Our Hall of Famers are back on the active list thanks to the World Junior Championship. Look for a lot of new names to emerge once the tournament begins.
1. Steven Stamkos, C – Sarnia Sting (OHL): Stamkos was all the rage at Team Canada’s camp, solidifying his stature as the consensus No. 1 pick for this year’s draft. Pundits are even using the “Yzerman” word. Draft eligible in 2008.
2. John Tavares, C – Oshawa Generals (OHL): Another underclassman on Canada’s roster, Tavares will be expected to light it up at the WJC. No one ever called him the fastest skater, so the international ice will be a challenge to the phenom. Draft eligible in 2009.
3. Zac Dalpe, C – Penticton Vees (BCHL): If you haven’t heard of Zac Dalpe yet, don’t worry; he has a tendency to make noise in a hurry. After attracting little interest from the NCAA two summers ago, Dalpe blew the doors off the competition with the Ontario Jr. B Stratford Cullitons. Three games into the season, he had a scholarship to Ohio State.
“I think I had 14 points in three games,” Dalpe recalled. That outburst also caught the attention of the Jr. A Vees, who operate on the other side of the country in B.C.
“It was kind of random, to be honest,” Dalpe said of the interest. Nevertheless, it was a challenge he wanted to take. “I wanted to mature and grow up in B.C. and as soon as I came over I fell in love with it.”
And the Vees are falling in love with Dalpe. Much like fellow Jr. A prospect Joe Colborne, Dalpe was just 5-foot-8 a year and a half ago; he now stands 6-foot-1. Scouts are high on his stellar two-way play and willingness to battle for pucks, something Dalpe is more than happy to keep working on.
“I want to come out of the corner with the puck more often than not,” he said. With 39 points in 30 games (and just six penalty minutes), Dalpe seems to be doing just that. Draft eligible in 2008.
4. Nikita Filatov, LW – CSKA 2 (Rus.): Somehow the top-rated Russian prospect is getting even better as the season goes on. Filatov is now at 47 points in just 23 games.
5. Nathan Gerbe, C – Boston College Eagles (Hockey East): The Sabres prospect makes his debut courtesy of a five-point night (four goals) in a thrashing of Harvard. Gerbe leads Hockey East in scoring, with 21 points in just 14 games. Drafted 142nd by Buffalo in 2005.
6. Karl Alzner, D – Calgary Hitmen (WHL): Call him Captain Karl, because Alzner has been handed that mantle for Canada’s junior squad. The rugged defenseman has contributed offensively this year, but it’s his paltry 11 penalty minutes in 33 games that really impress. Drafted fifth overall by Washington in 2007.
7. Akim Aliu, RW – London Knights (OHL): The strapping young lad from Nigeria is running at a point-per-game pace, which would mean the best offensive output of his career. And with 73 penalty minutes, he’s still no cupcake, either. Drafted 56th overall by Chicago in 2007.
8. Tomas Knotek, C – Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL): With teammate Jakub Voracek defending the Czech Republic’s honor at the world juniors, Knotek is holding down the fort in Halifax. The Kladno native leads all Quebec League rookies in scoring with 41 points in 37 games. Draft eligible in 2008.
9. Oscar Moller, RW – Chilliwack Bruins (WHL): North American Dub stars will have to warn their teammates about Moller, who will suit up for Sweden at the world juniors. The Chilliwack star has an even 25 goals and 25 assists in 34 games. Drafted 52nd overall by Los Angeles in 2007.
10. David Carle, D ¬ Shattuck-St. Mary’s (Prep): Matt’s younger brother is continuing the family tradition of excellence from the blueline, notching 23 points in 25 games at the hockey factory that is Shattuck. Draft eligible in 2008.
11. Ryan O’Reilly, C – Erie Otters (OHL): The Otters are terrible this season, but at least they’ve got a future with 16-year-old O’Reilly in the lineup. The 6-foot, 190-pounder has 33 points in 31 games. Draft eligible in 2009.
12. Kruise Reddick, C – Tri-City Americans (WHL): The pint-sized center (5-foot-9, 165 pounds) with the Hollywood name is on a tear in the Dub, posting 40 points in 33 games. Draft eligible in 2008.
13. Victor Hedman, D – Modo (Swe.): The big defenseman sustained a nasty concussion the other week, but Sweden is banking on him playing at the world juniors. Also, some news outlets have him up to 6-foot-7 now. Draft eligible in 2009.
14. Kevin Regan, G – New Hampshire Wildcats (Hockey East): The senior keeper is still doing big things in Durham, leading the conference in winning percentage and pulling down a 2.21 goals-against average. Drafted 227th overall by Boston in 2003.
15. Ryan Jones, RW – Miami RedHawks (CCHA): Jones has been hot all year and so have the RedHawks. The senior has 25 points in 18 games and Miami continues to duke it out with Michigan for tops in the conference. Drafted 111th overall by Minnesota in 2004.
The Hot List, a weekly roundup of minor league, junior, college and high school players we’re exciting to one day see in the NHL, appears every Tuesday, only on thehockeynews.com.
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