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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Guys You Should Know: The Final Countdown

B2011DW has brought you 40 different "Guy You Should Know" profiles going all the way back to late August and so we're going to wrap up the series with this post, as our focus between now and the draft will be on the 2011 top-20, plus an overall emphasis on rounds 1-2.

For that reason, we'll profile some guys here who aren't household names, but still have a chance of being drafted at some point. The odds on some players are better than others, but here at B2011DW our goal is to leave no stone unturned and provide any NHL fan a chance to come to this blog, search the labels on the right of the main page and find most if not all their team's respective draft picks on June 24-25. We might not hit them all, but we aim to have a good solid 90 percent solution.

So with that in mind, here is a rogue's gallery of players we have either not covered in much detail or have yet to mention at all. Thanks for reading.

Joel Edmundson, D Moose Jaw (WHL)- Making a huge push up the draft boards after establishing himself as a legit NHL prospect in his first season of action in the Dub. Big kid who is about 6-5 and could still be growing and is a decent skater for his size. Footwork and acceleration could stand to improve, but he has a wide base and can move well once he gets up to speed. Big wingspan and a long reach make him tough to beat. Plays with an aggressive edge and could end up being one of those nasty, in-your-face defenders that smaller forwards look to avoid whenever they're on the ice. Has come a long way in a short time, which is something NHL teams always like.

Said one NHL scout recently: "Edmundson is interesting. He's got the size and a bit of upside in that he makes pretty crisp passes and seems to process the game well. He's still rough because he simply hasn't has as much major junior time as most of his peers, but he's closing that developmental gap fast. I wouldn't be surprised to see him end up somewhere in the top-60...you can't teach that natural size and aggression even if the offensive element of his game never develops."

Blake Coleman, C Indiana (USHL)- Late '91 from Dallas suburb of Plano put up an eye-popping 34 goals and 92 points in just 59 games for the Ice this season after 28 a year ago. Talk about an under-the-radar guy! His height is pretty average, but he's thick and strong and fights his way to the net. Has a quick stick and powerful shot with nice vision and hockey sense to set up the play.

One scout was pretty candid in his assessment: "Coleman could get drafted. Some think he has to play with Mike Richards-like intensity (to be successful) but doesn't always, and some question his character. He needs to be Matt Cooke if he's going to make it to the NHL- it's up to him." There is no arguing the production, but if the off-ice stuff is going around the grapevine, it could account for why the buzz on him compared to Green Bay defenseman Andy Welinski has been virtually nonexistent. It could also signal that NHL teams are refusing to discuss him in hopes of stealing him late, too. Will be interesting to see if/where he goes.

Anthony Camara, LW Saginaw (OHL)- Banging winger doesn't have the greatest skill set, but the dude will fight anyone and plays the kind of physical, pounding style that NHL teams love. Was a first-round OHL selection, so he probably doesn't get enough credit for his hockey abilities, but bread-and-butter is taking on opponents, maintaining puck possession on the cycle and doing the dirty work/opening up space for his teammates. Don't expect much from this player in terms of him developing a top-six role at the NHL level, but there is always room on a fourth-line for a player with his toughness. Reminds us a bit of Shawn Thornton early in his career- with a higher skill level but not quite the nastiness. Not a bad tradeoff.

Dylan Wruck, RW Edmonton (WHL)- Tiny but kid can really motor and plays with a high intensity level. Excellent skater and puckhandler who produced a lot of offense for the Oil Kings. Character kid who gets absolutely every ounce of ability from his small package and plays a fearless style by going into traffic and involving himself in battles for loose pucks in the corners. Unfortunately, he's Rocco Grimaldi-small but without the dynamic upside. He's one of those guys who will go through a wall for you, but as skilled and productive as he has been, scouts wonder about whether he's talented enough to overcome his major size deficit. In his favor he has a huge heart, and you don't want to bet against players like that.

Brady Brassart, C Spokane (WHL)- Buried behind a more experienced group of centers on a deep club, the numbers aren't there for this intriguing project. He's tall but lanky and needing to add strength, but really came on in the second half of the season for the Chiefs, where he showed off some flashes of having playmaking ability, an abrasive side and good intensity. Another pure project who will require an NHL club to see beyond the limited role he had this season and project where he will be in another 2-3 years.

Brent Benson, C Saskatoon (WHL)- Lost in the shuffle a bit with Duncan Siemens this year, the top-10 WHL bantam draft selection hasn't progressed as expected when the Blades brought him in, but still has enough of a projectable upside to be a potential factor at the draft. He;s undersized but shifty and is a strong puckhandler. The tools are there, but he has yet to really put it together. If an NHL team picks him, it will be because they are counting on him to get his trajectory back on track and work his way into the picture as a legitimate prospect.

One NHL source had this to say: "You can see that he has the skills to play at a higher level, but he needs to get more involved on a consistent basis. Too often he looks like he's going through the motions, but every once in a while you can see exactly why Saskatoon took him where they did."

Justin Sefton, D Sudbury (OHL)- Big, tough character guy has to overcome lack of skating ability and footwork but could very well be a solid investment as a project pick in the later rounds. He became a You Tube star when he one-punched David Broll in an early March contest, and he has the size, shot and power to be a lower-pairing stalwart at the NHL level. His mobility is the biggest issue right now, but players like Sefton always appear willing to put in the work to get better. Another Sudbury alum, Adam McQuaid, had skating issues coming out of junior and is now playing for the Stanley Cup with Boston. Of course, McQuaid was much more highly regarded for the 2005 NHL draft than Sefton is, but teams could do worse than taking a late-round flier on this one.

