There's little doubt NHL scouts and fans of the game began digesting NHL Central Scouting's preliminary players to watch from North America and Europe the moment the lists hit the pages of NHL.com.
The preliminary lists are really the first indication of which players among the major junior and collegiate ranks we should be tracking entering the 2012-13 campaign. Who doesn't like to speculate on who might be the next great player in the NHL?
In addition to the main story, NHL.com also spoke to NHL Director of European Scouting Goran Stubb for his take on a few of the top international skaters to watch.
By now, many are aware of a few high-profile prospects with familiar bloodlines expected to get plenty of publicity leading up to the 2013 NHL Draft at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., June 28-29. Forward Max Domi of the London Knights is the son Tie Domi. Defenseman Seth Jones, considered to be a certain top five pick at the Draft, is the son of former NBA forward Popeye Jones.
While he might be a "C"-rated prospect entering the season, goalie Anthony Brodeur of Shattuck-St. Mary's in Minnesota certainly won't fly under the radar as the son of future Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur.
There are a few other prospects on the board this season with name recognition.
Left wing Adam Tambellini, son of Edmonton Oilers general manager Steve Tambellini, is a "B" prospect playing for the Vernon Vipers of the British Columbia Hockey League. In his first season in 2011-12, Tambellini, who is committed to the University of North Dakota in the fall of 2013, struck for 27 goals and 56 points in 55 games.
In the Ontario Hockey League, the name Tyler Bertuzzi may raise a few eyebrows. The 6-foot, 178-pound left wing from the Guelph Storm is the nephew of Detroit Red Wings forward Todd Bertuzzi. Tyler produced six goals, 17 points and 117 penalty minutes in 61 games for the Storm last season.
Goalie Brendan Burke of the Western Hockey League's Portland Winterhawks is the son of former NHL goalie Sean Burke, who played 18 seasons in the NHL for eight teams. The 6-foot-3, 176-pound left-hander played 18 games as a rookie in Portland last season, finishing with a 3.58 goals-against average and .875 save percentage. He's a "B" prospect in the WHL.
Another name that pops out is "C" skater Daniel LaFontaine of Avon Old Farms in Connecticut. The 5-foot-10, 160-pound center is the son of Hockey Hall of Famer Pat LaFontaine. The younger LaFontaine played a key role in the Long Island Royals' Under-16 Tier I National championship team last year, registering 13 goals and 34 points in 20 regular-season games. He was chosen by the Sioux City Musketeers in the 15th round (No. 216) of the 2012 United States Hockey League's entry draft.
Then there's defenseman Jordan Subban, the brother of Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban and Boston Bruins goalie prospect Malcolm Subban. Jordan, who had five goals and 20 points in 55 games as a rookie with the OHL's Belleville Bulls last season, is a "C"-rated prospect.
A few other interesting notes upon further review of the preliminary lists:
The tallest player on the board is 6-foot-7, 200-pound defenseman Samuel Morin of Rimouski Oceanic in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Morin, who is entering his second season in Rimouski, had eight assists and 57 penalty minutes in 62 games as a rookie last season.
There are six defensemen of the 22 total "A" prospects from the Canadian Hockey League. That list includes four from the WHL, including Seth Jones, Joshua Morrissey of Prince Albert, Ryan Pulock of Brandon and Shea Theodore of Seattle. From the OHL, Darnell Nurse of Sault Ste. Marie and Nikita Zadorov of London are also starring along the blueline.
Zadorov, an impressive 6-5 1/4, 230-pounder, will be entering his initial season in London. Some have compared Zadorov to Jarred Tinordi (Montreal Canadiens, No. 22, 2010), who spent the past two seasons with the Knights. The Kontinental Hockey League's CSKA Moscow owns Zadorov's European rights. CSKA drafted the Moscow native fourth overall in 2012.
Another prospect to keep an eye on among the "B" contingent is right wing Nick Sorensen of the QMJHL's Quebec Remparts.
Sorensen (6-foot-0.5, 168) missed nearly all of last season after tearing ligaments in a knee-on-knee hit. Prior to suffering his injury, Sorensen had five goals and nine points in eight games as a rookie for the Remparts.
"He's a late '94 birth year from Sweden [born in Denmark] who started off really well with the team last season before the injury, so it's going to be very interesting to see how he performs this year," NHL Central Scouting Director Dan Marr told NHL.com. "He offers a real good power-forward game."
A few top prospects have already submitted their monthly draft blogs for NHL.com, including Portland Winterhawks defenseman Seth Jones, Halifax Mooseheads center Nathan Mackinnon and Waterloo Black Hawks defenseman Ian McCoshen.
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