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Experiencing the 'Q'

Sean Couturier has three points in 11 games with Drummondville and is still only 15 years old. (Photo by Ghyslain Bergeron)

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Sean Couturier has three points in 11 games with Drummondville and is still only 15 years old. (Photo by Ghyslain Bergeron)

Canadian Thanksgiving meant a long weekend and another Hot List road trip, albeit a short one.

Brampton was the destination as the Battalion dominated the Sudbury Wolves 4-0. Neither Cody Hodgson nor Eric O’Dell played thanks to suspensions stemming from the teams’ previous meeting in Sudbury.

Nevertheless, there was some star power to behold and stay tuned for a profile on Sudbury’s John McFarland next week.

RIP Alexei Cherepanov.

1. Matt Duchene, C – Brampton Battalion (OHL): Positioned as a top-10 pick next June, Duchene has a lot of speed and some dazzling offensive maneuvers. Playing with Evgeny Grachev, the duo made for a dangerous combination. Draft eligible in 2009.

2. Jared Staal, RW – Sudbury Wolves (OHL):
Despite being obviously frustrated by his team’s play, Staal showed off his complete skills package on Monday. His vision on the ice was excellent and he made many tough passes look crisp. Drafted 49th overall by Phoenix in 2008.

3. Sean Couturier, LW – Drummondville Voltigeurs (QMJHL):
Entering the league as the second overall pick in the ‘Q’ draft last summer, big things are expected of Couturier. But seeing as he doesn’t turn 16 for another couple months, the left winger knows it’s all about baby steps.

“I want to get the most experience I can from our veterans,” Couturier said.

Playing for a Drummondville team that cratered last season, Couturier said the goal for now is to get to the middle of the pack. But with him and extraordinary Russian defenseman Dmitry Kulikov both in the fold, it won’t be long before the team challenges for bigger things. Ironically, it’s another Russian player who the 6-foot-3 Couturier looks up to.

“I like Evgeni Malkin since he has come into the NHL,” he noted. “I try to learn some little moves from him.”

Coming from the vaunted Notre Dame Hounds program in Saskatchewan, Couturier also looks poised to lead the Volts before his junior tenure is up. Along with his skills and a commitment to two-way play, Couturier learned self-discipline out west.

“I think it helped me build my character,” he said of the school. “You learn to do things on your own there and take your responsibilities.” Draft eligible in 2011.

4. Evgeny Grachev, LW – Brampton Battalion (OHL):
At 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, Grachev is hard to handle. He knows how to use his big frame and is able to bully his way around because of it. The fact he has a bag full of offensive tricks makes him even more deadly. Drafted 75th overall by the New York Rangers in 2008.

5. Garrett Roe, LW – St. Cloud State Huskies (WCHA): Maybe Mercyhurst isn’t a Frozen Four team, but Roe nevertheless hung eight points on the Lakers this past weekend during two Huskies routs. At just 5-foot-8, 160 pounds, Roe is one of those good things in small packages. Drafted 183rd overall by Los Angeles in 2008.

6. Louis Leblanc, C – Omaha Lancers (USHL): The Harvard-committed Leblanc is officially taking the USHL to school so far, putting up five points in five games, including a three-point night in a win over Tri-City. Draft eligible in 2009.

7. Jamie Tucker, G – Vancouver Giants (WHL): The rookie isn’t facing a lot of rubber, but he sure is stopping the ones he does see. Tucker is second in the Dub with a 1.42 goals-against average and already has two shutouts in five appearances. Draft eligible in 2009.

8. Calvin de Haan, D – Oshawa Generals (OHL): No one said the Generals were ever lacking in offense, but de Haan is proving he can contribute early with 11 points (10 assists) in his first 11 games. Draft eligible in 2009.

9. Karl Alzner, D – Hershey Bears (AHL): Sure, Alzner would rather be wearing a Caps jersey right now, but with his point-per-game pace in Hershey so far, he’s showing Washington he’s ready for the pro game. Drafted fifth overall by Washington in 2007.

10. Matt Halischuk, RW – Lowell Devils (AHL): From OHL champs and Memorial Cup runners-up Kitchener, Halischuk has kicked off his pro career in style, leading Lowell with four goals (five points total) in just two games. Drafted 117th overall by New Jersey in 2007.


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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