NHL training camps are live and a host of prospects are making their push for the big time, which means the coming weeks may be the last time they’re eligible for the Hot List. In the meantime, regular season action has already begun in Europe and the Quebec League, so let’s look at some of the players we’re excited to see in the NHL one day.
Brycen Martin, D – Swift Current Broncos (WHL)
Martin was a surprise cut from Canada’s Ivan Hlinka under-18 team, but he used the Western League pre-season to prove himself as a talent to watch this season. With seven assists in seven contests, the 6-foot-2, 185-pound blueliner tied with teammate Julius Honka for the most points by a defenseman in exhibition play.
“I'm definitely more offensive than defensive,” Martin said. “I'm a good passer and I like to quarterback the power play, that's where I fit in.”
The Broncos will need their puck-moving sophomore to keep progressing this year, but with the Finnish rookie Honka getting comfy right away and Columbus pick Dillon Heatherington also on board, it’s going to be a formidable blueline. Heatherington in particular will be a good mentor again, even though he’s more of a stay-at-home force.
“I had a lot of time to watch him last year, he was on the ice a lot,” Martin said. “He taught me what I need to do this year and was definitely a good role model for me.”
Martin knows he needs to work on his defensive game and his frame will need to fill out, but it sure looks like he’s going to improve on the 19 points he put up as a rookie in the ‘Dub.’ Though retired, Scott Niedermayer is still a favorite of the Calgary native and if he can be even a shadow as good, he’ll make an NHL team very happy in the future. Draft eligible in 2014.
Mattias Janmark-Nylen, C – AIK (Swe.)
You gotta be kidding me! The Red Wings snap up a player few had heard of in the middle rounds of the draft and he looks like a world-beater already. How does this keep happening? OK, it’s only one game, but the offensively intelligent Janmark-Nylen put up four points in his first match this year to stake an early lead in the newly christened Swedish League’s scoring race. Drafted 79th overall by Detroit in 2013.
Valeri Nichushkin, RW – Traktor Chelyabinsk (KHL)
Listing Nichushkin with Traktor is a mere formality: His next stop is the NHL and he has proven new Dallas GM Jim Nill correct at every corner since getting drafted, heading to ‘Big D’ right away, beginning to learn English and then leading the Stars with two goals in his pre-season debut. Big and highly skilled, he’ll be gunning for the Calder this season. Drafted 10th overall by Dallas in 2013.
Nick Ritchie, LW – Peterborough Petes (OHL)
There’s been a lot of pain in Peterborough lately, but perhaps Ritchie can turn the tide. The budding power forward (and brother of Dallas prospect Brett) notched four goals in his last two pre-season games and added a fight on top of it. A late birthday, Ritchie was nearly a point-per-gamer as a sophomore, though shoulder injuries limited his contributions. Draft eligible in 2014.
Alexandre Carrier, D – Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL)
The Olympiques look to be one of the best teams in the ‘Q’ this year and Carrier kicked things off in style, netting four assists in his first two games to earn a three stars honor from the league. The slight blueliner won gold with Canada’s Ivan Hlinka team and though he’s not the biggest kid, Carrier’s not afraid to play physical. Draft eligible in 2014.
Andreas Johnson, LW – Frolunda Indians (Swe.)
Undersized, but clever and adept as a playmaker, Johnson took the club team European Trophy group stage by storm, leading all junior-aged scorers with five goals and eight points, besting first-rounders such as Alexander Wennberg and Teuvo Teravainen. Johnson continued the fun in his Swedish League opener, netting a goal for Frolunda. Drafted 202nd overall by Toronto in 2013.
Tyson Baillie, C – Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
Kelowna may be one of the most proficient defenseman factories in junior, but this year’s draft is all about the forwards, with Baillie and Rourke Chartier at the top. Baillie had an excellent pre-season with eight points in four games, honing his driven, quick and skilled game for the real thing this weekend. Expect him to be at least a point-per-gamer. Draft eligible in 2014.
Igor Shestyorkin, G – Spartak Jr. (Rus.)
So far, shooters in Russia’s top junior circuit haven’t had much luck against Shestyorkin, who has given up one goal and earned two shutouts (including one that went to a shootout) through three games. A late birthday, the netminder comes in at six-foot, 183 pounds, which may not be ideal, but he gets results anyway. Draft eligible in 2014.
Ondrej Kase, LW – Pirati Chomutov (Cze.)
A slippery player who can do a bit of everything, Kase is playing against men back home and has started off strong with two points in two games, despite playing only 12 minutes per night. Confident with the puck, Kase is only 5-foot-9 and 160 pounds, but isn’t afraid to go to the net. Draft eligible in 2014.
Lawrence Pilut, D – HV71 (Swe.)
Much like Canucks prospect Nicklas Jensen, Pilut comes from a North American dad who went over to play hockey in Europe and started a family. Pilut’s father Larry was born in Michigan, but spent most of his career with Tingsryd in Sweden. Lawrence also suited up for Tingsryd, but now moves up to HV71, where his offense from the blueline will get a bigger spotlight. Draft eligible in 2014.
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 on thehockeynews.com. A player is eligible for The Hot List until they play their first NHL game.
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