*(Not affiliated with the Boston Bruins or the New England Hockey Journal)

Monday, May 23, 2011

50 in 30: B2011DW's top-50 players for the NHL Draft 31-40

Welcome back to Bruins 2011 Draft Watch's final rankings countdown to the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

The top-50 rolls on today with 31-40. You can read 50-41 here. And here are the honorable mentions as guys who didn't quite make the cut.

Quick reminder. These rankings are based on players we have seen live of via video ONLY. There will be some highly-touted players who aren't in the top-50 for that reason. Dmitri Jaskin is the guy we would have ranked in this range, but with just one U18 streaming viewing (of poor quality) we made the decision not to include him in the top-50 based on other better and multiple looks at other players.

Enjoy the countdown...

40. Connor Murphy, D U.S. NTDP (USHL) 6-3, 190 3/26/1993
On talent and upside alone, Murphy is closer to early second-round than where we have him, but the injury risk and lack of durability calls for a more conservative estimate here. Based on pure physical attributes and hockey skills, the son of former Bruins defenseman Gord Murphy (in two different stints and the other guy traded to Dallas with Andy Moog for Jon Casey in 1993- ouch!). The younger Murphy was actually born in Boston- his dad was just a few months away from being Sunshine state-bound (the Stars exposed him in the 1993 expansion draft, where he was plucked by the Florida Panthers), but considers himself a son of Ohio and is committed to the Miami University Redhawks. He has his father's size, but is a better skater with a higher offensive upside than his old man, whose best offensive performance in the NHL was 14 goals and 43 points in 1993-94. Big-time shot that he can still improve the mechanics on in terms of his release and accuracy. Sharp passer and puck mover. Connor's not as physical a player as Gord, either but it works for him- he takes the right angles and understands positioning- just don't expect a banger. Extremely polished, bright and mature- will kill the interview process at the draft combine. Interestingly enough, Gord also had problems staying in the lineup, playing every game in a season just twice in his career. The younger Murphy had an excellent U18 performance last month, scoring the gold medal-winning goal in overtime while playing a consistent, effective two-way game. However, you're talking about a player who has less than 30 games under his belt in two seasons- if the back injury he's labored under is potentially a chronic condition, he could be one of the great teases of the draft. Major league upside, but some risk, too. We believe Murphy will go higher than 40 because a team can't resist the payoff, but could just as easily blow up in their face if he ends up being fragile. Could be a legitimate No. 2 stud, or a "what could have been" draft day tragedy.

39. Adam Clendening, D Boston University (HE) 5-11, 190 10/26/1992
One of the top puck movers in the 2011 draft could be ranked a little higher, but his lack of ideal size and top-end speed poses a bit of a risk for NHL clubs. Was one of the most talked-about defensemen in the 2011 class coming into the season,and posted a solid freshman year Boston University. Started well, hit the wall at mid-season and then started to pull it together there at the end for the Terriers finishing with five goals and 26 points in 39 games. Only an okay skater- lacks the pure speed and lateral quickness you want from an undersized player on the blue line. Outstanding passer with high-end offensive hockey sense and vision. Sees the ice open up well before others and makes all the requisite breakouts and feeds. Doesn't quite have an overpowering shot like Justin Faulk, but will get it through traffic on net. Superb in puck distribution. Needs to watch the dumb penalties- lacks discipline and situational awareness at times. Above average defender but gets overpowered. We see Clendening as a prime candidate to get snapped up by an NHL team with multiple early picks- a club who can better afford to gamble on his high promise as one of the better PMDs in this draft despite the concerns about size and wheels. Teams that only have one pick in each of the first two rounds or less will probably stay away from him because of the risk factor.

38. David Musil, D Vancouver (WHL) 6-4, 200 04/09/1993
Another disappointing player who came into the year with such high expectations but failed to deliver. With Musil, it is more about the fact that he looks like a safe defender but nowhere near the high-upside guy he looked like several years ago when he burst onto the scene in the various international tournaments as a 15-year-old. The son of an NHL defenseman and tennis pro, as well as the grandson one of the Czech Republic's most recognized players and coaches. Heck, even his uncle, Bobby Holik, has legit name recognition from his NHL days. Where once scouts saw some offensive potential, that aspect has not emerged, nor is it likely to. His skating is average- not poor or exceptional either way and he does have good gap control and active stick. He can play a physical game (when he wants to) and has a nice frame to fill out which will make him more effective in that regard. His shot has power, but is lacking in a good release and accuracy. He telegraphs it and has an excessive windup that allows for defenses to get into the shooting lanes or disrupt his delivery. Another aspect of Musil's game we have heard troubling things about is with the intensity and desire- some NHL evaluators have said that he is the product of hockey coming very easy to him early on and the natural physical advantage he enjoyed at a younger age. Now, his peers are catching up to him and surpassing him, and he's not consistently bringing the kind of intensity you want. Of course, go back to his CHL Top Prospects Game performance and he looked very good- like the top pick he was projected to be and even fought Duncan Siemens to a draw. Musil is a solid kid with excellent bloodlines and a good talent base. He's not a high-end guy, but is someone you win with when he's his best.

