Congratulations to John Tavares, who scored his 200th career Ontario League goal over the weekend.
J.T. sure looks like he’s cementing that No. 1 pick at this point. But whether his London Knights can navigate their way through Windsor, Belleville and Brampton in the OHL playoffs remains to be seen. It’s heating up folks, so let’s see who is on the radar this week.
1. Peter Holland, C – Guelph Storm (OHL): On a team that lost Drew Doughty and Thomas McCollum from last year’s roster, Holland is making the most of his chance in the spotlight after a quiet 2007-08 rookie season with the Storm.
“It’s like night and day,” said Holland, ranked No. 16 in THN’s Draft Rankings. “Last year I didn’t get a lot of ice time; we had an older team, now we have a younger team. In past years, guys like myself who are 17 weren’t expected to lead.”
But lead he has, and with 52 points in 56 games, Holland is second in Guelph scoring to 20-year-old Matt Kennedy. But offense isn’t the only reason to keep the draft-eligible center around. Holland has also been lauded for his work ethic and tenacity.
“I’ve worked so hard on different aspects of my game,” said Holland, who cites his two-way game as a strength. “I can be a set-up man and I can play in the defensive zone.”
Holland also has a good head on his shoulders. He’s taking physics in high school as part of a university prerequisite and intends on taking classes at the University of Guelph once he graduates this spring. How fast he completes post-secondary school will likely depend on his NHL career.
“Bottom line is, I’m going to have a degree in the end,” Holland said. “Schooling has always been important in my family.”
And with Holland’s quick hands and faceoff skills, he’ll likely be doing some schooling of opponents on another level for years to come.
Draft eligible in 2009.
2. Stanislav Galiev, C – Indiana Ice (USHL): It’s pretty rare to see a Russian in the United States League, but Galiev has designs on joining the major junior ranks next year and he has more than gotten his feet wet with Indiana. Through 42 games, the slick 17-year-old pivot has 44 points, including 16 on the power play and four game-winning goals. Draft eligible in 2010.
3. Simon Despres, D – Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL): One of the fastest rising players in this year’s draft pool, Despres has a lot of good features for a defenseman; he’s big (6-foot-3, 214 pounds), he’s physical and he makes good plays with the puck. Look for him to battle John Moore for the hearts and minds of NHL GMs. Draft eligible in 2009.
4. Dustin Tokarski, G – Spokane Chiefs (WHL): The only Dub goalie to boast a sub-2.00 goals-against average right now (1.83), Tokarski is also working with a sick .940 save percentage and leads the league in shutouts with six. Another Memorial Cup run, perhaps? Drafted 122nd overall by Tampa Bay in 2008.
5. Aaron Palushaj, RW – University of Michigan Wolverines (CCHA): Palushaj may go post-to-post as the CCHA scoring champ this season, averaging 1.33 points per game for a total of 40 in 30 games. The Wolverines will again challenge for a spot in the Frozen Four this year. Drafted 44th overall by St. Louis in 2007.
6. Nick Leddy, D – Eden Prairie Eagles (Minn. HS): Leddy’s Eagles knocked off previously undefeated Bloomington-Jefferson late last week and may even take over the No. 1 rank in the state. The blueliner has dazzled with his skating ability and can play both ends of the ice. Draft eligible in 2009.
7. Casey Pierro-Zabotel, LW – Vancouver Giants (WHL): Looks like CPZ will be the first player to crack 100 points in the Western League this year; the big left winger is sitting at 99 and has a stunning plus-55 to go along with it. Drafted 80th overall by Pittsburgh in 2007.
8. Marc-Andre Bourdon, D – Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL): Still tough as nails, Bourdon has dropped the gloves several times this season, just like a Philadelphia Flyers draft pick would be expected to do. He’s also leading the ‘Q’ in scoring by a defenseman with 58 points in 53 games, another quality sure to endear him to Broad Street. Drafted 67th overall by Philadelphia in 2008.
9. Ryan Ellis, D – Windsor Spitfires (OHL): Seemed like a good time to point out that Ellis is still a top-five scorer in the OHL, despite getting his points from the blueline. He’s up to 75 points in 48 games and that Spits juggernaut just keeps on rolling over opponents. Draft eligible in 2009.
10. Justin Fontaine, RW – University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs (WCHA): Toss Fontaine’s name in with players like Matt Gilroy and Christian Hanson, because he’ll likely hear from some NHL teams this summer. The late-blooming winger has been near the top of the WCHA scoring leaderboard all year and currently has 37 points in 30 games. Eligible for free agency.
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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