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Playing big

Stepan Novotny transfered to the Indiana Ice of the USHL earlier this year.

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Stepan Novotny transfered to the Indiana Ice of the USHL earlier this year.

Some of the rosters are complete, some are still up in the air, but the World Junior Championship is coming up fast. Hot List Hall of Famers John Tavares and Steven Stamkos are both itching to suit up for Canada, while you’ll see quite a few of our regulars throughout the tourney.

1. Magnus Paajarvi Svensson, LW – Timra (Swe.): Another 16-year-old making serious waves overseas, Svensson blitzed every junior league Timra put him in, so now he’s up with the big club in the elite league. He was also a force at the U18s this summer (nine points in seven games) and will be skating at the world juniors in a couple weeks. Draft eligible in 2009.

2. Josh Unice, G – Kitchener Rangers (OHL): Just two regulation losses this year, a 2.10 goals-against average (best in the league) and four shutouts in 23 games, but no love from Team USA’s WJC committee? Alright, whatever. It’s your team. Drafted 86th overall by Chicago in 2007.

3. Max Pacioretty, LW – Michigan Wolverines (CCHA):
The 6-foot-1, 210-pound freshman is doing some big things on a loaded Wolverines squad. A point-per-game pace should make the Habs happy. Drafted 22nd overall in 2007.

4. Jeremy Morin, RW – U.S. NTDP (NAHL): The 16-year-old Morin leads the vaunted NTDP under-17 team in scoring with 24 points (15 goals) in 19 games. His recent burst includes a five-point night in a 6-5 OT loss to Marquette. Draft eligible in 2009.

5. Stepan Novotny, LW – Indiana Ice (USHL): Five years ago, Stepan Novotny knew where he wanted to be. The young Czech began to make a serious run at learning English, even hiring a private tutor, knowing that when he was old enough, he wanted to come to North America.

“I wanted to play college,” said Novotny, who has committed to the University of Denver. “Back home, it’s hard to play hockey and get an education.”

And much like his English, Novotny’s hockey skills are quite advanced. He started the season off at Shattuck-St. Mary’s prep school, but transferred over to the USHL recently.

“I felt the best way to get prepared for college was to play a little junior first,” he said. “Guys (in the USHL) are bigger, faster, stronger with the puck…you need to do everything faster.”

Novotny is 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds, but those who have seen him say he plays much bigger.

“I try to use my speed a lot,” he said. “I can work in the corners, I try to make good plays with the puck…my game is all about skating and hard work.”

And with Denver seemingly always reloading instead of rebuilding, Novotny is happy to bring that work ethic to what he considers the top staff in college hockey.

In the meantime, he can learn another English phrase: Blue-chipper.

Draft eligible in 2009.

6. Colin Long, C – Kelowna Rockets (WHL):
Kelowna’s captain struggled like all the other Rockets last season, but he has bounced back in a major way in 2007-08. Long has already nearly doubled his production in less than half the games and Kelowna sits second in its division. Draft eligible in 2008 (undrafted in ’07).

7. Chris Terry, C – Plymouth Whalers (OHL): Solid in every offensive statistical category, Terry has been hovering amongst the top scorers all year. With 52 points in 29 games and a plus-18 rating, he’s looking like a good pick by the Canes. Drafted 132nd overall by Carolina in 2007.

8. Jan Stransky, LW – HC Plzen Jr. (Cze.): Sent down from the men’s league after a brief call-up, Stransky is trouble for the rest of the country’s juniors: He potted four goals and added an assist on the weekend in a 6-2 win over Sparta Praha’s boys. Draft eligible in 2008.

9. Alex Pietrangelo, D – Niagara IceDogs (OHL):
The young defenseman is averaging slightly more than a point per game, but that’s not the only thing scouts are drooling over; it’s the 6-foot-4, 210-pound thing, as well. Draft eligible in 2008.

10. Bobby Sanguinetti, D – Brampton Battalion (OHL): Sanguinetti’s offensive prowess continues from the blueline; he’s up to 17 goals in 31 games and caught the attention of USA Hockey for a spot on the world junior squad. Drafted 21st overall by the Rangers in 2006.

11. Toni Rajala, LW – Ilves Jr. (Fin): The 16-year-old Finnish wunderkind is still scorching his nation’s junior ranks, racking up 20 points in 18 games as an underclassman. Draft eligible in 2009.

12. Kyle Beach, C – Everett Silvertips (WHL):
The mercurial Beach is officially the first Hot Lister (and likely the only this season) to eclipse 100 penalty minutes. He also has 42 points in 31 games, so, you know, he’s got that going for him, too. Draft eligible in 2008.

13. Angelo Esposito, C – Quebec Remparts (QMJHL): Not a lot has been said about Esposito since he slipped in the draft last year, but here’s something the Penguins will like: The Quebec star is plus-19 this year and putting up more than a point per game. Drafted 20th overall by Pittsburgh in 2007.

14. Claude Giroux, RW – Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL): Still the top scorer in the Q, Giroux is putting up a sweet stat line across the board; points, plus-minus and seven game-winning goals. Drafted 22nd overall by Philadelphia in 2006.

15. Andreas Nodl, RW – St. Cloud State Huskies (WCHA): The Austrian is following almost exactly the same steps taken by countryman Thomas Vanek. From the USHL’s Sioux Falls to the WCHA, Nodl is honing his North American game. Drafted 39th overall by Philadelphia in 2006.

The Hot List, a a weekly roundup of players we can’t wait to see in an NHL uniform, appears every Tuesday, only on thehockeynews.com.

For more great prospect profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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