Another patented Hot List road trip last weekend turned up a gem of a game in Barrie, Ont., as the hometown Colts dusted a potent opponent in the Saginaw Spirit, 4-2. There was plenty of elite talent on display, so let’s get to another installment of players we can’t wait to see in the NHL some day.
1. Alexander Burmistrov, C – Barrie Colts (OHL): Like fellow Russian imports Ivan Telegin and Kirill Kabanov, Burmistrov came over to the Canadian League this year for more ice time than he would get in the Kontinental League and better competition than he would have seen on the Russian junior circuit.
“The OHL is a better league,” he said. “Fast, many hits. I like it.”
And the Colts like him. The dynamic pivot from Kazan has 20 assists and 29 points in 23 games this year, quarterbacks the second unit of Barrie’s power play and even kills penalties. He has an English tutor who comes twice a week and also watches some TV to round out the experience.
“I watch NHL games…maybe Tyra or Ellen,” he grinned.
Burmistrov is very wiry at 6-foot, 170 pounds, but difficult to knock off the puck. Above all else, though, he’s a fantastic playmaker.
“I like to pass,” Burmistrov said. “Every game I want to (set up) my partners.”
Of course, linemate Stefan Della Rovere will likely be an enemy when the world juniors roll around in a month. He’ll be suiting up for Canada while Burmistrov has a great shot at a Russian roster that will now boast Nikita Filatov. Asked if he’ll trash-talk his Colts mates should Russia prevail, Burmistrov was emphatic.
“Yeahhhhh,” he laughed. “But if Canada beats Russia, all the fun will be had on me.”
Draft eligible in 2010.
2. Cody Sol, D – Saginaw Spirit (OHL): Defensive defensemen have so much more of an impact live and Sol was rock-solid for the Spirit in Barrie. The minute-munching blueliner uses his big 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame to his advantage and is hard to forecheck because of it. Sol always made the safe play, which is a good sign for the future. Drafted 125th overall by Atlanta in 2009.
3. Sean Couturier, C – Drummondville Voltigeurs (QMJHL): Couturier, along with Swedish defenseman Adam Larsson and Red Deer’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, has to be considered an early frontrunner to be the top pick in the 2011 draft. The Volts star and former Notre Dame Hound has 33 points in 26 games, meaning he’s already bested his rookie totals with more than half a season to go. Draft eligible in 2011.
4. Edward Pasquale, G – Saginaw Spirit (OHL): Pasquale certainly doesn’t lack confidence, as evidenced by the showy glove save he made on Barrie’s Alex Hutchings early in the game. The Spirit goaltender is very good at staying square to the puck and he takes up a lot of net. Pasquale’s unfortunate habit of kicking the net off its moorings when he got in trouble won’t fly at the next level, though. Drafted 117th overall by Atlanta in 2009.
5. Alex Hutchings, LW – Barrie Colts (OHL): Hutchings had his revenge on Pasquale by burying a breakaway in the third period, but the fiery winger was active all night. Hutchings, a friend of Matt Duchene, obviously has great drive and speed and is on pace yet again to put up more than a point per game. Drafted 93rd overall by Tampa Bay in 2009.
6. Matt Nieto, RW – NTDP (USHL): Though he just turned 17, Nieto has been bumped up to the NTDP’s under-18 squad in the United States League, where he has three points and a plus-2 rating in five games. Speedy and skilled, Nieto has also shined in international play, where he has five points in four games. Draft eligible in 2011.
7. Jack Campbell, G – NTDP (USHL): According to Western College Hockey Blog, Campbell will be joining the Windsor Spitfires next year instead of the Michigan Wolverines, which is great news for the Canadian side of the Ambassador Bridge. Campbell may be the best goalie in this year’s draft and his stats back it up: The NTDP has been getting thrashed in its first USHL campaign unless Campbell is in net; he’s 2-0-1 with a 1.61 goals-against average and .934 save percentage. Draft eligible in 2010.
8. Seth Ambroz, RW – Omaha Lancers (USHL): Nearly a point-per-game player as a 16-year-old, Ambroz is already NHL-sized at 6-foot-3, 205 pounds. The Minnesota native was lent to Team USA for the recent Four Nations Cup and responded with five goals in three games, including a highlight shot while he was on his back. Draft eligible in 2011.
9. Mark Olver, C – Northern Michigan Wildcats (CCHA): The first NMU Wildcat to crack the list? We’ll have to check the record books, but Olver certainly earned it, scoring his way to the top of the CCHA leaderboard. The 5-foot-10, 160-pound center has 18 points in 12 games, on pace for his best college campaign yet. Drafted 140th overall by Colorado in 2008.
10. Keaton Ellerby, D – Rochester Americans (AHL): Ellerby matched his goal total from all of last year with a hat trick against Syracuse, helping the Amerks stay hot in the ‘A.’ With a plus-5 rating and nine points in 17 games, the young blueliner is poised to smash his previous best for offense as a pro. Drafted 10th overall by Florida in 2007.
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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