In this week's list of players we're looking forward to seeing more of, we go coast-to-coast – on both sides of the Atlantic – to hunt for the game's top up-and-coming talent.
1. Mac Carruth, G – Wenatchee Wild (NAHL): They say it takes goaltenders longer to develop, so when a 17-year-old is putting up a 2.23 goals-against average and 10 wins in his first 15 games, it’s fair to say something is going right.
“Right now I’m on top of the trees; I’m confident,” Carruth said. “Pucks are bouncing my way.”
And to say Carruth has performed under tough circumstances is an understatement. The Wild recently finished a monster stretch of 21 games in a little more than a month that saw the central Washington state team travel everywhere from Michigan to Alaska.
But strength builds character and Carruth has been a hot commodity on the futures market. The Western League’s Portland Winterhawks own his junior rights, but the netminder has his sights set on the University of Minnesota-Duluth right now.
“That’s the plan so far,” Carruth said. “I’m going to tryout as a true freshman. I moved to Minnesota when I was 10 and I always had fun up there. The crowds are amazing.”
At 6-foot-2 and 172 pounds, Carruth has a great frame for a young goaltender and knows that will be part of his cache.
“My size,” he confirmed when asked about his strengths. “And I’m technically solid, I’ve been told.”
Based on his results so far, no one needs to tell Carruth – he’s got the numbers to prove it all on his own. â€¨Draft eligible in 2010.
2. Jeremy Morin, LW – Kitchener Rangers (OHL): With his first Ontario League campaign in full swing, Morin is doing exactly what he was brought in to do: snipe. The American winger has 12 goals in 13 games for the surging Rangers. Drafted 45th overall by Atlanta in 2009.
3. Mikael Granlund, C – HIFK Helsinki (Fin.): Playing with the big boys in the Finnish League has done nothing to dampen Granlund’s scoring prowess; the former Karpat Oulu prospect has 16 points through 15 games and a plus-4 rating to go with it. Draft eligible in 2010.
4. Joonas Donskoi, C – Karpat Oulu (Fin.): With Granlund out of the Oulu system, the Weasels (look it up) can at least take solace in the fact they also had Donskoi in the pipeline. The youngster lit up the under-20 circuit for 12 points in five games and has two goals through eight contests with the big club. Scouts love his tenacity and his hockey mind. Draft eligible in 2010.
5. Travis Hamonic, D – Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL): Hamonic has size (6-foot-2, 215 pounds), shutdown ability and some offensive touch with 20 points in 15 games. After a rough 2008-09, the blueliner is doing great so far in ’09-10 by keeping the plus-minus up and the PIMs down. Drafted 53rd overall by the New York Islanders in 2008.
6. Michael Houser, G – London Knights (OHL): He’ll be one of the youngest players available in the draft this year, but he hasn’t played like it. Houser has five of the Knights’ 10 victories and none of the four losses, pitching out a 2.20 GAA and .936 save percentage in the process. Draft eligible in 2010.
7. Yann Sauve, D – Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL): Coming into the ‘Q’ as a much-anticipated prospect a few years ago, Sauve has had a rough run in junior, but is turning it around early on this season. The defensive player of the week in the Quebec League, Sauve’s physically dominant performances have helped launch the Sea Dogs up the standings. Drafted 41st overall by Vancouver in 2008.
8. Marc Cheverie, G – Denver Pioneers (WCHA): Hard to argue with the job Cheverie has done in net for the Pios; in four games he has a 1.00 GAA and .966 save percentage. Denver has a deep squad this year and having the back end playing solid in the early going must be a pretty nice comfort. Drafted 193rd overall by Florida in 2006.
9. Blake Kessel, D – University of New Hampshire Wildcats (Hockey East): Sometimes you need to be a little suspenseful when praising in order to get the full dramatic effect. For example: Blake Kessel has 10 points through four games…and he’s a defenseman. See how impressive he sounds? Drafted 166th overall by the New York Islanders in 2007.
10. Emerson Etem, C – Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL): With 12 goals through 15 games, Etem leads all Dub rookies in twine bulging. The California native has already made some elite stops along the way in his hockey career, suiting up for both Shattuck St-Mary’s and the U.S. national team development program. Draft eligible in 2010.
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. For more great prospect profiles and news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.