As we do every week, here’s the latest edition of players we can’t wait to see in the NHL one day.
1. Luke Schenn, D – Kelowna Rockets (WHL): The dressing room in Kelowna is loaded with young talent and if you believe defenseman Luke Schenn, that talent doesn’t pay attention to the draft rankings too often.
“It doesn’t get talked about too much,” Schenn said. “We’re just trying to get better as a team – we had 11 rookies last season.”
They have gotten better and Schenn, who played in both the Super Series and World Junior Championship for Canada, is a big reason. Schenn is yet another vaunted blueliner available for the NHL draft this summer, as is giant 6-foot-7 teammate Tyler Myers.
And whereas many of the top blueline prospects this year boast offensive acumen, Schenn prefers to sell himself on taking care of his own end.
“I’m more on the defensive side,” he said. ‘That’s where my job is.”
Though he is not keen on making the comparison, Schenn says he often hears Robyn Regehr as a benchmark.
Schenn definitely has the ruggedness of Regehr and he’s not afraid to dish it out, even if it means unloading on his younger brother, Brayden, a forward with the Brandon Wheat Kings. The siblings squared off on Valentine’s Day and naturally there was no love lost.
“I got him on the second shift,” grinned the affable older brother. “Caught him with his head down. We were giving each other facewashes in front of the net all night.”
And while that sibling rivalry was rough, it’s nothing compared to what Schenn saw when his Rockets played Spokane. Kelowna features Collin Bowman, while the Chiefs countered with his brother Drayson.
“They squared off, dropped the gloves,” Schenn recalled. “It was crazy.”
Draft eligible in 2008.
2. Nikita Filatov, LW – CSKA 2 (Rus.): Haven’t had a Filatov update in awhile, so here it is: The Russian with mad skills has eclipsed the two-points-per-game mark, netting 47 in 23 contests. Draft eligible in 2008.
3. James van Riemsdyk, LW – New Hampshire Wildcats (Hockey East): The Wildcats are clearing a path at the top of the conference and van Riemsdyk has been shining for them as a freshman, notching 26 points in 27 games. JVR also took the No. 3 spot in THN’s brand new Future Watch magazine. Drafted second overall by Philadelphia in 2007.
4. Matt Beleskey, LW – Belleville Bulls (OHL): The Bulls are stampeding this year and Beleskey has been a big contributor with points (83 in 56 games) and fights. Think the Ducks are proud of that? Drafted 112th overall by Anaheim in 2006.
5. Alex Pietrangelo, D – Niagara IceDogs (OHL): Big blueliner had four points in a 10-5 romp over Erie on the weekend and that plus-26 rating continues to look good. Draft eligible in 2008.
6. Jacob Markstrom, G – Brynas (Swe): Sweden is the new Finland! Well, the Finns are still churning out good goalies, but two of the top three draft-eligible keepers are from the Brynas program, including Markstrom, who has played well in his stints with the big club. Draft eligible in 2008.
7. Tyson Sexsmith, G – Vancouver Giants (WHL): Sexsmith has done the heavy lifting in Vancouver all year and remains at the top of the stat pile among Dub goalies, with eight shutouts and a 1.92 goals-against average. Drafted 91st overall by San Jose in 2007.
8. Marc-Andre Bourdon, D – Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (QMJHL): A late birthday, Bourdon is draft eligible this year and is putting up nice numbers to help his stock. The reigning defensive player of the month in the Q put up 20 points and was plus-14 in 11 games in February. Draft eligible in 2008.
9. Mattias Tedenby, LW – HV71 (Swe): At 5-foot-8, Tedenby will have to play big if he wants an NHL job, but he’s holding his own in the Elite League with HV71 right now, so watch out. Draft eligible in 2008.
10. Ben Bishop, G – Maine Black Bears (Hockey East): Bishop is coming off a 30-save shutout over Vermont, which is how he has to do it, since the Black Bears have had trouble scoring this season. Drafted 85th overall by St. Louis in 2005.
11. Steve Zalewski, C – Clarkson Golden Knights (ECAC): The Knights clinched the conference crown and go into the ECAC tournament as the top seed. Senior Zalewski and sophomore Matt Beca have paced the squad from the offensive side. Drafted 153rd overall by San Jose in 2004.
12. Jordan Eberle, C – Regina Pats (WHL): A hometown hero, Eberle is having a career season with the Pats, tallying 40 goals and 70 points in 65 games. Draft eligible in 2008.
13. Bobby Sanguinetti, D – Brampton Battalion (OHL): The offensive force of a blueliner has made his mark in the OHL this year and you can bet a lot of NHL GMs tried to pry him away from the Rangers at the trade deadline. Drafted 21st overall by New York Rangers in 2006.
14. Yann Sauve, D – Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL): Highly touted since even before he was taken first overall in the Q draft, Sauve has underwhelmed in his junior career, but approaching the NHL draft, scouts still love his size (6-foot-3, 220 pounds) and potential. Draft eligible in 2008.
15. Justin Jokinen, RW – Cloquet Lumberjacks (Minn. HS): If he’s related to Olli or Jussi, it’s way back in the family tree. The Lumberjacks right winger has helped carry his upset-minded team into the Minnesota state championship. At 6-foot-2 and just 165 pounds, Jokinen has a frame to build on. Draft eligible in 2008.
The Hot List, a weekly roundup of minor league, junior, college and high school players we’re exciting to one day see in the NHL, appears every Tuesday, only on thehockeynews.com.
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