Radko Gudas has 20 points and 207 penalty minutes in 57 games with the AHL's Syracuse Crunch this season. (Photo by Dale MacMillan/Getty Images)
The Edina Hornets are your Minnesota state high school champs. Former NHLer Curt Giles was behind the bench as the perennial contender knocked off No. 1 seed Hill-Murray in the final at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. With playoffs in the KHL and NCAA already under way and beginning soon in the Quebec League, Sweden and elsewhere, it’s going to be a busy time to watch the top prospects in the world. Here’s a slice of some of the kids we’re excited to see in the NHL one day.
Timing is everything. The Hot List only includes players yet to skate in an NHL game, so Gudas is getting his due right under the wire. The Czech native was scheduled to make his big league debut with Tampa Tuesday night and he earned the call-up through dogged physical play with the Crunch. Last season he was part of the Calder Cup champs in Norfolk, when the Lightning had its American League affiliate in Virginia. And while it’s odd to have most of the reigning champs wearing a different uniform this season, Gudas wouldn’t change a thing.
“It was unbelievable,” he said. “It was a great achievement that I will always remember the rest of my life. (The move) was a little strange, but it’s part of hockey life.”
Though the Bolts have a ton of talent on their roster, Gudas brings a hard-nosed edge to the ice and honed his game in the Western League with Everett before turning pro.
“I just play good defensively, play strong on the puck, be physical and make sure the other team knows I’m on the ice,” he said. “I’d like to have a better shot and my breakout pass can be better too.”
And other than his bone-rattling hits and willingness to drop the gloves (he had 13 tilts with Syracuse before the call-up), Gudas is also known for a formidable beard that puts most playoff efforts to shame.
“Guys really like it, it’s true,” he said. “It’s pretty cold up in Syracuse, so it keeps me warm.”
But will he shave if Tampa keeps him down south for a long stint? Drafted 66th overall by Tampa Bay in 2010.
It’s been a trying year for the Wolverines, who still have a slim chance at the Frozen Four if they can conjure up magic in the CCHA tournament. Trouba was key in the opening round win over Northern Michigan and his overall efforts were rewarded with a spot on the conference all-rookie team. Drafted ninth overall by Winnipeg in 2012.
It’s a great draft year for the QMJHL, but Laplante is only now making his mark. Not that he’s been slacking, but the talented left winger only got back in the game last month after tearing his labrum at the Ivan Hlinka tourney in the summer. Since returning, he’s been on fire, netting five goals and 11 points in 15 games. Draft eligible in 2013.
Born in Sweden, Olofsson has spent the past few years developing in North America and now he has scouts drooling. Big, smart and great on his skates, the Colorado College commit can also move the puck and play with poise. Some think he might be the best defender available from the United States League, even with Ian McCoshen around. Draft eligible in 2013.
Offensively, Verhaeghe brings a whole toolbox of goodies to the table, though he’s still a work in progress. The smart, skilled center needs to get stronger and work on his defense, but both of those objectives can be achieved. With Ryan Strome leaving, the Dogs will need offense next season and Verhaeghe has nine points in his past four games. Draft eligible in 2013.
Scouts wanted to see Reno dominate this year and he put in such a performance en route to the state title. In the semifinal against a very tough Duluth East squad, the RPI commit threw big hits and jumped into the play offensively when it was prudent. He also had two assists in the championship game against Hill-Murray. Draft eligible in 2013.
The Czech national has been a contributor to practically every tier of Sodertalje’s program this season, including the men’s team. Pastrnak boasts a nice skill set, but also plays a complete game, making him one to watch in the future. Both he and Jakub Vrana are Czechs making noise in Sweden. Draft eligible in 2014.
Though his stats aren’t gaudy, McAdam is a tantalizing prospect for scouts because he plays the game with such confidence and athleticism. He challenges shooters and attacks the puck, which could make him an early fan favorite when he joins the nascent Penn State Big Ten squad next year. Draft eligible in 2013.
The Eagles were the top seed in the Massachusetts Super Eight championship and Pinho was a big reason they’re through to the semifinal after a tough challenge from Central Catholic. The Providence College commit is a solid two-way performer and skilled playmaker who netted the winner and assisted on the insurance goal in the series-deciding 4-2 win. Draft eligible in 2013.
He’s not fancy, but Doetzel (rhymes with pretzel) gets the job done. With his 6-foot-3, 191-pound frame, it should be no surprise that the Rosetown, Sask. native uses his size to his advantage. An adept crease-clearer, Doetzel also plays the man responsibly and looks like a solid defensive prospect. Draft eligible in 2013.
The Hot List, a roundup of minor league, junior, college and high school players we’re excited to one day see in the NHL, appears every Tuesday on thehockeynews.com. A player is eligible for The Hot List until they play their first NHL game.
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