Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sunday Top 10 - The Media Picks the Top 10

Happy Halloween everyone. Today's "All hallows eve" edition of the top 10 will feature the ten best players available from the OHL for the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. Before you say, "Otten what a cop out! Wouldn't that just be a rehash of the top 30 you posted a few weeks ago?" This is different.

Today's top 10 list is an amalgamation of several lists from several esteemed individuals. I took a poll of some of the finest media member and scout types the OHL has to offer and created a list that serves as the average between all of these individuals. Contributing to this piece are THN's Ryan Kennedy, Sportsnet's Patrick King, Hockey Prospectus & ESPN's Corey Pronman, Yahoo's Neate Sager, The New England Hockey Journal's Kirk Luedeke (also of the fantastic Bruins Draft Watch blogs), TV Cogeco's Stephen Clark, and of course myself (why not eh?).

10. Boone Jenner - Oshawa Generals
Received Votes From: 4 out of 7
Highest Placement: 2nd
Comments: While Jenner might be quickly becoming the forgotten man from the OHL (after such a strong rookie season), it appears he definitely still has his fans. One of our contributors says "He'll have a big year with the free wheeling, high powered Generals." Meanwhile, another says that the combination of his size and skill will be appealing...even if other players in the draft class outscore him. "NHL teams love players with size and skill. Look for his stock to rise rapidly throughout the season." I thought that was an interesting comment because if anything, it seems like his stock might have taken a hit so far this year due to the emergence of several other great forward talents in the OHL. Meanwhile, one contributor who didn't rank him said "he showed reasons why he's touted, big guy, soft hands, strong stride, but wacky mechanics and you can blow on him and he falls down."

9. Nicklas Jensen - Oshawa Generals
Received Votes From: 4 out of 7
Highest Placement: 4th
Comments: Jensen might just be the guy on this list who we look back on in June and say, "what the heck were we thinking having him this low?" He's getting better and better as he adjusts to the OHL, however the balanced scoring attack in Oshawa may ultimately keep him from inflated stats. His biggest asset is clearly his puck possession ability. As one contributor put it "he can wind it up and rush the puck like nobody's business." Meanwhile, another contributor says that his dominating performance at the Under 18's B-pool last year should also factor in combination with his strong start in Oshawa to make him a very solid draft prospect.

8. Ryan Strome - Niagara IceDogs
Received Votes From: 6 out of 7
Highest Placement: 6th
Comments: Like Jensen, this could be one we look back on and wonder. The hesitation about putting him higher might stem from his sudden offensive outburst. As one contributor said, " he's got kill and creativity to burn, but how much he can keep it up will be the question." But offensive skills don't just disappear overnight. One contributor said "his offensive potential is impressive." While another says, "he's definitely a creative, instinctive playmaker, but has put it all together and is also demonstrating some nice finish early in the season." But one contributor is worried about his potential as a goal scorer. "He has a very sharp curve to his stick, and he tends to hold the puck in the heel of the blade, covered by the blade rather than the usual sweet spot. It works for him since he's a playmaker, but it's a horrid thing for his shot." Interestingly enough, those who rated him had him 6th, 8th, 9th or 10th, but no higher. Definitely some hesitation to put him higher this early.

7. Lucas Lessio - Oshawa Generals
Received Votes From: 5 out of 7
Highest Placement: 3rd
Comments: Is this the Oshawa Generals Top 10? Sure tells you how much talent they have offensively this year (and the next couple of years). Lessio is interesting based on the polar opinions of him. Those who like his skill set, love him. While others look for him to be more consistent. As one contributor said "Wonder if we'll start hearing the C-word, consistency, with him." But Lessio has some "plus tools." Another contributor says, "an outstanding skater with good size who has the skills to generate offense at will. When he’s focused and on his game, there aren’t many in any league who can stop him." Again, we hear talk of his consistency. You have to wonder, if he starts to put it together every night, will he inch up this list?

6. Dougie Hamilton - Niagara IceDogs
Received Votes From: 6 out of 7
Highest Placement: 3rd (twice)
Comments: OK, so the running tally so far is, 3 Gennies and 2 Dogs. The rest of the OHL: zero. Seriously though, Hamilton is quickly turning into quite the force in the OHL, a giant (pun intended) contributor at both ends of the ice. As one contributor put it, "NHL teams love their 6'4 mobile defenseman." Ain't that the truth. So much so that one contributor even ranked Hamilton ahead of Ryan Murphy. "While nowhere near the offensive presence that Murphy is, Hamilton’s size and upside makes him a more valuable commodity and gives him the edge."

