Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sunday Top 10 - The Media Picks the Final Top 10

The 2011 NHL Entry Draft is less than a week away. I'd say it's about time we completed the trilogy we started back in October.

Firstly, here are the previous two lists compiled by various members of the OHL media.



For the final list, we got our best participation yet. The following contributed to this article: Corey Pronman (Hockey Prospectus), Dominic Tiano (2011 OHL Draft Eligible Blog), Guy Flaming (The Pipeline Show), Ryan Kennedy (The Hockey News), Scott Campbell (The Scouting Report), Nathan Fournier (The World of Junior Hockey), Stephen Clark (TV Cogeco Niagara), Kirk Luedeke (Bruins 2011 Draft Watch), Patrick King (Sportsnet) [Who by the way is hosting a live chat on during Friday's first round], Dan Stewart (Future Considerations), and last, but not least, yours truly.

Without further ado, here's the list.

10. Boone Jenner - Oshawa Generals
Received Votes From: 8 out of 11
Highest Placement/Lowest Placement: 6 (twice)/Outside the Top 10 (thrice)
Preliminary Ranking: 10
Midseason Ranking: Honorable Mention
Comments: The hard nosed, two way center seems to have firmly entrenched himself in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft. Jenner has been knocked for his somewhat ugly skating stride, but one contributor believes that to be overstated, "Skating has improved enough for him to be a 1st-rounder." Another knock seems to be his NHL potential. Is he more than a 3rd line center at the NHL level. "While there are more skilled players available, Jenner has the size and potential that NHL teams love," says another contributor. Another contributor feels that his offensive potential has been a little undersold. "Jenner actually put up more points than Jensen in Oshawa this season. And next to Landeskog, probably the most complete player from the OHL." Which brings us to an interesting comment from another contributor. "I'm not sure what it is about players like Jenner at the draft. If you're a solid two way center in junior, but you don't have dynamic offensive skills, you get pigeon held as this future 3rd line center. I remember people saying the same things about Mike Richards in his draft year. Jenner can produce offensively and he has skill to match his overall game. Why couldn't he develop into a 60 point player in the NHL?"

9. Alex Khokhlachev - Windsor Spitfires
Received Votes From: 8 out of 11
Highest Placement/Lowest Placement: 3 (once)/Outside the Top 10 (thrice)
Preliminary Ranking: 5
Midseason Ranking: 7
Comments: Interestingly enough, The Khok continues to slide in our media rankings. Considering the season he had, what's the reason? "I'm just not convinced his body holds up against the rigors of the NHL. He's skilled, but with his aggressive style of play, I'd like him to be a lot bigger than he is," says one contributor. Another contributor points to the lack of improvement in his defensive game, "Love the skill and production, but he needs to round out his game." But he does have his fans. "Russian players can be enigmatic at times, but Khokalachev seems more grounded than talents such as Vladimir Namestinikov and Nail Yakupov, who will likely be a top two or three pick next year. He's a consistent player," says one contributor. Interestingly enough, despite the fall in our rankings, one contributor feels he got better as the season went on. "He won me over with his playoff performance. Some nights he took a lot of abuse, and some nights that abuse translated into a meaner, fiercer offensive machine."

8. Matt Puempel - Peterborough Petes
Received Votes From: 8 out of 11
Highest Placement/Lowest Placement: 5 (twice)/Outside of the Top 10 (thrice)
Preliminary Ranking: 4
Midseason Ranking: 6
Comments: Another guy who has fallen in our rankings over the course of the season. A lot of that can be attributed to two things; his hip injury and the Petes' brutal season. But one contributor feels that the abuse he has taken is unfair. "Unfairly forgotten because of where he played and the hip injury. Could be the best pure scorer of anyone in this group. In the end, the average tool kit (other than the shot and hockey IQ) is what dropped him, but he won CHL Rookie of the Year for a reason and is underrated." But another contributor isn't as convinced. "Puempel has natural scoring ability and a good shot but so did long time AHL scorer Donald Maclean, and that is were the fear comes in. Puempel has to improve his intensity shift by shift to make sure that does his career does not take that road." The key question, of course, is did Puempel really improve this year after his ROY season? "I think the answer is yes," says one contributor. "I think Puempel actually took some big steps forward and became more of an impact player on his own. Was creating on his own a lot more and seemed to be more dynamic than he was as a rookie. Still has one of the best shots and releases of anyone in the draft and I think if this guy is on a line with a half-decent center, you’ll have a 30-goal scorer."

