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Nerves of Steel

John Moore has 11 goals and 29 points in 38 USHL games. (Photo courtesy of the Chicago Steel Hockey Team)

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John Moore has 11 goals and 29 points in 38 USHL games. (Photo courtesy of the Chicago Steel Hockey Team)

Bad news at the top this week as Spokane defenseman Jared Cowen sees his season end with a sprained knee (ACL).

How this will affect his draft ranking is tough to gauge; he’s still the second-best blueliner in this year’s crop, behind Victor Hedman, but he will likely not participate in the draft combine and won’t be ready for action until training camp. Will teams get nervous and go with a healthy forward early on? Hopefully the planning is more long-term than that.

And, shout-out to the Boston U. Terriers for capturing another Beanpot title with a win over a feisty and speedy Northeastern squad.

1. John Moore, D – Chicago Steel (USHL): With Cowen going down, Moore now becomes the top healthy North American defensive prospect in the draft – amazing considering he is playing neither major junior or NCAA.

But based on the youngster’s resume, it’s not hard to see why. The 6-foot-2, 180-pound Moore has nearly doubled his offensive totals from the previous season already and still has almost 20 games to go. On special teams, he has been a beast on the power play and even has a goal and assist shorthanded.

“This is my second year and things are a bit easier the second time around,” Moore said. “I’m bigger and stronger and I can be a little more physical out there.”

While the Chicago rearguard would still like to work on his defensive zone coverage and gap control, a lot of the time it’s the opposing team that has to worry about containing Moore.

“I consider myself a puck-moving defenseman,” said Moore, who cites Scott Niedermayer as a big influence. “I can join the rush, skate the puck up in the rush.”

And while he’s tearing up the United States League this season – only Matt Donovan of Cedar Rapids has more points from the blueline – Moore will be taking his highly coveted game to Colorado College next year.

“Growing up in the States, college is the big thing guys look up to,” Moore noted. “I felt really comfortable with the coaching staff (at C.C.).”

With Moore on the back end, things will be quite comfortable for the Tigers’ goaltenders as well. Draft eligible in 2009.

2. Michael Latta, C – Guelph Storm (OHL): Traded to Guelph from Ottawa so he could be closer to his family, Latta’s stats have been slightly lowered due to the Storm’s defensive approach to the game. Having said that, he’s still killing his totals from last year and looks like a solid prospect. Draft eligible in 2009.

3. Dan DeLisle, C – Totino-Grace Eagles (Minn. HS): The captain of the Eagles does it on the power play and he does it shorthanded…he just does it. Through 21 games he has 47 points, including 26 goals, and at 6-foot-4, 222 pounds, the University of Minnesota-Duluth commit has an NHL frame to boot. Draft eligible in 2009.

4. Paul Postma, D – Calgary Hitmen (WHL): Postma just set a Hitmen record by becoming the first defenseman in team history to record 20 goals in a season. The 6-foot-3, 184-pound defenseman could still stand to fill out a bit more, but with 66 points and a mind-bending plus-46 rating in 56 games, it’s hard to argue with the results. Drafted 205th overall by Atlanta in 2007.

5. Charles-Olivier Roussel, D – Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL): Roussel is putting up some pretty solid numbers for a D-man this year (40 points in 55 games), but it’s his physical play and overall nastiness towards opponents that will have GMs excited come draft day. Draft eligible in 2009.

6. Mike Murphy, G – Belleville Bulls (OHL): Murphy really made a name for himself last year during Belleville’s run to the Memorial Cup and the netminder hasn’t taken his foot off the gas this season. His 2.08 goals-against average and .942 save percentage are both Ontario League bests and the Bulls are sitting atop the East Division standings. Drafted 165th overall by Carolina in 2008.

7. John Albert, C – Ohio State Buckeyes (CCHA): A smallish pivot at 5-foot-10, 180 pounds, Albert is nonetheless helping the Buckeyes battle for a shot at the Frozen Four thanks to his team-high 33 points in 30 games, by far eclipsing his freshman totals from last season. Drafted 175th overall by Atlanta in 2007.

8. David Valek, RW – U.S. NTDP (NAHL): The Americans took the under-18 Five Nations Cup in Nykoping, Sweden on the weekend and Valek was the offensive star. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Utah native scored twice in the decisive game against Russia and had six points overall. Draft eligible in 2009.

9. Kirill Kabanov, LW – Moscow Spartak 2 (Rus.): Kabanov couldn’t deliver a win over the U.S. in the Five Nations Cup, but he did have two points on three Russian goals in the final. Strong and creative, those “next Ovechkin” rumblings are already percolating. Draft eligible in 2010.

10. Carter Ashton, RW – Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL): Another big kid out of the Dub, Ashton has that NHL frame (6-foot-3, 220 pounds) and is willing to drop the gloves when necessary. He’s also putting up respectable offensive numbers and has shown his hands are good on that end as well. 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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