Michigan State will be happy when bruising defender John Draeger lands on campus. (Photo courtesy Shattuck St-Mary's)
Did a little road trip to Amherst, NY, on Friday to catch Shattuck-St. Mary’s for the first time. The Sabres’ under-18 squad was playing in the U.S. national championship and ended up winning it all thanks to a 2-1 victory over the L.A. Jr. Kings. Elsewhere, the Frozen Four is about to pop off and Sarnia found out the hard way that a dynasty can’t be built overnight as the Sting bowed out of the Ontario League playoffs to Saginaw. With all that and more in mind, here’s a look at some of the players we’re excited to see in the NHL one day.
John Draeger, D – Shattuck-St. Mary’s Sabres (Minn. HS)
The top defenseman on Shattuck, Draeger is a physical blueliner known for his reach and quick feet. He can punish with his 6-foot-2, 186-pound frame, but also showed some nice touch against Milwaukee, scoring on a beautiful penalty shot move.
“I like to be that all-around player,” Draeger said. “Help out the team offensively, defensively…be that guy who shows the younger guys the way and help them out.”
Though Shattuck draws players from around the world, Draeger is from Faribault, the Minnesota home of the prep school. Needless to say, having neighbors such as Sidney Crosby and Jonathan Toews was a great influence and the dorm experience provided by the school has lived up to expectations.
“It’s great,” Draeger said. “You get to know everybody. You bond with the guys by living together, going to dinner together. You get to be a better team.”
The big blueliner is committed Michigan State, where he’ll reunite with Shattuck alum Tanner Sorenson. And while Chicago’s Duncan Keith was a Spartan, Draeger actually looks up to his partner.
“Brent Seabrook, for sure,” he said. “He’s a big, lanky guy. He’s physical and can bury the puck and I think I play a lot like him.”
No doubt MSU would love for that to come true. Draft eligible in 2012.
Jakob Silfverberg, LW – Brynas (Swe.)
More good news for Senators fans: Not only did Ottawa clinch a playoff spot, but future Sen Silfverberg is running roughshod in the Elite League post-season. The bullish left winger leads with seven goals and 12 points in 10 games, while Brynas is on the brink of a trip to the final. Expect him over in North America next season. Drafted 39th overall by Ottawa in 2009.
Kyle Rau, C – University of Minnesota Golden Gophers (WCHA)
In the marquee Frozen Four semi, Rau’s Gophers take on Boston College. Rau has brought offense all year as a freshman and Minnesota will need him again. The shifty center earned all-WCHA rookie team honors, tallied 18 goals and 43 points in 39 games and appeared with Team USA at the world juniors. Drafted 91st overall by Florida in 2011.
Hampus Lindholm, D – Rogle (Swe.)
My people in Sweden are raving about Lindholm right now, as the young two-way defender is gaining steam at the best time possible. Rogle is in the driver’s seat to get bumped up to Sweden’s top division and Lindholm is thriving, posting five points and a plus-3 rating in eight games of the promotion tourney. Ex-NHLer Kenny Jonsson has acted as a mentor. Draft eligible in 2012.
Stefan Noesen, LW – Plymouth Whalers (OHL)
The pesky Guelph Storm gave Plymouth a run early, but Noesen was there to finish the job. The Texas-born power forward notched two five-point games in an eventual series win for the Whalers, totalling seven goals and 14 points in six games to earn OHL player of the week honors and lead the circuit in offense. Drafted 21st overall by Ottawa in 2011.
Quinton Howden, LW – Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)
The Warriors hook up with Medicine Hat in a second-round tilt that promises to be a barn-burner. With weapons like Emerson Etem and Hunter Shinkaruk, the Tigers will be tough to slow down, but Howden has the two-way ability to make a stand. Plus, the Canadian national comes into the battle on a hot streak with three goals and nine points in his first five post-season games. Drafted 25th overall by Florida in 2010.
Zachary Fucale, G – Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
It’s been too long. Fucale may be an underager, but his play has been so good as a rookie that it bears mention, especially since he’s still hot in the playoffs. The Mooseheads netminder set a record for wins by a 16-year-old (32) and so far he’s perfect in the playoffs too, rocking a league-best 1.97 goals-against average after sweeping Moncton. Draft eligible in 2013.
Patrick Sieloff, D – U.S. NTDP (USHL)
A smart, defensive defenseman with a competitive streak, Sieloff will be patrolling the blueline for the Stars and Stripes at the world under-18s in April. The Miami University commit was second on the team in penalty minutes with 115 in 53 games and can throw some devastating bodychecks when the situation arises. Scouts peg him as a coach’s dream. Draft eligible in 2012.
Duncan Siemens, D – Saskatoon Blades (WHL)
There’s a silver lining to Siemens’ Blades getting unceremoniously turfed from the Dub playoffs: He now gets to play some pro hockey. The big, nasty defenseman will join Lake Erie in the American League and the Monsters can use all the help they can get, as a playoff spot will be a battle. Expect Siemens to be back in the WHL next year, however, since Saskatoon hosts the Memorial Cup. Drafted 11th overall by Colorado in 2011.
Devin Shore, C – Whitby Fury (OJHL)
Shore had points in all five games of the Fury’s semifinal win over Toronto-Lakeshore, setting up a date with Stouffville’s Drake Caggiula in the Ontario Jr. A final. The University of Maine commit has scored all different ways for Whitby in the playoffs, with shorthanded and power play scores adding up to six goals and 25 points in 17 post-season games. Draft eligible in 2012.
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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