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Championship time of year

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Championship time of year
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Nikita Zadorov is off to the OHL final with the London Knights, where they'll face the Barrie Colts. …

Canada finally dethroned Team USA at the world under-18s, beating the Americans 3-2 for gold and ending a four-year championship run. Connor McDavid was the tourney’s MVP and will likely be back next year (and maybe the year after that) to torture the opposition. Meanwhile, Colorado won the Draft Lottery, putting hometown kid Seth Jones straight in the Avs’ crosshairs come June. There’s a lot going on right now, so here’s a look at some of the other prospects we’re excited to see in the NHL one day.

Markus Soberg, RW – Frolunda Indians (Swe.)

Though Finland immediately comes to mind when the topic of Swedish rivals comes up, Norway also takes umbrage to the Tre Kronor and Soberg is part of the growing ranks of Vikings ready to rumble on the ice.

“It’s like Canada and the United States,” he said. “We don’t like them and they don’t like us. We like to beat them and we’re getting there.”

Right now, Soberg is learning from the inside. The speedy Norwegian led Frolunda’s under-20 team to a fourth-place finish in the Swedish playoffs, tallying a team-high six points in six games. He learned Swedish right away and also speaks fluent English. He also represented Norway at the world under-18s (Division 1A), putting up a tourney-high eight goals and 13 points in five games.

“That was my third time at the under-18s,” Soberg said. “We lost in the final to Denmark, so not too happy about that.”

So the Norwegians weren’t promoted, but the nation will play against the big boys at the World Junior Championship next year.

“It’s something I’m already looking forward to now,” Soberg said. “You pinch yourself.”

As for his future, Soberg prides himself on his agility, wrist shot and physical play, while knowing he needs to work on defense. He will play one more year in Sweden and then might come over to North America, where his skills translate into any language. Draft eligible in 2013.

Nikita Zadorov, D – London Knights (OHL)

The massive Russian made a big impact in London’s final victory over Plymouth, slamming Tom Wilson and then fighting Mitchell Heard in succession. And though Zadorov does have five points in 13 playoff games, it’s his defense and frame that scouts are salivating over. Draft eligible in 2013.

Laurent Dauphin, C – Chicoutimi Sagueneens (QMJHL)

Two things stand out when it comes to Dauphin. The first is that he has impeccable timing – two points in Canada’s gold medal win over Team USA at the under-18s and two points in a 3-0 Team Orr win at the CHL Top Prospects Game earlier this season. Secondly, Dauphin has proved he can produce off the rush and from within the zone, a very important trait. Draft eligible in 2013.

Juuse Saros, G – HPK (Fin.)

Full marks to Saros for being the guiding force behind Finland’s bronze medal. Voted best goalie of the under-18s by the IIHF, he stood up a very dangerous Russian squad and posted a .945 save percentage over the course of the tournament. Quick in the net and sharp down low, Saros isn’t a big goalie, but he knows how to make the stops. Draft eligible in 2013.

Josh Morrissey, D – Prince Albert Raiders (WHL)

With three goals and seven points, Morrissey found himself atop the defensemen scoring table at the under-18s, while his plus-10 was tops in the tournament overall. No doubt the showing will help the physical puckmover get his name out there in a year with some pretty marquee names on the blueline. Draft eligible in 2013.

Steven Santini, D – U.S. NTDP (USHL)

Due to a variety of factors, Team USA didn’t have the same high-end talent as in previous years, but Santini will be one of the first from the contingent to hear his name called at the draft in New Jersey. Physical and solid all-around, the Boston College commit reinforced his stock in Sochi. Draft eligible in 2013.

Artturi Lehkonen, LW – KalPa (Fin.)

Lehkonen’s solid showing for the bronze-medal Finns will help shore up his draft stock, which had been sliding due to a couple concussions and concerns over size. He’s a talent nonetheless, doing damage with a sizzling wrist shot and leading his team with nine points in seven games. Draft eligible in 2013.

Philippe Desrosiers, G – Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL)

One of Canada’s top players at the under-18s, Desrosiers withstood Team USA’s barrage in the gold medal game and came away from the tournament with a stunning 0.80 goals-against average. He also won this job; Spencer Martin was last year’s third-stringer, but Desrosiers earned the top minutes. Draft eligible in 2013.

Martin Gernat, D – Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)

With captain Griffin Reinhart finished (foot), the Oil Kings will need Gernat even more in the Game 7 showdown against Calgary. So far, the big Slovakian has been aces for Edmonton, notching 15 points in 15 games. Drafted 122nd overall by Edmonton in 2011.

Rasmus Andersson, D – Malmo Redhawks (Swe.)

A late 1996 birthday, Andersson has a while before he’ll even get the chance to ply his trade in the NHL, but there’s a lot to like already. The seventh defenseman on a disappointing Swedish U18 team, Andersson can play a nasty physical game that sometimes strays over the line, but always keeps opponents on their toes. Draft eligible in 2015.

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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