Major junior was turned upside-down at the trade deadline with big names aplenty moving and some may not even have an impact for months. Brett Connolly, for example, is still with Tampa in the NHL, but if the Bolts are done early, he would join the Tri-City Americans instead of his old Prince George Cougars. Meanwhile, here are some of the prospects making noise whom we can’t wait to see in the NHL one day.
Tomas Hyka, RW – Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL)
Things happen really quickly when you’re a teenager. Just ask Hyka, who went into his final game of the world juniors as the third-leading scorer on the Gats, but left as No. 1 when Mathieu Gagnon and Christian Ouellet were traded to Chicoutimi.
“Wow,” Hyka said after the Czechs’ win over rival Slovakia. “I think we have a really young team, so we have great opportunities. We have Jean-Gabriel Pageau, who is an Ottawa pick.”
Well, actually, Pageau was traded two days later to Chicoutimi as well. But that’s OK. Hyka has carried on and posted two three-point games in four matches since returning from Calgary, where the Czechs overachieved thanks in large part to netminder Petr Mrazek, a friend of Hyka’s who plays just over the provincial line in Ottawa.
“I felt really good at my first world juniors,” Hyka said. “I hope it will be even better next year.”
Gatineau has also been friendly thanks to the presence of another countryman who knows the lay of the land.
“I like it. So much better than the Czech Republic,” he said. “I have more opportunities, I play with Adam Janosik, who is in his third year, so he helps me. It’s great.”
But Hyka’s best opportunity came in the fall, when the Philadelphia Flyers invited him to camp and the young winger played well enough to warrant a spot on a line with Scott Hartnell and Claude Giroux. Unfortunately for the Flyers, CBA rules stated they could not sign him as a free agent since he’s European and still draft eligible. Will they get lucky this summer? Draft eligible in 2012 (undrafted in 2011).
Drew Shore, C – Denver University Pioneers (WCHA)
Big news on the Shore front and not just because the big, two-way pivot dropped five points on Bemidji State the other night. There’s a strong possibility Shore will return to Denver for his senior year, then head for unrestricted free agency. Florida wanted him to come out after this season, but with brother Quentin joining Drew and Nick Shore in Denver next year, there’s new motivation to stick around college. Drafted 44th overall by Florida in 2009.
Michael Matheson, D – Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL)
Shaping up to be a late first-rounder this summer, Matheson will get a chance to improve his stock at the first-ever United States League NHL Top Prospects Game in Muskegon, Mich., next Tuesday. The Boston College commit is tied for the Fighting Saints ‘D’ lead in scoring with four goals and 13 points in 30 games and boasts size, skating and passing as his specialties. Draft eligible in 2012.
Chris Crane, RW – Ohio State Buckeyes (CCHA)
The Buckeyes are the surprise leaders of the conference right now and are doing it with depth. At the top of the pile, however, is Crane, who leads THE Ohio State with 13 goals and 22 points in 23 games, demolishing his freshman numbers in the process. Drafted 200th overall by San Jose in 2010.
Patrick Holland, RW – Tri-City Americans (WHL)
Not that the principals weren’t interesting, but Holland’s inclusion in the Mike Cammalleri-Rene Bourque swap was seen as key to the deal going through. Holland has developed into a top-notch player for the Ams and has already tied his career-best mark for points with 62 in 43 games. His plus-24 is also good for top-10 in the league. Drafted 193rd overall by Calgary in 2010; traded to Montreal in 2012.
Joonas Korpisalo, G – Jokerit (Fin.)
Tops in the SM-Liiga’s junior circuit with a sparkling 2.15 goals-against average, Korpisalo also boasts a robust .913 save percentage. Jokerit is the best team among the under-20s, but the lanky netminder isn’t slacking; he also leads the league in minutes played. Draft eligible in 2012.
Mike Winther, C – Prince Albert Raiders (WHL)
Not only has Winther almost quadrupled his point totals over his freshman campaign in Prince Albert, but he has wowed scouts with his quickness around the puck and the soundness of his overall game. His 22 goals in 45 games have set the pace for the Raiders this year. Draft eligible in 2012.
Dylan Blujus, D – Brampton Battalion (OHL)
Even when the team isn’t challenging for titles, Brampton has been pretty adept at nurturing young talent thanks to coaching legend Stan Butler. Blujus is a 6-foot-3, 193-pound defender who has improved in every statistical category this season, most importantly in turning a minus-14 rating into a plus-9. The Buffalo native is also quite adept on the power play. Draft eligible in 2012.
James De Haas, D – Toronto Lakeshore Patriots (OJHL)
A big blueliner with decent foot speed, De Haas has great shutdown potential thanks to his reach and his ability to cut down an opponent’s attacking angles. With the Patriots, however, he has also shown some nice power play skills, with 10 of his 20 points through 36 games coming with the man advantage. De Haas is committed to Clarkson. Draft eligible in 2012.
Charles Hudon, LW – Chicoutimi Sagueneens (QMJHL)
Now that the Sags have loaded up for the stretch run, it will be interesting to see how Hudon’s numbers are affected. Not that he’s been in a funk or anything; in fact, the small but deadly winger has points in his past six games and is top-20 in the ‘Q’ with 54 in 41 games. 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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