NHL Draft Home
August 5, 2010
DraftAmerica talks to several aspiring hockey prospects as well as former NHL winger Peter Worrell. Worrell currently serves as Florida Atlantic University's hockey coach. Among the topics Worrell discussed with DA was the rising level of hockey talent in the South Florida area and recently-drafted Andrew Yogan, the first player born and raised in South Florida to be drafted into the NHL. Yogan was taken in the fourth round by the New York Rangers.
Vail is a rising star in the youth hockey ranks at only 16 years of age. Born in Stuart, Florida, he began playing ice hockey by his own estimation around age 10. Following that Vail spent three years living and playing in Detroit before hitting the USHL circuit for Waterloo, then was drafted by Windsor of the OHL. “I'm excited [to go and play in Canada],” Vail said after an early-evening skate at IncredibleIce Arena in Sunrise, Fla. “I've visited there a bunch with the minicamps and stuff, and I know they've got a great team.”
One of the gems of a strong crop of youth hockey players in the area, Vail isn't surprised that more and more South Florida hockey players are making their presence felt. For that matter, the fact the USA is producing more hockey players isn't a shock either.
“There's a lot of good US players that I've seen, and just in these last five or six years US players are really stepping up. It's really not where you're from, it's how good you are.”
Everyone's expectations are different, but Vail knows that the path to the promised land is far from impossible.
“People have been telling me my whole life I've got a shot for [the NHL], but it takes a lot of work. It's not easy.”
Born in Las Vegas but a South Floridian since the age of 3, Glass will be attending a hockey camp in Erie that will give him an opportunity to make the new team in the area. From there he would have a chance to hone his skills over the next two years to get himself NHL-ready.
Like Vail, Glass likes the trend he sees in more Floridians and more Americans becoming top hockey players.
“When we used to go to tournaments, people would underestimate us,” Glass said. “But there's a lot of good talent down here that people don't know about.”
American-born Serafini has Canadian-born parents, so perhaps it's no surprise that hockey has always been in his blood. He just graduated high school, but he has already accumulated two years playing for the OJHL Villanova Knights in the Toronto area.
Serafini now hopes he can earn a Division I hockey scholarship to continue his journey. He echoes the sentiment of his peers that starting from scratch in Florida is hardly a handicap.
“Up in Canada I'll say I'm from Florida, and they'll say, 'They have ice in Florida?',” Serafini said. “There's a lot going on down here.”
Peter Worrell talks Andrew Yogan, hockey in Florida
Peter Worrell still remains one of the most popular Panthers in the club's history. Born in Quebec, Worrell still calls South Florida home and has taken to coaching the sport.
“I've been in Florida for about 15 years now and the level of talent has grown exponentially from when I played the game,” Worrell said.
One of those talented players is Yogan, who is just starting out his path to the NHL. In addition to coaching him with the Junior Panthers, Worrell also trained Yogan to help prepare him for the road ahead.
“Andrew is one of those kids who's just a naturally gifted goal-scorer. He has an ability that you cannot teach a player. He just knows how to put the puck in the net. He's a big, strong kid... He has a real opportunity to be the first kid from this area to actually be an NHL player.”
Worrell also lauds Yogan's work ethic and believes he is in the right frame of mind to utilize his talents the right way. On draft day, Worrell was among the first to call Yogan and his family to congratulate him. Though it was Yogan's moment in the sun, it also was a major landmark for all those in the South Florida hockey community.
“All of us in the South Florida community are very proud of Andrew and what he has accomplished so far,” Worrell said.
Yogan's first stop will be with the OHL's Erie Otters. It is often so difficult to project how a player's career will pan out, which is why Worrell stopped short of trying to give a time frame on when fans might expect to see Yogan in the NHL.
“It is a big crapshoot,” Worrell said of the drafting process. “You draft a kid at 18 on his potential. But you never know what happens after that moment.”
“Hopefully [Andrew] will have a year in Erie this year, a year or two playing in the minors with the Rangers' team in Hartford, but from that point it's up to Andrew to continue to work. And quite frankly, he's got to have some good fortune. You never know what the Rangers' direction is going to be, if they change their system, their coaches, their philosophy. You never know if it's going to [even] be the Rangers.”