Gabriel Bourret, D Saint John (QMJHL)- Everything about this late-'92 screams average, yet he was a part of the Memorial Cup-winning formula in Saint John this season. He's a hair over 6-feet and isn't a dynamic skater, but makes up for those unimpressive attributes by playing it smart and keeping things simple. This player isn't going to wow you at any one thing, but he's gritty and puts in the effort to get better. He's a longshot as an NHL prospect, but stranger things have happened. He was hardly noticeable at the Memorial Cup, but when you go back and look at the film, it was a good thing. Played disciplined, in control and did his job.

Josiah Didier, D Cedar Rapids (USHL)- We're told that this kid is one of the bigger sleepers being mentioned in NHL circles and that someone could jump on him earlier than conventional thought. With good size, mobility and the raw tools to develop into a big league blue liner eventually, he's been under the radar for much of the season. Plays with an edge and will jump into the play/has puck-moving skills. He's got a lot to learn and may not have the instincts to be a two-way defenseman and regular in the NHL, but with his impressive physical attributes, is worth taking a chance on.

The B2011DW top-20 countdown will debut tomorrow, so make sure you check in regularly.

Thanks for making May best month in BDW history

We've been doing this draft blog since October 2009 but May 2011 was our biggest month yet in terms of hits and traffic.

Want to thank all the readers and folks who keep coming back for more and link to the work here.

Will be taking off for the NHL Draft Combine soon, but before we go, will post one final composite "Guy You Should Know" today and will debut our top-20 countdown tomorrow- bringing you one comprehensive prospect profile every 24 hours until Father's Day. After that, it's pre-draft analysis and time to pack up and head to St. Paul for the big event.

Thanks again for everything. Now is the time where we kick it into overdrive, and you don't want to miss out on any of the coverage between now and June 24-25.

Let's make June the biggest month of all!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

Going to take a break from posting today to reflect on those who have fallen in battle/have some family time.

This post is dedicated to MAJ Jason George, CPT Ben Sammis, CPT Chris Kenny, CPT Joel Cahill, CPT Sean Sims, SSG Jens Schelbert and SPC Russell Hercules- along with all the others who did not come back- Godspeed to you all and gratitude to your families. Not a day goes by that I don't think of you all- my dear friends- there but by the grace of God go I.

Here's also a special mention to Chris Hondros- Getty Images photographer who died in Libya during the recent fighting. Although he wasn't a member of the U.S. military, I got to know him in Iraq during the troop surge of 2007-08. He was often right there in harm's way with the rest of us, putting himself in danger to provide the images that showed the work the troops were doing. He was a true pro and a good friend- every one of us in uniform who knew Chris respected him and it was almost as if he were one of us. We miss you, Chris. When an RPG took his life in the Libyan city of Misurata, he was no doubt doing what he loved- following his life's calling.

Bruins 2011 Draft Watch will be back tomorrow with a composite "Guy You Should Know" post- the last of the series before we get into the daily top-20 countdown on June 1st.

Also- B2011DW will be at the NHL draft combine starting Thursday- we'll have video and interviews posted that evening after our first media availability, so be sure to check back regularly for features and what's hot in the rumor mill.

Thanks for your continued support.


Sunday, May 29, 2011

J-Money is Memorial Cup MVP

Back in March, B2011DW predicted big things for Saint John star Jonathan Hubderdeau this spring when we said:

Only a complete dud of a playoff performance is going to hurt Huberdeau's draft prospects, and frankly, we don't see that happening. If Saint John makes its expected deep run, Huberdeau could be the Taylor Hall of the 2011 postseason in terms of a guy who scouts see well into May and therefore leaves a fresh and lasting impression leading into the draft.

You can read the rest of the post here.

Huberdeau not only led his Sea Dogs to the first Memorial Cup championship for any QMJHL team from the Maritimes in the tourney's 93-year history, but he captured MVP honors in the process. Just like Hall did a year ago.

He posted a goal and an assist in the 3-1 win over Mississauga to finish the tourney with three goals and six points in four games. But his sense of timing was what sealed the deal for Huberdeau- an overtime goal against Owen Sound to get his team into the championship game.

We started calling him J-Money last week, and he validated that with another strong game with it all on the line. He could be a top-two pick in June- his stock is through the roof right now.

And while we're taking credit for Hubderdeau's storybook run and ending, we'll also remind that we picked the Sea Dogs to win the Memorial Cup. Boom.

Revisiting Bruins picks in rounds 1-3

With the Boston Bruins now in the Stanley Cup Finals, it's probably a good time to revisit some of the moves that GM Peter Chiarelli made involving the first three rounds of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

One thing Chiarelli has not gotten enough credit for is how he improved his pick position in each of the first three rounds this year even though he dealt away his own draft choices in the process.

1st round- 9th, he gives up 29 or 30 to Toronto (for Tomas Kaberle)
2nd round- 40th (from Minnesota), he gives up 60 or 61 to Ottawa (for Chris Kelly)
3rd round- 81st (from Phoenix), he gives up 90 or 91 to Florida (to complete Nathan Horton deal).

