With mostly soft matchups at the world juniors to date, we’ve seen a lot of stat-padding, but few elite battles. For the real draft-day jostling, stay tuned for next week’s edition. In the meantime, here’s who is tearing it up in Ottawa.
1. John Tavares, C – Oshawa Generals (OHL): A “juggernaut” is described as a force that is unstoppable and will crush all in its path. J.T., thy name is juggernaut. Tavares has been a holy terror in the tourney for Canada so far, notching five goals and nine points in three games and looking phenomenal in the process. Draft eligible in 2009.
2. Jordan Schroeder, RW – University of Minnesota Golden Gophers (WCHA): To paraphrase the great Dennis Green, the United States is who we thought they were. True to reputation, Schroeder is putting up big numbers and perhaps putting some distance between himself and other U.S. draft eligible players not at the tournament. With Schroeder, Colin Wilson and James van Riemsdyk, Team USA has a line for the ages. Draft eligible in 2009.
3. Cody Hodgson, C – Brampton Battalion (OHL): Guess the Vancouver Canucks did the whole nation a favor in cutting Hodgson during training camp this fall. The smart, savvy pivot certainly looks like an NHLer and was tied for the lead in WJC scoring thanks to his playmaking. Drafted 10th overall by Vancouver in 2008.
4. Magnus Svensson-Paajarvi, LW – Timra IK (Swe.): Learn the name (even if it takes you a while), because MSP is getting in a groove at the world juniors. Sweden has a tougher road to the final, but the tantalizing left winger already has five points in three games. Draft eligible in 2009.
5. Simon Hjalmarsson, RW – Boras HC (Swe.): Hjalmarsson has been MSP’s running mate at the world juniors and has four points of his own through three games. Playing in Sweden’s second division, Hjalmarsson is second among junior-aged scorers with 22 points in 27 games. Drafted 39th overall by St. Louis in 2007.
6. P.K. Subban, D – Belleville Bulls (OHL): As well as putting up some nice offensive numbers for Canada, Subban was heroic during a siege in the Czech Republic game when he was injured, but soldiered on until the puck was finally cleared. He’s also a plus-10 through three games. Drafted 43rd overall by Montreal in 2007.
7. Philipp Grubauer, G – Belleville Bulls (OHL): Sent in as a sacrificial lamb against Canada, Grubauer was outstanding, despite being pelted by 44 shots. While the German skaters sometimes looked like they accidentally set their PlayStations to “All Madden” level in the first period, Grubauer held his own and made several big-time saves. Draft eligible in 2010.
8. Nikita Klyukin, C – Yaroslavl Lokomotiv (KHL): Passed over in the draft last year, Klyukin is showing what he can do in Ottawa, leading the Russians in scoring and doing it with his playmaking – all five of his points are assists over two games. Draft eligible in 2009 (undrafted in 2008).
9. Tomas Tatar, C – HKm Zvolen (Svk.): One of the top-rated Slovakian skaters according to Central Scouting, Tatar has lived up to his end of the bargain so far, leading his country in scoring with three points in two games. Draft eligible in 2009.
10. Patrice Cormier, C – Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL): Cormier has been a wrecking ball for Team Canada, destroying opponents with big, clean hits and putting himself in a good position to be loved by New Jersey fans who appreciate the art of the devastating body check. Drafted 54th overall by New Jersey 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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