For more on the Rangers, check out http://www.blueseatblogs.com/
Updated June 15, 2010
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NHL Draft News
6-15-10 - New profile up for Ryan Spooner, C, Peterborough Petes (#24)
6-10-10 - With the Playoffs over (congrats to Chicago), the NHL Draft Order is now set
6-10-10 - The Hockey News.com provides some Draft Sleepers to Watch
5-28-10 - Dave Feschuk of the Toronto Star, writes about the Draft Combine held in Toronto
5-21-10 - Corey Pronman of Puck Prospectus on why teams should never use a high draft pick on a goalie
3-29-10... Corey Pronman of PuckProspectus.com discusses stats and the draft.
Our NHL Draft Staff:
2010 NHL Draft Order
Top 30 Prospects
Updated June 15, 2010
Our rankings are based on data gathered from the industry's best sources and combined into a composite overview.
Players noted in blue indicates that their detailed profile is listed below...
1 Taylor Hall - LW - Windsor (OHL)
Toffoli - RW - Ottawa (OHL)
Seen as the favorite to be drafted at the top of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft for
least two years, Hall has put together a stellar draft-year to erase
many concerns that he would slip behind Tyler Seguin this June. Hall
was Team Canada’s only draft-year player at the WJC where he
2nd on a star-studded lineup (and 3rd overall in the
with 6 goals and 6 assists in 6 games. Hall is able to elevate his
above the crowd in large part due to his excellent skating ability
by top-notch acceleration, allowing him to create plays before his
has even set their legs. More than skill, Hall excels as his desire
to be the best does not allow him to coast on talent alone. Of
that’s not all. Hall has what is widely considered to be an
shot and release, great on-ice vision and outstanding hockey
On the downside, he could stand to gain 10 pounds, and do a bit more
work in the defensive zone. But whoever drafts him, will do so
for a 1st-line left winger. Hall should have a few more
to make a good final impression, with his Windsor Spitfires
the OHL playoffs as the top seed in the Western Conference. A run to
the Memorial Cup should cement Hall’s place as the first overall
as long as the team drafting first is not dead-set on picking a
Regular Season: 57 games: 40 goals, 66 assists, 106 points, +46, 56 PIM
Seguin (Say-gen) has
spent of this year battling with Taylor Hall for the claim to be the
top draft eligible prospect in the hockey world and he has not
In fact, the two 18-year-olds tied for the OHL scoring championship
with 106 points each. Seguin, long known as this year’s top
to Hall’s sniper, has actually out-goaled Hall 48-40, albeit in 6
extra games played. Whereas Hall was seen as the potential top pick
as far back as 2008, Seguin has steadily raised his profile from the
day when Plymouth chose him 9th in his OHL draft year.
with Plymouth meant that Seguin had to do more on his own, and he
rises to the challenge, playing substantial minutes for the Whalers
in all situations (even strength, power play and penalty kill) and
pride in his two-way game, as well as his strength in the faceoff.
There are many who feel that Seguin has the higher upside of the two skaters, in that he may truly take off once he is given more freedom to focus on the traditional offensive responsibilities of a first-line centre. Seguin has also been a team leader at most of his stops, from wearing the “C” for Plymouth, to his role on the national stage with Team Canada at the 2009 Ivan Hlinka Tournament or in this year’s top prospects game, lending weight to the comparisons he has received to Hall of Famer Steve Yzerman. If the team picking first wants a Centre, Seguin will be the guy. He’ll fall no later than 2nd overall.
Regular Season: 63 games: 48 goals, 58 assists, 106 points, +17, 54 PIM
of Taylor Hall’s, Fowler left the vaunted US National Development
program in Ann Arbor and a chance to play in the NCAA to suit up for
Windsor in the OHL and the chance to play in probably the most
amateur hockey league in the world. Fowler has nearly lived up to
hype in his first season with the Spitfires, scoring at a point per
game clip in helping Hall lead Windsor to the top seed in the
Conference and a good chance to play for the Memorial Cup. Fowler is
a plus skater and puck mover with a long reach. He has great ice
and a hard slap shot that he can keep down and in play. Like most
his age, he could use more strength, but his frame suggests that it
will come soon. As seen by his low penalty minute total, Fowler is
considered a very physical defender and has been noted to defer to
experienced teammates (such as 2009 1st rounder Ryan
on more than one occasion. In that sense, Fowler is not everyone’s
idea of a top pair blue-liner.
