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Monday, January 10, 2011

Shameless plug for OHL prospects

Brock Otten of the outstanding OHL Prospects Blog re-enlisted my services for a midseason update on the top-10 OHL players, which builds on the one I did as part of a six-person media panel did back in October

You can read the panel's latest OHL top-10 rankings by clicking on this link here.

A couple of thoughts: I had Gabriel Landeskog at the top of the list back in October and he's obviously still there, even with the high ankle sprain that is expected to keep him out until February, and will cause him to miss the upcoming CHL Top Prospects Game. Boo. Who will replace him? Shane Prince? Alexander Khokhlachev? Mike St. Croix? Given what Prince is doing (72 points in the OHL) I think he could have the inside edge, but any of those guys would do. Still will be a good game, but Landeskog's injury robs a lot of folks of the chance to see him play on NHL Network before the draft.

The Dougie Hamilton vs. Ryan Murphy debate: one has the thing the other can never possess-- size. Hamilton is a good, mobile skater and with 34 points in 38 games, has shattered his previous season totals of 16 points in 64 OHL contests in '09-10. It would be one thing if Hamilton were not producing, but his six goals and 28 assists, while nowhere near Murphy's totals, will likely result in his coming off the board in June because of Murphy. Why? Because he's a safer bet with his size and tools, even if his skills aren't elite the way Murphy's are. But, Hamilton's rise could be Boston's gain, especially if they are sold on putting Murphy with Zdeno Chara and buying into his considerable upside. I don't think the Bruins can go wrong with either player should they opt to go defense (and Adam Larsson is as expected, property of another team).

Brandon Saad could be a very nice consolation prize if the Bruins somehow slip out of the top-four and can't get Landeskog. He may not quite have the Kitchener captain's moxie, but Saad is still a nice power forward prospect and the thought of him forming a bookend with Milan Lucic one day (possibly flanking Tyler Seguin?) has got to appeal to Boston.

Ryan Strome has been the biggest riser all season and deserves his spot in the top-five. He could go even higher when all is said and done. He's my choice to be the Ryan Johansen of 2011-- he'll get picked sooner than most mock drafts will have him, and ahead of at least a couple of higher-profile prospects just as the Columbus prospect was when he went 4th overall in L.A.

It was nice to see Vince Trocheck crack the top-10. Saad's Saginaw teammate deserves to be there with his size and toughness despite not being the biggest player around. One guy who fell out was Oshawa's Lucas Lessio, who has the skills, but seems to lack the drive and consistency in a talented field. His teammate, Nicklas Jensen, is a better bet right now. I voted for Prince, but he didn't make the cut. At some point, I don't think the critics will be able to ignore his production, but for now, he has more doubters than supporters.

Brock does a nice job with the write-up, so check it out.

I should have given Rickard Rakell an honorable mention. He was very good in the WJC and has been rising all season. Plymouth teammate Stefan Noesen is another one who could have a case made for being in the top-10. Don't forget Alan Quine, Scott Harrington and Garrett Meurs, who were all expected to be first-round picks before the season. They haven't earned a spot in the top-10, but are still nice prospects who will likely go in the top-60 or 70 picks come June.

All these OHL players-- reminds that the depth of this crop is pretty good.

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