From a Bruins perspective it would be nice to have six picks in the top-90 instead of three, but given the way the team is constructed, and the amount of prospects currently in the system, stocking up in the here and now does not require a real sense of urgency. And given the way Horton and Kelly have played this post season, who is really complaining about the loss of the second and thirds? Kaberle is a different story, but even if he has failed to make the offensive impact expected, who is to say that if the Bruins had not traded for him, they still would have advanced to within four wins of a Stanley Cup without his presence inside the team's top-six? If you've read this blog, then you know we were no fans of any trade scenario involving Kaberle, but what's done is done and he still has a chance to be a hero in the most important round.

Furthermore, unlike Philadelphia, who sacrificed its early draft position to reach the finals a year ago (and continued that trend by dealing another 2011 1st-rounder for Kris Versteeg this spring), the Bruins have the best of both worlds. They are poised to win an NHL championship and still have the kind of draft position reserved for non-contenders. If the scouts prove their worth with these picks, they could set the organization up for years of stability and success.

In getting back to how we arrived at this point, Chiarelli incurred some risk and was criticized for some of those moves on this blog in the process. Yet, he's upgraded his first two picks to non-playoff, top-10 territory and allowed his team to continue to build for the future. The Bruins are in the kind of situation that makes opposing teams and their fans highly envious.

Now it's up to the front office and scouting staff to go out and make the strategic moves Chiarelli made in advance pay off.

Championship Sunday: Saint John Memorial Cup update

To the surprise of no one, the Saint John Sea Dogs are playing for the 2011 MasterCard Memorial Cup championship tonight.

This team went wire-to-wire to ragdoll the competition in the QMJHL, capture the President's Cup in six games over a tough and game but ultimately overmatched Gatineau Olympiques (who have a skilled little Patrice Bergeron clone in Jean-Gabriel Pageau)

The Sea Dogs have been the class of the CHL this season, but they'll have their hands full with Mississauga. Can they go the distance? Unlike with the St. Mike's, the core of the Sea Dogs are 2011 draft kids, headlined by the trio of Jonathan Huberdeau, Nathan Beaulieu and Zack Phillips.

Jacob DeSerres will likely be the x-factor in this game. The former Brandon Wheat King and Flyers prospect came into the Memorial Cup viewed as the weak link on a dominant team, but he's put those fears to rest with a strong performance. He'll have to step up big tonight like he did in the opening match against Missy.

Here's a look at the 2011 draft's key Sea Dogs (We've covered a lot of ground with these guys already, so we'll keep it brief).

Jonathan Huberdeau, LW
We call him J-Money, because that's all Huberdeau's been throughout the playoffs. He did it again in overtime, beating Jordan Binnington to propel his team to the championship game. His 2 goals, 4 points in 3 games are second on the team in scoring to Tomas Jurco. Huberdeau is both a scorer and a playmaker and he can also kill penalties effectively and play a good defensive game. He'll be coveted on draft day- top-three pick we think.
Stock watch: Surging- he's this year's Taylor Hall- his heroics will be fresh on NHL scouts' minds going into the draft process

Tomas Jurco, RW
Jurco kicked off the tournament with a thrilling breakaway and score on J.P. Anderson just moments into the opening contest against Missy. He's been on his game throughout the tourney, scoring highlight reel goals and big ones at that. He has 4 goals and 5 points in three games to lead his team. Skills-wise, Jurco is a clear first-rounder, but his consistency has been the biggest concern, as he tends to go long stretches without doing much. The streakiness coupled with pretty indifferent defensive effort is largely responsible for him dropping out of contention for top-10 consideration but make no mistake- this kid is a heck of a talent. On the right team, he could be deadly.
Stock watch: On the rise- if you're a strong NHL team picking late in the 1st round, wouldn't you love a guy who can dangle like this kid can? You bet you do- warts and all.

Nathan Beaulieu, D
Depending on who you talk to, Beaulieu is either a solid top-10 candidate or closer to 20th overall. It's a strange variance in opinions, and it really gets to the heart of the matter in terms of how interesting the 2011 draft is going to be when everything plays out. He's big, mobile, can fire the puck, play D and run the power play. Some scouts question the hockey sense, but others say it's a strength. Which is it? He's one of the most pure puck movers available in the class. All told, with the tools and upside, we think Beaulieu's wait on draft day won't be a very long one. He has 1-2-3 stats in 3 games at the tournament.
Stock watch: Up; B2011DW predicts top-10 for Beaulieu on draft day- his skill set is simply too coveted, too much in demand for him to drop.

Zack Phillips, RW/C
A shoulder injury against Gatineau has limited this scorer's effectiveness at shooting the puck at the Memorial Cup. He's put up a valiant effort, but he's clearly laboring. It's not going to kill his stock, because NHL teams are well aware of what he can do, but it has effectively limited his upward movement that teammates Huberdeau, Jurco and Beaulieu have taken advantage of. This guy has the size and hockey sense to be a scorer at the next level and it will be interesting to see where he goes in the draft.
Stock watch: Holding steady- a shame about the dinged up shoulder, but he'll have one more chance to shine when the spotlight is brightest.

Ryan Tesink , LW
With a motor that is always revving, this kid is an NHL draft pick in waiting, and it isn't his fault that Central overrated him. Despite having to play on the lower lines, he's managed to make his ice time count with some key goals in the playoffs and a solid performance overall. He's got a ton of weight to add to his 160-pound frame, but he's demonstrated a work ethic and the kind of energy to make a difference at the next level.
Stock watch: Steady as she goes- worth a mid-round pick, but we wouldn't go any earlier than 4th for him

You can see the final match between the Sea Dogs and St. Mike's tonight at 7:00 p.m. on the NHL Network in the U.S.- broadcasting the Rogers Sportsnet feed from Canada.

