No. 10: Jerry D’Amigo
The Toronto Maple Leafs selected D’Amigo in the sixth round in 2009, and he is already looking like a late-round steal. Jerry spent this last summer working out with New Jersey Devils star Zach Parise and is showing the kind of determination and work ethic that the Maple Leafs are looking for. Although he still has some developing to do before he is NHL ready, look for him to become an asset to the organization in the future.
No. 9: Tyler Cuma
Drafted by the Minnesota Wild in the first round of the 2008 entry draft, Cuma is a gifted two-way defenseman who reminds me a little of Dion Phaneuf. He is solid in his own end and makes a good first pass. I don’t expect him to put up big offensive numbers at the professional level, but still has the potential to be a top two defensemen in the NHL.
No. 8: Jordan Schroeder
A first-round pick of the Vancouver Canucks in 2009, Schroeder is a small forward with huge offensive upside. A gifted playmaker that can also put the puck in the net, he is an exciting player to watch. His size, listed at 5’8”, is the one thing that has people doubting his NHL potential.
No. 7: Danny Kristo
A second-round pick of the Montreal Canadiens in 2008, Kristo is currently playing for the University of North Dakota in the WCHA. A mid-sized forward, Kristo uses his speed and hockey sense to find open ice. Very dangerous with the puck, he boasts a hard and accurate shot with a quick release. He will become a consistent goal scorer, very similar to current Canadiens winger Mike Cammalleri.
No. 6: Kirill Kabanov
Because of off-ice issues, Kabanov dropped to the third round of this summer’s entry draft. Those issues aside, he has all the skills to become a first line player in the NHL. He has all the tools—speed, size, hands, and the shot—to become an explosive offensive threat. If Kirill starts to put in the off ice work, he could be impacting the Islanders lineup sooner rather than later.
No. 5: Evgeny Kuznetsov
If the Washington Capitals offense is not explosive enough, just wait until this talented young center cracks the lineup. Kuznetsov, the Capitals first round pick in 2010, is as hungry of a goal scorer as the Caps current Russian superstar Alex Ovechkin. A seemingly perfect fit in their offense, look for Kuznetsov to be lighting the lamp in Washington soon.
No. 4: Emerson Etem
I was a little surprised to see Etem drop to 29th overall in this year’s draft, and so were the Anaheim Ducks. This kid is very fast and has the ability to make plays at top speed. Although he is not considered a big player, he makes up for his size with his physical play. An exciting guy to watch, expect Etem to crack an already young Ducks lineup within the next couple of seasons.
No. 3: Brett Connolly
Drafted sixth overall in the 2010 entry draft, Brett is known for his highlight reel goals. He mixes his unbelievable skill with hard work and determination. I expect him to be playing wing alongside Steve Stamkos before too long.
No. 2: Jonathon Blum
The Nashville Predators first-round pick in 2007, this California born defenseman is solid in his own end while having the ability to contribute offensively. He finished his first professional season in Milwaukee of the AHL last year with an impressive 41 points and was a plus-17. Taking into account the Predators history with developing young defensemen, I believe Blum with be making an impact in the NHL soon.
No. 1: Ryan Johansen
Drafted fourth overall by Columbus in 2010, this kid has it all. Mix his size and speed and the Blue Jackets just might have that first line center to play with Rick Nash. I think the management team is doing the right thing by letting him mature another season in Portland with the WHL, but NHL defenses beware when he finds himself in the Jackets lineup.