The regular season has begun in all three major junior circuits, but many of the stars are still at NHL camps. The latest to sign entry-level deals include San Jose’s Mirco Mueller and Washington’s Connor Carrick and while Mueller has already been sent back to Everett in the Western League, Carrick may end up in the pros with Hershey. Sean Monahan is still in Calgary with the Flames, while Morgan Rielly is holding strong in Toronto. Here’s a look at some more players we’re excited to see in the NHL one day.
Shea Theodore, D – Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)
Success in Seattle has been in short supply lately, but the T-Birds are finally putting together a dangerous roster, with Theodore and rookie Mathew Barzal at the top. Last year, the team took a big step by getting into the post-season and scaring the heck out of Kelowna in the first round before falling in seven games.
“Coming into the season we were trying to make the playoffs for the first time in four years,” Theodore said. “So we really strived for that.”
Theodore got some great experience himself, too, suiting up for Canada at the world under-18s and the Ivan Hlinka tourney. Both outings ended in victory.
“It was definitely a good experience, putting on the maple leaf and representing my country,” he said. “And it was pretty good to step up to the plate and win two gold medals. That was huge.”
Known for his skating and his shot, Theodore wants to work on his defense. Scouts saw a bit of a riverboat gambler last year, but were still high on the B.C. native. Being a Canadian in Seattle, he admits to having fun with some of his more gullible high school classmates, telling them Canucks live in igloos. And despite his new home, he hasn’t exactly become entranced by the city’s grunge music history.
“I’m more of a hip hop guy,” he said. “Maybe a little country.”
Theodore survived the first few rounds of NHL training camp in Anaheim; maybe there’s some SoCal punk in his near future. Drafted 26th overall by Anaheim in 2013.
Jared McCann, C – Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)
Superior vision and playmaking skills are the hallmarks of McCann’s game, but he was the triggerman in the Soo’s first full game of the season, a 10-3 romp over Sudbury (a tilt the night before vs. the Wolves was called off due to fog in the rink). McCann notched four on the night, putting the concussion that ended his rookie year behind him. Draft eligible in 2014.
Julius Honka, D – Swift Current Broncos (WHL)
Honka was lightning in the pre-season and now that the games really matter, he’s shown no signs of slowing down, winning player of the week in the ‘Dub.’ The offensively inclined Finnish import put up a goal and five points through two games to establish himself as a force from the backend early. Draft eligible in 2014.
Michael Dal Colle, LW – Oshawa Generals (OHL)
Dal Colle has the size, the speed and the ability to find those seams in the offensive zone, so look for him to have a big year. It’s gotten off on the right foot, as the Gens winger leads the Ontario League in scoring with four goals and seven points in two games, earning player of the week honors. Draft eligible in 2014.
Jacob De La Rose, C – Leksand Stars (Swe.)
Big, strong and hardworking, it’s no surprise De La Rose garnered a lot of interest last year, even though he didn’t put up huge numbers. Now that he’s a year older, he’s already gunning with a goal and three points in four games. Also of note: last season Leksand was in Sweden’s second tier, but De La Rose helped them get promoted to the Swedish League for this campaign, the best in the nation. So now he’s scoring more against harder opponents. Drafted 34th overall by Montreal in 2013.
Mason McDonald, G – Acadie-Bathurst Titan (QMJHL)
McDonald had a rough go at the Ivan Hlinka tourney this summer, but his team still won gold, so it wasn’t that tragic. Early on with the Titan, he’s been excellent. A netminder who utilizes his pro-style frame (he’s 6-foot-3) to the fullest and never quits on a puck, McDonald boasts a 1.51 goals-against average and .953 save percentage through two games. Draft eligible in 2014.
Ryan Hitchcock, LW – U.S. NTDP (USHL)
Determined and skilled, Hitchcock will be one of the players to watch this week at the second annual All-American Prospects Game, being held in Pittsburgh. The United States League’s co-Forward of the Week kicked off the regular season with a goal and five points in two games to lead the league in scoring and is committed to Yale. Draft eligible in 2014.
Anthony Duclair, LW – Quebec Remparts (QMJHL)
One of the top skaters in last year’s draft class, Duclair is an effective perimeter player who has a great offensive toolbox. He’ll need to carry more of the scoring for Quebec this year and in the early going, it appears he came prepared: Duclair has four goals and five points in his first two outings. Drafted 80th overall by the New York Rangers in 2013.
Teemu Kivihalme, D – Fargo Force (USHL)
A pure, slick skater who honed his craft in the Minnesota high school ranks last year, Kivihalme is now plying his trade with Fargo before heading off to Colorado College. The offensive blueliner picked up two assists in his debut, a 3-2 win for the Force over Sioux City. Drafted 140th overall by Nashville in 2013.
Beau Starrett, LW – South Shore Kings (USPHL)
A big body with some pretty nifty hands, Starrett has started off the new U.S. Premier League’s season solidly, tallying three goals and four points in four games. Beau’s older brother Shane is a goalie and Boston U. commit, but the big winger has yet to determine his next step. Draft eligible in 2014.
The Hot List, a roundup of minor league, junior, college and high school players we’re excited to one day see in the NHL, appears every Tuesday on thehockeynews.com. A player is eligible for The Hot List until they play their first NHL game.
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