Championship Sunday: Mississauga Memorial Cup update

Today, a new Memorial Cup champion shall be crowned.

As suspected, the two most successful regular season teams in major junior are squaring off against one another: the QMJHL-winning Saint John Sea Dogs versus the OHL runner-up and host city Mississauga St. Michael's Majors.

Both teams boast deep and potent teams and to be honest, it's toss a coin time. Their meeting to open the tourney nine days ago was a controversial one- the Sea Dogs triumphed by a 4-3 score, but the winning goal by defenseman Nathan Beaulieu occurred on an off-side play.

The St. Mike's have a stifling defense and some legitimate firepower up front. Bruins prospect Marc Cantin is an underrated player who won it all a year ago with Windsor and will bring steady defense today. He weathered the storm of a shaky first game against Saint John to lock it down in helping get his team to this point. Captain Casey Cizikas is a heart-and-soul, versatile forward who is an ace penalty killer and and has a penchant for coming up big in key games. He looks like a future stalwart and possibly captain for the Islanders one day. They also boast two very dangerous scorers in Anaheim Ducks prospect Devante Smith-Pelly and Justin "Shuggernaut" Shugg (h/t to Steve Dangle), who was a steal by the Carolina Hurricanes in last year's draft. Like Cantin, Shugg is a previous Memorial Cup champion, having been on both the 2009 and 2010 Spitfires clubs.

For Bruins fans, there is a nice connection with the St. Mike's, as well. One of Boston's greats and Hall of Famers, goaltender Gerry Cheevers, won the Memorial Cup in 1961 for the St. Michael's Majors when they were based in Toronto. He was supposed to make an appearance in the pre-game festivities a week ago, but was recovering from an emergency heart surgery. It seems apropos that as his old junior club prepares to try and win another Memorial Cup title, while his beloved Boston Bruins hope to win a first Stanley Cup since 1972 when, you guessed it- Cheevers was manning the nets for them.

Here's a look at some key 2011 draft eligibles for the St. Mike's and where they stand going into the big game:


Stuart Percy, D-
This steady defender has raised his stock significantly since the OHL playoffs kicked off. A year ago, we were talking to a trusted NHL source about players to watch for 2011 from the OHL and he mentioned Percy's name after having seen him at Team Canada Evaluation Camp (Under-18) for the Eight Nations tourney. He talked about Percy's skills and put him on our radar. He got off to a slow start and wasn't even featured in Central Scouting's preliminary rankings before stabilizing himself at mid-term and then stepping it up a notch to close out the season. Since the games really mattered, Percy brought his game up to a higher level, demonstrating an offensive element that hadn't really been evident during the season when he was further down the depth chart on a successful team loaded with veterans. In the Memorial Cup semifinal game against Kootenay, he made a perfect pass to Smith-Pelly for a one-timer to get the St. Mike's on the board early. Percy's hockey sense and instincts are the best aspects of his game- he understands where he needs to be on the ice and uses an active stick and rapid reads to effectively defend his zone. He's not going to be a big point producer at the next level, but with his good wheels and passing ability, he can move the puck effectively to be one of those accomplished all-around guys you win with. You aren't going to get all this excited about what you see in Percy, and he's going to take some time to get there, but he has the look of a winner.
Stock watch: On the rise- NHL clubs knew he was skilled, but he's backing it up with production- 4 assists in 4 games- good for 11th in scoring.

Joe Cramarossa, C
Late-1992 birthdate has faced the same challenges Percy has in terms of earning enough ice time to make a big impression on scouts. He's a solid guy with a good feel for the game. He doesn't look like much of a bet for a top-six forward role in the NHL but could do it as a defensive guy and penalty killer. He's got good size, but needs to put in the work to develop his body and functional strength. He anticipates well and that ability to read the play helps him a lot when killing penalties. Cramarossa could be one of those mid-to-later picks who pans out because his role hasn't allowed NHL teams to get a real read on him. Even if the offensive aspect of his game never develops, he has the look of a solid NHL role player in time.
Stock watch: Holding steady- not fancy, just tough.

Dylan DeMelo, D
The most adversely affected of all three 2011 draft candidates on the veteran-heavy St. Mike's. Hasn't been all that noticeable because of the lack of ice time, but in his case, that's probably a good thing. Good size at 6-1 and about 190 pounds. He moves well and shows the kind of effort and desire that you want to see from a young, developing player. He knows that he has to make every shift count to earn coach Dave Cameron's trust and to DeMelo's credit, he doesn't seem to let that kind of pressure affect his performance on the ice if it is in fact something that weighs heavily on him. You can tell that DeMelo has the kind of puck skills that could translate into a PMD role eventually, but that's not his role on this club- his time will have to come later. Translation: An NHL team willing to invest a draft pick on this project could be rewarded on the long-term plan.
Stock watch: Worth a late-round flyer.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Boston Bruins in Red Line Report through the years

Now in its 18th season of publication, Red Line Report has kept tabs on a large number of the players who comprise the 2011 Eastern Conference Champion Boston Bruins.

We have access to every draft guide the independent scouting review has put out since 1999, so with the exception of fossils like Mark Recchi, Tim Thomas,Zdeno Chara, Tomas Kaberle and Andrew Ference we thought we'd take you through what the scouts at RLR were saying about the Boston roster back when they were 18 and draft eligible.

It's always interesting to go back and see what scouts got right and wrong when it comes to the NHL draft. Plus, we have some time to kill before Game 1 on Wednesday and the 2011 MasterCard Memorial Cup championship game tomorrow between Saint John and Mississauga. Remember, B2011DW predicted a Sea Dogs victory. However, the St. Mike's have done it the hard way and are on a roll- they are primed to do what the Vancouver Giants did in 2007 and win the big prize after missing out on their league championship. The OHL's Robertson Cup champs Owen Sound Attack got bounced by Kootenay, who then fell to Missy in the semifinal.


Tuukka Rask- 14/302 Drafted 21st overall (1st round) by Toronto in 2005

Bit of an enigma all year- very inconsistent. The old Rask we know and love plays with confidence and swagger. Squares up to shooters very well. Goes down into butterfly early but still manages to cover top corners due to great size and flexibility. Exceptionally athletic and acrobatic. Covers a lot of net and moves smoothly side-to-side. But there were times throughout the season when he came unraveled a bit and couldn't make big saves to keep team in game. Still a top talent, but there are chinks in the armour. When confidence was down, he fought the puck and gave up several soft goals, didn't control rebounds. Uncharacteristically overcommitted and made the first move several times. Still, he shows outstanding glove, natural quickness, great leg speed and uncanny balance.
Projection: Solid #1 netminder
Style compares to: Jean-Sebastien Giguere


Johnny Boychuk- 32/240 Drafted 61st overall by Colorado (2nd round) in 2002

Worked hard this year to show there's more to his game than just hitting, but that's still his calling card. He's big, strong and a vicious hitter who can alter games with huge open ice hits but tends to chase after the big hit and take himself out of position. Has a very hard slapshot which he uses well from the point. Did a better job as the year progressed at finding shooting lanes. Hockey sense is the aspect of his game that is most troublesome and will likely cause him to drop come draft day. Questionable decision maker who makes at least one play a game that makes you shake your head.
Projection: #4 d-man who provides physical presence
Style compares to: Denis Gauthier

Adam McQuaid- 68/302 Drafted 55th overall (2nd round) by Columbus in 2005
Solid, steady dependable blue-liner is at his best when he punches the clock and goes to work unnoticed. Has excellent combination of size and mobility with good footwork and lateral movement for a big man. Has strength to pin men down low along the walls and plays it strong in front of the net on PK. Keeps crease clear and plays with a nasty edge. Good physical presence- willing to get involved and will drop gloves and stand up for teammates. Didn't produce many points, but shows a hard, low point shot on the PP and looks to have some offensive capacity. Efficient puck mover and throws a good first pass. Gets in trouble when he tries to do too much. Doesn't get the attention of his more noteworthy Sudbury teammates (Benoit) Pouliot and (Marc) Staal but should be considered a safe pick.
Projection: #5 defenseman with physical presence
Style compares to: Ossi Vaananen


Chris Kelly- 78/260 Drafted 94th overall by Ottawa (3rd round) in 1999

Kelly broke through with the Knights this year, netting 36 goals in helping his club to the OHL finals, where they lost in seven games to Belleville. His problem lies in the fact that he's not very big- in fact he's quite slight. He gets pushed off the puck frequently, though he is tenacious and relentless on the ice. He's an excellent checker and penalty killer and might find a niche in the pro game as such. He lacks top speed but is an adequate skater with decent quickness and mobility.

Dan Paille- 16/240 Drafted 20th overall by Buffalo (1st round) in 2002
Crash and bang winger loves contact. Dominant forechecker punishes opposition defensemen and controls the play along the walls and down low in the offensive zone. Decent hands makes him a valuable PP contributor. Good team player with real leadership potential. Underrated and has better offensive skills than he's given credit for. Has strong, powerful stride with great balance and is very strong on his skates; difficult to separate him from the puck. He's hungry to get to net and will drag defenders on his back. Hits hard and often and creates lots of turnovers and offence off the forecheck. Not fancy, but has decent moves and a knack for getting to open ice at the right moment. Needs to focus better on d-zone responsibilities but is coachable and puts in the effort. Coach's dream: heart, grit, character and mental toughness. A winner.
Projection: Better on LW as a pro with 2nd line potential for lesser teams, 3rd liner for serious contenders
Style compares to: Erik Cole

Greg Campbell- 84/240 Drafted 67th overall by Florida (3rd round) in 2002
Vastly improved from his first year thanks in part to a tireless off-ice program that saw him gain 20-25 pounds of muscle. Very fit player who has impressive work ethic. Excellent PK contributor. Bloodlines (son of NHL Veep Colin) will open doors as will his versatility and team-first attitude. Inadequate hands to be a second-line pro but seems a sure-fire third- or fourth-line energy player. Questionable hockey sense; rather limited in his vision and hangs onto the puck too long in high stress situations. Goes to the net very well and is tough to knock off the puck. Has the heart and desire, but doesn't perform any one aspect well enough to be a fringe pro player.
Projection: 4th line energy guy
Style compares to: Bill Lindsay

