Injuries are starting to have an effect on the 2011 draft class, but how much of a difference it makes remains to be seen. Niagara whiz kid Ryan Strome is the latest concussion casualty and before that it was Sarnia power forward Brett Ritchie coming down with mono. Gabriel Landeskog’s ankle injury didn’t hurt his status, so the kids can take solace in that and the fact they’ve already done good work this year. Here’s a look at more prospects we’re excited to see in the NHL one day.
Stefan Noesen, RW – Plymouth Whalers (OHL)
If you’re looking for a player with exponential offensive improvement this season, Noesen is a prime candidate. With the regular season almost finished, the Texas native has 67 points, versus the eight he registered in just 33 games last season. Playing on a deep Plymouth team still featuring Tyler Seguin and Phil McRae a year ago, Noesen had to bide his time and contribute by killing penalties.
“I’ve always been able to put up numbers, so it’s nice to get back to doing that,” he said. “But as long as the team wins, that’s all that matters.”
Noesen has been doing that by playing alongside fellow prospects Rickard Rakell and Garrett Meurs on a line that has terrified the competition since Christmas.
“We make a complete line,” Noesen said. “Garrett’s a finesse player and me and Ricky do the dirty work.”
Noesen wanted to play in the Ontario League so badly he moved from Texas to Michigan as a bantam, but he still trains in Dallas in the summer. In fact, his workout buddies included Dallas Stars such as Mike Ribeiro, Stephane Robidas and Brenden Morrow.
“I model my game after Morrow,” Noesen said. “So watching him practise really helped.”
Based on the stats this year, it sure did. Draft eligible in 2011.
Scott Glennie, C – Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)
Glennie has had a trying career since getting drafted and losing running mate Brayden Schenn to Saskatoon after the world juniors seemed like another piece of bad luck. But the Wheat Kings pivot has been on fire of late, tallying six goals and eight points in his past three games, putting him right on the doorstep of a second straight 30-goal campaign. Drafted eighth overall by Dallas in 2009.
Jonas Brodin, D – Farjestad (Swe.)
With just two points on the season for Farjestad, you’d think scouts would be asking more of Brodin, but far from it; they love that he doesn’t try to do too much as a teen playing against men. A smart blueliner with good feet, Brodin is responsible in his own end and does his job. Draft eligible in 2011.
Sven Bartschi, LW – Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
The top rookie scorer in the Western League, Bartschi has consistently put up numbers all year long. He’s closing in on 30 goals and 70 points, plus he’s shown that he can be a bit of an agitator as well. Swift and creative, he’s looking like a Swiss can’t-miss. Draft eligible in 2011.
John Gaudreau, LW – Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL)
How small is too small? Nathan Gerbe may have laid the groundwork, but Gaudreau is going to bring the issue to a head. At just 5-foot-6, 141 pounds, he’s tiny, but he also leads the United States League in goals with 26 through 42 games. Gaudreau is also plus-13 despite getting a good chunk of his points on the power play. Draft eligible in 2011.
Matej Machovsky, G – Brampton Battalion (OHL)
The Czech import started the year in Guelph, but couldn’t get much traction with the Storm. A trade to Brampton opened things up and he’s posted a sizzling 2.35 goals-against average for the Troops in 13 appearances since. His heroics came too late for a Top Prospects Game invite, but at 6-foot-2, he won’t be overlooked much longer. Draft eligible in 2011.
Brian Dumoulin, D – Boston College Eagles (Hockey East)
The top-scoring defenseman in the conference, Dumoulin has 26 points in 28 games and a freshly won Beanpot title to lord over the other three Boston schools. His combination of size and skill has him on track to be an excellent pro blueliner. Drafted 51st overall by Carolina in 2009.
Tyler Beskorowany, G – Idaho Steelheads (ECHL)
While it may be a rung below the American League, the ECHL can still produce NHLers, particularly in net (just ask the Leafs how they feel about James Reimer these days). Beskorowany was a favorite of many draft pundits a couple years back and he’s proving his worth in Idaho by rocking a 2.35 GAA and .928 save percentage, some of the best numbers in the league. It’s even earned him an AHL call-up. Drafted 59th overall by Dallas in 2008.
Mike McKee, D – Kent Lions (Conn. HS)
A towering presence at 6-foot-4, 230 pounds, McKee can still get up the ice and has shown excellent chemistry with center Boo Nieves (a 2012 prospect bound for Michigan) this season. Most importantly, McKee helped the Lions best archrival Hotchkiss 6-1 last week. He’s committed to Northeastern. Draft eligible in 2011.
Mika Zibanejad, C – Djurgarden (Swe.)
The Swedish kid with Finnish and Iranian roots is one of the hottest prospects around right now. He was first star of the game in a recent win over Frolunda and launched John Klingberg into the bench for good measure. The fact two dozen NHL scouts were in attendance means the youngster has great timing, too. Draft eligible 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 only on thehockeynews.com. A player is eligible for The Hot List until they play in their first NHL game.
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