Guillaume Cloutier is an offensive defenseman with the QMJHL's Chicoutimi Sagueneens. (Photo by Rejean Maltais)
Based on some of the early playoff results, it seems like there should be a mercy rule in major junior. Saint John outscored Cape Breton 17-1 in the first two games of that Quebec League series, while Red Deer posted two five-spots on Edmonton before a slightly closer Game 3. Of course, scouts love multiple viewings of prospects and we can never get enough at The Hot List, so best-of-seven might be the way to go. Here’s a look at some of the players we’re excited to see in the NHL one day.
Guillaume Cloutier, D – Chicoutimi Sagueneens (QMJHL)
Cloutier’s first year of major junior has been an eventful one. The lanky 6-foot-2 defender began the year with powerhouse Saint John, but was traded to the Sags, who struggled before co-owner Guy Carbonneau took over behind the bench.
“For the first year it was a little difficult,” Cloutier said. “I’ve had three coaches in one year.”
But between Carbonneau and assistant coach Marc Denis, Cloutier has a pretty good battery of NHL experience in which to draw from.
“They know what it takes to make it at the next level,” he said.
Quick for his size, Cloutier projects as an offensive defenseman and the kid from the suburbs of Montreal actually cites Ottawa Senators blueliner Erik Karlsson as a model. Cloutier acknowledges he needs to add to his 170-pound frame and while his numbers aren’t big this season (12 points in 62 games), he is still adjusting to major junior from midget AAA.
“It’s definitely more skilled,” he said. “The players are more intelligent and it’s difficult to do the same play twice, because they know it’s coming.”
With the Sags less stacked than Saint John, Cloutier will be given every opportunity to show off his assortment of moves in the future. Draft eligible in 2011.
Kyle Rau, C – Sioux Falls Stampede (USHL)
Rau was supposed to spend the whole season with the Stampede, but had a change of heart and went back to play for Eden Prairie high school. Good decision, as he scored the winning goal at the state championship and was named Mr. Hockey, Minnesota’s award for high school senior of the year. Since joining Sioux Falls, Rau has seven points in seven games. Draft eligible in 2011.
Heikki Liedes, LW – HPK (Fin. Jr.)
A big, tough winger with a great attitude and an aggressive demeanor, Liedes tore up the under-18 ranks and was quickly promoted to HPK’s under-20 team. The 6-foot-2 Finn plays right on the edge and has also done a lot of work killing penalties this season. Draft eligible in 2011.
Zakhar Arzamastsev, D – Metallurg Novokuztnesk (KHL)
It’s a down year for Russians in the draft, but Arzamastsev has the skill set to be a decent sleeper pick. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound defenseman plays a mature, calm, stay-at-home game and doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. His hockey sense has also been touted as a plus. Draft eligible in 2011.
Konstantin Komarek, LW – Lulea HC (Swe.)
The Austrian national has picked up his game in the playoffs, which is good news for Lulea, currently locked in a death struggle with Adam Larsson’s Skelleftea squad. Komarek has great wheels and makes a lot of creative plays with the puck. He also assisted on the overtime-winner in Game 1 of the second round series. Draft eligible in 2011.
Johan Sundstrom, C – Frolunda Indians (Swe. Jr.)
Frolunda rolled over Brynas in the first round of the under-20 playoffs and now Sundstrom and his crew take on Rogle. At 6-foot-3 and nearly 200 pounds, Sundstrom is a lot to handle, particularly since he has great hands and doesn’t mind fighting through traffic. He has four points through two post-season games. Draft eligible in 2011.
Andrey Pedan, D – Guelph Storm (OHL)
Known more for his nastiness than his offensive prowess, Pedan nonetheless notched five assists in the Storm’s first three playoff games. The 6-foot-4, 196-pound Russian has been a rock for Guelph, where he has thrown some big hits and used his mobility to his advantage. Draft eligible in 2011.
Phillip Danault, LW – Victoriaville Tigres (QMJHL)
Already lauded for his work ethic and skill, Danault now has a trophy to back it up: The Victoriaville winger was recently given the Guy Carbonneau Trophy as the QMJHL’s best defensive forward. On top of that, his Tigres have a commanding 3-0 lead over Acadie-Bathurst in the playoffs. Draft eligible in 2011.
Michael Sgarbossa, C – Sudbury Wolves (OHL)
He’s on his third Ontario League team, but Sgarbossa has definitely found a home in Sudbury this year. Swift and feisty, the talented pivot is tied for the lead in OHL playoff scoring with nine points in two games as the Wolves have shocked Ottawa with a pair of victories to lead the series. Draft eligible in 2011 (undrafted in 2010).
Shane McColgan, RW – Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
More was expected from McColgan in the offense department this season, but the scrappy, agitating winger has reversed course for the better in the post-season. In Kelowna’s first two games (both wins), the undersized California product has posted five assists, tying him for tops in the league. Draft eligible in 2011.
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 only on thehockeynews.com. A player is eligible for The Hot List until they play in their first NHL game.
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