Welcome to the second week of THN.com’s The Hot List, our weekly wrap-up of players we can’t wait to see in NHL uniforms.
Culled from major junior, NCAA, Europe and any other league with a phenom in the making, this is an exhibition, not a competition. So if your favorite young star drops off the list, it’s not because we hate him, we’re just trying to spread the love.
Each Tuesday will feature a mini-profile on one player; the aim being to get you familiar with the stars of tomorrow. We’ll also make sure to include at least one real sleeper pick every week – an underclassman who hasn’t even hit junior or NCAA yet, just so we can say we told you first.
The rules of the list are simple: as soon as a player steps on NHL ice, they’ve graduated and will no longer be featured.
1. John Tavares, C – Oshawa Generals (OHL): Another week, another racking up of points. Tavares is still putting up more than two points a game (48 in 20 contests). Draft eligible in 2009.
2. Bobby Sanguinetti, D – Brampton Battalion (OHL): What is it with high-scoring defensemen named Bobby? Sanguinetti is on pace to smash Bryan Fogerty’s record for goals by a defenseman this year (47); he’s already got 15 in 20 games, including four the other night against St. Mike’s. Drafted by Rangers in 2006.
3. Nikita Filatov, LW – CSKA (Rus. 2): Playing for the Red Army’s junior team, top prospect Filatov is putting up numbers you don’t usually see in Russian leagues. Through 13 games the speedster tallied 16 goals and 30 points. Draft eligible in 2008.
4. Jeff Zatkoff, G – Miami RedHawks (CCHA): On top of a blistering 7-1-0 start, Zatkoff is putting up some sick numbers. The junior is leading the conference with a 1.38 goals-against average and a .942 save percentage. Drafted by Los Angeles in 2006.
5. Mark Santorelli, LW – Chilliwack Bruins (WHL): Preds draft pick has put up an ungodly 30 assists in 21 games for the emerging C-Bears (37 points total). Drafted by Nashville in 2007.
6. John Carlson, D – Indiana Ice (USHL): At 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds, the 17-year-old already has NHL size. Toss in 11 points in 11 games and Carlson will make some team very happy one day. Carlson is committed to UMass next year. Draft eligible in 2008.
7. Steven Stamkos, C – Sarnia Sting (OHL): This year’s consensus No. 1 keeps doing his thing in Southwest Ontario, leading the Sting with 32 points in 20 games. Draft eligible in 2008.
8. Tomas Knotek, C – Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL): Czech pivot leads all Q rookies in points with 25 in 22 games. Wonder if teammate Jakub Voracek is helping him adjust to North American life? Draft eligible in 2008.
9. T.J. Oshie, C – North Dakota Fighting Sioux (WCHA): Saying T.J. Oshie has a one-track mind is an understatement. Despite the fact he lead the conference in assists last year with 35 in 43 games (to go along with 17 goals), the junior center had no plans of turning pro and taking a shot at a roster spot with the St. Louis Blues.
“I’m still going year to year,” Oshie recently told thehockeynews.com.
The one thing the Minnesota native doesn’t have yet is a national championship. And along with returning stars Ryan Duncan, Joe Finley and Taylor Chorney, Oshie wants to make it happen this year; personal goals be damned.
“I’m really trying to focus on my role,” he said. “If that means taking a faceoff at the end of a game, then that’s my goal. Whatever puts us in a position to win.”
Not that Oshie isn’t excited about a future in the NHL – especially on a St. Louis team featuring Paul Kariya and rising star forwards such as Brad Boyes, David Perron and Patrik Berglund.
“I’ve never watched the NHL,” Oshie said, “I get too mad sitting on the couch – I want to be out there.”
He has, however, snuck a few peeks at his future team this year and liked what he saw. In the interim, Oshie is focusing on his Fighting Sioux days and picking up skills that will help him in the years to come.
“I’m getting bigger and learning how to be a leader,” he said.
Even though the Sioux have gotten off to a middling start, look for Oshie and pals to be there when the Frozen Four nears. Drafted by St. Louis in 2005.
10. David Toews, LW – Shattuck-St. Mary’s (Prep): Hard to ignore what the younger Toews is doing at his brother’s alma mater; David has 49 points in 22 games for the perennial Minnesota powerhouse. Draft eligible in 2008.
11. Thomas Heemskerk, G – Kootenay Ice (WHL): Playing for a mediocre Kootenay squad, rookie netminder Heemskerk is shining, posting a 2.18 GAA and a shutout through eight games. Draft eligible in 2008.
12. Toni Rajala, LW – Ilves Jr. (Fin): Some are calling this 16-year-old the Finnish Sidney Crosby. He kicked off this campaign with 12 points in his first 12 games, so maybe the phenom tag isn’t far off. Draft eligible in 2009.
13. Teddy Purcell, RW – Manchester Monarchs (AHL): The former Maine Black Bear has taken over the AHL scoring lead with 20 points in 13 games. As if the Kings needed another young offensive weapon in their arsenal. Signed by Los Angeles as free agent in 2007.
14. Garrett Roe, C – St. Cloud State Huskies (WCHA): The fantastic freshman has stolen the league scoring mantle from Kyle Turris (Roe is in fact tied with teammate Ryan Lasch with 17 points in 10 games), so it’s no wonder we had to add him to The List. Not drafted (spent three years in USHL).
15. Richard Bachman, G – Colorado College Tigers (WCHA): Do opponents know Richard Bachman was horrormeister Stephen King’s pen name? They must, because the young netminder is posting a 1.49 GAA and a sick .950 save percentage so far. Drafted by Dallas in 2006.
The Hot List appears every Tuesday, only on thehockeynews.com.
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