While Hall and Seguin are near locks to be the top two off the board in June, Fowler, once seen as a potential threat to the top, is now in danger of falling (not out of the top ten, but falling). In the minds of some, Fowler was hurt by simply not standing out at this year’s big showcase events in the CHL Top Prospect Game or in the World Junior Champinship, where Fowler had only 2 assists as the US took Gold and was overshadowed by much less heralded teammates like John Ramage and Jake Gardiner.
Regular Season: 55 games: 8 goals, 47 assists, 55 points, +38, 14 PIM
his Junior career with very high expectations as the first overall
in the QMJHL covering Quebec and Eastern Canada) draft in 2008 as a
16-year-old from Murray River, P.E.I (hometown of Brad Richards).
did not disappoint, maturing to become one of the top prospects in
2010 NHL Entry Draft and a serious threat to be the first defenseman
chosen. Used to playing with players up to 3 years older than him,
took on a big role with the Wildcats immediately and has seen his
continue to rise in his draft year, nearly doubling his offensive
A strong two-way defender, Gormley has seen his offensive end play
on in leaps and bounds as he is more able to take advantage of his
smooth skating and exemplary ice vision. Of course, he also has a
shot indicating that he will be able to man the point. Gormley will
get to extend his season a little longer as Moncton enters the QMJHL
playoffs as the third seed and look to make a strong push for a spot
in the Memorial Cup tournament. The intelligent defender has also
accolades for his play in his own zone and his ability to control
gaps. The complete defenseman, Gormley should be able to combine his
intelligence for the game with his obvious skills to be a blueline
for years to come for the team smart enough to draft him.
Regular Season: 58 games: 9 goals, 34 assists, 43 points, +31, 54 PIM
seen his stock suffer this year, and if you want to know why, check
out his stat line below and to the right. He’s only played 16 games
this year due to an injury. He originally hurt one of his hips last
summer at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial and later hurt the other while
the first injury. The fact he is still rated this high is a
to the raves he drew in his age 17 season with the Cougars when he
30 goals in 65 games and earning the CHL Rookie of the Year honours.
His early success was thought to come from playing with Tampa Bay
Dana Tyrell, but an injury to his older linemate saw Connolly
his stellar play and zoom up watch lists for this season.
talent must hope that his ability to suit up in a handful of games
season’s end will help convince scouts and GMs that he has not lost
his scoring flair, awesome shot and world-class offensive
and that pre-draft physicals sign off on the talented, if mysterious
winger. A clean bill of health could see Connolly keep his standing
as a top-10, if not top-5 player. Remaining doubts could cause him
Regular Season: 16 games: 10 goals, 9 assists, 19 points, -3, 8 PIM
Another top prospect to lose significant playing (and developmental) time to health concerns in his draft year, Gudbranson at least suffered from an illness that, now that he is fully recovered, should not effect him in the least going forward; Gudbranson missed over 20 games and the OHL Top Prospects game while recovering from mononucleosis.
Tall and rangy, with ample room to fill out his frame, Gudbranson is also a very strong and fast skater. Gudbranson, coached by former NHL All Star Doug Gilmour at Kingston is known as a very smart player who can fulfill top pairing blue-liner duties on both ends of the ice as he is both physical and a good puck mover. Although the Frontenacs were knocked out of the OHL playoffs in the first round by the favoured Mississauga squad, Gudbranson probably helped his stock with a number of very strong performances keeping his team in the hunt until the end. Many, including the experts at the Central Scouting Bureau now believe that Gudbranson may be the top defenseman in this year’s draft and he should not be viewed as any lower than third among eligible blue-liners.
