Prospects to watch

RANDY SPORTAK, CALGARY SUN

, Last Updated: 7:35 AM ET

LELAND IRVING, G --- EVERETT (WHL)

Possibly Calgary's best prospect. Should be the No.-1 goalie for Canada's world juniors squad looking for a four-peat. The Flames also have another couple of high potential netminders in major junior graduates Matt Keetley, the WHL's playoff MVP, and Kevin Lalande.

DANIEL RYDER, C -- QUAD CITY (AHL)

A smallish centre with great offensive flair, Ryder will likely jump to the pro ranks with the AHL's Quad City Flames. He had 40 goals and 97 points in 57 regular season games and 17 points in 20 contests en route to helping Plymouth to the OHL title, which meant his second straight trip to the Memorial Cup tournament. The downfall was for the second straight year at the CHL championship, he failed to stand out.

MIKAEL BACKLUND, C -- SWEDEN

The first round choice from this year's draft, the skilled forward had last season derailed by a knee problem. He'll spend the year in his homeland and will be worth watching at the world juniors.

JOHN NEGRIN, D -- KOOTENAY (WHL)

Smooth-skating blueliner is expected to improve his offensive game, too, in the coming season.

JUUSO PUUSTINEN, RW -- KAMLOOPS (WHL)

Expected to play a second season with the Blazers, Puustinen was second on the club last year with 32 goals and 71 points. He's willing to play in the tough areas, a big reason for his success.

AARON MARVIN, C -- ST. CLOUD (NCAA)

After the Flames chose Marvin in the third round of the 2006 draft, the lanky forward played his final year -- of high school hockey. He'll play at St. Cloud State this season.

J.D. WATT, RW -- QUAD CITY (AHL)

A rabble-rouser on the ice, the high spirited Calgary product led the Memorial Cup champion Vancouver Giants with 34 goals in the regular season. His WHL rights were traded to Red Deer, where he may play as an overager, but it's likely he'll jump to the AHL and become a fan favourite because he's a battler.

GORD BALDWIN, D -- QUAD CITY (AHL)

A hulking rearguard, the 6-ft.-5, 205-lb. Baldwin is a defensive-thinking blueliner who plays a solid game. The club would love him to learn all he can from Robyn Regehr. Same thing goes for 2005 first-rounder Matt Pelech, a 6-ft.3, 227-lb. OHL grad. If one turns out close to as good as Regehr, it's a boon.


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