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Leader of the pack

Vladimir Tarasenko was part of the disappointing Russian squad at this year's WJC. (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

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Vladimir Tarasenko was part of the disappointing Russian squad at this year's WJC. (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

Draft lists for this summer are all over the place and teams are getting serious for the stretch drive, so let’s dive right into another look at some kids we’re excited to see in the NHL some day.

1. Vladimir Tarasenko, RW – Sibir Novosibirsk (KHL):
As one of a cadre of Russians eligible for the draft this year, Tarasenko is one of the more tantalizing prospects and was easily the best 18-year-old on the world junior team from the Kontinental League (Alexander Burmistrov of the OHL Barrie Colts was equally as good).

But the Russians did flunk out in Saskatoon, so Tarasenko wasn’t as pleased with his own performance as an outsider may have been.

“I don’t think I played really well at the tournament,” he said, through translator and teammate Nikita Filatov. “I could have played better. Coach really trusted me on the second line and we should have scored a lot more goals.”

But Tarasenko did net four goals in the tourney, tying him for the team lead with Kirill Petrov. The Sibir youngster did it with amazing hands and a willingness to fight through traffic in order to get to the net, something many of his mates weren’t apt to do.

Back in the Kontinental League, Tarasenko is actually playing for his head coach father, a unique situation to be sure. But as a teen, he is playing limited minutes (12:29 per game); not that he is concerned.

“I think I have enough ice time,” Tarasenko said. “The coaches can see if they give you a lot of ice time, you get tired real fast, so they give you the ice time you can use. There are a lot of skilled players besides me.”

But none on Sibir with as many game-winning goals. Tarasenko has a team-high three, plus 22 points in 36 games, one of the best point-per-game rates on the squad. He’ll be highly coveted this summer in NHL circles.
Draft eligible in 2010.

2. Brandon Saad, RW – U.S. NTDP (USHL):
The Prep Watch alum http://www.thehockeynews.com/articles/24747-Prep-Watch-Large-and-ready-to-charge.html) and Team USA winger was the United States League’s offensive player of the week thanks to a hat trick and an assist vs. Waterloo and a six-point weekend overall. Big and skilled, Saad is shaping up to be a forceful power forward and top-10 pick in the future. Draft eligible in 2011.

3. Mikhail Stefanovich, RW – Quebec Remparts (QMJHL):
With all the forwards Toronto has traded lately, it must be nice to know Stefanovich is ripping up the Quebec League. The Remparts right winger was the Q’s offensive player of the week thanks to 11 points in three games. The Belarussian now has 47 points in 37 games. Drafted 98th overall by Toronto in 2008.

4. Corey Elkins, C – Manchester Monarchs (AHL):
With his 6-foot-3, 216-pound frame, it’s not surprising Elkins took a while to find his offensive groove. His Ohio State career started slow then peaked with a 41-point outburst in 42 games as a senior last year. Elkins has continued that with the Monarchs, tallying 35 points in 46 games to place third among American League rookies. Signed as a free agent by Los Angeles in 2009.

5. Calvin Pickard, G – Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL):
Pickard, one of the highest-rated goaltenders for this year’s draft, has faced a ton of rubber this season while playing for the lowly T-Birds. His .917 save percentage – one of the best marks in the Dub – is even more remarkable considering the 1,560 shots he has faced through 45 games. That’s 100 shots more than any other goalie in the league. Draft eligible in 2010.

6. David Savard, D – Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL):
Savard boasts size, thanks to his 6-foot-2, 212-pound frame, plus skill, as evidenced by his 57 points through 48 games. That’s best among defensemen in the ‘Q.’ Drafted 94th overall by Columbus in 2009.

7. Taylor Hall, RW – Windsor Spitfires (OHL):
With the Ontario League All-Star Game in Kingston Tuesday and Wednesday, local boy Hall will have yet another big stage in which to strut his stuff. The Spitfires prodigy will compete in the 1-on-1 puck control relay against Kingston Frontenacs star Ethan Werek at the skills competition. Draft eligible in 2010.

8. Brandon Kozun, RW – Calgary Hitmen (WHL):
Kozun was very good for Canada at the world juniors and has been performing at a high level for a very long time. His 75 points through 44 games puts him second in Dub scoring and he continues to thrive despite standing just 5-foot-9. Drafted 179th overall by Los Angeles in 2009.

9. Petr Mrazek, G – Ottawa 67’s (OHL):
The Czech native doesn’t have a lot of wins under his belt (he’s 8-8-1 after dropping four of his first five starts), but he does boast one of the best GAAs in the OHL at 2.55. Mrazek’s .920 save percentage also ranks among the best in the circuit, which is impressive considering his age and North American experience. Draft eligible in 2010.

10. Alex Chiasson, RW – Boston University Terriers (Hockey East):
The freshman had the go-ahead goal in BU’s opening Beanpot victory over Northeastern, meaning the Terriers will once again contest Boston’s biggest hockey trophy. The big winger now has 11 points in 21 games this season. Drafted 38th overall by Dallas in 2009.

Related Links

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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