Regular Season: 41 games: 2 goals, 21 assists, 23 points, +11, 68 PIM
Regular Season: 22 games: 10 goals, 13 assists, 23 points, +4, 34 PIM
Regular Season: 43 games: 13 goals, 27 assists, 40 points, 2 PIM
D, Edmonton Oil Kings
Mark Pysyk may have the total package NHL team’s look for in a steady top-4 defender, bringing a package that includes top flight skating, height and a frame that will to be tougher to play against as he fills out, the ability to man the point on the power play as well as kill penalties. The brainy Pysyk, awarded the top Scholastic player for his Junior Oil Kings (aws well as top defenseman and team MVP) uses his intelligence on the ice with his ability to control the game from the back. Unfortunately, like many of the other top candidates for this year’s draft, Pysyk missed substantial amounts of his draft season due to injury; in Pysyk’s case, a broken ankle suffered in late January caused him to miss the rest of the cellar-dwelling Oil Kings season and potentially hurt his draft stock. As you may have been able to guess with his taking team MVP honours, the Oil Kings were a poor outfit, with or without Pysyk, which likely plays a big role in his largely being out of the draft spotlight even as he may yet be taken with a top-10 selection.
Regular Season: 48 games: 7 goals, 17 assists, 24 points, -19, 47 PIM
Regular Season: 65 games: 36 goals, 24 assists, 60 points, 11, 68 PIM
For the team last concerned about the difficulties faced in bringing a young player over from the KHL, Tarasenko now seems like the best bet to make it it big if he makes it over the pond. Unlike many young players playing in Russia, Tarasenko played with the men in Russia’s top league, featuring on Novosibirsk’s second line as an 18-year-old. Tarasenko has a nose for the play, with great anticipation coupled with natural aggression. While not a large player, he is still growing and knows how to use his body to help him on the puck and has an improving defensive aspect to his game, often helping his teammates kill penalties.
Tarasenko is seen as a dynamic player, with the offensive acumen to be a top-six NHL forward as he matures. His skating ability is top-of-the-line in terms of both speed and side-to-side agility. His hands are soft and his stickwork is quick allowing him to carry the puck into the zone or into traffic and a quick shot release when the opportunity presents itself. As seen in one of the videos below, he is not afraid to carry the puck all the way to the net. There are some who believe that, if it were not for the inherent difficulties in drafting top Russian prospects, Tarasenko would be discussed with Hall and Seguin for the very top of the draft. As it is, the current level of fear in this area may cause his draft day stock to fall.
Regular Season: 42 games: 13 goals, 11 assists, 24 points, 18 PIM
C, Sudbury Wolves
Sometimes small trees grow from large acorns. Such is the status of John McFarland’s amateur career. After failing to be granted Exceptional Player status (as with John Taveras earlier) to gain early entry into the OHL the young phenom was the consensus /1 overall pick in the OHL entry draft in 2008, creating immediate high expectations with the Sudbury Wolves. His play helped the Wolves rise from the Eastern Conference basement, and into the playoffs from the 8th (final) seed in his first year with the team. Unfortunately, that was as high as McFarland could take them, as both of his OHL seasons have culminated in 8th place regular finishes and a first round ouster in the playoffs. Suffice to say that John McFarland has underwhelmed in his OHL career, tantalising with is skill but never living up to the early hype. Scouts still believe that McFarland ranks in the top 5 on skill alone, but that, for a myriad of reasons, he has not been able to put it all together in a package suitable for a top-5 selection.
McFarland is an exceptional skater, with a great wrist shot, the full package of hockey skills and sense and the experience of playing in all hockey situations. But there has always been something to hold him back. Some think the issue is with his desire-level, as he tends to look like he`d rather be somewhere else while on the ice. Others have noted that he does not take full advantage of his teammates, trying to do too much on his own, often to his great detriment. His compete-level often makes his hockey sense drop, as he can lose his positional sense and fail in two-way assignments. Some players of this ilk need to be humbled before they realize what needs to happen to excel at the next level. That may be all that stands between failure to launch and NHL superstardom for the talented, yet enigmatic John McFarland.
Regular Season: 64 games: 20 goals, 30 assists, 50 points, -17, 70 PIM
Currently leading the argument for the best draft eligible player at the prestigious US. National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Forbort figures to go in the top half of the first round (if not the top ten) before undertaking a collegiate career at NCAA hockey powerhouse University of North Dakota. In fact, playing alongside other top blueline prospects such as Jarred Tinordi, Jon Merrill, Justin Faulk and Stephen Johns and still managing to overshadow them all regularly may allow Forbort to be drafted higher than anyone expects. Forbort may end up the highest drafted defenseman, period.
