensive mobility have been calling cards, but De Haas has really stepped up his offensive contributions as the Vees prepare to face Surrey in the B.C. League final. The Clarkson University commit has eight points in nine playoff games, doubling his production from the regular season. Drafted 170th overall by Detroit in 2012.
Matt Nieto, RW – Worcester Sharks (AHL)
After a very strong two years at Boston U., Nieto jumped to the pros and hasn’t missed a step, with three points in his first four games. The California product can create offense off the rush, but he was also used on the penalty kill in college, so he gives the Sharks options. Drafted 47th overall by San Jose 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 on thehockeynews.com. A player is eligible for The Hot List until they play their first NHL game.
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