Taylor Hall of the Windsor Spitfires skates in a game against the Peterborough Petes. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
With training camps at both the junior and pro levels coming up soon, teams are getting commitments reaffirmed and signing other players to entry-level deals. Let’s look at some of the names making noise recently.
1. Taylor Hall, C – Windsor Spitfires (OHL): When the OHL season begins, anyone who doesn’t know Hall’s name will certainly learn it quickly.
After a scorching 84-point campaign as a 16-year-old last season, Hall will be front and center on a Spits team that may lose Isles first-rounder Josh Bailey, but will still contend for a Memorial Cup.
A late birthday, Hall is facing the same situation John Tavares went through last year: entering superstar status with another whole season to play before draft eligibility. Hall, however, has no problem with the scenario.
“It gives me more opportunity to grow as a player and as a person,” he said. “I have so much time and I actually don’t mind. I can fly under the radar.”
And while posting up a 100-point-plus campaign this year and next is well within reach, Hall also wants to use his time to develop into a total package.
“You can never work on defense enough,” Hall noted. “I want to be a reliable player who the coach puts out on the ice during the last minute of play, whether we’re down a goal or up one.”
As for the Tavares parallels, Hall is happy to have avoided that glaring spotlight so far.
“What he’s been going through is tough,” Hall said. “Young players get scrutinized to the point of no return now. All I can do is be a good player and good kid.” Draft eligible in 2010.
2. Ethan Werek, C – Indiana Ice (USHL): A dominating player in Jr. A with Stouffville last season, Werek will take his game to America’s heartland before joining his buddy Corey Trivino at Boston U in 2009-10. Draft eligible in 2009.
3. Tyler Beskorowany, G – Owen Sound Attack (OHL): A favorite “sleeper pick” amongst insiders for this year’s draft, Beskorowany did what he could on a bad Owen Sound team and Dallas rewarded him for it. Considering the Stars can ring off Marty Turco, Dan Ellis, Mike Smith and Richard Bachman as their finds, it should be exciting to see what Beskorowany can do at the Traverse City rookie challenge. Drafted 59th overall by Dallas in 2008.
4. Ivan Vishnevskiy, D – Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (QMJHL): Another Stars prospect who will be making waves in Traverse City, Vishnevskiy led a potent Huskies blueline all the way to the Q final before falling to Claude Giroux’s Gatineau team. Drafted 27th overall in 2006.
5. Akim Aliu, C – London Knights (OHL): How many exciting young forwards does Chicago need, exactly? The Hawks just inked Aliu out of London, so look for the noted havoc machine to throw his 6-foot-2, 200-pound frame around on a higher level this year. Drafted 56th overall by Chicago in 2007.
6. Zac Dalpe, RW – Ohio State Buckeyes (CCHA): Many were speculating Dalpe would jump ship on his Buckeyes commitment and head to OHL Plymouth, but The Hot List knew better all along. That gentle sound you’re hearing is the collective exhalation of every OSU fan in central Ohio. Drafted 45th overall by Carolina in 2008.
7. Tyson Sexsmith, G –Vancouver Giants (WHL): San Jose’s another one of those teams that churns out goalies (Nabokov, Kiprusoff, Toskala), so look out for Sexsmith and Timo Pielmeier when the Sharks’ prospects take on Anaheim’s rookies in Vegas on Sept. 16. Drafted 91st overall by San Jose in 2007.
8. Andre Petersson, LW – HV71 (Swe): A hot-shot sniper in the Swedish junior ranks, Petersson will be one to watch during this week’s mini under-20 tournament in the Czech Republic, also featuring Russia, Finland and the host nation. Drafted 109th overall by Ottawa in 2008.
9. Tomas Kundratek, D – Ocelari Trinec (Cze): One of the few Czechs drafted this summer, Kundratek has already agreed to terms with the Rangers. Whether he’ll come over to North America for the season is another question, but Kundratek has already played against men in his homeland and even logged some playoff time. Drafted 90th overall by the New York Rangers in 2008.
10. Beau Schmitz, D – Plymouth Whalers (OHL): The former NTDP standout impressed the Canadians in an Ivan Hlinka tune-up and Plymouth hopes he’ll bring the same energy to the Whalers this season. Compact and speedy, Schmitz doesn’t shy away from physical play, either. 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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