If you haven’t tuned in to the Memorial Cup yet, do yourself a favor and catch the remainder. The games have been tight as a drum and the amount of talent at this year’s event is both balanced and plentiful. Hot List grads Claude Giroux and Shawn Matthias have both been dynamic.
1. Drayson Bowman, LW – Spokane Chiefs (WHL): With two games in the books, Bowman leads the Mem Cup in scoring with four goals and six points for the undefeated Chiefs. Drafted 72nd overall by Carolina in 2007.
2. P.K. Subban, D – Belleville Bulls (OHL): Subban puts up points, defuses offensive threats and gets really snarly when he needs to. Sounds like he’s got his NHL game planned out. Drafted 43rd overall by Montreal in 2007.
3. Josh Unice, G – Kitchener Rangers (OHL): With Steve Mason still off his skates, Unice has proven youth will be served. The rookie tender now has an OHL title under his belt and is surely looking to go all the way with the Memorial Cup host team. Drafted 86th overall by Chicago in 2007.
4. Mitch Wahl, C – Spokane Chiefs (WHL): California’s finest has shown what all the fuss is about, putting up four points in his first two tourney games and giving NHL teams something to think about at the draft table. Draft eligible in 2008.
5. Cody Hodgson, C – Brampton Battalion (OHL): No doubt Hodgson would prefer to still be playing hockey this year, but as a consolation prize, the highly touted pivot took home a gold medal at the Under-18s instead.
Hodgson, projected to be a top-10 pick this summer, captained Team Canada to a win in Russia earlier this spring. He led the tournament in scoring with 12 points in seven games and, true to his playmaking reputation, did it with 10 assists. The experience of the tourney also emboldened the young prospect.
“It was an unbelievable honor to be named captain,” he said. “We had a lot of good leadership on the team.”
Since being ousted from the OHL playoffs, Hodgson has been keeping tabs on his old team, the Markham Waxers. Several potential first round picks played in the program alongside the crafty center before going on to OHL fame, including Steven Stamkos and Michael Del Zotto.
As for the draft itself, Hodgson is getting amped.
“These past couple weeks I didn’t have much time, but now I’m getting excited,” he said. “The draft combine is next and that’s my training focus right now.”
With highly coveted playmaking skills and hockey sense to boot, Hodgson will be a popular young man on draft day.
Draft eligible in 2008.
6. Nick Larson, LW – Waterloo Black Hawks (USHL): Expected to go in the second or third round, Larson is at least set for next year. He’ll be joining the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the fall. Draft eligible in 2008.
7. Dustin Tokarski, G – Spokane Chiefs (WHL): What more can be said about Tokarski? He has faced two of the most deadly offenses in the nation and taken wins in both games. The Chiefs are undefeated after two games and it all starts with goaltending. Draft eligible in 2008.
8. Adam Perry, LW – Belleville Bulls (OHL): The younger brother of Anaheim’s Corey Perry (who was in the stands Monday night), Adam already has a Memorial Cup under his belt from when he was with London and his experience is showing with four assists in two games. Eligible for free agency.
9. Mike Murphy, G – Belleville Bulls (OHL): Murphy has faced a lot of rubber so far in Kitchener, yet still boasts a .908 save percentage. He was magic during the Bulls’ run to the OHL final. Draft eligible in 2008.
10. Paul Byron, C – Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL): The speedy Byron has shown off his gifts at the Cup so far after finishing second in the Quebec League’s playoff scoring with 32 points in 19 games. Drafted 179th overall by Buffalo in 2007.
11. Nazem Kadri, C – Kitchener Rangers (OHL): Even though he’s been held off the scoresheet so far, Kadri has looked very dangerous for the Rangers. Don’t be surprised to see him at the top of the OHL’s scoring leaderboard next season. Draft eligible in 2009.
12. Ben Shutron, D – Kitchener Rangers (OHL): He started the year with Kingston, but Shutron has been rock solid on the blueline for the hosts and has contributed offensively, as well, with three assists in two games. Drafted 95th overall by Chicago in 2006.
13. Takuma Kawai, LW – Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL): Quickly becoming a favorite at the tournament, the Japanese native has acquitted himself well on the big stage with two points so far. Eligible for free agency.
14. John Curry, G – Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (AHL): Not bad for a free agent signing. Curry has led the Baby Pens into the AHL semifinal with a 2.46 goals-against average and a 9-4 record. Signed by Pittsburgh as a free agent in 2007.
15. Bryan Rodney, D – Albany River Rats (AHL): Rodney couldn’t get the Rats past Philly in the first round, but his six points in seven games proved his worth to the parent Carolina Hurricanes, who signed the journeyman defender last week. Signed as a free agent by Carolina in 2008.
The Hot List, a weekly 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.
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