As The Hot List, our weekly wrap-up of players we can’t wait to see in NHL uniforms, hits its stride, a couple of things are becoming obvious.
Well, let’s say a couple of players are becoming obvious. As of right now, Steven Stamkos will be the No. 1 pick in the draft this year and John Tavares will be the No. 1 pick next year.
Both are piling up points in the OHL and in the interest of getting as many new names as possible on the list, consider the dynamic duo “above hot.”
Should one of them do something amazing at the World Junior Championship or Memorial Cup, they’ll naturally get a new shout-out.
1. Victor Hedman, D – MoDo U20 (Sweden): At 6-foot-5, you can call him the next Chris Pronger, but opponents swear he plays with the puckhandling skills of Nick Lidstrom. If you’re ready to get really excited, he’s holding his own with the under-20s and doesn’t turn 17 for another month. Draft eligible in 2009.
2. James van Riemsdyk, LW – New Hampshire Wildcats (Hockey East): Don’t let the boyish smile fool you, van Riemsdyk has a power forward’s build and is settling into his first NCAA season nicely with 12 points in nine games. Drafted by Philadelphia in 2007.
3. Taylor Stefishen, RW – Langley Chiefs (BCHL): With 35 points in 23 games (including three game-winners already), this Ohio State commit will make the Buckeyes very happy next season. Draft eligible in 2008.
4. Tyler Ruegsegger, C – Denver Pioneers (WCHA): YouTube the Pioneers star and be amazed by his 1-on-1 moves. Ruegsegger has averaged slightly more than a point per game this season. Drafted by Toronto in 2006.
5. Ivan Vishnevskiy, D – Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (QMJHL): The Russian blueliner with sweet skills is already hot, posting 10 goals and 20 points in 17 games, including four power play markers. Drafted by Dallas in 2006.
6. Dustin Tokarski, G – Spokane Chiefs (WHL): The young Tokarski has started the season on fire, putting up a league-leading 1.73 goals-against average en route to a 9-1-1 record. Born one day after the deadline, Tokarski is draft eligible in 2008.
7. Mathieu Perrault, C – Acadie-Bathurst Titan (QMJHL): The diminutive pivot could be a steal for the Washington Capitals, who drafted him in the sixth round. Perrault is averaging nearly two points a game for the Titan. Drafted by Washington in 2006.
8. Kyle Beach, C – Everett Silvertips (WHL): More goals, more points, more penalty minutes; Beach isn’t messing around in his draft year. Draft eligible in 2008.
9. Kevin Porter, LW – Michigan Wolverines (CCHA): The Blue and Maize are off to an astounding 8-0-0 start in conference play (11-1-0 overall) and Porter is helping them keep that pace. The left-winger has more than a goal per game through a dozen contests. Drafted by Phoenix in 2004.
10. Kyle Turris, C – Wisconsin Badgers (WCHA): The former BCHL phenom is back in the swing of things, putting up 15 points in 10 contests and even getting into a line brawl against North Dakota. Drafted by Phoenix in 2007.
11. Brian Lee, D – Binghamton Senators (AHL): As if the Ottawa Senators need another gifted defenseman. Despite his rookie stature, Lee has been quarterbacking the B-Sens power play and has eight assists in 16 games so far. Drafted by Ottawa in 2005.
12. Shawn Matthias, C – Belleville Bulls (OHL): Think of this year’s Belleville-Oshawa rivalry as the OHL’s version of Patriots-Colts, but tighter. The two high-flyers play in the same division and have already faced off three times, with the Gens up two games to one.
Leading the charge for the Bulls is power forward Shawn Matthias, who never backs down from a challenge.
“They’re pretty high-tempo games,” said the pivot, who is tied for fourth in OHL scoring with 41 points in 21 matches.
Despite the firepower both teams can put up, it’s not all about goals in the series.
“It gets a little vicious out there,” Matthias grinned. “Old-time hockey. It’s fun.”
At 6-foot-4, 213 pounds, Matthias has no problem playing the body.
While comparisons to early-era Todd Bertuzzi may be unfair to put on a junior, they’re unfortunately factual when it comes to Matthias: He was the prospect Detroit traded to Florida in the Big Bert deal.
“I didn’t know what to expect, it was a lot to take in,” Matthias said of the trade. “I had never even been traded in my OHL career.”
But the transfer to the Panthers has already proven beneficial for Matthias’ growth, especially when the Cats send Joe Nieuwendyk in for a pep talk.
“He’s easy to talk to, even if you’re shy at first,” Matthias said. “I mean, he’s Joe Nieuwendyk.”
To say Matthias has grown into his role on the Bulls is an understatement. When he joined Belleville in 2004-05, the center was 6-foot-2 and just 170 pounds. Along with goals of a World Junior Championship roster spot and a Memorial Cup, Matthias is working on his strength and fitness this year.
“The next level is going to be a lot harder,” he said. “It motivates you. I want to play for the Florida Panthers.” Drafted by Detroit in 2006.
13. Josh Unice, G – Kitchener Rangers (OHL): The Blackhawks prospect is officially on top of the OHL goalie rankings with a 2.28 GAA and an 11-2-0 record. Not bad for a rookie, eh? Drafted by Chicago in 2007.
14. Stepan Novotny, LW – Shattuck-St. Mary’s (prep): The Czech national is plying his trade in Minnesota right now, learning the North American game at the legendary prep school and putting up 29 points in his first 22 games. Those who’ve seen him swear he’s bigger than his listed size of 6-foot-1, 190 pounds. Draft eligible in 2009.
15. Patrik Berglund, C – Vasteras (Swe. 2): The big Blues prospect is still humming along in Sweden’s second-tier, posting 16 points (10 goals) in 14 games. Drafted by St. Louis in 2006.
The Hot List appears every Tuesday, only on thehockeynews.com. It is a weekly roundup of players we can’t wait to see in an NHL uniform.
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