The package most obviously starts with his prototype size; he’s very tall and still filling out. His use of that seize on the defensive game is exemplary. His long reach helps him become a great poke-checker, and he is fearless in laying out to block opposing shots on goal. He will also make opposing forwards pay for trying to stand up in front of Forbort’s goalie. Scouts have also commented on Forbort being a great skater, with the obvious caveat, for his size. This certainly helps in his defensive game, as his great backwards skating, in combination with his innate sense for the game allows him to anticipate shots or passes in odd-man rush situations. Forbort is more than just a stay-at-home defensemen, however, as he is lauded for his puck moving skills and extremely hard slapshot from the point which has earned him four power play goals for the USNTDP this year. Forbort projects as a definite top-four defenseman at the next level and any further improvement to his offensive game could see him emerge as a top-pairing blueliner.
Regular Season: 65 games: 5 goals, 23 assists, 28 points, 46 PIM
C, Barrie Colts
While many NHL teams have expressed fear at drafting Russian players early due to concerns about their ability to sway them over to the NHL, they should have no such worry over Burmistrov. The talented centre has been very clear over the past year that his goal is to play in the NHL, and he was one of the handful of Russian Juniors to make the jump to the CHL for their draft year. In spite of difficulties getting acclimated to a new culture and language, Burmistrov impressed his coaches, teammates and scouts with his willingness to learn the North American game as well as his use of the skills that he brought with him from Mother Russia, namely his superior skating, hockey IQ, vision and passing ability.
His debut season in the was nearly as good as could be imagined, as the Barrie Colts had the best record in the league and made it to the OHL Finals, before falling to the reigning Memorial Cup Champs, the Windsor Spitfires of Taylor Hall and Cam Fowler. Burmistrov was a critical figure on the powerhouse Colts, scoring over 1 point per game, a great sign for an OHL player in his draft year. He consistently impressed with his creativity and reflexes, and all around play, showing a willingness to play physical, even when his opponent held a great size advantage over him. And that brings us to his biggest weakness (outside of Passport fear). Alexander Burmistrov is pretty small. The listed weight above may be more than 10 pounds too generous and he will need to add more muscle before he can take his sublime skills to the next level. But once he does mature physically, the team who drafted him will not have any cause for regret.
Regular Season: 62 games: 22 goals, 43 assists, 65 points, 32, 49 PIM
Another all-around defensemen out of the US NTDP hockey factory in Ann Arbor, Michigan, there is not much that separates Merrill from the higher-rated defensemen on this list. In fact, thanks to a very strong showing at the recently completed U-18 tournament in Minsk, Belarus, there are scouts who believe that Merrill will go higher than his current position. His NHL size (assuming he fills out his frame), solid skating ability and especially hockey intelligence which he puts to good use in and around the puck. As the quarterback of the American team power play, he was able to show off this skill plenty. Also receiving high grades for his dedication to the game, he can be expected to maximize his natural talents as he moves his career forward, starting with an indeterminate stint with the University of Michigan next season.
Merrill would seem to be the right pick for a team that wants a safe pick on the blueline. Admittedly not blessed with the high-end talent that some others (including teammate Derek Forbort) have, Merrill recognizes that he will have to augment his skills with his mental game, thinking one step ahead of the opposition to succeed. This is already coming to the fore when Merrill is charged with moving the puck, whether carrying past the opposition blueline or pushing it forward with accuracy and force to one of his charging teammates. His intelligence allows him to play above his age, playing with the US U-18 team as a 17-year-old, and being one of two 18 year-old defencemen for the US in the WJC (20 and under) tournament. It seems he has shaken the potential bad rap a mid-season disciplinary suspension may have given him. The rough spots in his defensive game should be ironed out with the higher level coaching he is bound to receive soon.
Regular Season: 22 games: 1 goals, 8 assists, 9 points, 12 PIM
RW, Traktor Chelyabinsk
Oh, dear. By many accounts one of the top Russian prospects for the 2010 draft, Kuznetsov has recently ensured that he will not be drafted in a position commensurate with his talent as he re-signed with his KHL club for another two years. Bear in mind the stats below come from playing in the KHL, with seasoned pros. On the face of it, that alone may not be enough to cause his stock to plunge, but if his words to be believed, he would not guarantee a willingness to come to North America even after that time. He will, however, partake in the upcoming Draft Combine and plans to be present in Los Angeles. He’ll probably have to wait. Where he could have previously been selected in the top half of the 1st round, he is now more likely to sit until the 3rd round (at least) for a team who can take a risk on the talented Kuznetsov.