37. Rickard Rakell, C/RW Plymouth (OHL) 6-0, 195 05/05/1993
We really dug this kid at the World Jr. Championship in December, when he had to step up after the loss of Gabriel Landeskog against Norway. Rakell was terrific in the preliminary round shutout against eventual champion Russia by being active, abrasive and opportunistic on every shift. He may not have excellent size or strength, but he plays bigger than his 6-foot frame and gets up under bigger, stronger guys. Tenacious on the forecheck and smart- forces turnovers and keeps his feet moving. Doesn't have elite breakaway speed, but is quick and elusive. Rakell also plays a pretty disciplined style- he can get under opponents' skin, but doesn't take a lot of penalties himself, often smirking at the other guy as he heads off to the box. He's diligent in his work along the boards and will take the puck into traffic and distributes pretty well. His upside is a bit of a question mark right now, however. He scored 19 goals and 43 points in 49 games with the Whalers, missing the end of the season and part of the playoffs with a lower body injury. Intelligent and energetic, he does show flashes of some offensive potential, but may have to make his living on the bottom two lines.

36. Duncan Siemens, D Saskatoon (WHL) 6-3, 197 09/07/1993
We can hear the screams of disagreement all the way to Saskatoon on this one and are prepared to take our lumps. Here's the disclaimer up front: We *know* that Siemens is a first-round pick and an NHL scout we talked to doesn't have a problem with where we have him, but told us- "You'll have to be OK with him going 15-20 spots before where you put him." Check. At the end of the day, we just don't see the upside with this guy. Yes, he can skate and his September birthdate is appealing given that he's one of the younger kids in this class. That said, we've been underwhelmed in each and every one of our viewings of him...admittedly all of them via stream. Video does not do any player justice, especially a defenseman where so much happens behind the play. That said, the same NHL scout said that Siemens' 43 points in 72 games were "phony" and said he reviewed the video on them- assists were throw it into the corner and forward then makes the play. While tough, Siemens is nowhere near as intimidating as Dylan McIlrath (who admittedly had a poor year) and Colten Teubert. Want evidence of that- look at his fight with Musil at the top prospects game. Siemens went looking for it, and the Canadian-born Czech more than held his own. Look, we know he's likely a top-20 selection and we're probably being a bit harsh, but we'll almost guarantee that there are NHL teams who do not have him in their top-30. Those decisions will never see the light of day to be criticized, but we're OK laying it on the line by saying that we don't see Siemens as being the No. 1/No. 2 NHL defender worthy of that top-10 or 11 selection where some have him. Heresy, we know, but we keep hearing about how Stefan Elliott had a lot to do with his partner's success and how underwhelming Siemens was in the playoffs. Add it all together and you have a guy we've been up-and-down on all season, but in the end, are a little down.

35. Tomas Jurco, RW Saint John (QMJHL) 6-2, 195 12/28/1992
If scoring goals is all about the feet and hands, then there is no denying that this Slovak is right up near the head of the class. His puckhandling skills border on the obscene. If there was some kind of unearthly substance that had a magnetic effect on rubber, we'd think that Jurco was the one who discovered it. He can dangle with the absolute best of them and scored a vintage breakaway goal early in game 1 of the Memorial Cup against Mississauga when he broke in alone on J.P. Anderson and buried it after some dazzling moves. He has a quick burst and some deceptive speed with the agility to turn defenders and make opponents look silly. In the open ice, he's absolutely deadly- a quick fake and flick of the stick and he's effortlessly around those who don't take the proper angle or maintain an effective gap. Now for the bad news: Jurco's defensive game is subpar and his compete levels uneven. He scored 31 goals on a stacked team, but was streaky with long stretches of unproductive play. On the right team, you're looking at a guy who can kill the opposition with a timely goal. However, without a creative and talented supporting cast, Jurco will be forced to try and do too much. He's skilled, but seems to lack that element of sense and simplification that leads to him getting too cute instead of making the high percentage plays. Medium risk player but high reward if he can raise the consistency. He's going to go higher than where we have him because of the sick hands and upside.

