The Hot List went on the road this weekend with a brief sojourn to Kitchener and a classic junior hockey experience at The Aud. The Rangers jumped all over the visiting Brampton Battalion 5-1, but it was still an educational trip from a prospect perspective. Sweden also took the Five Nations tournament in Pori, Finland, so there is a lot of ground to cover in our weekly roundup of players we’re excited to see in the NHL one day.
Radek Faksa, C – Kitchener Rangers (OHL)
The roar of the crowd is unmistakable in Kitchener, where the Rangers routinely pack the house. No surprise then that Faksa, an import from the Czech Republic, has enjoyed his first season in the Ontario League.
“It’s a lot of fun here because of all the people that come to games,” he said. “In Czech junior there are no fans. Plus it’s faster and harder here. Here there’s a better chance of getting to a future in the NHL.”
That future is looking real bright for the 6-foot-3, 202-pound center, who leads all OHL rookies with 23 goals and 50 points through 47 games. His size is certainly an advantage out there, where Faksa seems to swoop into plays at the right time, while creating space for teammates when defenders converge on him.
“I’d go with defense, puck protection and shooting the puck,” Faksa said of his strengths. “And I try to go hard to the net.”
Faceoff prowess and skating are two parts of his game the pivot would like to improve on, but he certainly has time to accomplish that. Easy to forget since the Ranger has already played in the world juniors thanks to his inclusion in the 2012 edition in Alberta.
“I was the youngest on the team, it was more important for me,” he said. “And it was big because it was in Canada. I hope we will do better next year. The ‘93s and ‘94s, I think we are better, so hopefully we can get a medal.”
The Czechs came pretty close in Alberta, but without Petr Mrazek in net, they’ll have to rally around another goaltender. With Faksa bringing offense and experience, it’s not out of the realm of possibilities. Draft eligible in 2012.
Teuvo Teravainen, LW – Jokerit (Fin.)
The Five Nations was a coming-out party for Teravainen, who was a scout’s favorite at the event and almost led his team to the title, scoring the first goal in an eventual loss to Sweden. Shifty and creative, the left winger’s not big, but he can put up points, as his hat trick plus an assist against the Czechs indicated. Draft eligible in 2012.
Riley Barber, RW – U.S. NTDP (USHL)
Like Teravainen, Barber hung a hat trick on the Czechs at the Five Nations and was dangerous throughout for Team US, who couldn’t sustain success as the tourney wore on. The Miami University commit scored in every game the U.S. played, except when the team was shut out by Finland. He also won a USHL title with Dubuque last season. Draft eligible in 2012.
Dylan Blujus, D – Brampton Battalion (OHL)
The Troops had a rough outing in Kitchener, but the upside of Blujus was apparent. At 6-foot-3, 193 pounds, he’s already difficult to forecheck against and he has a knack for getting the puck out of his own zone. Turnovers can be a problem, but with 24 assists and 30 points in 55 games, at least he has the offense to make up for it. Draft eligible in 2012.
Ryan Lomberg, C – Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL)
The Jacks haven’t had much to cheer for this season (though the addition of Florida prospect Rasmus Bengtsson helps), but Lomberg is getting hot and giving hope for the future. The University of Maine commit was named United States League offensive player of the week and has nine goals in his past 10 games. He also leads the team in scoring with 13 goals and 25 points in 32 games. Draft eligible in 2013.
Chris Kreider, C – Boston College Eagles (Hockey East)
The speedy, accomplished pivot can add another trophy to his rack thanks to Boston College’s win over rival B.U. in the annual Beanpot extravaganza final. Kreider had a goal and an assist in the 3-2 victory, which naturally went to overtime against the tough Terriers. The junior for Boxford, Mass., leads the Eagles with 19 goals and 35 points through 30 games, establishing career-highs for himself in the process. Drafted 19th overall by the New York Rangers in 2009.
Joonas Korpisalo, G – Jokerit (Fin.)
A quick, competitive goalie who has a little bit of Billy Smith in him if you get in his crease, Korpisalo had a shutout against Russia at the Five Nations and also got the start in the final game against Sweden. At 6-foot-2, he’s got the size of a modern goalie and he challenges shooters. Draft eligible in 2012.
Elias Lindholm, C – Brynas (Swe.)
Playing for the tourney-winning Swedes, Lindholm was an excellent playmaker for the squad, setting up more than his fair share of goals. Super competitive, the youngster is one of those players the opposition hates to play against. Draft eligible in 2013.
Nathan Beaulieu, D – Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL)
With a pair of assists in a win over P.E.I., Beaulieu vaulted himself past former teammate Simon Despres to become the highest-scoring blueliner in Sea Dogs history. Sure, it may not be a long list, but 136 points in three-plus seasons is nothing to sneeze at. Beaulieu also has the opportunity to surpass Despres in Memorial Cups won if the Dogs can get back to the dance this season. Drafted 17th overall in 2011.
Sam Carrick, C – Brampton Battalion (OHL)
Carrick had the only goal on the night for Brampton in the loss to Kitchener, but he was dangerous on many occasions. Using his speed and his wrist shot, the mid-sized pivot has matured as a scorer. His 29 goals and 51 points through 55 games are both career-highs and bests on the Battalion. Drafted 144th overall by Toronto in 2010.
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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