Nathan Horton- 2/281 Drafted 3rd overall by Florida (1st round) in 2003
Entered season as top-ranked player, but was maddeningly inconsistent. Terrific size, speed, strength and a bit of a nasty streak all add up to world-class prospect. Outstanding skater for a big man who can make plays at top speed and is adept at giving and receiving passes. Has excellent hands and a shot that he can get off in tight quarters, but sometimes doesn't look like a pure finisher. Very strong on the puck, has a solid work ethic, and understands defensive concepts. Year has been marked by too many highs/lows. Needs to play a physical style but occasionally plays on the perimetre. If he learns to compete hard all the time, Horton has the highest upside (of any '03 prospect). Struggled for quite a while after getting jaw broken by fellow top prospect Anthony Stewart in early season fight, but could be a franchise player. Once he's comfortable with the role of true power forward, he will be a force.
Projection: 1st line power forward
Style compares to: Joe Thornton-lite/Bill Guerin

Patrice Bergeron 71/281 Drafted 45th overall by Boston (2nd round) in 2003
Very polished offensively, stepped up as a rookie this season and immediately put up numbers. Did not miss a beat offensively even after being dropped to the 2nd line with the return of veteran forwards. Looked very poised and confident playing the point on the PP late in the year and has a knack for threading the needle through traffic with great vision. Puck seems to follow him. But has a couple of strikes against him: lacks top speed and first step quickness and has a slightly built frame. Though not fast, he changes directions very well, does a good job finding the open man and possesses very good hands. Needs to add muscle and work on his defensive zone coverage.
Projection: Third liner and PP contributor
Style compares to: Andrew Brunette

David Krejci 130/299 Drafted 64th overall by Boston (2nd round) in 2004
Tiny, but good wheels and great hockey sense (only top-107 players profiled)

Milan Lucic 87/291 Drafted 50th overall by Boston (2nd round) in 2006
Broad-shouldered and ultra-tough winger who plays with a nasty edge. The Giants plucked him out of the BCHL and he instantly became one of the better enforcers in the WHL. Aggressive, angry style and is always looking for the big open ice hit. Punishes and hurts opponents when he hits. Very tough fighter- when he gets hit he just starts punching harder. A lumbering skater, but has decent straight line speed. Slow acceleration and no lateral agility. Likes to dig and muck along the boards and is hard to move from the front of the net. Surprisingly good hands and can finish in close. Can contribute offensively in junior, but agitating play and fighting will be his ticket to the next level.
Projection: Old school enforcer
Style compares to: Darcy Hordichuk

Brad Marchand 115/291 Drafted 71st overall by Boston (3rd round) in 2006
Super skilled little waterbug with some jam. (only top 113 players profiled)

Tyler Seguin 2/300 Drafted 2nd overall by Boston (1st round) in 2010
The premiere two-way talent in this draft. The yang to Taylor Hall's yin. Seguin is much more cerebral, though also highly skilled, dangerous and productive. Tied for the OHL scoring lead with Hall despite having much less talent to work along with him. Tremendous vision and anticipation, deftly moving laterally to create time and space. Has a plus-shot, especially his wrist/snap shots which he can release off either foot at top speed. Isn't nearly as gifted or explosive a skater as Hall, as he lacks the blazing speed, but his quickness and agility are excellent. Can score and distribute the puck with equal aplomb. Isn't overly physical, but competes hard and will compete in the dirty areas. High-end creativity and puck skills. Driven and hard-working off the ice; has come a long way in a short period of time thanks to his determination.
Projection: Star calibre first line pivot
Style compares to: Joe Sakic

Not drafted inside draft guide range (1999-2010): Mark Recchi, Tim Thomas, Zdeno Chara, Tomas Kaberle, Shane Hnidy, Shawn Thornton, Andrew Ference, Michael Ryder

Not ranked: Rich Peverley (2000), Dennis Seidenberg (2001)

In retrospect, a lot of the projections aren't too far off from reality. They clearly underrated Krejci and Marchand, but also had those two higher than most did.

Hope you enjoyed going back and seeing the scouting reports. The RLR Draft Guide will be mailed to subscribers and purchasers late next week and should arrive around the 7th or 8th of the month. You can visit the website for more.

The curious case of Barclay Goodrow

Scouting hockey prospects can be a fickle business. Especially when it comes to projecting players in their teens as adults in contention for a very limited amount of NHL jobs.

Brampton Battalion forward Barclay Goodrow is a case study in the kind of prospect who reaches a physical maturity faster than his peers in the early teens and tends to dominate competition early. However, if the line of progression does not continue and noticeable improvements made in known shortcomings, then the red flags come out.

Such is the situation with Goodrow.

The 18-year-old left winger stands at about 6-2 and 210 pounds, but he towered among his minor midget competition when he was skating with the York Simcoe Express on what was a veritable "Who's Who" among 2011 draft prospects- a team coached by Maurice Catenacci, father of 2009 OHL 1st overall pick by the Soo Greyhounds Daniel Catenacci. 4th overall pick Ryan Murphy of the Kitchener Rangers was also on that team. Goodrow's 67 goals helped to make him the 17th overall pick that year by Brampton despite major skating issues.

Two years later, Goodrow is still a labored skater, with a lack of initial burst, foot speed and agility. We asked one NHL scout about Goodrow at the halfway point this season and his response was swift: "The skating's going to hold him back," was all he said.

On the flip side, Goodrow scored 24 goals- he can fire the puck and when he bulls his way to the net, he's tough to contain because of his big frame and strength. One problem with him is that he doesn't do it often enough, and he also struggles to maintain his consistency from shift to shift.

