Ladies and gentleman, your CCHA regular season champs: the Ferris State Bulldogs. Despite having no NHL draft picks on the roster, the Dogs will head into the playoffs as the top seed, thus proving what teamwork and experience can do in the college game. As other leagues near the post-season, the eye on prospects will focus evermore. Several moved at the NHL trade deadline, including AHLers Carter Ashton and Zack Kassian. Here are a few more kids we’re excited to see in the big league some day.
Damon Severson, D – Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
Even if it wasn’t a railway town, scouts would be making sure they swung through tiny Melville, Sask., every once in a while. That’s because the town has played host to way more NHLers than the populace of roughly 4,500 people should warrant. Jarret Stoll and Chris Kunitz are two recent examples, while Severson (pronounced SEE-verson) is well on his way to joining them. Born in Brandon, Man., he moved to Melville as a young child and has been making a name for himself in the ‘Dub’ thanks to his size, mobility and edge.
“I think my offensive game is strong,” he said. “It comes naturally to me. I’d like to work on boxing guys out and making the easy plays.”
Playing for the Rockets means staring down a long list of impressive alumni on the blueline, from Duncan Keith to Luke Schenn to Tyler Myers. But Severson’s mentor may be the best to come out of the program.
“Shea Weber,” he said. “He’s a big guy, shoots the puck well and is one of the strongest guys on the ice out there.”
But the 6-foot-2, 200-pounder does have a softer side off the ice. Like many junior players of late, he went to see the popular romance flick “The Vow,” and makes no apologies for it.
“I thought it was a decent show,” he said. “It’s a nice treat to take a girlfriend to, or whoever.”
Since it’s no treat playing against Severson, that’s a rare occasion. Draft eligible in 2012.
J.T. Brown, RW – University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs (WCHA)
Fast, tough and skilled, Brown will be one of the most coveted college free agents available once UMD’s season comes to an end. But that might not be for a while and the son of a former NFL running back will be a big reason: He scored the OT winner on Friday and then notched two points on Sunday as the Dogs swept Colorado College. Available for free agency in 2012 (undrafted).
Louie Nanne, LW – Edina Hornets (Minn. HS)
Nanne comes from hockey royalty in Minnesota (his grandfather Lou was GM of the North Stars and a Miracle on Ice architect) and brings a lot of competitiveness to the table. The left winger and University of Minnesota commit has a great shot and used it in the state sectional playoffs when he erased a two-goal deficit by himself in under two minutes in an eventual 7-4 win over Bloomington-Jefferson. Draft eligible in 2012.
Charlie Coyle, RW – Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL)
His exit from Boston University was controversial, but the big power forward has rewarded the Sea Dogs for their pursuit. Since arriving in the ‘Q,’ Coyle has been held scoreless in just two of his 15 appearances, ringing up 11 goals and 23 points in that span. Also, Saint John has lost only one of those contests – Coyle’s debut against Shawinigan. Drafted 28th overall by San Jose in 2010; traded to Minnesota in 2011.
Matt Finn, D – Guelph Storm (OHL)
Guelph’s go-to defenseman brings character, crease-clearing ability and two-way play to the table, but lately he’s been on a serious offensive run, too. The six-foot, 197-pounder was held off the scoresheet just once in February, notching 10 points in 10 games as the Storm clings to a playoff spot. Draft eligible in 2012.
Victor Rask, C – Calgary Hitmen (WHL)
Blessed with size and skill, Rask had a lot of hype coming into his draft year, but couldn’t find the right fit back in Sweden with Leksand. Coming over to a rebuilding Hitmen squad was fortuitous timing for the pivot and now he’s showing what he can do. Rask is currently on a six-game point streak with half those outings resulting in multiple appearances on the scoresheet. He’s now up to 51 points through 55 games. Drafted 42nd overall by Carolina in 2011.
Tomas Hertl, LW – Slavia Prague (Cze.)
The big-bodied, playmaking winger continues to thrive in the Czech Republic’s top league with 12 goals and 25 points through 38 games, but his most recent two points were probably the most satisfying. That’s because Hertl’s goal and assist helped Slavia with a 3-2 win over hated crosstown rival Sparta. Draft eligible in 2012.
Philipp Grubauer, G – South Carolina Stingrays (ECHL)
If there’s a franchise that knows goaltenders lately, it’s Washington. The Caps have such a wealth of netminders that Grubauer is holding the fort in the ECHL, where his .914 save percentage, 2.33 goals-against average and 21 wins all rank among the top numbers in the league. He was January’s netminder of the month and brings a Memorial Cup from his days in Windsor to the party. Drafted 112th overall by Washington in 2010.
Kenny Agostino, LW – Yale University Bulldogs (ECAC)
It’s been a middling year for the Bulldogs, but there’s nothing sweeter for a Yalie than a beat down of Harvard and Agostino had a big hand on that over the weekend. The sophomore winger hung four points on the Crimson in a 7-1 Bulldogs win, bringing his yearly totals to 13 goals and 29 points in 27 games. Drafted 140th overall by Pittsburgh in 2010.
Anthony De Luca, D – Lac St-Louis Lions (Que. midget)
He may be only 5-foot-8, but De Luca also weighs nearly 200 pounds already, so size should not be much of an impediment as his career progresses. The prodigy defenseman leads the entire Quebec midget AAA circuit with 48 goals and 80 points in just 43 games and is committed to the University of Vermont. 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 only on thehockeynews.com. A player is eligible for The Hot List until they play in their first NHL game.
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