The last group of prospects to hit the ice this season are American high-schoolers and though the Minnesotans don’t get it going until the end of the month, the kids have already cut their teeth in the fall’s Upper Midwest Elite League and last weekend’s Bauer NIT. Here’s a couple notes from those ranks, plus the rest of the kids we can’t wait to see in the NHL some day…
Colin Jacobs, C - Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)
Power forwards are a coveted breed in pro circles, but waiting for them to develop takes patience. Jacobs, a 6-foot-2, 204-pound center for the Thunderbirds, is already learning what his intimidating frame can do in his second full year of major junior.
“I’ve started to notice a few more things,” he said. “I can drive to the net a lot better.”
Which is important, because Seattle has relied on goaltending for several years now, in part because they had Calvin Pickard between the pipes and in part because they couldn’t score. Jacobs is helping the latter this season, posting 12 points in his first 15 games, putting him on pace to double his offensive output from last year. And while keeping goals out is still paramount, the T-Birds are at least competing in the U.S. Division right now.
“We’re starting fresh,” Jacobs noted, “and I think we’re a tough team to play against.”
The Texas-raised 17-year-old cites playmaking as his best asset, but he also knows what to work on as his game matures.
“Most of all, it’s my consistency,” Jacobs said. “I want to have the same effort 100 percent in all 72 games, instead of having three good games then having a bad one.”
As a power forward still on the rise, it’s the right attitude to have. Draft eligible in 2011.
Linus Omark, LW – Oklahoma City Barons (AHL)
Tough to have a better night than the diminutive Omark did against Toronto on the weekend; five goals and the shootout winner in a 7-6 victory. Guess he could have had six goals. Needless to say, the Swedish winger has been impressive since Edmonton’s rookie camp and was excellent in the Kontinental League last year. Drafted 97th overall by Edmonton in 2007.
Christian Horn, LW – Benilde-St. Margaret’s Red Knights (Minn. HS)
Talk about clutch. Playing for the Minnesota White squad, Horn notched two goals in the semifinal of the NIT, then grabbed the overtime winner against Shattuck-St. Mary’s to snatch the title. Horn, a smart player with great offensive instincts, had five points in three games, tying him for tops on the team. Draft eligible in 2011.
Steven Fogarty, C – Edina Hornets (Minn. HS)
Minnesota Red fell in the semis to Horn’s White squad, but romped 8-3 over Michigan in the third-place game. Leading the charge was Fogarty, who cashed in a hat trick in the victory. At nearly 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds, he’ll be one to watch this season, especially playing for an Edina team that has churned out prospects such as Zach Budish and Anders Lee in recent years. Draft eligible in 2011.
Maxim Kitsyn, LW – Metallurg Novokuznetsk (KHL)
The CHL-Russian Summit Series kicked off in Saint John Monday night with the visitors winning 5-4. Kitsyn was one of the main attractions for the Russians, potting two goals and three points. He has four points in 10 games for Metallurg, despite averaging less than 10 minutes of ice time per game. Drafted 158th overall by Los Angeles in 2010.
Phillip Danault, LW – Victoriaville Tigres (QMJHL)
With 27 points in 22 games, Danault has crafted himself a pretty nice season to date, which is especially good because it’s his draft year. Another plus came when he was named to the Q’s team for the Summit Series after Montreal’s Louis Leblanc pulled out with an injury. Speedy and a dogged worker, Danault had two assists against the Russians, including all the hard work on a beautiful shorthanded setup in the first period. Draft eligible in 2011.
Drew Shore, C – Denver Pioneers (WCHA)
Maybe it’s having a year of experience under his belt or maybe it’s having little brother Nick along for the ride in Denver now, but Drew is on fire in his sophomore season. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound pivot plays a responsible two-way game, but has also broken out for 12 points in his first 10 games after tallying at just a half-point-per-game clip last season. Drafted 44th overall by Florida in 2009.
Jacob MacDonald, D – Waterloo Black Hawks (USHL)
As MacDonald goes, so do the Hawks. Waterloo is riding a four-game winning streak and the 6-foot-1, 198-pound blueliner has points in each victory. He even has two multi-point games in that stretch and has shown himself to be effective on the power play. Draft eligible in 2011.
John Keeney, G – Omaha Lancers (USHL)
At 6-foot-2, 193 pounds, Keeney has pro goalie size, but more importantly, he has the skills to back it up. In limited duty last season, he was outstanding for the Lancers and has continued the trend in 2010-11. Through four appearances, the California native has a 1.70 goals-against average and .929 save percentage. He also has three of Omaha’s five wins and just one of the Lancers’ four losses/OT losses. Draft eligible in 2011.
J.P. Anderson, G – Mississauga-St. Mike’s Majors (OHL)
With a guaranteed berth in the Memorial Cup as the tourney’s host, the pressure was on the Majors to be good this year and they’ve certainly lived up to expectations. Anderson is a big reason, with his three shutouts in 13 appearances, 2.01 goals-against average and .926 save percentage. Nice bounceback for a player who underwhelmed last year. Signed as a free agent with San Jose in 2010.
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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