A traditional non-themed Hot List as we wait in baited breath for the NHL draft in two weeks…Once again, here’s a look at some of the players we are excited to see in the big leagues one day.
1. Anton Lander, C – Timra (Swe.): If Sweden is playing internationally and juniors are involved, chances are Lander is the captain. Lauded for his leadership skills, the youngster from Timra has made his mark early in various dressing rooms.
“I feel strong to be the captain for my country,” Lander told THN.com at the recent draft combine. “I try to be the leader, always give 100 percent, work hard for the team, go in the corners.”
And that resolve has paid off. Despite being a teenager, Lander contributed 10 points in 47 games for Timra’s Swedish Elite League team, while playing a hard-checking, two-way game against players years older than him. Of course, Lander’s not the only youngster on the squad – fellow 2009 draftee Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson also plays for the Red Eagles.
“We can help each other,” Lander said. “We’ve played together a long time, he’s one of my best friends.”
Lander has also gotten help looking towards the draft from a teammate who has been there before.
“Dennis Persson, I asked him everything about it,” Lander said of the Sabres pick from 2006.
No matter where Lander ends up however, the team will know they have a character guy who isn’t afraid to ‘C’ how far he can go.
Draft eligible in 2009.
2. John Carlson, D – Hershey Bears (AHL): Fast-tracked by the Capitals, Carlson joined the Bears en route to another Calder Cup title. The well-balanced defenseman played in 16 playoff games for Hershey and contributed three points. Drafted 27th overall by Washington in 2008.
3. Ryan Bourque, C – U.S. NTDP: Small (just less than 5-foot-9, 163 pounds), but dangerous, Bourque was nearly a point-per-game player in Ann Arbor this season and did well at several stations at the draft combine. He’s on the long list for Team USA’s world junior camp and really looks like his dad, Hall of Famer Ray Bourque. Draft eligible in 2009.
4. Jakob Silfverberg, RW – Brynas (Swe. Jr.): Another fast-riser in the draft buzz game, Silfverberg won’t necessarily be selected because of his offense, even though he put up solid numbers (38 points in 30 games) this season. Instead, it’s his gritty, hard-working style and ability to puck-hawk that will make him a valuable commodity. Draft eligible in 2009.
5. Dylan Olsen, D – Camrose Kodiaks (AJHL): The highest-rated Jr. A player in the draft pool, Olsen’s buzz has been gaining steam for quite some time now. At nearly 6-foot-3 and 206 pounds, Olsen has size, toughness and some offensive flair. The first round is a definite possibility. Draft eligible in 2009.
6. Jake Allen, G – Montreal Juniors (QMJHL): Canada also announced its world junior camp recently and Allen will be the odds-on favorite to lead the charge in net. The first selection out of the ‘Q’ last year, Allen improved on every statistical category in his first season as a starter. Drafted 34th overall by St. Louis in 2008.
7. Matt Clark, D – Brampton Battalion (OHL): When you play on a squad with Cody Hodgson, Matt Duchene and Evgeny Grachev, it’s hard to make a name for yourself, but Clark had a solid season and was rewarded with an invite to Team Canada’s world junior camp. Not flashy, he keeps opponents honest, which can be just as valuable to an NHL team. Draft eligible in 2009.
8. Stefan Della Rovere, LW – Barrie Colts (OHL): Della Rovere was an absolute terror for Canada at this year’s world juniors, so it’s no stretch to think he will replicate the shift-disturbing goodness should he be chosen for next season’s squad. Drafted 204th overall by Washington in 2008.
9. Michael Grabner, RW – Manitoba Moose (AHL): The Moose couldn’t beat the Bears in the Calder Cup final, but still had a tremendous run this season. Grabner also grew in the playoffs, scoring 17 points in 20 games, which was a slight up-tick from his regular season pace. Drafted 14th overall by Vancouver in 2006.
10. Beau Schmitz, D – Plymouth Whalers (OHL): An offensive defenseman who often catches the eye of his opponents, Schmitz will get another crack at representing his country with an appearance at Team USA’s world junior camp in August. The blueliner had 37 points in 66 games for the Whalers this season. Draft eligible in 2009.
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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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