The world’s next great hockey player could very wall come from Saitama, Japan.
Iguchi Aito is just 11-years-old and already being hailed as a wunderkind in the junior hockey world. Playing for Japan’s Saitama Junior Warriors, Aito is already able to out skate and out score most of the older players who are in the league.
A video of Aito posted by his trainer onto YouTube on November 5, 2014 show off his moves and stick handling abilities. The native of Saitama hopes he can play in the NHL one day, or at least play against some of the best in North America or Europe.
Although Japan has produced many prolific baseball and football players, not so many have been able to make it to the NHL. In the 1992 NHL Draft, the Montreal Canadiens signed the first Japanese national to ever be part of the NHL, Hiroyuki Miura. Unfortunately, Miura never played a game and was sent down to the minor leagues.
In 1974, Taro Tsujimoto, a fictional player created by Buffalo Sabres GM Punch Imlach, was also “Drafted”, but only as a way to poke fun at how slow and arduous the process of drafting players is for the NHL Tsujimoto got his name from a general store frequented by Imlach.
There’s a cavalcade of Canadian-born Japanese players like: Paul Kariya, Steve Kariya, Raymond Sawada, Devin Setoguchi, Jamie Storr, and Jason Krog who are getting the Japanese identity onto the ice, but not as many Japanese nationals in the league.
The highlights in the video above show just how talented the young player is and we can only hope that by the time he’s old enough to play in the big leagues, Japan will have a hockey star to call their own.
Featured image: Aito Iguchi plays for the Saitama Junior Warriors and is showing a lot of promise.