Congratulations to the Boston College Eagles, who won their third NCAA title in five years on the weekend. The Eagles bested Ferris State 4-1 in Tampa to take the Frozen Four. One circuit is down, but there are still plenty of playoffs in the junior ranks to keep everyone foaming at the mouth. Plus, the world under-18s are on the doorstep. Here’s a look at some of the prospects we’re excited to see in the NHL one day.
Dylan Blujus, D – Brampton Battalion (OHL)
The Troops have a big test on their hands thanks to a second round matchup with the powerhouse Niagara IceDogs and they’ve kept it close in two losses. If Brampton hopes for the upset, Blujus will be a key element on the blueline.
“Defense is going to be a big key with their firepower,” he said. “We have to make sure to make the smart plays.”
As a disciple of junior coaching legend Stan Butler, that’s not hard for the Buffalo-area native, who saw the Ontario League as his best option to get to the NHL some day.
“It’s an honor to play under him,” Blujus said. “He’s not afraid to tell you what you need to work on.”
Playing with fellow draft-eligible defenseman Marcus McIvor, Blujus has been key to the Battalion’s success. In the playoffs, he’s posted a goal and five points in six games, well above his usual pace. Blujus and McIvor played spring hockey together when they were younger, so the tandem has great familiarity.
“We go hand in hand,” Blujus said. “I like to jump into the rush, he likes to stay back and work on the defensive end.”
At 6-foot-3, 193 pounds, Blujus knows he needs to get more physical, but has great puck-moving ability and a good shot from the point. Those tools will have a lot of NHL teams thinking of him this summer. Draft eligible in 2012.
Filip Forsberg, RW – Leksand (Swe.)
The NHL’s Central Scouting Bureau released its final rankings Monday and not surprisingly Forsberg is No. 1 among European-based skaters. Big and creative, Forsberg couldn’t get his Leksand team up to Sweden’s top circuit in a recent promotion tournament, which may increase his chances of coming over to North America next season. CHL Import Draft, anyone? Draft eligible in 2012.
Anthony Stolarz, G – Corpus Christi IceRays (NAHL)
Only one goalie in the North American League made more saves than Stolarz’s 1,602 in 50 games this season, so it’s fair to say the 6-foot-5 New Jersey native had his hands full. The IceRays didn’t make the playoffs, but Stolarz had a winning record and an admirable .920 save percentage, catapulting him to No. 4 on Central Scouting’s list of North American netminders. Draft eligible in 2012.
Zack Phillips, C – Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL)
Welcome to the weekly installment of “Sea Dogs crushing the Quebec League.” Today’s winner is Phillips, who now leads the post-season scoring race with six goals and 21 points in just six games – all wins. He’s also plus-18, but doesn’t have a winning faceoff percentage. C’mon, Zack, shape up! Drafted 28th overall by Minnesota in 2011.
Curtis Lazar, C – Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
In the battle of Kings – Oil vs. Wheat – Oil is winning (and geopolitically speaking, are we really surprised?). Lazar in particular is having fun, tallying three goals and eight points through six playoff games, upping his production from the regular season, which was about a point every two games. With speed to burn and a thick frame that makes him hard to knock off the puck, Lazar will be a game-breaker very soon. Draft eligible in 2013.
Darnell Nurse, D – Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)
Paired with top 2012 prospect Matt Dumba on Team Canada’s under-18 team, Nurse has a chance to really put a stamp on his rookie year. Already 6-foot-4 and 180 pounds, the young D-man skates effortlessly and has a nasty streak – he was blowing up kids in practice before the team left for the Czech Republic, where Nurse has a goal in each of the team’s two exhibition games. Draft eligible in 2013.
Sebastian Collberg, RW – Vastra Frolunda (Swe.)
With two goals (one on a penalty shot) in a 3-2 win against the U.S. in U-18 exhibition play, the smallish but exciting Collberg is picking up right where he left off in the international game. The right winger already has gold medals from the world juniors and Five Nations this year, now the under-18s are in his sights. Draft eligible in 2012.
Frankie Vatrano, C – U.S. NTDP (USHL)
With Stefan Matteau declared ineligible for the world under-18s (not American enough, apparently), the Stars and Stripes will need other forwards to step up and Vatrano has the frame to do it. The stocky power forward comes in at 5-foot-10, 218 pounds and brings a big shot, defensive hops and forechecking with him. Next stop, Boston College. Draft eligible in 2012.
Teuvo Teravainen, RW – Jokerit (Fin.)
His club team staved off elimination for at least a night, but they still trail JYP 3-1 in the Finnish semifinal. The national squad may be rooting for the other guys. That’s because the shifty and talented Teravainen would be a great addition to the U-18 squad. He has two goals and five points in eight SM-Liiga playoff games. Draft eligible in 2012.
Matt DeBlouw, C – Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL)
The Jacks were lowly again, but that didn’t stop scouts from getting a good read on DeBlouw, a smart two-way player with a nice overall game. Committed to Michigan State, DeBlouw is progressing, but he projects to get even better in the next few seasons. Draft eligible in 2012.
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 only on thehockeynews.com. A player is eligible for The Hot List until they play in their first NHL game.
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