John Tavares is the early favorite to be selected first overall at the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
The Ivan Hlinka tourney is coming up fast and many 2008 draft picks have already attended NHL prospect camps, so let’s turn our attention to the ’08-09 campaign. Here’s a look at some of the marquee names you will expect to see frequently on The Hot List in the upcoming season.
1. John Tavares, C – Oshawa Generals (OHL): Will he still be the No. 1 draft pick in 2009? Will the Gens trade him to the London Knights? Is Johnny T burning out under the spotlight or will he rise to levels we’ve never seen before? All provocative questions; for the answers, of course, we’ll have to wait. Draft eligible in 2009.
2. Victor Hedman, D – MoDo (Swe.): The dude with the chance to dethrone Tavares, Hedman has NHL size (6-foot-5, 220 pounds) and a whole basket of good traits to go with it. He has also played against men twice his age already in the Swedish Elite League. Draft eligible in 2009.
3. Brayden Schenn, C – Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL): After putting up more than a point per game as a 16-year-old in the Dub, look for Schenn to rack up even bigger numbers in ’08-09 – especially if older brother Luke isn’t defending in Kelowna. Draft eligible in 2009.
4. Taylor Hall, C – Windsor Spitfires (OHL): He doesn’t have the same level of hype as Tavares, but Hall is another 16-year-old who put up serious numbers in his rookie campaign and will be gunning for more this year. Plus, he’s also a late birthday, so NHL teams will have to wait a little longer for this sniper. Draft eligible in 2010.
5. Jeremy Morin, C – U.S. NTDP (NAHL): Morin led Team USA in scoring last season and recently scored an invite to Team USA’s evaluation camp for the world juniors, despite being only 17. Draft eligible in 2009.
6. Olivier Roy, G – Cape Breton Screaming Eagles (QMJHL): Gotta have a goalie on the list and Roy is the early favorite to be the most buzzed-about keeper of the next campaign. Scoring the starting job for Canada at the Ivan Hlinka tourney would be the first big step. Draft eligible in 2009.
7. Matt Duchene, C – Brampton Battalion (OHL): Another young gun who will be getting ready for his close-up at this year’s Ivan Hlinka for Canada, Duchene had 50 points in 64 games for Brampton last year and didn’t turn 17 until mid-season. Draft eligible in 2009.
8. Toni Rajala, LW – Ilves Jr. (Fin.): No amount of superlatives can match how Finnish hockey enthusiasts feel about the young Rajala. He’s not the biggest cat in the world (5-foot-8), but he has shown offensive flair at every level he has played. Draft eligible in 2009.
9. Jared Cowen, D – Spokane Chiefs (WHL): Looking for the size of Hedman in a North American product? Look no further than Cowen, who, at 6-foot-5 and 207 pounds, is still learning how to be a beast in the Dub. Draft eligible in 2009.
10. Jordan Schroeder, RW – Minnesota Golden Gophers (WCHA): Schroeder joins a loaded Gophers team after making his name with Team USA at the world juniors and the NTDP last year. Draft eligible in 2009.
The Hot List, a weekly 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.
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