It’s spring audition time for young prospects with bright futures.
It started a month ago when Montreal traded Cristobal Huet to Washington, effectively putting 20-year-old Carey Price in the prime time spotlight. Many more up-and-comers, profiled in our recent Future Watch 2008 issue, will get the call in the coming days.
Some are college stars making the move to pro. Others are getting an early battle test to gear up for next season.
10. Blake Wheeler, RW, Phoenix. Finally, the NHL world will get a glimpse of this University of Minnesota junior who was drafted a shocking fifth overall in 2004.
9. Jimmy Howard, G, Detroit. Grand Rapids won’t make the AHL playoffs and with Dominik Hasek’s always-iffy health, he’ll surely get some face time on the bench.
8. James Neal, LW, Dallas. Iowa’s AHL season is fast coming to a close and Dallas would love him to become a black ace well into May.
7. Ty Wishart, D, San Jose. Moose Jaw will be first round fodder in the WHL playoffs, so he’ll likely become a talented reserve during a long Sharks run.
6. Justin Pogge, G, Toronto. The AHL Marlies have a bright playoff future, but giving him a couple of NHL games down the stretch would be smart for his mental progression.
5. Michael Frolik, C, Florida. Rimouski won’t last long in the QMJHL playoffs and the Panthers are eager to test this crafty Czech.
4. T.J. Oshie. C, St. Louis. The North Dakota junior has one year of college remaining, but there sure looks to be room on the Blues for his skills.
3. Kyle Okposo, RW, New York Islanders. From Shattuck-St. Mary’s high school to Des Moines to the University of Minnesota to Bridgeport to the NHL in four seasons.
2. James van Riemsdyk, LW, Philadelphia. New Hampshire is alive and well, but when the college season ends in April, the Flyers may have a new secret weapon.
1. Kyle Turris. C, Phoenix. An early elimination of the Wisconsin Badgers may prompt this No. 3 pick in 2007 to turn pro right now.
The Top 10 appears Wednesdays only on thehockeyenews.com. If you enjoy this feature, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine for the exclusive countdown, Starting From 10, and other great features from the world of hockey.