As we’ve reached December, it’s hard not to think about the upcoming world juniors. A couple of teams have already released their final camp rosters, with more coming very soon. There will undoubtedly be surprises and the first for me was New Jersey pick Aarne Talvitie not getting a shot with Finland. Talvitie was one of the Finns’ best players in the summer, but the squad was also missing some key forwards, so perhaps there was just too much of a skill set overlap. At least he’s still eligible for next year’s tourney. In the meantime, let’s take a spin around the prospect world to see who’s been hot lately.
Ryan Poehling, C, St. Cloud State Huskies (NCHC) – The Huskies have moved into first place in their conference and Poehling has done his part. The Montreal Canadiens first-rounder has five points in his past three games and is winning more than half his faceoffs. The sophomore will also be key for Team USA at the world juniors, where his size and skill can shine. NHL arrival: 2019-20
Conor Timmins, D, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL) – The Hounds are on a 14-game win streak, which is a franchise record. Timmins has been hot of late too, with 11 points in his past six games. Timmins is a smart defenseman who can make plays and move the puck and the Colorado Avalanche brass is high on the second-rounder’s potential. NHL arrival: 2020-21
Kristian Vesalainen, LW, HPK (Fin.) – Vesalainen is a little banged up right now, but he has been hot lately. The Winnipeg Jets first-rounder has seven points in his past five games and leads his Liiga team in scoring. The combination of size and skill was always tantalizing, but this year Vesalainen is putting up numbers, too. He’ll be key for the Finns at the WJC. NHL arrival: 2019-20
Casey Mittelstadt, C, University of Minnesota Golden Gophers (Big Ten) – The Gophers are still trying to find their feet (paws?) this season, but Mittelstadt is beginning to get some real traction. The Buffalo Sabres first-rounder has three points in his past three games and we’ve already seen some highlight-reel plays from the freshman. Needless to say, world junior expectations will be high. NHL arrival: 2018-19
Jakub Lauko, LW, Pirati Chomutov (Cze.) – Recently I was talking to a European-based NHL scout about Lauko and the talent hawk believed the youngster had earned a chance to play for the Czechs at their world junior camp. Sure enough, Lauko is on the roster and now the 2018 draft prospect can give it his best. Lauko is a fast and competitive player who knows how to score. NHL arrival: 2020-21
Antoine Morand, C, Acadie-Bathurst Titan (QMJHL) – There’s a lot of jockeying in the ‘Q’ standings right now and you have to keep the Titan in mind. The arrival of Philly pick German Rubtsov has helped, as has the continued excellent play of Morand, the Anaheim Ducks prospect who blends skill and high compete level. Morand has points in nine of his past 10 games. NHL arrival: 2020-21
Patrick Harper, RW, Boston University Terriers (Hockey East) – Another player who should play a big role for Team USA at the world juniors, Harper was named conference player of the week on the strength of his four-point night against rival Boston College. The Nashville Predators pick leads the Terriers in scoring with 19 points through 17 games, using his elusiveness and great hands to make things happen. NHL arrival: 2020-21
Calen Addison, D, Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL) – Addison first made a name for himself at the summer Ivan Hlinka tourney, where he helped Canada win gold. Now, the offensive defenseman is back in the news as WHL player of the week. The 2018 draft prospect tallied eight points in four games for the Hurricanes and now sits third in team scoring. NHL arrival: 2021-22
Cal Petersen, G, Ontario Reign (AHL) – The Los Angeles Kings got a very nice goaltending prospect when Petersen decided not to sign with Buffalo, the team that drafted him. In his first year of pro, the Notre Dame alum has put up stellar numbers in the AHL, clocking in with a .941 save percentage and a league-leading 1.59 goals-against average. NHL arrival: 2019-20
Nick Perbix, D, Omaha Lancers (USHL) – A smart defenseman who knows how to move the puck, Perbix earned USHL defenseman of the week honors with three points in his past two games, though he’s also on a four-game point streak overall. The Tampa Bay Lightning pick will be heading to St. Cloud State next year and the Huskies have been pretty good at developing D-men lately. NHL arrival: 2021-22.