7. Brandon Saad - Saginaw Spirit
Received Votes From: 9 out of 11
Highest Placement/Lowest Placement: 5 (once)/Outside of the Top 10 (twice)
Preliminary Ranking: 2
Midseason Ranking: 3
Comments: Perhaps the player who fell the most this year. Going from the consensus 2nd and 3rd best player available from the OHL to a guy who wasn't even ranked on two lists! What the heck happened? "He just didn't take that step forward in the second half of the season. At the beginning of the year he was playing well, but not great and people were saying let him get adjusted to the OHL before we start criticizing him. Then the second half rolls along and there weren't any improvements. I think he's just an overly hyped player who is good, but not as good as many pegged him to be," says one contributor. Another contributor agrees. "I'm hesitant to even put him this high. His ability as a goalscorer is there, but at this point I believe it's more based on potential than production. I was really excited to see him in the OHL this season and left wanting more, but not in a good way. His disappearing act in the playoffs likely hurt his draft stock the most." Does anyone still believe in him? "No question that Saad's stock has dropped but one cant help but be intrigued with the potential that exists. He has size and is a very good skater with excellent speed. But he needs to find his consistency more than anything. When he's on his game he can drive the net, battle and win, and create opportunities. The problem he's had this season though is finding that consistency. And if he finds it, could be a steal in the draft," says a contributor.

6. Nicklas Jensen - Oshawa Generals
Received Votes From: 10 out of 11
Highest Placement/Lowest Placement: 5 (once)/Outside the Top 10 (once)
Preliminary Ranking: 9
Midseason Ranking: Honorable Mention
Comments: The Great Dane of Oshawa, Jensen exploded onto the scene of his first OHL season. While he wasn't always the most consistent player, at least one contributor believes in his potential (just so happens to be the one that ranked him 5th). "Can score at will with that big-time shot of his and was threading the needle with pinpoint passes. Also played chippy, physical game and was involved in his own end, hustling and moving his feet. I know the consistency hasn't been there, but if he can flip the switch and keep it on, this kid could be brilliant." "He needs to add weight," says another contributor. "Once he fills out to 200lbs or so, he could be a real presence." "I think the OHL playoffs were a perfect indication of the player he currently is," says one contributor. "He was outstanding in round one. But in the second round against Niagara, he disappeared. Those wavering consistency issues are his biggest problem. I think it's a fitness/strength issue. Add me to the list of people who think he could be a damn good player once he fills out a bit."

5. Mark Scheifele - Barrie Colts
Received Votes From: 11 out of 11
Highest Placement/Lowest Placement: 5 (five times)/9 (twice)
Preliminary Ranking: Absent (no votes)
Midseason Ranking: Honorable Mention
Comments: Scheifele is probably the OHL player who rose the most in the rankings in the second half of the season. A large portion of that has to be attributed to his great performance at the Under 18's. "This kid really opened some eyes in Germany," says one contributor. "He came in with a lot of question marks after playing on such a poor Barrie team. But he showed how much skill he truly has when paired with some higher skilled players. Wouldn't surprise me one bit to see him go in the Top 10." Another contributor agrees. "Lots of raw, projectable potential with this one. Saw him as more of a "safe" guy based on what I heard and saw, but Scheifele really stepped it up over the 2nd half. His stock is definitely on the rise." The only real negative against him is that some don't really see him having first line talent. "Scheifele proved he can put up the points, but I don't get the impression he has first line talent. He may be on the verge of an unremarkable but long and fruitful career, doing all the small things as a secondary player on a championship-winning team." But is there anything really wrong with that?

4. Ryan Murphy - Kitchener Rangers
Received Votes From: 11 out of 11
Highest Placement/Lowest Placement: 2 (thrice)/4 (six times)
Preliminary Ranking: 1
Midseason Ranking: 2
Comments: The question everyone has on their minds; just how high will this guy go? He's really the true draft enigma. "I could see him going anywhere from the top 5, through to around 15th. He won't fall farther than that though. Too many teams need that strong powerplay presence," says one contributor. One contributor who has him ranked right behind Gabriel Landeskog, had this to say: "Had to give him the nod over Hamilton when all was said and done because of the skill and what he did in Germany with Team Canada. Simply too talented and dynamic to not have up there near the top- can't say enough for his abilities and production. Game-breaker who reminds me of both Paul Coffey and Phil Housley whenever I see him. On the right team, he'll be a killer." Definitely high praise. But just how poor is his defensive game...really? "It's hard to fathom he slid this far after the season he had as a rookie, but it's more a representation of the three ahead of him than it is a lack of ability in my opinion. I think his defensive play has been emphasized far too much and overshadowed the dynamic talent he has in carrying the puck and starting the rush. While we are seeing far more defencemen that can bring the puck up the ice, Murphy's ability to do so is just too good to overlook," says a contributor. Another contributor sums it up nicely. "Murphy is the type of player who gets scouts fired. If he becomes the next Housley or Larry Murphy and a team passes him up to pick a future 3rd line grinder, that's how jobs are lost. Forget the dynamic offensive ability, his high end hockey sense and drive to constantly improve make a believer out of me."