Every year, draft classes have a Goodrow in them- a kid who was highly regarded going into major junior but who was unable to continue upward on the development curve, while the kids behind him in minor midget or lower levels caught up and then passed them. Given his excellent production on that Express juggernaut along with his excellent pro hockey size, this was a player NHL scouts had high hopes for. And given his quick hands and good hockey sense, there is some hope for Goodrow, even if the hopes and dreams of being a high NHL draft pick are essentially a pipe dream at this point.

"There's some unrefined potential with this kid," said a Western Conference scout who works Ontario for his club. "His dad played university football, so there are some bloodlines, and he's a pretty solid two-way guy. The skating's rough, but he's someone who you take later and that maybe with some good coaching he can become and effective grinder for you."

When it comes to those big-name Express alumni, Goodrow has been the forgotten man between Murphy and Catenacci, but his natural size means that he still has a shot to be an NHL player one day. He's going to have to do it the hard way and without fanfare, but where once his star was rising along with others in the region, the development has stagnated. To a degree, his case underscores how tough it is to pinpoint future NHL skaters at such a young age.

Friday, May 27, 2011

This was the last Boston Bruins team to skate in the Stanley Cup Finals

You can re-live some highlights from the 1990 Adams Division Final series versus Montreal by clicking on this link.

Enjoy the energy of the old Garden. Tonight, the TD Garden did the old barn proud.

The 2011 Boston Bruins played hard and broke through for a 1-0 victory over Tampa Bay with Tim Thomas getting his 12th win and second shutout of the postseason. It was a game both teams could be proud of- they both skated well and it literally could have gone the way of the Lightning. In the end, the B's deserved the win- they had the better chances and thanks to Nathan Horton's late goal, his 8th of the playoffs on a sweet setup from David Krejci, the team goes back to the Stanley Cup championship series for the first time in 21 years.

Next up, the President's Trophy-winning Vancouver Canucks. Four more wins.

Series starts on Wednesday. Until then, we'll keep the draft talk coming.

And not that Bruins fans are complaining, but the team reaching the finals means that Boston's second-rounder in 2012 now belongs to Toronto to finish out the payment for Tomas Kaberle.

50 in 30: B2011DW's top-50 players for the NHL Draft 21-30

Just in time for the long weekend in the U.S., Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals and the Memorial Cup semifinal match between Mississauga and Kootenay (with Saint John facing the winner on Sunday) Bruins 2011 Draft Watch is here to bring you the fourth installment of our top-50 (plus honorable mentions) for the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

30. John Gibson, G U.S. NTDP (USHL) 6-3, 200 07/14/1993
On pure talent alone, Gibson is more of a top-20 pick than anything else. But here at B2011DW, we'd be remiss if we didn't at least take the latest NHL drafting trends into consideration, and that means that Gibson could be the victim of a pervasive thought we've been hearing over and over with NHL scouts this season: that taking a goaltender high in the draft is not a good use of assets considering all of the successful goalies this season who were not first- or second-round picks. Only one of the four netminders in the NHL semifinal series (Roberto Luongo- 4th overall in 1997) was a top-60 pick (Tim Thomas- 217th overall in 1994, Dwayne Roloson, Antti Niemi- undrafted free agents). That said, Gibson is by far the best of the 2011 crop in our view and deserves to be picked in the first round if a team values him there enough. He's got the size, quickness and athleticism that is a requisite for being a high draft pick these days, and even better, Gibson plays with a calm and poise that is a sight to behold. No moment seems too overwhelming to him. He won back-to-back overtime games in the U-18 against Canada (after an epic collapse in the third) and against Sweden (after his team came back from being two goals down in the third) to clinch the gold medal. As the tournament's best goalie, Gibson lived up to every inch of the buzz preceding him. The Pittsburgh native de-committed from Ohio State in favor of Michigan, so those Wolverines-Buckeyes games ought to be real interesting. When on top of his game, like he was all throughout the Worlds, he looms large in net and swallows up rebounds. He could have a sign put up in his crease that says "Abandon all hope ye who enter here" because he's that intimidating.

29. Vladislav Namestnikov, C London (OHL)5-11, 170 11/22/1992
Skill and NHL bloodlines flow strong through this prospect. His father, Evgeny, was a journeyman defender in the NHL, AHL, and IHL- the son was raised for a big chunk of his early life in North American while dad was playing. His uncle, Slava Kozlov, won multiple Stanley Cups with Detroit and was one of the most skilled players in the NHL at his peak. Namestnikov is a serious skater with all the tools in the box when it comes to his feet- quick burst, top speed, shiftiness and agility. When carrying the puck at full gallop, he's very difficult to contain. His biggest challenge is getting stronger and filling out a slight frame. He got knocked around a bit this year, but made a quick transition to the North American game given his command of the language and ease with having played in North American rinks growing up. With his hands and offensive hockey sense, this guy has some real pro potential, but like many young scoring forwards he needs to work on the defensive aspects of his game. There could be a real nice payoff down the road with this player.

"He's a great teammate and works real hard," Boston Bruins prospect and London forward Jared Knight told B2011DW recently. "In practice it's fun to watch him handle the puck because he's got some sick mitts. He plays hard and isn't afraid to drive the net."

