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Monday, November 1, 2010

An early OHL top-10- from the media (including yours truly)

I had Brock Otten, founder of the excellent OHL Prospects blog on here the other day to break down his view of the OHL, and he returned the favor by including me in an interesting survey he did with some other media types to rank and assess the top-10 from that league for the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

I still think RyanMurphy is too high as the No. 1 OHL player, and I get that he's got amazing offensive talent, but the real question is: will he be a No. 1 defenseman at the NHL level? Ranking a specialist as the top OHL player doesn't get it done, and no matter how high or low you are on him, I think you can make the case that he has yet to prove that he can be that cornerstone type of guy even with the prodigious amount of skill. At the end of the day, I think that NHL teams would rather have the big power forward who projects as a better bet as a top-six than a dynamic, but as of yet one-dimensional player who does carry a little more risk than the others. And yes, I'm fully aware that the defense has improved, but I've also talked to a pair of NHL scouts who've seen him, and they're not quite as laudatory of his D-zone play as others I've spoken to. As of now, we'll have to chalk it up to a difference of opinion and leave it at that. Since I don't get to see Murphy live, I have to defer to those who do. I'm hoping that he makes Team Canada for the WJC so I can get a good look at him other than the highlights.

But, it's a great debate, and it appears that I'm in the minority. Look-- Murphy's a heck of a player, but if the Bruins are in position to take Adam Larsson or David Musil, then there really isn't a lot to debate in my view. Larsson isn't putting up the points he did last year at age 17, but he is still a horse on D and getting it done against men. He has the size, skill and hockey sense to be something special in the not-to-distant future. As for Musil, he's playing pretty well in Vancouver, chipping in the points and motoring along. Some I talk to would still like to see a little more intensity from him, but there's no denying his impressive mix of skill and physical tools. He's got some rough edges, but does project as a potential No. 1 or 2 in the NHL.

If those players are off the board and Murphy and Dougie Hamilton are both there, then the team will have a real decision on their hands (assuming they want to take a defenseman there and I believe they will). Hamilton doesn't have Murphy's pure offensive ability or production, but he's not that far off, either. And, he's got the one thing Murphy never will have: a 6-foot-4 body with the frame to fill out into a 220-230-pound player when he reaches his peak. Given his skating and upside, that's a hard package to pass up if he's sitting on the table when your turn comes.

Either way, looks like the OHL is going to have another serious run in the NHL draft this year, and it will be fascinating to see where these guys end up. I'm still firmly on the Gabriel Landeskog bandwagon, fwiw. I just look at that guy and what he's done/doing and see nothing but the sky as the limit for his potential. Throwing out the obvious size, speed and skill, he's also intelligent, motivated and hard-working. You just can't beat that kind of a combo when it comes to projecting pro athletes in any sport.

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