Jared Knight of the Ontario League's London Knights posted 17 points in 12 playoff games this season. (Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images)
Boston College reigned supreme at the Frozen Four, while major junior is in the thick of the playoffs. The United States League post-season has also kicked off, while the best of the rest play for their country at the World Under-18 Championship in Belarus. With a summation of all that is prospect, here’s another look at players we’re excited to see in the NHL some day.
1. Jared Knight, C – London Knights (OHL): With 17 points in 12 games, Knight did all he could for London in the playoffs, but the team was still beaten in seven games by the Kitchener Rangers Monday. Considering what the left winger went through this season, however, it’s not the end of the world.
“A couple of months ago, I probably lost about 20-25 pounds, I was always lethargic and tired and I wasn’t playing well,” Knight revealed.
After a game in Brampton, teammate Leigh Salters, who is diabetic, suggested Knight take his blood sugar test. Sure enough, Knight rated high. But being diabetic hasn’t slowed the Michigan native down one bit.
“It’s actually made me a better player,” Knight said, “because I’m eating better.”
The center, who likes the games of NHLers Dustin Brown and Mike Richards, hopes to bring a similar package to the ice.
“My strengths are my speed and the way I compete,” Knight said. “I want to win loose pucks, be a fearless player and drive that puck deep. I think I get a lot of ‘dirty’ goals right by the goal line.”
Playing on a London squad featuring Toronto Maple Leafs top pick in 2009, Nazem Kadri, has also helped the younger Knight see what it takes to reach the next level.
“I want to work on my consistency,” Knight said. “Play every game the same way. Even now, you watch how (Kadri) prepares before and after games.”
Based on early returns, it looks as though Knight is a pretty good student in that respect. Draft eligible in 2010.
2. John McFarland, C – Sudbury Wolves (OHL): With a hat trick in a losing cause, McFarland got his under-18s off to a great start in exhibition play against Finland. The first pick overall in the 2008 Ontario League draft, McFarland is still rounding into form as a top prospect, but a strong overall showing in Belarus will help. Draft eligible in 2010.
3. Jimmy Hayes, RW – Boston College Eagles (Hockey East): A key contributor to BC’s run to the national championship, Hayes put up 12 points in eight post-season games for the Eagles, tying him for second on the squad. Playing on a line with speedster Chris Kreider, the 6-foot-5, 210-pound Hayes had a solid sophomore year overall after not producing much as a freshman. Drafted 60th overall by Toronto in 2008.
4. Adam Almquist, D – HV71 (Swe.): So, do the other 29 NHL teams have Swedish scouts? Because once again the Red Wings seem to have uncovered a late-round gem. Almquist is leading the Elite League in scoring by a junior-ager with eight points in 10 games as his HV71 squad takes on Djurgarden in the final this week. The kid’s only 5-foot-11 and 174 pounds, so he needs time to develop, but you can’t knock the production. Drafted 210th overall by Detroit in 2009.
5. Jeremy Morin, LW – Kitchener Rangers (OHL): The architect of London’s demise, Morin potted a hat trick in the 8-3 Game 7 victory over the Knights. The American sniper with a great shot has been a point-per-game player in the post-season so far and will need to keep it up with the Rangers facing Windsor next round. Drafted 45th overall by Atlanta in 2009.
6. Teemu Pulkkinen, LW – Jokerit Helsinki (Fin.): Pulkkinen missed a big chunk of the season due to a wrist injury, but he’s back for the under-18s just in time to boost his draft stock. In a 5-4 exhibition win over Canada, the slick left winger had a goal and an assist working with fellow draft prospect Joonas Donskoi. Draft eligible in 2010.
7. Kevin Poulin, G – Victoriaville Tigres (QMJHL): A big netminder at 6-foot-2, 210 pounds, Poulin has been rock-solid in net for the surging Tigres, who take on Saint John in one ‘Q’ semifinal. The Montreal native has posted excellent stats in the playoffs, including a 1.86 goals-against average and devilish .943 save percentage, both tops among starters in the league. Drafted 126th overall by the New York Islanders in 2008.
8. Brooks Macek, C – Tri-City Americans (WHL): The Amerks are on a serious roll in the Western League playoffs and though they’re mostly led by vets, Macek has been a key offensive cog as well. The 17-year-old Winnipeg native has 13 points in 11 playoff games and a robust plus-12 rating to go along with it. Draft eligible in 2010.
9. Erik Haula, LW – Omaha Lancers (USHL): After a fantastic rookie regular season (72 points and a plus-36 in 56 games), the Finnish import has kept the momentum going in the playoffs. Haula, a University of Minnesota recruit and Shattuck-St. Mary’s alum, had six points (all assists) in a three-game sweep of the Tri-City Storm in the opening round. Drafted 182nd overall by Minnesota in 2009.
10. Jonathon Blum, D – Milwaukee Admirals (AHL): In his first campaign with the Admirals, Blum acquitted himself well, notching 41 points and a plus-17 rating from the blueline in 80 games. Not that the Preds need another great young defenseman, but you really can’t have too many, can you? Drafted 23rd overall by Nashville in 2007.
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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