Peterborough blueliner Slater Koekkoek is out with a shoulder injury but still projects as a first-rounder. (Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images)
Team Canada released its preliminary camp roster for the world juniors Monday and yes, there were some surprise omissions, particularly on defense. First round draft picks Duncan Siemens and Stuart Percy both missed the cut, as did left winger Matt Puempel. Otherwise, the obvious names are all there and if players on the mend such as Jonathan Huberdeau, Ryan Murphy and Ryan Murray are all healthy, it’s going to be a deadly squad. Here’s a look at some of the other prospects we’re excited to see in the NHL one day.
Slater Koekkoek, D – Peterborough Petes (OHL)
Just as he was beginning to experience the showers of praise that come with a breakout season, Koekkoek was laid up with a shoulder injury that will cost him at least four to six weeks on the shelf. But his rise up the draft rankings cannot be ignored and right now he’s looking like a top-10 pick.
“With my skating I can jump into the rush and also be able to get back,” Koekkoek said. “I think that’s my best asset.”
On a green Petes team last year, Koekkoek saw a lot of losing. But it didn’t dampen his enthusiasm for the squad.
“Last year was a trial and error year,” he said. “We were young and inexperienced and I don’t know if we could have done anything to stop the bleeding.”
This season, the D-corps added Czech import Peter Ceresnak and 20-year-old Jonathan Jasper, making Koekkoek’s job easier. The youngster was playing major minutes last season and now he has been able to breathe a little more. It’s showed up on the scoresheet, too, where his 18 points through 26 games has nearly eclipsed the 23 he had all of last year.
“Everyone knows their role right now,” Koekkoek said. “As long as we keep that up, the experience and leadership will come through.”
And Koekkoek will be a key part of that mission. Draft eligible in 2012.
Mikael Granlund, C – HIFK (Fin.)
He missed the world juniors due to a concussion last year, but Granlund may be the best player going this time around. The sublime center leads Finland’s top league in scoring with 30 points in 24 games and has a plus-12 rating to boot. He’s smart and creative and will have some solid talent surrounding him on Suomi in Alberta. Drafted ninth overall by Minnesota in 2010.
Tony Cameranesi, C – Waterloo Black Hawks (USHL)
The small, but skilled center is cooking up something special in Iowa along with underage teammate Taylor Cammarata. The pair is 1-2 in team scoring. Cameranesi had six points in his past three games with Waterloo and was seeing minutes in all situations, even playing the point on the power play. He’s committed to Minnesota-Duluth next season. Drafted 130th overall by Toronto in 2011.
Zack Phillips, C – Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL)
There have been some incredible runs in the Quebec League this season and Phillips is in the middle of one such wrecking. The talented pivot is currently rocking a 19-game point streak, many of which have seen him go into multiples. And, he’s done part of it without favorite linemate Jonathan Huberdeau. Drafted 28th overall by Minnesota in 2011.
Kevin Tansey, D – Clarkson Golden Knights (ECAC)
This season has been exceptional for players passed over in the draft making their mark. Anton Zlobin, Tanner Pearson and Tomas Hyka are all making names for themselves while Tansey, a big freshman defenseman for Clarkson, is leading the conference in plus-minus alongside Colgate senior Austin Smith with a plus-11 through 16 games. The kid’s already got a shorthanded goal, too. Draft eligible in 2012, undrafted in 2011.
Casey Cizikas, C – Bridgeport Sound Tigers (AHL)
Cizikas had a whirlwind final season of junior that included appearances in the WJC gold medal game and Memorial Cup final – both heartbreakers. But the speedy, heady two-way center has put that behind him and is thriving for Bridgeport, where he’s second in scoring with 15 points in 24 games and tops on the team with a plus-7 rating. Drafted 92nd overall by the New York Islanders in 2009.
Pontus Aberg, LW – Djurgarden (Swe.)
One speedy customer, Aberg’s not afraid to shoot the puck – as evidenced by his 52 attempts in 24 games. That’s second on Djurgarden, which has entrusted him with first-line duty at times and been rewarded with the left winger’s seven goals and 13 points, second amongst all Elite League juniors. Draft eligible in 2012.
Louis Domingue, G – Quebec Remparts (QMJHL)
It will be interesting to see who joins likely incumbent Mark Visentin in Canada’s crease for the world juniors and Domingue has a pretty good shot. His 2.31 goals-against average, 13-3-2 record and .930 save percentage are all near the top of the QMJHL and even though he’s on a good team, he still faces 31 shots a night. Drafted 138th overall by Phoenix in 2010.
Michael Ferland, LW – Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)
He may not be one of the better-known names on Canada’s short list, but Ferland was great at the CHL Super Series against Russia and his 17 goals and 42 points through 28 games in the Dub prove he’s doing something right. At 6-foot-2 and 208 pounds, the left winger is a load to handle and he can fight with the best of them – not that he’ll need to do that internationally. Drafted 133rd overall by Calgary in 2011.
Cody Ceci, D – Ottawa 67’s (OHL)
It’s going to be very tough to crack Canada’s roster as an underager, but Ceci’s inclusion in the final camp is a great indicator of just how important he has been for Ottawa. The 6-foot-3, 210-pounder has great offensive instincts and ranks second in the Ontario League for points by a defenseman with 26 in 26 games. He moves the puck well and has good mobility, so if not this year, he’ll definitely be at the world juniors in 2013. 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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