3. Ryan Strome - Niagara IceDogs
Received Votes From: 11 out of 11
Highest Placement/Lowest Placement: 1 (once)/4 (thrice)
Preliminary Ranking: 8
Midseason Ranking: 4
Comments: Outside of Ryan Murphy, Strome is definitely the most electrifying player available from the OHL. You've seen his youtube clips. But have you really seen him play? "He's more than just a human highlight reel. He can really play...and think the game. I love this kid," says one contributor. The one thing that seems to split some people is whether he has boom or bust potential, or is a safe pick. "Strome has NHL hit or miss written all over him for me. I love his skill and willingness to take the puck to the net. Don’t love how he can be stopped rather easily when going up against more physical defenses," says one contributor. Conversely, "With his speed and creativity, I don't see any way he busts at the next level. Took it to a completely different level and a sucker punch cheated him of what should have been the OHL scoring crown as a 17-year-old. Ton of upside and I like his off-ice demeanor as well. Winner," says another contributor. The only black spot on an otherwise perfect season? His playoff performance against Mississauga. "Was really disappointed with his performance in round 3. He disappeared. If he had taken the Dogs on his back and lead them to the Mem Cup, we'd be putting him right up there with Huberdeau as a potential top 3 pick. But I think he blew it a bit and is now more a 7-10 guy. Nothing to be ashamed about, but I think he proved himself to be a small step below some of the other top guys," says a contributor.

2. Dougie Hamilton - Niagara IceDogs
Received Votes From: 11 out of 11
Highest Placement/Lowest Placement: 2 (six times)/4 (twice)
Preliminary Ranking: 6
Midseason Ranking: 5
Comments: Steady as she goes, Hamilton has been slowly rising up this year's charts. Bottom line is this; defenseman with size who can skate and who play both ends of the ice, do not grow on trees. Love the way one contributor put it; "It's a scary thing when size, natural ability and intelligence are found in one package. I don't expect many teams will pass on this very rare opportunity to draft a player that addresses so many vital aspects in today's game. Hamilton is basically a one-stop shop for NHL teams." As the top defenseman available from the OHL, it's interesting to compare him to Murphy (consider them 2a) and b). "He's going to get drafted ahead of Murphy (despite my ranking of Murphy ahead). Still a fine, fine player and prospect in his own right with all the things like size, reach, strength that Murphy won't ever be able to obtain no matter how hard he works," says one contributor. Like Strome, the Dogs difficulties in round 3 against Mississauga might have left a bit of a sour taste in some mouths. "He was horrendous against Mississauga. I think they exposed some weaknesses in his game, like his ability to handle the forecheck. He's a great prospect, but I'm just not sure I'd take him in the top 7 or 8," says a contributor.

1. Gabriel Landeskog - Kitchener Rangers
Received Votes From: 11 out of 11
Highest Placement/Lowest Placement: 1 (ten times)/5 (once)
Preliminary Ranking: 3
Midseason Ranking: 1
Comments: A near perfect score for Landeskog. Only one contributor feels he's not the top of his class. In fact he feels he's not a top 10 prospect. Let's start with his explanation. "I will start off by stating that I do not think Landeskog is a bad player. Landeskog does a ton of things well and/or at an above-average level. He can skate, shoot, thinks the game well, is a physical beast, and has off-the-chart intangibles on top of other things. There is just one thing he can't do, which is his puck skills and it's the most critical quality needed to control possession. It keeps him from being a top puck-possessor and hurts his offensive ceiling. To summarize, I think Gabriel Landeskog will be a fantastic player at what he does, but what he does is not something I think will be of higher value compared to other prospects above him." What do the others think? You'd be hard pressed to find anything sour. From, "For my money still the best complete package in terms of a power forward who is going to give you every ounce of what he has and is a total leader/perfect teammate. Not buying that he has a limited ceiling, either. I think that kind of stuff rings hollow when you consider he scored 36 goals and was on pace for 48 had he not gotten the high ankle sprain." To, "character and all-around game will have him as high as second overall." To, "the most NHL ready player in the entire draft." The consensus certainly rings true, Landeskog is the best player available from the OHL this year, but remember it only takes one team to prefer someone else on this list at their draft position.

Honorable Mentions

Vladislav Namestnikov - London Knights (7 votes)
Stefan Noesen - Plymouth Whalers (2 votes)
Stuart Percy - Mississauga Majors (1 vote)
Brett Ritchie - Sarnia Sting (1 vote)
Jordan Binnington - Owen Sound Attack (1 vote)

Thanks to all those that contributed!

No comments: