Matt Buckles has stayed in the OJHL to keep his NCAA eligibility. (Photo courtesy OJHL images)
While more attention gets paid to the prospect ranks, more news keeps coming down the pipeline. Highly touted Slovakian winger Patrik Koys has joined Shawinigan of the Quebec League, while the rosters and coaches for the Canadian Hockey League’s annual Super Series vs. Russia have started to roll out. And from the sounds of it, the Russians are bringing a potent lineup this year (that’s still unofficial, however). In the meantime, let’s once again take a look at some of the kids making noise around the hockey world.
Matt Buckles, C – St. Michael’s Buzzers (OJHL)
The race for Buckles’ services has been competitive in the past few years. A standout with the Don Mills Flyers minor midget team in Toronto, he was drafted 75th overall by the Ontario League’s Soo Greyhounds in 2011, but wanted to keep his NCAA eligibility open, so he headed for the Ontario Jr. A League. Just to make the decision a little tougher, his Don Mills teammate Darnell Nurse was taken third overall by that same Hounds squad. Now he’s one season away from attending Cornell and playing for the Big Red.
“With them drafting Darnell, it was something I thought about,” Buckles said. “But I’m happy with my decision. They have a great tradition at Cornell. Guys like Joe Nieuwendyk and Ken Dryden went there and I’m really excited to get down there.”
For now, Buckles will continue to tear it up with St. Mike’s, a team he leads in scoring with 10 goals and 22 points through 16 games. He’s also fifth in the OJHL, but younger than everyone above him by at least a full year. A power forward in the making, Buckles has grown to 6-foot-1, 204 pounds – he was only 5-foot-8 back in 2011. His size and shot are hallmarks, but he also prides himself on heart.
“I hate to lose individual battles,” he said. “Every time I touch the ice I bring tenacious effort. I just hate to lose.”
Maybe that goes back to his Don Mills days. Along with Nurse, that Flyers team also featured Max Domi, now with OHL London. That means the 2013 NHL draft could see three teammates go in the first two rounds.
“Don Mills was the first step,” Buckles said. “It was a great place to play and we had great coaching. Knowing that even practice was competitive made for a healthy environment.”
Now that he’s a Buzzer, the stakes are even higher – but Buckles loves a good battle. Draft eligible in 2013.
Nick Shore, C – University of Denver Pioneers (WCHA)
The second-oldest of the Shore clan, Nick is now the eldest at Denver since Drew left for the pros. Nick, who boasts the same talent and mind as his older bro, is quickly putting his stamp on this season with five points in his first two games, which included a hat trick plus an assist versus Air Force. Drafted 82nd overall by Los Angeles in 2011.
Tim Bozon, LW – Kamloops Blazers (WHL)
Bozon, Colin Smith and J.C. Lipon have been the terrors of the West so far, combining for 81 points through 13 games. And though Bozon is the low man on the totem pole with 21 points, he’s also the youngest of the three and has the most elite pedigree. Tough and skilled, the son of French NHLer Philippe Bozon has been an exemplary Dub star through a year and change. Drafted 64th overall by Montreal in 2012.
Mikael Wikstrand, D – Mora (Swe.)
Known as a mobile, two-way defender, Wikstrand has been an offensive force for Mora this season and he’s not taking his foot off the gas. Along with nailing the shootout winner against Tingsryd last week (Kings star Anze Kopitar had the second to make it official for Mora), Wikstrand has 10 points in 13 games and is getting power play time alongside Kopitar. Drafted 196th overall by Ottawa in 2012.
Hunter Garlent, C – Guelph Storm (OHL)
Guelph is sitting pretty as one of the top teams in the Ontario League right now and the offense is coming from a lot of places. Most recently, it’s been from Garlent, who has eight points in his past three games and was the OHL player of the week. Undersized but determined, Garlent uses his lightning speed to make sure he’s always involved in the play. Draft eligible in 2013.
William Carrier, LW – Cape Breton Screaming Eagles (QMJHL)
A big-bodied kid with speed and a quick shot, Carrier can be devastating when he dips his shoulder en route to the net. The left winger is ripping up the Quebec League right now, where he leads the Eagles with eight goals and 23 points through 14 games, putting him on pace for a career season. Draft eligible in 2013.
Ryan Murphy, D – Kitchener Rangers (OHL)
Once again, Murphy’s season got off to a rocky start, but he can’t blame a post-NHL training camp letdown this time. Whatever the matter was, the incredibly gifted offensive defenseman put it behind him over the past three games, where he tallied eight points, including a four-assist night in a big win over Oshawa. Drafted 12th overall by Carolina in 2011.
Calvin Pickard, G – Lake Erie Monsters (AHL)
Competition is fierce in the crease for Colorado right now, but Pickard has proven to be a great asset of late. The rookie pro has tossed up a stingy 1.01 goals-against average and league-leading .969 save percentage through three games, forming a potent battery with fellow freshman Sami Aittokallio in Cleveland. Drafted 49th overall by Colorado in 2010.
Gabe Guertler, C – Fargo Force (USHL)
Tops among scorers in the United States League with eight goals and 11 points through nine games, Guertler is an undersized dynamo from Florida who can do a lot of different things. In a recent loss to Lincoln, for example, he had two goals (one on the power play), a shootout marker and a fight. Committed to the University of Minnesota, he has often been praised for his work ethic. Draft eligible in 2013.
Lubos Rob, LW – Ceske Budejovice (Cze.)
Though he’s not a huge player, Rob is a smart one and can create offense from both the perimeter and by attacking the net. His dad (Lubos Rob Sr.) was a New York Rangers draft pick and long-time international player. Rob is currently leading his junior team with five goals and nine points through 13 games. 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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