J.T. Miller has 16 points in his first 32 AHL games. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
The Canadian Hockey League Top Prospects Game has come and gone, but if you want more all-star action, the United States League has its own showcase coming up this Wednesday from Muskegon. The USHL Prospects Game will feature a solid array of talent and the game is going to be streamed online. Games are getting serious now in the CHL and NCAA, so let’s take a look at some of the prospects we’re excited to see in the NHL one day.
J.T. Miller, C – Connecticut Whale (AHL)
As one of only three returning players from Team USA’s disastrous 2012 world juniors, Miller had more than enough ammunition to get him pumped for Ufa this year. And with part of a campaign playing against men in the American League behind him, the young power forward came correct with nine points in seven games, tying him for the team lead with Jacob Trouba and Johnny Gaudreau en route to a gold medal.
“It was nice getting to play guys my own age for a bit and just get some confidence back,” Miller said.
Because he was drafted out of the U.S. National Team Development Program, Miller was allowed to hit the AHL as a teenager, something he could not have done if he had started his junior career in Plymouth, where he played last season in the Ontario League. Life in the ‘A’ has been tough and satisfying.
“It took me awhile to adjust there, plus I went from wing to center, but it was one of the best leagues in the world to play in when the lockout was on,” he said. “It’s really good competition, I love it.”
Miller has tallied 16 points through 32 games and at times has gone on nice offensive runs for several games. Not bad for one of the youngest players in the league. With the end of the NHL lockout clawing back some of the talent that normally wouldn’t have been in the AHL, the Ohio native will be one of the better prospects to watch down there for the rest of the season. Drafted 15th overall by the New York Rangers in 2011.
Vincent Trocheck, C – Plymouth Whalers (OHL)
Not that Trocheck wasn’t producing during his tenure in Saginaw, but the skilled and gritty pivot has been even better since joining the talent-laden Whalers via trade. In five games with Plymouth, the world junior gold medalist has notched a goal and 10 points, giving him 60 in 40 games overall this season. Drafted 64th overall by Florida in 2011.
Michael Downing, D – Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL)
Downing isn’t known for creating goals, he’s known for preventing them. But the hard-hitting 6-foot-3 D-man has been on a mini-spree of late, tallying three points and a plus-5 rating in his past five games. The University of Michigan commit will take part in the Top Prospects Game Wednesday. Draft eligible in 2013.
Adam Lowry, LW – Swift Current Broncos (WHL)
If you can believe it, the burly Lowry just had a 21-game point streak snapped, which goes a long way into explaining how he is now the fourth-highest scorer in the Western League. Dave Lowry’s kid has packed on more than 10 pounds since last season, making him an imposing 6-foot-5, 201 pounds. But he still moves well and can obviously put the puck in the net with 31 tallies in 48 games. Drafted 67th overall by Winnipeg in 2011.
Frederik Gauthier, C – Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL)
For his first season in the Quebec League, Gauthier certainly isn’t taking things slow. The big, responsible pivot has been on fire of late, having been held off the scoresheet just once in January. Excluding that contest, he’s put up 12 points in six games, five of which were Rimouski wins. Draft eligible in 2013.
Zach Glienke, LW – Eagan Wildcats (Minn. HS)
It was Hockey Day in Minnesota over the weekend, which meant outdoor games and adverse conditions. But it’ll take more than 30 mph winds to slow down Glienke, a big-bodied scorer who notched a hat trick and five points in Eagan’s 9-2 romp over Hibbing. The strong and swift left winger now has 21 goals and 41 points in 17 games. Draft eligible in 2013.
Curtis McKenzie, LW – Miami RedHawks (CCHA)
Linemates Riley Barber and Austin Czarnik get a lot of press as the top two scorers in the conference, but somebody has to do the banging out there and McKenzie fits the bill. The 6-foot-2, 209-pounder plays a rugged game but has also chipped in 15 points through 22 contests, putting him well on his way to a career season in Miami. Drafted 159th overall by Dallas in 2009.
Adam Tambellini, C – Surrey Eagles (BCHL)
When he played for Vernon this season, Tambellini, son of Edmonton Oilers GM Steve Tambellini, was often too far ahead of his linemates to cash in on his talents, according to scouts. But a trade to Surrey has opened the floodgates and now the University of North Dakota commit is soaring. In four games with the Eagles Tambellini has five goals and 10 points. So cashing in is no longer a problem. Draft eligible in 2013.
Joose Antonen, LW – JYP Akatemia (Fin.)
Scouts like his skill, his tools and his size (6-foot-2, 179 pounds) and have compared him to Sabres first-rounder Joel Armia, though he’s not quite at that level just yet. Like Armia, consistency is an issue, but Antonen has put up a respectable 11 points and a plus-6 during 29 games in Finland’s second-tier league. Draft eligible in 2013.
Philippe Cadorette, G – Baie-Comeau Drakkar (QMJHL)
It’s been a long time since Cadorette took an ‘L.’ To be precise, it was Dec. 7 and the netminder has knocked out nine wins (plus one no-decision) in the interim. Unranked by Central Scouting and ISS, Cadorette benefits from playing on a great team, but he does have two shutouts in the span and seems to be that bend-don’t-break type who still gets the job done. 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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