Now about the player. Evgeny Kuznetsov is an absolutely explosive skater with great hands enabling him to create wondrous offensive chances. On the other hand, he’s not very big and has a reputation for putting his energies to poor use, such as immature outbursts and needless penalties. He earlier this year gave scouts a reason for considering drafting him very early with a stellar showing at the WJC making the tournament All Star team – the second year in a row Kuznetsov has starred at the prestigious event. His high-end offensive talent will make him a gamble that some team will be happy taking.
Regular Season: 35 games: 2 goals, 7 assists, 9 points, 10 PIM
C, Medicine Hat Tigers
In discussing Etem, the first comment people have is about his skating. While some find his stride a little awkward and strange, most simply note that he has blazing speed (see the second video clip below). The only prospect may be able to defeat Etem in a race would be Taylor Hall. This may be partially explained by his background. Coming from California, Etem began his love affair with the game as an inline skater. As he takes the game seriously, Etem left home at 14 to play with Minnesoate high school power-house Shattuck-St. Mary’s. Etem also gave up his membership in the vaunted USNTDP for the heightened atmosphere of the WHL with Medicine Hat. He had a stellar debut season, potting a very impressive 37 goals for the Tigers.
Etem also shines with his intangibles as his hard work, on and off the ice have made him a force at the Junior level along the boards and a player coaches can trust. His speed, combined with his great shot release, have made him one of the WHL’s top snipers from his debut at the level. He is also very offensively creative, which combines with his other attributes to make him a very dangerous player to face. His athletic bloodlines (both parents were top-class rowers) and heady, intelligent both portend to his ability to turn his now skills into future on-ice results. His main drawbacks at this point are general tendencies to be less lax in his defensive, especially when it comes to checking the opposition. That said, his aggressive nature on offense suggest that could change.
Regular Season: 72 games: 37 goals, 28 assists, 65 points, 8, 26 PIM
LW, Moose Jaw Warriors
A fast, big-bodied, power forward type, Howden has earned Moose Jaw’s trust after they traded up in the 2007 WHL Bantam Draft to make the 15-year-old the league’s top selection. He has not only helped orchestrate a quick turn-around for the temporarily struggling Moose Jaw franchise, but his consistent play has almost guaranteed a first round selection at the upcoming NHL Amateur Draft. Howden’s combination of size and skill allow him to be employed as either a top-6 forward, using his offensive weapons (speed, stickhandling, nose for the net) to good effect, or as a third line checker, where his good character and brawn promise a player who is engaged at both ends of the ice.
Perhaps Howden’s most noticeable asset is his skating ability. He accelerates effortlessly, which has often helped his team transition smoothly from the defensive zone into an offensive rush. His soft hands aid in receiving and making those crucial outlet passes. He also turned some heads at the CHL Top Prospect Game, winning the shooting accuracy skill competition. Howden’s stock was further raised by is steady play at the amateur game’s higher levels, as he was recently one of (if not the) best players on the disappointing Canadian Roster at the 2010 World U-18 Championships in Belarus. He is not the most exciting player available in this year’s draft, but he may be the one most prepared for life in the NHL.
Regular Season: 65 games: 28 goals, 37 assists, 65 points, 14, 14 PIM
C, Kitchener Rangers
As the second leading scorer in the OHL in his draft year (Bryan Cameron, the one guy ahead of him, was an over-aged player), Skinner was destined to turn some heads. CSS certainly agreed, as Skinner made one of the biggest leaps between their midterm and final draft rankings. There are some who think that CSS still underrates the smallish sniper. Those voices are louder now that Skinner scored an amazing 20 goals in 20 OHL playoff games, before his Kitchener Rangers fell to the eventual Memorial Cup champs from Windsor. Ignoring for a moment his breathtaking goal-scoring prowess and his less-than-ideal size for an NHL forward, many scouts point to Skinner’s toughness as a key element that helps his game play better than his skills may inherently allow – and those skills are pretty good to start with!