34. Victor Rask, C Leksands (SWE-2) 6-2, 194 03/01/1993
If this guy's life had a soundtrack, it would be the old Power Station 80's hit "Some Like It Hot" because he was definitely sweating when the heat was on! Crumbled under enormous expectations in his draft season, but if there is one legitimate draft value out there it is him. Tremendous upside, but has been a maddening player for scouts to watch this season and we've often heard the frustration. Looked like a first-round pick at times during the Under-18 tourney, but he played the center position and forced the better player (in our view) in Mika Zibanejad to the wing, where he was not as successful. We know that Rask has outstanding puck skills and hockey sense- his skating is average but could get better if he picks up a step and gets a little stronger. When on his game, he makes everyone around him better and slows things down or speeds them up at will. Whomever drafts him in the first round is doing so with the belief in what they saw from him a year ago when he was a dominate junior player with ideal size and some legitimate NHL tools. He didn't get it done this season, but watching him in Germany- he showed the flashes of what made him one of the more talked-about prospects coming in. Now, he has to put it all together. If a club thinks he'll relax and get back to the levels he showed as a 16-year-old, then he's absolutely worth taking a shot at in the first. However, if he slips into the second, he's legitimate value anywhere there.

33. Shane Prince, LW Ottawa (OHL) 5-10, 181 11/16/1992
OK- we admit it. B2011DW is more bullish on this Spencerport, N.Y. native than most. We just feel that even with the smallish size and criticisms about Prince taking shifts off, that he has legitimate scoring upside at the next level. Some question it, but we think he can certainly bring it when healthy and on top of his game. His hands are terrific- he's Mark Recchi-like in terms of the way he makes plays from the wing, preferring to dish and set up teammates rather than finish off the plays. At the same time, he does have nifty wrister that comes off his stick in a flash. He scored Team Cherry's only goal of the Top Prospects Game on precisely such a drive, making a quick head fake as if to pass and then wiring a laser through Jordan Binnington's legs. Also like Recchi, he doesn't have elite speed for a smaller guy, but is strong on his skates and just seems to know where to be when the play needs to be made. He injured his shoulder, missing some games and then got blasted in the open ice with a violent hit that caused his head to strike the ice. Prince returned to action pretty soon thereafter, but it did raise some questions about his durability and the dings he's going to take as he moves up to higher levels. At the end of the day, we simply like this player enough to have him knocking on the door of the late first-round and feel that he has the skill and intestinal fortitude, plus passion for the game to make it as a top-six scorer someday.

32. Stefan Noesen, C Plymouth (OHL) 6-0, 195 02/12/1993
B2011DW loves hockey prospects who are driven, passionate and dedicated to the sport. This native of Texas is one of the growing number of players who are leaving non-traditional hockey areas to hone their games and expose themselves to elite competition. Noesen (NAY-sen) left the Lone Star State at 15 to play high-level hockey for Compuware in Michigan. In his second season in the OHL with the Whalers after being eased in (33 games- 8 points) he erupted for 34 goals and 77 points in 68 contests as a sophomore. Some say he's a real good skater, while others say he needs to improve his initial burst. From our view, he's got some power in his stride and his top-end speed is just fine. He's one of the better two-way players in this draft class, and his goal totals indicate that he has some top-six potential at the NHL level. He's got some real tenacity to his game- he understands where he needs to be and takes his role seriously. A forechecker who uses his vision and anticipation to force turnovers, he also showed a penchant for taking advantage of those changes in puck possession by setting up teammates for quick strikes or taking it to the net himself. Skill, character and focus make him a potential top-30 selection and early second-rounder at the latest in our view.

