Justin Keller, LW – Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
Height: 5’11, Weight: 185 lbs., DOB: March 4, 1986
The hero of the 2004 Memorial Cup final for the
Kelowna Rockets, Justin Keller has been consistently at the top of the pack for
scoring on the Rockets in the last few seasons. This year is no different as he
sits second on the team in scoring just behind Islanders prospect Blake Comeau.
He is also in a three-way tie for fifth in WHL scoring. What he lacks in size,
at 5’11 and 185 lbs., he makes up for in skill where he is consistent and brings
a good all-round package. Keller’s skill has also helped earn him a spot on
Canada’s WHL squad for the 2005 ADT Canada/Russia Challenge. Drafted in the eighth round in 2004, if he continues to put up numbers and is able to display plenty of heart and drive he can improve his
chances at moving to the next level.
Blair Jones, C – Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)
Height: 6’2, Weight: 193 lbs., DOB: September 27, 1986
Acquired in a trade last season from the Red Deer Rebels, Blair Jones was a
factor in Moose Jaw’s late season success in 2005. He is also part of the
reason for the success they have
carried into this season, as they sit atop of the East Division. Noted for his
offensive abilities, Jones is third in scoring on the Warriors and, like fellow
Lightning prospect Justin Keller, is tied for fifth in the league in scoring.
Andy Rogers, D – Prince George Cougars (WHL)
Height: 6’5, Weight: 206 lbs., DOB: August 25, 1986
Calgary native Andy Rogers joined the Prince
George Cougars last season after being acquired from the Calgary Hitmen. He
started the 2005-06 season with three assists in seven games, but has recently
been sidelined with an ankle injury. In the past his downside has been his
limited offensive contributions, an area he has shown improvement in lately.
Rogers has great size at 6’5 and his skating ability is a strength. This
combined with his play in his own end has earned him respect. He is a physical
presence on the ice and is not afraid to stand up to opposing players by
delivering punishing checks. If he can return to form after his injury he may be
able to surpass his previous totals and showcase his increasing offensive
potential, something he has worked at improving on.
Vladimir Mihalik, D – Red Deer Rebels (WHL)
Height: 6’7, Weight: 222 lbs., DOB: January 29, 1987
Often a member of national teams in his native Slovakia, Vladimir Mihalik
made the jump to North America this season with the Red Deer Rebels. Due to his
massive frame at 6’7 and 222 lbs., Mihalik has had to work on adapting his game
to his body and on the physical aspect
of his game. Mihalik has made strides in improving his overall play and playing a more
physical style. His size should be what gets him to the next level, if he is able
to use it to his advantage and become a defensive force.
Stanislav Lascek, RW – Chicoutimi Sagueneens (QMJHL)
Height: 6’0, Weight: 195 lbs., DOB: January 17, 1986
Since coming to North America a few seasons ago from his native Slovakia,
Stanislav Lascek has steadily improved his game. In 2003-04, his first season
with the Chicoutimi Sagueneens, he had 40 assists and was third on the team in
scoring with 57 points. Last season he almost doubled his assist total with 72,
more than any other player on his team and, again, was third on the team in
scoring with 90 points. He is on good pace again this season with 36 points in
18 games, good for third in the QMJHL, and he is only three goals shy of his
previous high of 18 total on the season. He, along with teammate and QMJHL
scoring leader Maxime Boisclair, have been inspirations for the
Sagueneens and are a large part of the reason the team sits in second in the
Mark Tobin, LW – Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL)
Height: 6’3, Weight: 211 lbs., DOB: November 26, 1985
With the likes of Sidney Crosby, Dany Roussin and
Marc-Antoine Pouliot missing from the Rimouski Oceanic lineup, Mark Tobin has
had to pick up some of the slack left from these departures. Not as offensively
strong as the three previously mentioned, Tobin gives it his all on every shift.
Utilized on the penalty kill because of his strong defensive play and hockey
sense, he has now become important to the team’s power play. Added to his
responsibilities has been taking faceoffs, where he already has more under his
belt this season than he had all of last season. Tobin possesses a gritty,
physical style of play that he brings to the ice every night and leads his team
in hits. He also sits close to the top of the league in that category. This is
an important season for Tobin as it will be more apparent how much he benefited
from playing with Crosby, Roussin and Pouliot and whether he can step it up and
meet expectations without these offensive talents around.
Radek Smolenak, LW – Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)
Height: 6’2, Weight: 180 lbs., DOB: December 3, 1986
In his first season in North America in 2004-05,
Radek Smolenak led rookies in the OHL with 31 goals and was fourth among rookies
with 60 points. Despite playing on a team that wasn’t doing well, Smolenak was
consistent throughout the season. He also came to play at the Top Prospects Game
where he had a two-point showing as an injury replacement. He is second on the
Kingston Frontenacs in scoring this season and will continue to prove his worth
if he stays consistent and keeps appearing on the scoresheet.
RW – Owen Sound Attack (OHL)
Height: 6’3, Weight: 194 lbs., DOB: February 13,
Marek Bartanus, thought to have a lot of skill
which he has not put to use properly, joined the Owen Sound Attack this season,
his first in North America. Given the chance to display leadership for his
country at the national level, Bartanus has faltered, failing to put up numbers
and lead a team. He hasn’t put up overly impressive numbers, so far, in his
rookie campaign, but time should tell if the change of scenery will improve his
attitude and his consistency.
Chris Lawrence, C – Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)
Height: 6’4, Weight: 199 lbs., DOB: February 5, 1987
In his second season with the Sault Ste. Marie
Greyhounds in 2004-05, Chris Lawrence found his offensive footing. He tied
Philadelphia prospect Jeff Carter for the team lead in assists with 40 and was
third on the team in scoring with 51 points. His solid play landed him a spot in
the 2005 Top Prospects Game. Lawrence has the potential to be a force at the
next level if he continues to work on his all-round play.
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Kevin Beech, G – Sudbury Wolves (OHL)
Height: 6’4, Weight: 168 lbs., DOB: September 23, 1986
Coming off a season where he improved on his play
between the pipes, Kevin Beech has had a less than stellar start to the season.
As a backup to San Jose prospect Patrick Ehelechner in 2004-05, Beech played
well and was able to steal the starting spot in the playoffs. Now, as the No. 1
goaltender in Sudbury, Beech has struggled to reach form. His inconsistency can
be attributed in part to his lanky size, at 6’4 and 168 lbs. Beech has the
chance to prove himself this season as the starter, but will have to be
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