Justin Azevedo helped Kitchener to within one game of a Memorial Cup title. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
Congratulations to the Spokane Chiefs, winners of the 2008 Memorial Cup.
The Chiefs went into the tourney as a defensive team going up against three offensive squads and beat them all. Frequent Hot Lister Dustin Tokarski was named tournament MVP, capping his run with a 1.72 goals-against average and .953 save percentage.
So with no more hockey to be played in the Hot List circuits, here’s a special list of prospects who weren’t drafted in their first year of eligibility (or after that) who may be piquing the interests of NHL teams over the summer.
1. Justin Azevedo, C – Kitchener Rangers (OHL): The CHL’s player of the year and Memorial Cup’s leading scorer with 11 points in five games, Azevedo has already been passed over twice in the draft, largely because of his 5-foot-8, 180 pound frame. Will his breakout season (124 points following a 56-point campaign in 2006-07) make a difference this year?
2. Colton Yellow Horn, LW – Tri-City Americans (WHL): Yellow Horn has the exact same measurements as Azevedo, but spread his offense around in his junior career. He had a career-high 97 points this season, plus 21 points in 16 playoff games. As a 21-year-old, Yellow Horn is now an unrestricted free agent.
3. Joe Whitney, LW – Boston College Eagles (Hockey East): Nathan Gerbe wasn’t the only pint-sized Eagle to wreak havoc this year. The 5-foot-6 Whitney was right behind his teammate with 51 points in 44 games and has one more kick at the draft this year.
4. Viktor Tikhonov, C – Severstal Cherepovets (Rus.): Grandson of the famous coach, this Tikhonov is getting a modicum of draft buzz at 20. Lack of a transfer agreement with Russia may scare teams away, but his 43 games in the Russian Super League and point-per-game pace at the world juniors are definite plusses.
5. Scott Howes, LW – Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL): When a Toronto kid ends up in the Q, you know he hasn’t had anything handed to him. This year, Howes enjoyed his best junior season yet, tallying 70 points in 59 games before lighting up the playoffs for 15 goals and 26 points in 14 games. Will an NHL team take a chance on the free agent?
6. Francis Pare, C – Chicoutimi Sagueneens (QMJHL): The Q’s player of the year, Pare rang up 102 points in 69 games on a good, but not great Chicoutimi team. At 5-foot-10, he’s on the small side, but as a free agent he’ll be enticing.
7. Ryan Lasch, RW – St. Cloud State Huskies (WCHA): Another one of those California kids blossoming in colder climates, the diminutive Lasch (5-foot-9) cracked the Hobey Baker 10 this year thanks to his 53 points in 40 games as a sophomore with the Huskies. Lasch will be a free agent whenever he leaves St. Cloud.
8. Julius Hudacek, G – HC Kosice (Svk.): Hudacek is a frequent Hot Lister, especially during international tournaments. The 19-year-old played amongst men in Slovakia this year and came away with a 1.97 GAA and .926 save percentage in 13 appearances with Spisska Nova Ves. A smart team will pick him up in the draft this summer.
9. Judd Blackwater, C – Spokane Chiefs (WHL): Another Chief whose numbers continue to improve as his career goes on, Blackwater is now an unrestricted free agent. He tallied 18 points in 21 post-season games, plus one goal at the Memorial Cup.
10. Mike Murphy, G – Belleville Bulls (OHL): Kitchener may have shelled him in the Memorial Cup semifinal, but Murphy has turned away a lot of pucks this year. He lost just seven games in regulation and continued that run into the playoffs, where he was 14-4 with a 2.32 GAA. The 19-year-old will take another shot at the draft this year.
11. Jean-Philippe Lamoureux, G – North Dakota Fighting Sioux (WCHA): At just 5-foot-10, 155 pounds, Lamoureux certainly doesn’t have a modern goaltender’s build, but he makes the saves nonetheless. The senior keeper won a very competitive WCHA goalie race with a 1.75 GAA and is now a free agent.
12. Carter Camper, C – Miami RedHawks (CCHA): Camper had a fantastic freshman campaign with the RedHawks, tallying 41 points in 33 games. And while the 20-year-old has three more seasons in Ohio to hone his skills, he’s more likely to be signed as a free agent in the future, rather than as a draft pick this year.
13. Adam Perry, LW – Belleville Bulls (OHL): Corey's younger brother helped the Bulls get all the way to the Memorial Cup. Acquired from the Knights during the season, Perry's previous experience with London proved to be a boon for Belleville in the playoffs, where he continued a career trend of excellent play, this time notching 18 points in 21 games.
14. Patrik Prokop, D – Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL): At 6-foot, 187 pounds, the Czech national isn’t exactly hulking, but he sure knows how to put points on the scoreboard. A mid-season trade from Shawinigan saw the 20-year-old’s totals take off and he led the Q in playoff scoring by a defenseman with 28 points in 19 games. But will NHL scouts notice when it comes to the draft?
15. Brock Nixon, C – Calgary Hitmen (WHL): Nixon hit his stride in 2006-07 with Kamloops, but continued his solid offensive output after a trade to Calgary this year, where he posted his best plus-minus (plus-20 overall, plus-15 with Calgary) to date. His 18 points in 16 playoff games were second-best on the Hitmen behind T.J. Galiardi. Nixon is now a free agent.
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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