Jeff Skinner gets further passing grades for his on-ice vision, something which attributes to his ability to improve the play of his linemates. With his goalscoring exploits, there should be no real question about his offensive ability. His background as a top figure skater speaks to his ability to move his feet on the ice and those 50 regular season and20 post-season goals offer a stark reminder that this is a skater who knows how to finish with a snap shot that some deem NHL-ready. Those who don’t see future greatness in Skinner point out his size (or lack thereof) and, oddly enough, his skating ability. The figure skating past, which should provide him with a weapon as far as dexterity goes, does not necessarily give him the first step quickness that scouts covet. There are likely enough organizations who can see past those limitations and see in Skinner a future top-six forward who production will always outweigh his perceived abilities.
Regular Season: 64 games: 50 goals, 40 assists, 90 points, 7, 72 PIM
C, Notre Dame Fighting Irish
A rare first-time draft eligible player from the ranks of the NCAA, Sheahan is a big man with great hands, impressive skills with the puck and a good understanding of the game of hockey, demonstrated by his performing in all game situations this year as a freshman. That, in a nutshell, is the positive with Sheahan. Unfortunately for the young center, he has also amassed negatives both on and off the ice this season. First, his overall play with Notre Dame was disappointing for a prospect once considered to be one of the top ten prospects in this draft. Those who want to hold on to their view of Sheahan as a young phenom will blame the system at Notre Dame, which is not known for preparing its players for the NHL, especially offensively as they play a very defense-heavy brand of hockey. Others, turned off by his play, will point to his recent arrest for underage drinking, along with teammate and Anaheim Ducks prospect, Kyle Palmieri.
Whether you are in the optimist or pessimist camp regarding Sheahan, while many of the CHL and USHL prospects were lining up against kids sometimes two years younger, Sheahan was generally one of the youngest players on the ice whenever he played. This fact alone makes his ability to play on the second forward line, taking shifts both on the power play as well as the penalty kill all the more impressive. He was impressed scouts and coaches with his stick work, being not only slick, but more importantly, smart, knowing when to dangle and when to protect, contributing greatly to his ability as a playmaker. The team that selects Sheahan, who may yet drop in the draft if General Managers are not convinced that his off-ice transgression were only a one-time youthful indiscretion, will be rewarded with one of this year’s best all-round players, who just needs some more seasoning to step right into a second or third line spot in the NHL.
Regular Season: 37 games: 6 goals, 11 assists, 17 points, -12, 22 PIM
C, Blaine HS (Minn)
In winning Minnesota’s highly coveted Mr. Hockey award this year, Bjugstad was truly a man among boys. Averaging over one goal and over two points per game for Blaine HS, Bjugstad has fast tracked his education to put himself in position to attend the University of Minnesota next year. This, in comparison to his cohort, Brock Nelson, who will need another year of seasoning in the USHL before skating in the NCAA. One of the biggest complaints among scouts looking at high school prospects is that they are often surrounded by much weaker competition, as Bjugstad would frequently be competing against 14-year-old freshmen, while CHL prospects get to stand in comparison to players aged 16-20. This dichotomy leaves many scouts unsure if his numbers and overall performance are indicative of his true skill level, or from simply being matched up against players much younger, and much smaller than his 6’-5” stature.
Bjugstad often plays much faster than he looks, with great reach and anticipation of the play before him. He displays very good stick and puck handling skills which are expected will help him at the next level. Bjugstad also deservedly gets praise for his level of maturity and determination, as even though he turned down the USNTDP to remain at Blaine, he went the extra mile both to ensure his eligibility for the NCAA next season as well as ensuring he followed the same training and dietary regime the USNTDP would at Ann Arbor. Bjugstad first showed signs of what he might be in his freshman year when his booming shot belied his youth and skinny (at the time) frame. He is expected to continue filling out as he matures and some feel that he will eventually leave the centre position for a spot on the wing. For a team selecting in the middle of the first round and beyond, a patient approach to Bjugstad will reap a tremendous talent down the road.
Regular Season: 25 games: 29 goals, 31 assists, 60 points, 24 PIM
C, Saint John Sea Dogs
If there’s any Russian prospect who teams should not fear losing to the KHL, it’s Stanislav Galiev. That alone might see him selected ahead of some of his more talented countrymen (yes – I’m referring to Kirill Kabanov here). Galiev left Russia at the age of 16 to suit up for the Indiana Ice of the USHL. Following an impressive season there, the Saint John Sea Dogs made the young center the top pick in the CHL Import Draft for foreign born players. Playing on an older team for each of the last two seasons, scouts have not had the chance to see if Galiev has front line talent, as he’s generally been relegated to the second line. That said, in spite of his numbers, Galiev has shown the skills to produce even more down the road.
