The CHL-Russia Super Series has begun, with the Quebec League first up for the visitors. This showdown has become much more competitive in recent years and with a lot of players trying to prove their worth for the upcoming world juniors, expect the best from all involved. The last prospect leagues worth following also kick off their schedules this week as high school hockey in Minnesota and New England take to the ice. That and more in our look at players we’re excited to see in the NHL one day.
Sven Andrighetto, RW – Hamilton Bulldogs (AHL)
Inked into Andrighetto’s left arm is a tattoo of a guardian angel and script writing dedicated to his family back home in Switzerland.
“Family is very important to me,” he said. “They’re not here right now but I talk to them pretty much every day.”
The tattoo is a reminder, but the player himself has already left a huge mark in Hamilton, pacing the Bulldogs with seven goals and 11 points through 15 games. Andrighetto flirted with 100 points in his last year of junior with Rouyn-Noranda in the ‘Q’ and also played well for Switzerland at the world juniors. The adjustment to the pro ranks has been pretty seamless, though the Bulldogs are struggling overall.
“I’m a skilled forward,” Andrighetto said. “On the offensive side I’m creative and can make things happen. Lately I’ve been scoring goals but we’re losing games. It’s always hard to look at yourself when you’re losing. I still have work to do in the defensive zone. If I’m going to get to the NHL I need to develop into a two-way forward.”
Undersized at 5-foot-9, 183 pounds, the Swiss national is nonetheless making the Montreal Canadiens look smart for snapping him up in his second year eligible for the draft and they’re also smart for giving him a chance to succeed in Hamilton.
“I play a lot,” Andrighetto said. “The coach trusts me and I’ve played with great players. The only thing that counts for me is hockey. I want to get to the NHL and it’s perfect here.”
With his skills and production, Andrighetto may be moving back to Quebec sooner than later. Drafted 86th overall by Montreal in 2013.
Jonathan Drouin, C – Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
The captain of the QMJHL team that takes on the Russians first, Drouin has gotten back on track with Halifax after his quick demotion from NHL training camp. The incredibly gifted scorer is once again wrecking nets with 13 goals and 39 points in just 17 appearances. Drafted third overall by Tampa Bay in 2013.
Bo Horvat, C – London Knights (OHL)
A very strong candidate for Canada’s world junior team, Horvat has been on a tear for the Knights. How much of a tear? Well, if the game was played in November, Horvat had at least one point in it. The dynamic two-way force has 15 points through eight contests this month and leads the Memorial Cup hosts with 28 in 19 overall. Drafted ninth overall by Vancouver in 2013.
Joel Armia, RW – Rochester Americans (AHL)
Playing in his first season in North America, Armia just recently returned from a hand injury and looked excellent in his American League debut with the Amerks. His skating ability and confidence with the puck are two of his strongest assets and three games in, he’s got two points already. Drafted 16th overall by Buffalo in 2011.
Slater Koekkoek, D – Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
Competition for a spot on Canada’s blueline at the world juniors is going to be fierce, but Koekkoek is right in the mix. You can’t knock his combination of size, drive and ability to play at both ends, while his 20 points through 20 games ranks fourth among all Ontario League D-men. Drafted 10th overall by Tampa Bay in 2012.
Sonny Milano, LW – U.S. NTDP (USHL)
Exceptionally skilled and very quick, Milano can make a lot of things happen by himself and leads the NTDP with 10 goals and 31 points through 19 games. He’s also pretty good at making headlines: Milano just switched college commitments from Notre Dame to Boston College. Draft eligible in 2014.
Ryan Donato, C – The Dexter School (Mass. HS)
Perhaps the best player available in the New England prep ranks this season, Donato was a star at the summer Beanpot Tournament and boasts an incredible set of hands. Dangerous anytime he’s on the ice, Donato is the son of ex-NHLer Ted Donato and is uncommitted right now. Draft eligible in 2014.
Mitch Slattery, LW – Hill-Murray Pioneers (Minn. HS)
The Pioneers start off the season with a toughie against Burnsville, but look for Slattery to do his best to make a difference. The dynamic winger, who is committed to St. Cloud State, has great hands and creativity. Draft eligible in 2014.
Tristan Jarry, G – Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
Jarry, along with Winnipeg prospect Eric Comrie, will tend the nets for the ‘Dub’ in the CHL-Russia series and the timing couldn’t be better. The Oil Kings starter has been hot of late and hasn’t surrendered more than two goals in a game since Oct. 5. The competitive keeper now rocks a 2.08 goals-against average and .921 save percentage. Drafted 44th overall by Pittsburgh in 2013.
Shayne Gostisbehere, D – Union College Dutchmen (ECAC)
Union is riding a three-game win streak and wouldn’t you know it? Gostisbehere has points in all three of those contests. The junior D-man has an impressive four goals and 12 points through 11 games for the Dutchmen, who are 5-1 in the conference. Drafted 78th overall by Philadelphia in 2012.