The bracket for the NCAA’s Frozen Four is set, while playoffs have come to major junior’s three leagues. It’s a big time of year for prospects. Even though being on a great team doesn’t boost a player’s stock, a long playoff drive at least gives scouts a few more games to get a read on a kid. Here’s a look at some of the prospects we’re excited to see in the NHL one day.
Robbie Baillargeon, C – Indiana Ice (USHL)
While New England was finishing up its high school campaign, former Cushing Academy standout Baillargeon was way over in the Midwest feasting on the competition in the United States League. And when he’s not putting up points for the Ice, the playmaking center is usually chomping down on something else with his teammates. Baillargeon has enjoyed his Indiana experience, particularly in trying out restaurants he can’t go to back home, such as the Chinese chain Pei Wei. He has needed all those calories since the USHL game is faster and brawnier.
“You have to make your moves quickly,” he said. “You have to create time yourself and find the open areas.”
That hasn’t been a problem for the rookie, who notched 14 goals and 46 points in his first 47 games. Citing Philly’s Claude Giroux as a role model, Baillargeon sees the value in both dishing and throwing shots on net.
“I bring a lot of offensive skill to the team,” he said. “I can set people up and I can bury. I can shoot and pass and be a power play guy.”
The six-foot, 174-pound pivot would still like to get bigger, but he’ll also have another full year in Indiana before heading to Boston U. for 2013-14.
“My No. 1 thing was I wanted to play in Boston,” Baillargeon said. “The rivalry with Boston College, the Beanpot tournament – I wanted to be a part of that.”
And he’ll be a dangerous one, no doubt. Draft eligible in 2012.
Jacob Trouba, D – U.S. NTDP (USHL)
Though teammate Nic Kerdiles has been putting up big numbers lately, Trouba gets the nod for both his offense and his fists: The 6-foot-2, 194-pound blueliner wrecked Hot List fave Zemgus Girgensons in a bout late last week and he also has three points in his past five games. The University of Michigan commit is proving what a tough customer he can be. Draft eligible in 2012.
Brendan Collier, LW – Malden Catholic Lancers (Mass. HS)
The captain of the Lancers helped his team to a second straight Super 8 title (Massachusetts state championship) with the game-tying goal en route to a 3-1 win over B.C. High. A passionate player with an edgy style, Collier is undersized, but brings a lot of intangibles to the game. The Boston U. commit also had the winning goal in the 2011 tourney. Draft eligible in 2012.
Scott Harrington, D – London Knights (OHL)
The Ontario League’s coaches’ poll came out on the weekend and Harrington garnered a couple awards in the Western Conference. Along with being named the best defensive defenseman, the Canadian WJC bronze medalist was also honored as the smartest player in the conference. The Knights host Windsor in the first round of the playoffs. Drafted 54th overall by Pittsburgh in 2011.
Mikhail Grigorenko, C – Quebec Remparts (QMJHL)
Not that it was ever much of a competition, but Grigorenko officially ends his rookie season as the top-scoring draft prospect in the Quebec League. The big Russian with the great vision hit the 40-goal mark, notched 85 points in 59 games and won more than 50 percent of his faceoffs. Draft eligible in 2012.
Hampus Lindholm, D – Rogle (Swe.)
With his squad vying for a berth in next season’s Elite League, Lindholm has come out firing with two points in his first two games of the Swedish promotion round. With both size (6-foot-2, 196 pounds) and speed, the blueliner has a lot of offensive potential, but is still honing his raw game. Draft eligible in 2012.
Jack Campbell, G – Texas Stars (AHL)
His resume in pressure situations stands tall, even if Campbell’s junior GAA was sometimes ghastly. Even so, the American WJC hero will begin his pro career in the American League with the last-place Stars after his Soo Greyhounds missed out on the OHL post-season. Right now, experience is the order of the day. Drafted 11th overall by Dallas in 2010.
Drake Caggiula, C – Stouffville Spirit (OJHL)
The North Dakota commit has been on fire for Stouffville, with six goals and 17 points in 10 post-season games. The Spirit’s next opponent is Georgetown, in the Ontario Jr. A semifinal. Caggiula brings skill and physicality to the Stouffville squad and excels in both special teams departments. Draft eligible in 2012.
Danny DeKeyser, D – Western Michigan Broncos (CCHA)
The Broncos finished off their first season under coach Andy Murray with a conference title and the next stop is Minnesota, where they’ll take on North Dakota in the Frozen Four regionals. DeKeyser was named to the all-tournament team in the CCHA showdown and with his size and poise, demand is high in the NHL. Undrafted in 2011; eligible for free agency in 2012.
Ty Rattie, RW – Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
Rattie ended the year with a spectacular 57 goals and 121 points in 69 games, good for third in the ‘Dub.’ With Sven Baertschi back from Calgary, the Hawks have all hands on deck as they start their playoff push by scrapping with Kelowna. In a dangerous Western bracket, it’s gonna be a dogfight. Drafted 32nd overall by St. Louis in 2011.
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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