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Monday, January 10, 2011

Central Scouting's mid-season rankings: North American skaters pt. 3; risers, fallers and sleepers + goalies

Back with the final installment of the Central Scouting mid-season rankings initial analysis. Will try to track down a couple of Central Scouting contacts in the coming days and try to drill down on some of the players.

Looking at the risers, fallers and sleepers here for North Americans. Will also take a quick look at the NA goalies, too.


32nd Rickard Rakell, RW Plymouth (OHL)-- This guy was kind of like Gabriel Landeskog-lite at the WJC once Landeskog went out with the high ankle sprain. He skates well, has an active stick and is an abrasive cuss who agitates a bit and is effective at drawing penalty calls. He's another Swede who left his home country for the smaller ice and more rough-and-tumble game of the OHL and has adapted well. Don't be surprised if he ends up going somewhere between 20-30 on draft day.

43rd Daniel Catenacci, C Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)-- This small, but ultra-skilled player was the top OHL pick a few years back, but coming into this season, hadn't done a great deal to establish himself as a top-round NHL draft prospect. He's having a very good year and making NHL scouts re-think their positions on him coming into it.

58th Scott Oke, LW Saint John (QMJHL)-- Oke has had a strong first half given the expectations, but 58th? Really? Big, lanky guy, but does he project as a top-three round pick? More data required.

63rd Mike Mersch, LW University of Wisconsin (WCHA)-- This NTDP grad didn't have a lot of buzz coming into the 10-11 season, though scouts liked him. But, Redline Report's Max Giese has weighed in on why he likes Mersch so much on this blog earlier this season. You can read it here. But Mersch looks to be rewarded by Central for his work in Madison. And, while he doesn't project as a high-end guy in the NHL, he's one of those guys you win with.


44th Lucas Lessio, LW Oshawa Generals (OHL)--
This player has first-round size and skills with the ability to be a difference maker every shift, but has been knocked for his wavering compete levels. Saw that firsthand last week against Kitchener, so there's something to that. He'll fall lower than he should if he doesn't figure out how to dial it up better.

61st Adam Clendening, D Boston University (HE)-- Have to admit that this ranking threw me. I've seen Clendening a few times and thought he's been pretty good for a freshman player competing in the Hockey East. I certainly feel he's handled the transition better than Matt Nieto, who is five six slots higher at 55th. But, Central obviously disagrees and I've had some Twitter traffic from at least one BU fan who has not been impressed with Clendening. Will have to give him a closer look in future viewings.

74th Tobias Rieder, C Kitchener Rangers (OHL)-- If this ranking is based on the WJC, I can understand it. Rieder just wasn't very good in Buffalo. But in fairness, neither was his team. From what I understand, Rieder has been a better player in the OHL than he was in the IIHF competition, so is this another too-low CS ranking like Jeff Skinner last year? Could be.

75th Andrei Pedan, D Guelph Storm (OHL)-- A lot expected of this big, mobile and promising Russian, but he has yet to really show much in the OHL this year based on information from my contacts. He was a final cut on Team Russia, who went exclusively with a 1991-born team with the exception of Evgeni Kuznetsov at the WJC. He has the ability to control the play from the back end as he reportedly showed at last spring's Under-18s, but has been pretty mediocre in Guelph.

102nd Shane McColgan, RW Kelowna Rockets (WHL)-- Youch! What happened? Size matters and McColgan doesn't have it. But sluggish play after tonsils removed seems to have dropped him like a rock. Going to be tough sledding for the Californian who doesn't appear to have any growth spurt left to prove he has the skill to play in the NHL.


35th Shane Prince, C Ottawa 67's (OHL)-- OK- the Rochester-area native is not really a classic sleeper in that everyone knows him now after what he's been doing in the OHL scoring race. But having him at 35 doesn't make him a riser, and I don't want to call him a faller either. So, the speedy little scorer is a sleeper until further notice.

120th Charles Orzetti, LW NJ Hitmen (EJHL)-- This power forward was a 2010 prospect, but missed all of last season with an injury, so he's back in the pool. Skates pretty well for a big man (6-4, 210) and has good hands. Very raw and not all that instinctive, but could have an NHL future as a third liner.

128th Joakim Ryan, D Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL)-- New Jersey-born and raised, but plays for Sweden because of mother's (and tennis pro) heritage. This kid is small, but fast and skilled. He's got excellent athletic bloodlines and will be a project but is someone with some upside so long as patience taken with him.

LV Connor Murphy, D USA U-18 (USHL)-- Gord Murphy's son can't seem to stay healthy. He's on the shelf again this season after missing most of last year with a wonky back. But, out of sight, out mind applies and he could be a later-round steal. He's got dad's size and brings more of an offensive upside than old No. 28 for the Bruins did.


John Gibson
deserves his spot atop the NA goalie rankings. At 6-2 and 205, he has the big frame and athleticism NHL teams demand of their netminders. He's also very calm, cool and collected. Unfortunately, he's just a year behind IIHF legend Jack Campbell, which means Gibson won't get his shot to shine on the world stage as much. So, it will be critical for the NTDP star from Pennsylvania to get it done in tournaments like the Four Nations in Feb. and of course, the Under-18 Championship in Apr.

Christopher Gibson sounds North American, but he's all European from Finland. The son of a British ex-pat father and Finnish mother, Gibson came over to play in the Notre Dame Hounds program in Wilcox, Sask. before ending up in QMJHL frontier outpost Chicoutimi. Gibson has been very good on a not so great team- the typical butterfly goalie with a 6-1 frame. Very nice prospect.

Matt McNeely is Gibson's Team USA backup in Ann Arbor, a similar goalie in terms of style and substance from Minnesota, but playing time for him will be tougher to come by and he's more raw than Gibson.

I'm also liking Steve Michalek of Loomis-Chaffee who had a great Ivan Hlinka for Team USA and has been beseiged at the prep level but has posted very respectable numbers. He's more of a sleeper than most goalies on the list, but at 6, it's nice to see Central has noticed.

I'll get some better insights on some of the other goalies on the list and be back at some point to shed some better light on them.

Tomorrow, we'll get a closer look at some of the key Europeans.


  1. I can't believe how quick Tyson Teichmann has fallen. Came into the season almost the consensus number 1 from the OHL and now has fallen off the map

  2. nieto has definitely started to adjust to the college game after a slow start. i thought he would be in the top 30 for NA skaters. same with clendening. not sure why his stock has dropped so much in the eyes of CS. the potential is definitely there. also nice to see the northeastern defender crack the top 30 (i wont bother botching the spelling). he's got a ton of upside

  3. Teichmann and Scott Harrington are two guys I should have included in the "fallers" category among others, dom. Very curious the way things have gone south for them, but happens every year. Just like the guys who grab the bull by the horns like Ryan Strome and Shane Prince.

    mimurowich- good to hear about Nieto. Saw him a few times early and was not impressed. Glad that he's getting it together better. Will be seeing him again later this month, Feb, and in March, so looking forward to it!

    Thanks for the feedback, guys