As is, Galiev is a very talented player. He has sharp offensive instincts allowing to find the open man, or an opening seam for his team to generate offense. He can also take advantage of an opportunity for himself, finding openings in the defense to drive shots to the net. He’s a smart stickhandler and strong skater, with excellent acceleration. As shown in two of the videos linked below, Galiev uses his relative size to gain position in the offensive zone and isn’t afraid to play in the dirty areas of the ice. Willing to play in his own zone, Galiev still has some room for improvement in that area, although he certainly shows the drive to succeed there as well. Wherever he ends up, Galiev represents a good blend of high upside with many projecting great improvement from him once he is able to settle in at a given level of play, and a high floor, as his future employers should be secure in the knowledge that he will not be returning to Russia anytime soon.
Regular Season: 67 games: 15 goals, 45 assists, 60 points, +41, 38 PIM
C, Tri City Storm
Ht/Wt... 5-10/180, Shoots Left
Jaden Schwartz may have the most unforgettable birthday of his life this year, as Day one of the 2010 draft falls on Jaden’s 18th birthday. Not the biggest of prospects, the recent success of smaller players such as Patrick Kane and Steven Stamkos should provide enough clues that the right player will no longer be held back just because he stands under 6’ tall and weighs in at under 200 lbs. The question is whether Schwartz is, in fact, the right player. His production says he might be. In is rookie season in the USHL, he led the league in scoring, with numbers that have not been bested since Thomas Vanek in 2001-02, before he was selected as the 5th overall player in that draft. And remember – Vanek was then in his 3rd year of USHL play and he has since gone on to record two 40-goal season in the NHL for the Buffalo Sabres.
Schwartz is the type of player who sees the game slower than everyone else. In other words, he seems to be thinking two strides quicker than the opposition. That, combined with NHL-calibre hands make Schwartz a good candidate to be the next little big man on the ice. Schwartz also impresses everyone who crosses his path by his demeanour, as he is extremely humble for a player who led his league in scoring (against generally older competition) as a rookie. He plays in all aspects of the game, both special teams and in the dirty areas of the ice. The team that drafts him, however, will do so for his offensive upside, as Schwartz has a hard, accurate shot, equal passing ability and sublime puck-handling skills. The cast he wore to the recent NHL Draft Combine is a testament to his willingness to play defensive, as it was earned blocking a shot in the USHL playoffs. If he were a stronger skater, he would likely be mentioned as a likely top-ten pick. As is, no one should be him surprised to be given a new NHL jersey for his birthday. Schwartz is committed to playing for Colorado College in the NCAA next season.
Regular Season: 60 games: 33 goals, 50 assists, 83 points, -6, 18 PIM
C, Peterborough Petes
Another in a group of smallish offensive forwards at this year’s draft, Ryan Spooner was also hurt this year (in more ways than one) when he broke his collarbone right after the CHL Top Prospects game. He managed to return for the last three games of the Petes’ short playoff run, but it may have been too late to regain his earlier standing as a top prospect. Above all else, Spooner is an offensive player. With a weakened collarbone, he was not able to show his full skill set in the minimal time remaining in his season, neither in the OHL playoffs nor in the World U-18 postseason tournament. The shame of it is, before the injury, Spooner had been building nicely on his fine rookie season in Peterborough, when he scored 30 goals and complied 58 points in 62 games. Scoring over one point per game in his draft eligible season often portends to a player’s ability to continue producing as a top six forward at the next level.
Spooner’s production is largely a mix of his world class hands and hockey sense. While not big, he is not afraid of fighting for the puck, knowing that if he wins, he can quickly create an exciting scoring opportunity for his team, such as his shorthanded game winner in the CHL Top Prospects game this year. In his abbreviated draft year, Spooner showed more determination to developing into a complete player, becoming more involved in the defensive side of the game. If Spooner drops out of the first round, as many are now expecting, the team who drafts him may have one of the steals of the draft as long s he can prevent his stature from becoming an on-ice hindrance.
Regular Season: 47 games: 19 goals, 35 assists, 54 points, -5, 12 PIM
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