Kings prospect Brandon Kozun has eight points in eight games for the American League affiliate in Manchester. (Photo by Noah Graham/NHLI via Getty Images)
International Scouting Services released its October rankings, giving the prospect world something of an early cheat sheet to work off. And though fast starts by some players are challenging the positions, it’s good to see a lot of international talent making the elite list. Here’s a look at some of the players we’re excited to see in the NHL one day.
Sahir Gill, C – Boston University Terriers (Hockey East)
The Terriers came into the season with five highly-touted freshmen and even though power forward Yasin Cisse will miss the year due to an ankle injury sustained in the first period of his first game, BU has firepower. On top right now is Gill, a smart playmaking pivot who went from Jr. A’s Vernon Vipers of the British Columbia League to the United States League’s Chicago Steel, then back last year.
But don’t think the USHL competition was too fierce for him; Gill racked up a point-per-game in 26 contests with the Steel.
“There were some personal factors back home,” Gill said, “and playing in Vernon was good for that. It’s all resolved now.”
Now the B.C. native is making noise on the East Coast, tallying six points in his first five games for the Terriers. That puts him as the frosh leader on a team also boasting potential 2011 first-rounders Matt Nieto and Adam Clendening, plus San Jose Sharks 2010 first-rounder Charlie Coyle.
“As the season started, we just wanted to contribute and not make too many mistakes,” Gill noted. “It’s pretty exciting. Matt and Adam were highly ranked coming in and it gives me someone to talk to. And it’s been nice for me to gauge where I am in comparison.”
Wherever he ends up this summer, he’s already shown folks in Boston what he can do in short order. Draft eligible in 2011 (Undrafted in 2010).
Maxim Shalunov, RW – Traktor Chelyabinsk (Rus. Jr.)
Despite playing in only a little more than half his team’s games, Shalunov is tied for the Chelyabinsk scoring lead with 12 points through nine contests. The top-rated Russian still playing on home soil, the 6-foot-3 Shalunov has also had three games in the Kontinental League, but received less than six minutes of ice time on average. Draft eligible in 2011.
Dmitrij Jaskin, RW – Slavia Praha (Cze.)
A big-bodied winger at 6-foot-1 and nearly 200 pounds already, Jaskin parlayed his skills into a spot on the men’s team, suiting up in all 15 games so far. And while Slavia Praha is struggling in the standings, Jaskin has shown what he can do. His four points puts him in a big logjam for sixth on the team. Draft eligible in 2011.
Scott Mayfield, D – Youngstown Phantoms (USHL)
The U.S. squad for the World Jr. A Championship in November has been announced and once again the Yanks will be a favorite. Comprised entirely of USHLers, the team includes the smooth skating and big shot of Mayfield, all 6-foot-4, 200 pounds of him. Other draft eligible players who will be looking for a good showing include Seth Ambroz and Colten St. Clair. Draft eligible in 2011.
Jaden Schwartz, C – Colorado College Tigers (WCHA)
If you’re looking for offense at Colorado College, turn to a Schwartz. Freshman Jaden is tied with older brother Rylan for the team lead with six points in six games, with Jaden making life difficult for defenders with his speed and smarts. Drafted 14th overall by St. Louis in 2010.
Jon Merrill, D – University of Michigan Wolverines (CCHA)
With five points in six games, Merrill is off to a terrific start on the Michigan blueline. Combining great size (6-foot-3, 209 pounds) with strength and skating ability, the former NTDP puckmover is providing a silver lining for Devils fans who haven’t had a lot to smile about lately. Drafted 38th overall by New Jersey in 2010.
Michael Bournival, C – Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL)
With 18 points through 13 games, Bournival is a top-20 scorer in the ‘Q.’ Of course, ravaging P.E.I. for four goals in one match certainly helped, but you won’t hear any Shawinigan fans complaining. A two-way threat who never stops hustling, Bournival was the QMJHL’s first star of the week and will rep the league in the Russian Super Series. Drafted 71st overall by Colorado in 2010.
Nail Yakupov, RW – Sarnia Sting (OHL)
Enticed over to the Sting in part by countryman Alex Galchenyuk, Yakupov has shredded the Ontario League in the early going, putting up 20 points through 12 games. The Sting boast a young club, so while the wins have not been coming lately, the talent is certainly there for the future. Draft eligible in 2012.
Brandon Kozun, RW – Manchester Monarchs (AHL)
At 5-foot-9, 164 pounds, there was always the question of whether Kozun could excel at the next level. He had no problem putting up points in junior with the Western League’s Calgary Hitmen, but in his first pro season, he’s proving his worth. Kozun has eight points in his first eight American League games, putting him second among rookies behind Portland’s Luke Adam. Drafted 179th overall by Los Angeles in 2009.
Craig Cunningham, C – Vancouver Giants (WHL)
The Dub’s player of the week, Cunningham has been eviscerating the competition, putting up a league-high 31 points in 15 games, largely thanks to his playmaking abilities. He had eight assists in three games last week and was a plus-6 in the process. Cunningham also had a great training camp with the Boston Bruins and garnered strong consideration from the franchise. Drafted 97th overall by Boston in 2010.
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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