Adrian Kempe (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)
The 2014 first-rounder is back home in Sweden, playing strong for the iconic Modo squad. Our prospect expert catches up with Kempe and nine other youngsters making noise right now.
The big news in the prospect world right now concerns the class-action lawsuit filed against the CHL and without going into too much detail, I think this could have a dramatic effect on junior hockey. With profits and losses so extreme across the continent, I believe a minimum wage policy would have to be supported by revenue sharing. But let’s get back on the ice, shall we? Because that’s what The Hot List is, a round-up of the kids we can’t wait to see in the NHL one day.
Adrian Kempe, C – Modo (SHL)
The Los Angeles Kings have been so successful and deep lately that they have literally given away prospects and youngsters in order to give them a chance elsewhere (Andrei Lokotionov and Linden Vey, for example). But they still have a stocked cupboard and added to it this summer with Modo’s Kempe.
“I’m a big, strong player and I’m a good skater,” Kempe said. “I finish my checks and can score goals, too.”
The 6-foot-1 center (who also plays on the wing) is in his second season playing against men in Sweden’s top league and the growth he experienced during his draft year was even surprising to him. He played 20 games at the junior level, then made an impression with the big club.
“It was a really good year for me,” Kempe said. “My thought before the season was to maybe get up and play five or six games with the big team. I got up there and the coach liked me, so I played there the whole season.”
In total, Kempe suited up for 45 games with the men and with four points in his first 12 games this season, he’s well on his way to eclipsing the 11 points he put up last year. The type of player who can bang and grind on the third line and not be wasted there, Kempe could have gone to the Ontario League’s Barrie Colts last season, but he wanted to play for Sweden internationally and staying home helped that. And playing for a fabled squad one hour from home didn’t hurt, either.
“I really like Modo,” he said. “I like the town and the team. It’s a hockey town and many good players have come from there.”
Kempe wants to get better at defense, admitting that he cruises around sometimes, but the combination of power, speed and skill make him one to watch for the future. Drafted 29th overall by Los Angeles in 2014.
Josh Ho-Sang, RW – Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
Coming off a dubious suspension for an incident in last year’s playoffs, Ho-Sang is back on the ice now and doing things that few others can. The offensively gifted Spitfire has ripped off two goals and seven points in his first three games. Drafted 28th overall by the New York Islanders in 2014.
Erik Foley, LW – Cedar Rapids RoughRiders (USHL)
The Providence College commit is an exciting young prospect who looks to have a lot of raw upside. Foley brings speed, skill and grit to the left wing and he’s starting to get hot in Cedar Rapids. The former prep schooler has four points in his past two games. Draft eligible in 2015.
Jeremy Roy, D – Sherbrooke Phoenix (QMJHL)
A do-it-all defenseman who won gold with Canada at the Ivan Hlinka, Roy has been an essential part of Sherbrooke’s rise to the upper echelons of the Quebec League. On top of his overall play, Roy leads the league in scoring by a blueliner with 12 points in 14 games. Draft eligible in 2015.
Michael Paliotta, D – University of Vermont Catamounts (Hockey East)
Paliotta has always been known as a defender who can shut down the other team’s top threats, but what do you do when he is the top threat? Through three games, the Vermont blueliner is leading the conference in scoring with seven points and his team is undefeated. Drafted 70th overall by Chicago in 2011.
Jansen Harkins, C – Prince George Cougars (WHL)
A hard-working son of the coach, Harkins was the second overall pick in the 2012 bantam draft. A character player who prides himself on two-way play, Harkins has also been hot offensively for the Cougars, registering three goals and 17 points through 12 games, tying him for fourth in the league. Draft eligible in 2015.
Nikita Korostelev, RW – Sarnia Sting (OHL)
Born in Russia, but technically a Toronto product (ie. he doesn’t count as an import), Korostelev has a pro shot, a lot of puck skills and some nice tenacity in his game. Add it all up and you have a reigning league player of the week who has posted seven goals and 14 points through 10 games. Draft eligible in 2015.
Brendan Leipsic, LW – Milwaukee Admirals (AHL)
An agitating shift disturber who also happens to bring a boatload of speed and skill to the table, Leipsic has jumped into his first pro campaign with both skates. With six points in four games, he leads the Admirals and is just one point off the league leaders. Drafted 89th overall by Nashville in 2012.
Mark Friedman, D – Bowling Green State Falcons (WCHA)
The smart and fearless offensive defenseman was a big recruiting coup for the Falcons and the early returns make that claim obvious. Friedman has tallied three points in four games for Bowling Green, helping the team to a 3-1 record early on. Drafted 86th overall by Philadelphia in 2014.
Frederic Foulem, G – Shattuck-St. Mary’s Sabres (Minn. HS)
Coming from the same Stanstead College program as Flames pick Mark Jankowski, Foulem is a Harvard commit who has also been drafted in the Quebec League by Acadie-Bathurst. The 6-foot-1 netminder’s 2.12 goals-against average was tops in the Upper Midwest Elite League (featuring all-stars from Minnesota high school and more) and his .907 save percentage tied for first overall. Draft eligible in 2015.