Sweden has officially announced its roster for the World Junior Championship and there were some surprises. Most notably, no players from major junior made the cut, including Sault Ste. Marie goaltender Robin Lehner. Nevertheless, the Tre Kronor will go into battle with a potent squad which may include defenseman Erik Karlsson, should the Ottawa Senators give their blessing. Along with the young Swedes, here are some players we’re excited to see in the NHL some day.
1. Beau Bennett, RW – Penticton Vees (BCHL): As the only non-United States League player on Team USA’s champion World Jr. A Challenge squad, Bennett stuck out, but for a California kid playing in the B.C. League, that’s not unusual.
“I was kind of the outcast, being from the BCHL, but all the guys were really cool,” Bennett recalled. “It was unbelievable. It was the chance to play for my country.”
And he did it well. Bennett had four points in five tourney games, adding to the 52 points he has tallied for Penticton in 27 games – best among rookies and tied for third in the league.
As a member of the L.A. Jr. Kings, Bennett played alongside Kelowna Rockets rookie Shane McColgan and Gasper Kopitar, younger brother of Anze. Raised five minutes from the beach in Southern California, Bennett honed his skills playing roller hockey, something very common in the state.
“All the California kids started out in roller,” he said. “It helps with your hands; it’s such a puck-possession game.”
Along with his playmaking ability, Bennett cites his vision and hockey sense as his assets, while noting he wants to get stronger. He’ll be working on that in the NCAA, no question.
“I’m going to college for sure,” he said. Bennett’s options have been whittled down to Denver and Colorado College and the savvy left winger said the decision is coming in the next few weeks. Draft eligible in 2010.
2. Charles-Olivier Roussel, D – Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL): The Quebec League’s defensive player of the week, Roussel had five points in three games to add to his already impressive totals. The solid 6-foot-1, 200-pound blueliner has 22 points through 26 games, well on his way to a career year. Drafted 42nd overall by Nashville in 2009.
3. Anders Lee, C – Green Bay Gamblers (USHL): Lee was a force in high school, playing on a line with Preds second-rounder Zach Budish and Harvard’s Marshall Everson. So far, Lee has continued that success in the USHL. He’s the Gamblers’ leading scorer with 20 points in 19 games and boasts an impressive plus-9 rating. Drafted 152nd overall by the New York Islanders in 2009.
4. Ivan Telegin, C – Saginaw Spirit (OHL): Spreading out the love from last week’s road trip, Telegin was a very impressive specimen for the Spirit. The kid’s got great size (6-foot-3, 185 pounds) and presence, plus he can make a highlight reel play; his breakaway goal against Barrie was like Rick Nash at the World Championship, potting the puck with a defender harassing him the whole way. Draft eligible in 2010.
5. Lino Chimienti, G – Sioux Falls Stampede (USHL): He may be slight at 5-foot-10, 161 pounds, but Chimienti knows how to get in front of a puck. The Quebec native is ripping up the USHL with a .923 save percentage and league-leading 1.82 goals-against average. He’s also undefeated in regulation through eight appearances. Draft eligible in 2010.
6. Danny Kristo, RW – University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux (WCHA): The speedy Kristo is acquitting himself well in his first year of NCAA service. The freshman’s 13 points in 14 games puts him at the top of the Sioux leaderboard as the team battles for position in the conference. Drafted 56th overall by Montreal in 2008.
7. Anders Nilsson, G – Lulea HF (Swe.): The Swedes went big with Nilsson, a 6-foot-5, 220-pound keeper for Lulea in the Elite League. Facing the nation’s finest every night, Nilsson has posted a respectable 2.59 GAA and two shutouts in 20 appearances, while his team swims in the top half of the standings. Drafted 62nd overall by the New York Islanders in 2009.
8. Devante Smith-Pelly, LW – Mississauga-St. Mike’s Majors (OHL): On a balanced and deadly Majors team, Smith-Pelly is quickly carving out a name for himself with a team-leading 32 points in 27 games. The left winger has also turned around his plus-minus from last season, putting up a plus-17 after last year’s minus-4. Draft eligible in 2010.
9. David Warsofsky, D – Boston University Terriers (Hockey East): A diminutive defenseman with great offensive hops, Warsofsky is proving he can hang with the big boys in his sophomore campaign. Through 10 games, the blueliner has eight points for the defending national champs. Drafted 95th overall by St. Louis in 2008.
10. Andre Petersson, RW – HV71 (Swe.): With seven of his eight points coming on goals this season, Petersson brings a sniper’s mentality to the Swedish team. On a squad that boasts Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson, Mattias Tedenby and Marcus Kruger, secondary offense from players such as Petersson will be key. Drafted 109th overall by Ottawa in 2008.
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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