The Summer Hot List
The Hockey News profiles 10 prospects and their exploits playing summer hockey.
1. Taylor Hall, C – Windsor Spitfires (OHL): Yeah, that didn’t take long, did it? Hall torched the Americans for a hat trick in one of Team Canada’s exhibition games in preparation for the Ivan Hlinka under-18 tournament en route to a 6-4 victory. Look for more of the same as the real games commence. Draft eligible in 2010.
2. James van Riemsdyk, LW – New Hampshire Wildcats (Hockey East): Playing for Team USA at a mini-tournament as part of a world juniors evaluation camp, JvR had his own hat trick against Finland in a 5-2 win. What’s more frightening if you’re not a Team USA fan is that these were split-squad games, so only half of America’s best beat the Finns. Drafted second overall by Philadelphia in 2007.
3. Roman Josi, D – SC Bern (Swi): Over in Berlin, the Swiss, Czechs, Slovaks and Germans held their own little WJC tune-up, with the Swiss taking the whole darned thing with a 3-0 record. Josi was strong on the backend, contributing three goals in three games and heading a defense that gave up just four goals in those three matches. Drafted 38th overall by Nashville in 2008.
4. Ryan Ellis, D – Windsor Spitfires (OHL): As Hall is to the Spitfires’ forwards, Ellis is to the Windsor defense corps. Young Ellis made his presence felt in an Ivan Hlinka tune-up against the Czechs, tallying two assists in a 4-2 victory. He’s deadly on the power play, too. Draft eligible in 2009.
5. Oscar Moller, RW – Chilliwack Bruins (WHL): A dark horse to make the Kings this season, Moller will nonetheless grace an NHL roster sooner than later. Along with Victor Hedman (naturally), Moller was a standout for the Swedes in their losing decision to Team USA in the other half of the aforementioned WJC tune-up, posting two assists and a shootout goal in a 5-4 OT loss. Drafted 52nd overall by Los Angeles in 2007.
6. Collin Bowman, D – Kelowna Rockets (WHL): The big shutdown defender is the only major junior representative on Team USA’s Ivan Hlinka entry, but he used that familiarity to his advantage against the CHL-heavy Canadian team in a 6-4 exhibition loss, posting two assists. Draft eligible in 2009.
7. Tomas Vincour, LW – Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL): At 6-foot-2 and just a shade under 200 pounds, Vincour has good size and the skills to match. His 39 points in 65 games were tops on a fledgling Oil Kings squad boasting just one NHL draft pick (Robin Figren) and as a late birthday, his stock will surely rise this season. The Czech national had two points in three games as his boys took second place at the Berlin U-20 challenge. Draft eligible in 2009.
8. Nathan Lieuwen, G – Westside Warriors (BCJHL): The upstart Lieuwen usurped some serious major junior competition to earn his spot on Canada’s Ivan Hlinka team and proved the coaches right by stonewalling the Czechs until midway through the third (when Canada already had a 3-0 lead). Lieuwen had a fantastic rookie campaign with the Warriors, going 9-2 in 13 appearances and leading the league with a 1.94 goals-against average. Draft eligible in 2009.
9. Vinny Saponari, RW – U.S. NTDP (NAHL): I think we can unequivocally say Saponari is the best hockey player ever to come out of Powder Springs, Ga. And it’s not because he’s the only one (he’ll join his brother Victor at Boston U this season). Saponari was the counter-punch to JvR in Team USA’s win over Finland as the future Terrier notched two goals of his own. Drafted 94th overall by Atlanta in 2008.
10. Casey DeSmith, G – Berwick Academy (Maine HS): In Team USA’s two Ivan Hlinka exhibition games, DeSmith was the strongest goalie, giving up two goals to Canada and just one on 18 shots versus Slovakia. DeSmith has transferred to Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts where he’ll suit up for the Big Green this year. Draft eligible in 2009.