This week’s prospect to watch hails from the newly formed Hockey Hotbed of North Carolina. Yes, you read that right, with teams like the Dallas Stars relocating from Minnesota in ‘93 and the Tampa Bay Lightning (‘92) and Florida Panthers (‘93) having much success shortly after becoming expansion teams in the early nineties. It not only proved that hockey could be both marketable as well as profitable in the South but paved the way for other clubs to migrate to a warmer climate. One of those teams was the Hartford Whalers, who moved to Raleigh, NC, in 1997, where they rebranded themselves as the Carolina Hurricanes.

It’s hard to believe, but those moves were over 25-30 years ago. And today, in these areas, it is not uncommon to spot a new ice rink being built in the community. Because as infatuated as these fans have become with their respected NHL teams, adults who never played this great sport before are now involved in adult leagues, as well as their children who are now playing in youth leagues after having decided to pick up a hockey stick in lieu of a baseball glove or football.

This being the case for the young Ryan Hedley, whom this article is all about. Now, if you have not heard of Ryan or been lucky enough to have seen him play, I assure you you’re in for a treat. Hedley is a 15-year-old center who currently stands at 5’11 and weighs in at 165 pounds. Where over the last three seasons, while playing for the Carolina Jr. Hurricanes, he has been able to score an astounding 375 points!

Now that I have your attention. I have to say I can find no holes currently in Hedley’s game. Ryan simply possesses all the intangibles of some of the greatest players to have ever stepped on the ice. He can dangle like Datsyuk, and he can protect like Jagr. Hedley can accelerate with the puck on his stick like Modano and can finish with the accuracy of Gaborik.

I guess that’s why after a season (like this past one) where Ryan averaged an incredible 2.42 points per game, scoring 50 goals and 81 assists for 131 points in only 54 regular season games played, he will have his pick of where to he wishes to play over the next few seasons seeing that he was recently drafted by two different teams from two different leagues. Those teams being the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders of the United States Hockey League and the Oshawa Generals of the Ontario Hockey League.

Will this underrated prospect be able to achieve similar success in the coming seasons while playing for one of these elite junior programs? Time will only tell, but signs should point to yes if his skill set is any indication.