Richard Panik has 16 points in 30 games in his first season in North America with the Windsor Spitfires. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Another road trip landed The Hot List in Oshawa on the weekend, where the Generals stunned the powerhouse Windsor Spitfires 5-4 in a shootout.
Not helping matters was the fact star rookie defenseman Cam Fowler was lost to the Spits in the first period with what appeared to be a shoulder/collarbone injury, forcing Windsor to play five defensemen on the second night of back-to-back road games.
But no excuses, the Generals brought the fire to them.
Nevertheless, Taylor Hall looked incredible for the Spits and with both Fowler and Plymouth’s Tyler Seguin injured, Hall is the undisputed No. 1 prospect once again (I personally never wavered on that, but whatever). Here’s a look at some of the players we’re excited to see in the NHL some day.
1. Richard Panik, RW – Windsor Spitfires (OHL): Coming over from Slovakia, Panik joined an already-stacked Spits team and has added to the pot. His 16 points in 30 games may not seem huge, but he’s not playing on the first line and still making adjustments to the North American game.
“I need to play every game 100 percent,” Panik said. “I need to play harder and faster.”
In the meantime, Panik has demonstrated why he was so coveted by Windsor. His hands are incredible and he’s very deceptive when he has the puck, changing gears as he skates to throw off defenders and get the inside track to the net. His ability to get open in scoring positions while hiding from defenders is also a big plus.
The Slovak will definitely see some of his teammates at the world juniors this year after being part of the team that upset the U.S. last year. And while his national team will be in tough against both Canada and the U.S. in the round robin, Panik wants to add to his WJC memories bank.
“It was good for me and it was great for the Slovakian team,” he said. “We want to do it again.”
Drafted 52nd overall by Tampa Bay in 2009.
2. Boone Jenner, C – Oshawa Generals (OHL): Jenner, an Ontario League rookie and Prep Watch alum, looked amazing against Windsor. Despite his age, he was confident, strong on the puck and opportunistic offensively. He also crashed the boards and blocked shots. Expect him to be a monster player next year; he’s already showing it now. Draft eligible in 2011.
3. Ryan Ellis, D – Windsor Spitfires (OHL): Everyone knows how amazing Ellis is as a power play quarterback and his abilities in that regard were on full display against Oshawa – he just always knows what type of shot will generate a scoring chance. But with Fowler out, Ellis also demonstrated how big he can play defensively, playing huge minutes and making a diving save when his goalie was out of the crease. He never gives up on a play. Drafted 11th overall by Nashville in 2009.
4. Christian Thomas, RW – Oshawa Generals (OHL): Thomas has great wheels and scored a big goal against Windsor on a big shot. His speed renders his 5-foot-9, 165-pound frame a moot point and with 29 points in 30 games, he won’t be known as ‘the guy traded for John Tavares’ or ‘ex-NHLer Steve Thomas’ son’ for long. Draft eligible in 2010.
5. Mark Borowiecki, D – Clarkson Golden Knights (ECAC): After posting just two points as a freshman, Borowiecki is leading all conference blueliners in scoring as a sophomore. The solid defenseman has 13 points through 16 games for the Golden Knights. Drafted 139th overall by Ottawa in 2008.
6. Nick Bjugstad, C – Blaine Bengals (Minn. HS): A towering 6-foot-5, 190-pound pivot, Bjugstad will be one to watch on the Minnesota high school circuit this year. The Golden Gophers commit already hung a hat trick on a good Roseau team and the points won’t stop there. Draft eligible in 2010.
7. Stanislav Galiev, LW – Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL): After a successful run in the United States League last year, Galiev has taken his show to the ‘Q’ and not missed a beat. The Russian import is tied for the lead in rookie scoring with 31 points in 32 games and boasts an excellent plus-24 rating. Draft eligible in 2010.
8. Alexander Urbom, D – Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL): Like other CHL Swedes, Urbom was shut out of a world juniors roster spot, but a Memorial Cup berth will be a pretty good consolation prize. The 6-foot-4, 216-pound blueliner has 18 points and a solid plus-15 rating in 29 games for the host Wheat Kings. Drafted 73rd overall by New Jersey in 2009.
9. Connor Knapp, G – Miami University RedHawks (CCHA): Sharing netminding duties with the very capable Cody Reichard, Knapp has once again propelled the RedHawks to the top of the conference. The 6-foot-5, 215-pound teen sophomore boasts a 2.21 goals-against average and .911 save percentage. Drafted 164th overall by Buffalo in 2009.
10. Michael Kirkpatrick, C – Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL): Kirkpatrick turned a great 2008-09 campaign into a rookie camp invite with the Minnesota Wild. The Sea Dogs center is back at it again this year, showing more of a playmaking side with 27 assists and 36 points in 32 games, and an outstanding plus-23 rating. Draft eligible in 2010 (undrafted 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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