31. Boone Jenner, C Oshawa (OHL) 6-1, 195 06/15/1993
Another passionate, character player who can do a little bit of everything, but may not be a high-end guy, where Jenner goes in the draft is going to be a hot topic of debate between now and June 24-25. The biggest knock on Jenner coming into the year was on his skating, but scouts say he's noticeably improved. While he won't ever be one of those "plus skaters" you hear about, but when we watched him in January, he showed no major flaws in action against Kitchener. One NHL scout we know told us that Jenner "skates his bag off" and is one of those living cliches as the kid who will go through the wall for his team. He's a strong faceoff guy who is always around the puck and seems to be the type of player who isn't just productive, but knows how to elevate his game to come through in the clutch. Jenner is also a strong defensive player who hustles, plays an honest game in all zones and does the little things like lifting the stick, taking the body and winning battles for loose pucks. We're hearing that he'll max out as a second-line forward, but in all honesty, when you look at all of the intangibles to his game- leadership, effort level, intelligence and maturity- it's hard to imagine that he'd be on the board much later than the 31st selection. We feel that Jenner is a good chance to take in the final 10 picks of the first round, but have him at 31 because of the questionable offensive role at the next level. It should not be reflection of where we view him as a guy who scored 25 goals and 66 points in 61 games while being a coach's dream.

B2011DW will return later in the week to get you down to 21. From there, we will start on June 1st with the daily comprehensive and detailed profiles of our top-20 players for this draft class.


  1. Really not a fan of your opinion on Siemens, as we have talked about on various times throughout the year.

    I do agree that his point totals are vastly inflated and that he likely won't be much more than a 25-30 point defenseman at the next level, but he still makes a GREAT first pass and can skate as good as anyone his size.

    It's really funny that you can use his fight in the prospects game as something that shows his lack of toughness or fighting ability. I just read an interview last week where Siemens admitted that both players were at the end of a shift and were tired and it turned into more of a hugfest than anything else.

    That example should NOT be used as an example of how tough he is or how he fights.

    As for his playoffs, yes they were a down spot for him at the worst possible time. But I know for a fact that he was playing badly injured. I saw the bruises on his body first hand. He could hardly walk, let alone take a solid stride on the ice.

    Regardless of that, this is about projection and not necessarily about how he performed in the few games you have seen him (online no less).

    What it comes down to for me is that he's an elite skater for a big man, is a true born leader (was named as an 'A' before giving it up to Stefan Elliott), is mean and sticks up for teammates, makes a strong first pass and can handle himself moderately well on the PP.

    I will take some questionable decision making from time to time (to me, his biggest flaw, such as holding on to the puck too long and getting himself into trouble in his own zone).

    If he plays a simple game he's at his best and reminds me alot of someone like Ed Jovanovski. And hey, I saw him live over 50 times this year, so if I'm wrong, so be it.

  2. Can't say that your comment is all that surprising or unexpected.

    Of course, you aren't exactly an unbiased observer, either. I think that your position as a member of the Saskatoon Blades broadcast team does you a disservice here, as some of your points read more like an impassioned, pro-Blades propaganda piece instead of an even-handed assessment of Siemens' talents and upside.

    I understand your position and respect it, but is it possible that with your 50+ viewings, you are too close to the subject?

    I readily admit that my viewings of Siemens are limited in comparison and restricted to video and admitted as much in my writeup. That could lead the assessment of Siemens to be a flawed one and he may be every bit the player you feel he is.

    But I'm not here to be a lemming or to tow the party line/popular opinion of him as trotted out by the internet and places like ISS. NHL scouts I have talked to have expressed concerns about his upside and while I like his tools, I've been underwhelmed in my looks at him. A lot missing in those looks I readily admit, but the higher guys on my list are there both for their performance, projection and the fact that I've seen them live, have a stronger opinion of them.

    Thanks for the feedback- I appreciate it.

  3. I don't think I'm too close to the subject. Hell, I bet many scouts would love to see a certain group of players 50 times or more in one season. Sure, I might ride the bus with the team on occasion and interview them on a regular basis, but that doesn't mean I am blind to their faults.

    As I said on Twitter yesterday, I don't think Siemens is a lock to be a future all star. I don't think he's a worthy pick in the top 8 or maybe even the top 10. Could he be? Possibly. But it's not like I'm saying he's the best defenseman in the draft or will become anything near his idol in Scott Stevens.

    I don't think seeing him 50 times makes my view of him flawed. I like what he brings to the table on a more often than not basis, but he still has major issues that he needs to work through. And that type of philosophy translates throughout the entire Blades roster. They have a number of intriguing draftable players (Darren Dietz, Matej Stransky, Brent Benson), but I don't hold any of those players in a supreme regard compared to where others may or may not have them ranked.

    But what that amount of viewing time has given me is a more than comfortable look at the players and what I think they can bring to the table. Call it bias if you want, I see it as the opposite.

    Keep up the great work Kirk.