Eye of the Sound Tiger
Kyle Okposo has two goals and 10 points in 11 AHL games this season. (Photo by Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images)
Eye of the Sound Tiger
Business as usual this week for Hot List Hall of Famers Steven Stamkos (six point night against Saginaw) and John Tavares (93 points and running), so let’s keep on revealing more stars and dark horses of future drafts, plus some signed talents who are getting really close.
1. Zach Bogosian, D – Peterborough Petes (OHL): Slated as a top five draft pick this year, Bogosian is annihilating his stats from his rookie campaign last season. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound defenseman has 50 points in 45 games after tallying 33 all last year. Draft eligible in 2008.
2. Kyle Okposo, RW – Bridgeport Sound Tigers (AHL): After a tumultuous holiday season, it’s good to be Kyle Okposo again. The future Islanders power forward left the University of Minnesota just before the world juniors, signing with New York, who sent him to Bridgeport.
After a disappointing finish in the Czech Republic, Okposo made his Tigers debut – and it’s been gravy ever since.
“It’s a different kind of game here,” Okposo noted, comparing college and the American League. “It’s not faster, but guys are a lot smarter and obviously stronger down low.”
Not that any of that has slowed down the Minnesota native. Okposo threw up 10 points in his first 11 games in Bridgeport and tallied right away.
“I try to do the little things to win,” he said. “Be strong down low and in the corners and chip in offensively.”
And while Okposo doesn’t have a timetable from the Isles, the organization is clearly behind him all the way, which has been a boon for the right winger.
“It’s a great feeling,” he said. “It’s nice to know your future employers respect you and want the best for you.”
With his production, the teenager is going to be one of the best things for the Isles, as well.
Drafted seventh overall by the Islanders in 2006.
3. Dimitri Kugryshev, RW – CSKA 2 (Rus): Red Army’s junior club isn’t just Nikita Filatov; Kugryshev has amassed 50 points in just 29 games, putting him seventh among European skaters in the NHL’s mid-term rankings. Draft eligible in 2008.
4. Jared Cowen, D – Spokane Chiefs (WHL): Still a year away from being draft eligible, Cowen is already making a name for himself. The 6-foot-5, 211-pound defender is among the league leaders in plus-minus at plus-26 in 49 games. Draft eligible in 2009.
5. Jakub Voracek, RW – Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL): Voracek was the Q’s offensive player of the month in January with 19 points in nine games. Every week he looks like an even better pick for the Jackets. Drafted seventh overall by Columbus in 2007.
6. Joe Colborne, C – Camrose Kodiaks (AJHL): I’m not saying we discovered Joe Colborne (because we didn’t), but the new Big Joe has been shooting up draft rankings since The Hot List started. Oh yeah, and he’s eviscerating the Alberta Junior League with 77 points in 45 games. There’s that, too. Draft eligible in 2008.
7. Matt Amadio, LW – Soo Thunderbirds (NOJHL): Amadio is still 16, but he’s tearing up the Northern Ontario Junior League with 46 points in 42 games. The danger with the left winger is he can score in bunches; he’s already tallied three or more points in a game five times this season. Draft eligible in 2009.
8. Justin Pogge, G – Toronto Marlies (AHL): He’s seen as the future in Hogtown and as his first full campaign rounds into form, Pogge is starting to put up the numbers. A 17-3-4 record and 2.26 GAA will do that for a fella. Drafted 90th overall by Toronto in 2004.
9. Patrick Maroon, LW – London Knights (OHL): An NAHL graduate who also had designs on playing NCAA at Ferris State, the 6-foot-4, 225-pound Maroon has been on fire for the Knights in his first season of OHL play, racking up 73 points in 46 games. Drafted 161st overall by Philadelphia in 2007.
10. Yannick Weber, D – Kitchener Rangers (OHL): Part of those high-flying international Rangers, the Swiss blueliner is putting up more than a point per game from the back end. Drafted 73rd overall by Montreal in 2007.
11. Dan Gendur, RW – Everett Silvertips (WHL): Gendur has rocketed up the leader board in the Dub, quite possibly because he had 12 points in a three-game span at the end of January. Drafted 206th overall by Vancouver in 2007.
12. Chet Pickard, G – Tri-City Americans (WHL): A big-bodied netminder at 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, Pickard is smoking with a 33-8-3 record and 2.32 goals-against average. Draft eligible in 2008.
13. Marc-Andre Bourdon, D – Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (QMJHL): Bourdon boasts the best plus-minus among Q defensemen and is second overall in the league at plus-33. He puts up big points, too. Draft eligible in 2008.
14. John Carlson, D – Indiana Ice (USHL): Scouts love his size (6-foot-2, 215 pounds) and the fact he can contribute on offense (28 points in 38 games) certainly helps his cause, as well. Draft eligible in 2008.
15. Roman Josi, D – SC Bern (Swi): Josi has one point (an assist) in three games with the big club and the NHL’s scouts are high on the blueliner. At the mid-term ranking, he was No. 4 among European skaters. Draft eligible in 2008.
The Hot List, a weekly roundup of minor league, junior, college and high school players we’re exciting to one day see in the NHL, appears every Tuesday, only on thehockeynews.com.
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