Continuing the look at Central Scouting rankings of European players, we'll go into the middle of the order, focusing on some names you might be well aware of, but others who might not yet be on your particular radar for the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
You'll see some Russians in this post, but the best Russian talent in the 2011 class is mostly over in North America playing in the CHL this year.
31. Henri Auvinen, D JyP Jyvaskyla Jr. (FIN Jr.)- Featured in a previous B2011DW sleeper alert, this Finnish defender attracted much notice in February's Five Nations tourney in the Czech Republic. At 6-2, 176, he's skinny and lacking in strength, and his skating is OK, but needs improvement in his initial burst and footwork. He can advance the puck pretty well, and plays with a natural intelligence and vision that could see him develop into a promising two-way prospect. His second-half performance vaulted him up to the first spot in the second round from 55 where he was at mid-term, and while that may be a tad high for this raw but interesting project, he does look like a solid draft pick. Teammate Samu Perhonen is the most identifiable player on JyP, but given that Boston has a cooperative agreement with the Finnish club, you can bet that they've gotten a good, long look at both.
34. Maxim Shalunov, RW Chelyabinsk-2 (RUS Jr.)- Big and talented Russian is a bit of an enigma in that he has the speed and agility to go end-to-end and can handle the puck well. He has a heavy shot and is capable of putting it in the net from the outside. At 6-3, 185 pounds, he has a lot of filling out to do. He scored 22 goals and 36 points with Traktor Chelyabinsk's junior team, but he dropped from a 20 ranking at mid-season to 34. We figure much of that has to do with his penchant for taking undisciplined penalties and an inconsistent compete level that can be a killer with scouts because of the limited viewings involved. If he's a horse one night and invisible the next, that will skew the rankings and you'll see some variance on where different teams rank him. He also gets the detriment of other Russians who stayed home and come with concerns about signing them and adjusting to the North American game as opposed to those who jumped over the Atlantic. Shalunov could be one of the bigger tease prospects in this class- he has unquestioned talent, but is less than the sum of his impressive parts right now.
35. Peter Ceresnak, D Trencin Jr. (SVK- Jr.)- Big defender is a stay-at-home guy and more of a poor man's Milan Jurcina than anything else. He is fairly mobile in that he doesn't have great speed, but moves well laterally and can lay guys out with a pretty decent hip check. He staples opponents to the walls and has a long wingspan/active stick. He's got to work on his gap control and there isn't much offensive upside with this guy. Ceresnak got virtually no playing time at the WJC, which was disappointing, especially since Slovakia was one of the poorer teams there and he wasn't given much of a shot even after Martin Marincin got the boot for his elbow on U.S. forward Jason Zucker.
46. Daniel Pribyl, LW/C Sparta Praha Jr. (CZE- Jr.)- Red Line Report gets credit for being on Pribyl's bandwagon for some time, but Central is onto something with the big and skilled forward. At 6-3, 190 he's lean and needs to get stronger, but has some interesting potential and upside. The December '92 birthdate scored 25 goals and 54 points in just 39 games with his junior club and even got some time with his senior team in the Exraliga, so his development is on the right track. He's a long-strider but isn't a dynamic skater and could stand to pick up an extra step. However, his creativity is high-end, and he has nice hands to set up plays along with a quick, accurate shot to make him a dual threat as a finisher and set-up man. This is one player who wouldn't surprise us in the least to see go off the board early as a bit of a surprise pick because of his strong blend of tools and intangibles. He's a hard worker, and we'd love to see him come over and play in the CHL next season.
76. Sebastian Dyk, LW Malmo (SWE-2)- Blazing skater dropped down from mid-term because of his lack of goal scoring (no goals in 36 games playing against men in the second division or Allsvenskan), but despite the production issues, he's got the chops and talent to do a lot more. He might be worth a gamble in the mid-to-late rounds because he is speedy, shifty, handles the puck will and can take it to the net. He's only average-sized, so he'll need to get stronger and take the next step in production, but based on what we've heard, there is no reason he won't evolve into a decent prospect given his skill level and wheels.
77. Jakub Jerabek, D Plzen (CZE)- A late-bloomer and May, 1991-birthdate who has emerged as an interesting puck-moving option coming out of the Czech Extraliga this season. He's average-sized but moves well and can advance the puck with quick breakouts and tape-to-tape passes that stretch defenses. He's not a dynamic player who jumps out at you, but does make the right reads and sees the ice well. Like Dahlbeck, he brings added benefit of being more physically mature and experienced; ready to come over to North America and start playing right away for the team that drafts him (contract permitting). He's not much for physical play and his defense is pretty average, but PMDs are all the rage, and this guy has some potential.
123. Pontus Netterberg, RW HV 71 Jr. (SWE- Jr.)- A February 1992 who was passed over, but who made a positive impression during the World Jr. A Challenge in the fall. He lacks first step jump and explosion but is a good straight-line skater who goes into traffic well and drives the net. He doesn't have terrific hands, but just seems to get in close and convert rebounds and other trash in front of the net. He shows some creativity and will play with some bite, though he has a long fuse and often needs to be set off rather than playing with the natural aggression of a power forward. Looks low on Central's list to us- he scored 19 goals on HV 71's junior team and has the size and offensive element to his game that should find some appeal among the NHL's 30 clubs.
132. Sami Salminen, RW HIFK Jr. (FIN- Jr.)- Huge (6-5) winger crashed on Central's mid-term rankings, dropping all the way down to 132 from 47 likely because of his very heavy feet and concerns about being able to improve his skating enough to be an NHL player. He scored 15 goals in 30 games and looked very strong in early season international competition, so there is some promise there, but he doesn't bring much of a physical element and would undoubtedly require a great deal of time and patience to develop. Still, the payoff might be nice for the team willing to invest a pick and the TLC. Character kid who works hard.
We will return with a post dedicated to the European goalies worth discussing and soome sleepers from the Euro ranks.
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