If there's a silver lining to the NHL lockout, it's the super-sizing of major junior and the American League, the latter of which just had its opening weekend.
And if you're a Minnesota Wild fan pining for Parise and Suter, at least you can look at a Houston Aeros box score and see "Charlie Coyle from Mikael Granlund and Jason Zucker" and smile.
Lots of action going on, so let's take a look at some of the players we're excited to see in the NHL one day.
Madison Bowey, D – Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
A highly touted defenseman when he was selected in the Western League’s bantam draft, Bowey slid down to Kelowna because some teams feared he might go NCAA. That was the Rockets’ gain as once again the B.C. squad brought in an elite blueliner to join the ranks of alumni such as Luke Schenn, Tyler Myers and Shea Weber – a player Bowey happens to look up to.
“He can really jump into the play, but he also takes care of his own end,” Bowey said.
A two-sport star growing up, Bowey also excelled in baseball. The Winnipeg native played pitcher, catcher and centerfield, even going to the national championship. But it was on the mound where he was truly most happy.
“The game relies on you,” he said. “When it comes down to it, you win or lose on pitching, so you have to stay focused out there.”
And keeping his eye on the prize has been important in hockey as well, where Bowey is ranked 33rd overall by International Scouting Services for the 2013 NHL draft. Best known for his skating, the 6-foot-1, 194-pound rearguard has posted six points through 10 games for the Rockets – and he’s only on the second power play unit. Needless to say, Kelowna is deep on the back end with New Jersey pick Damon Severson and the WHL’s fourth-leading scorer Myles Bell (who has been playing forward lately).
“It’s great playing with those guys and we’re all pretty competitive,” Bowey said. “It’s unreal playing in Kelowna.”
Bowey still wants to improve on his D-zone coverage, but with his talent and natural athleticism, he’ll be a home run for one NHL team. Draft eligible in 2013.
Elias Lindholm, C – Brynas (Swe.)
Lindholm’s not on fire right now, he’s on magma. The tenacious pivot has teamed with cousin (and Red Wings pick) Calle Jarnkrok to lay waste to Sweden’s best league. Lindholm has points on eight of Brynas’ past nine goals to rocket up the Elitserien scoring charts and cement himself as the No. 1 Swede to watch. Draft eligible in 2013.
Jacob Trouba, D – University of Michigan Wolverines (CCHA)
With blueline buddy Jon Merrill (NJ) laid up with a neck injury, Trouba’s entry into the NCAA became all the more urgent. Fortunately, the kid, once dubbed a “shark” by his Team USA coach thanks to his physical play, came to work on time. Trouba tallied three points in his first two games for the Wolverines, who salvaged a weekend split with RIT. Drafted ninth overall by Winnipeg in 2012.
Phillip Danault, C – Victoriaville Tigres (QMJHL)
While the Rouyn-Noranda duo of Jean-Sebastien Dea and Sven Andrighetto still sit atop the scoring board, Danault is quickly stalking the Huskies with 11 goals and 20 points through 12 games. A two-way player with some grit, Danault was a late cut in Chicago last season. Drafted 26th overall by Chicago in 2011.
Frederik Gauthier, C – Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL)
Hard to believe Gauthier was still playing midget last season, but the 6-foot-4, 219-pound specimen made the most of it by taking his squad to the national championship final. A complete two-way player, Gauthier’s size and skill make him dangerous, as his eight goals and 15 points through 10 games with Rimouski can attest. Draft eligible in 2013.
Kerby Rychel, LW – Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
Though he got off to a slow start offensively, Rychel has been making up for lost time with five points in his past two games. The son of Spits GM/co-owner Warren Rychel is loved by scouts because of his character and toughness and the kid’s got an NHL frame already at 6-foot-1, 200 pounds. Draft eligible in 2013.
Mark Jankowski, C –Providence College Friars (Hockey East)
Straight out of Stanstead College, Jankowski had seriously considered playing a year with Dubuque in the USHL before heading to the NCAA, but the lanky wunderkind switched course in the summer and leapt right in. In his first weekend, the talented pivot notched two goals in two games – so clearly he knew what he was in for. Drafted 21st overall by Calgary in 2012.
Paul Stoykewych, D – Winnipeg South Blues (MJHL)
The Blues are riding high this year, tops in their division through 10 games, and Stoykewych has more than pulled his weight. Committed to Western Michigan University, the solidly build D-man has racked up nine points in 12 games, largely in a playmaking role. His older brother Peter is a Jets prospect currently at Colorado College. Draft eligible in 2013.
Eric Comrie, G – Tri-City Americans (WHL)
One of the busiest goaltenders in the ‘Dub’ with 10 starts to his credit already, Comrie also hasn’t lost a regulation game this month and has two shutouts during the same stretch. That’s why Mike Comrie’s kin sees his stats going in the right directions, with a 2.38 goals-against average and .923 save percentage. Draft eligible in 2013.
Tommy Vannelli, D – Minnetonka Skippers (Minn. HS)
A confident blueliner with puckrushing skills, Vannelli is also competent in his own zone. He suited up for Team USA at the Ivan Hlinka this summer and is currently putting up big points (14 in 17 games) at the Upper Midwest High School Elite League for Team Northwest before his Minnesota season begins. Draft eligible in 2013.
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 on thehockeynews.com. A player is eligible for The Hot List until they play their first NHL game.
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