5. Alexander Khokhlachev - Windsor Spitfires
Received Votes From: 7 out of 7
Highest Placement: 2nd
Comments: Ah...finally someone who doesn't play for Oshawa or Niagara. "The Khok" has emerged as a bona fide offensive superstar in the OHL after coming over from Russia this offseason. One contributor believes it was his decision to come to the OHL that's made him such a hot commodity. "Ultra-skilled and creative Russian may not have a lot of size, but did himself a huge favor by coming over to play in the OHL, proving he can thrive in the North American game with a blazing start." Similar opinions were echoed. "Put me on Team KoKo. He's already playing power-play point and taking key faceoffs when Windsor has needed help in those areas." Meanwhile, one contributor was especially impressed with the way he drives to the net for goal scoring opportunities. "He has a burning desire to score goals." Looks like all of us might have to join Team KoKo.

4. Matt Puempel - Peterborough Petes
Received Votes From: 7 out of 7
Highest Placement: 1st
Comments: In pretty much every contributor's comments, the term "natural scorer" was thrown around. The reigning CHL rookie of the year may be part of a struggling team, but he's certainly picked up where he left off last season. However, some aren't convinced the rest of his game makes him worthy of a high selection. "Where’s the beef? There’s no denying the pure skill and offensive capacity of the 2010 CHL ROY. But, not sold on the passion, consistency and ability to bring the innumerable talents to the ice on every shift."

3. Gabriel Landeskog - Kitchener Rangers
Received Votes From: 7 out of 7
Highest Placement: 1st (twice)
Comments: One contributor pretty much said it best, "just that big power winger the NHL likes." Landeskog pretty much does it all on the ice, including playing the role of captain. The fact that he's stepped it up significantly offensively this year is just icing on the cake. In other words, "The newly minted captain of the Rangers can do it all; a premier power forward package with the production to back it all up." Another contributor compared Landeskog's game to a top five pick last year. "His blend of physical play and two-way game make him a valuable prospect. His game has shades of Nino Niederreiter's and his willingness to compete is second to none."

2. Brandon Saad - Saginaw Spirit
Received Votes From: 7 out of 7
Highest Placement: 2nd (twice)
Comments: Interestingly, Saad comes in at second on the list...despite not receiving a single vote for first. It was his consistency among voters that lead him to such a high rating though, as no one had him lower than 5th. His size, speed and skill package clearly make him a safe bet to be a high draft pick come June. "Not quite as productive as Landeskog thus far, but a very similar player in terms of superior size/skill/grit mix that every NHL team covets," says one contributor. The fact that he's been a large part of a great story in Saginaw makes him even more valuable. Interestingly enough, one contributor thinks we might just be hitting the tip of the iceberg. "Saad's offensive game still has room to grow, which is a scary thought given his start."

1. Ryan Murphy - Kitchener Rangers
Received Votes From: 7 out of 7
Highest Placement: 1st (four times)
Comments: After getting cut from the Canadian Ivan Hlinka team, it's pretty clear that Murphy is out for blood this year. Somewhat undersized, he's got a lot to prove in Kitchener this year. And he's done just that so far. Part of the negative press around Murphy's game comes from the illusion that he's a one dimensional player. As one contributor put it, "it is unfortunate people want to focus on the wrong more than the oh-so-right." But he's improved defensively by leaps and bounds. One contributor says, "the defensive aspect of his game has improved and even with the lack of size, he can control the offensive tempo of a game like no other defender can. If he keeps atop the OHL scoring race, it will be hard to keep him down." Another contributor agrees, "he has the complete package. If he were a few inches taller and 20 pounds heavier he would likely be the consensus top pick for this year's draft." That's quite the bevy of compliments.

Others receiving votes were...
Vlad Namestnikov - London Knights (three votes)
Scott Harrington - London Knights (three votes)
Tobias Rieder - Kitchener Rangers (two votes)
Daniel Catenacci - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (one vote)
Vincent Trocheck - Saginaw Spirit (one vote)


Anonymous said...

After a decent start Lessio is fading fast. I disagree about his skating, it is average at best.

He loses most of the battles along the boards even against smaller players.

Sorry to sound harsh but no way he stays in the top 10.

Darkwing Duck said...

This Khokhlachev character is quite the player, it seems.