28. Jonas Brodin, D Farjestad (SEL) 6-1, 175 07/12/1993
At 28, it would appear that this extremely bright Swedish defender's stock is down. It's isn't, but he's more a victim of his solid all-around game but lack of production than anything else. It's all about projection with this potential stud, but after watching what was a promising and underrated performance at the World Under-18s last month, we're not seeing the dynamic upside with him that we see from others. His hockey sense is tremendous- by far the best aspect of Brodin's game. He can diagram a play instantly and move the puck with authority. The numbers aren't there because he was playing against men this year as a 17-year-old but should come. Oh, and did we mention that he helped lead the team to the SEL championship? He's highly mobile and agile with excellent footwork. He doesn't stand out as much as teammate and fellow draft prospect Oscar Klefbom, but he processes his reads and decisions at a higher level. Brodin is a solid player whom we feel is going to be good, but not great. When looking at projectable upside, we have Klefbom higher, but Brodin is the safer player less likely to hit a bust factor. If ever there was a pick your flavor situation with two players- this is it.

27. Scott Mayfield, D Youngstown (USHL) 6-4, 200 10/14/1992
On talent and upside alone, Mayfield should be higher on the list, but it's been a tough season for the St. Louis native. To say he's been in a tough spot for development for the past couple of seasons is about as far as we're willing to go. The long and short of this late '92 is that he's a highly impressive player as far as pure projection goes, but the feeling by many in the NHL scouting community is that he simply has not progressed the way he should have based on the way he looked a year ago in August at the Eight Nations tourney and even this past August when he participated in the NHL's Research and Development Camp in Toronto. He's a very good skater with the fluid stride and lateral agility team's love to see in a big man. He can move the puck effectively and has a nice shot that he generates some real power on. It will become even more dangerous as he adds strength and mass to his long, lanky frame. Right now, Mayfield is extremely raw and prone to poor decisions because his team has struggled so much. One NHL scout said that he sees so much ice time that it's easy to lay his flaws bare, and because he has very little help around him, some are concerned about the effect on his psyche.

Another big league scout who saw him for the R & D camp and then again in March had this to say: "It was shocking how bad he was. I saw no progression from when I saw him before and the decision-making was particularly troublesome."

The good news for Mayfield is that he's going an excellent hockey program in Denver under DU coach George Gwozdecky. If anyone can get him ready for the NHL the Pioneers can.

26. Alex Khokhlachev, C Windsor (OHL) 5-10, 175 05/09/1993
Supremely talented, and could go significantly higher than where we have him because of his elite skill and explosiveness. B2011DW has some concerns about the other areas of his game, specifically, intensity, consistency and overall effort levels in the areas of the rink where his skill set doesn't translate as well (along the boards and in front of the net). He's not very big, but has very good acceleration, separation gear and even the shifty elusiveness that so many European players possess. When at his best, he's flying around the ice, turning defenders inside out and wiring pucks to the back of the net from just about any spot in the offensive zone. One NHL scout we know absolutely loved Khokhlachev at the beginning of the year given how seamless his transition was to the OHL, but as the season wore on and he saw him more and more, the red flags started to surface about his overall intensity and willingness to compete when the going gets rough. Solid two-way player...when he wants to be. If he tightens it up in all zones and on most of his shifts, he's easily a top-10 talent in this class.

25. Tyler Biggs, RW U.S. NTDP (USHL) 6-2, 210 04/30/1993
Victimized by unrealistic expectations, Biggs could end up proving a lot of the critics wrong. We don't buy into the belief that he killed his stock at the World Under-18 tourney- we just don't feel that it was as high with the NHL teams out there as Central scouting led everyone to believe when they ranked him fifth overall among North American skaters on their midterm list. He lives up to his last name- a powerful skater and battering ram who plays the game like a legitimate power forward. When Biggs is on top of his game, he bulls his way to the net, spins and cycles effortlessly while protecting the puck from defenders powerless to separate him from it, and unleashes a rocket shot that is heavy and hurts. Unfortunately, scouts are unsure of his hockey sense and ability to create for himself. That's one of those aspects of hockey that is extremely tough to project and Biggs could very well end up being a legitimate top-six forward someday- he can skate, hit and fight. But there are enough concerns about his upside that keep him from being a top-20 guy in our view. However, he is extremely close- the margin between his not making the cut is razor-thin as any one of the players ahead of him at 21-24 could all make the case to be inside the top-20. He's a good player, but how good is the big question on draft day.

24. Zack Phillips, C Saint John (QMJHL) 6-1, 190 10/28/1992
This scoring stud lost some effectiveness down the stretch with a shoulder injury he suffered in the President's Cup final series against Gatineau. As such he hasn't been able to shine as brightly in the Memorial Cup as he did during the regular season when he and linemates Jonathan Huberdeau and Michael Kirkpatrick destroyed opposing defenses and netminders. The biggest knock on Phillips is his lack of speed and explosiveness, but the NHL is full of guys who don't have the most dynamic skating ability. Where he compensates is with his hands and elite hockey sense- Phillips may be the most opportunistic scorer of any prospect in this entire class. He drives the net honestly and often times finds results. One of the questions scouts have is whether Phillips can do it on a team without the pure talent and depth he has surrounding him in St. John. We think he'll do it no matter who he's with, whether at the center position or on the wing at the next level. He was the ninth-ranked player in THN's draft issue and while we feel that is a bit high, we could see how an NHL team in need for some legit scoring chops might have him as a solid top-15 pick this year.

23. Matt Puempel, LW Peterborough (OHL) 6-0, 170 01/30/1993
One player we generally wanted to have higher, but simply couldn't do so based on lack of viewing opportunities. B2011DW fully recognizes that the Petes standout who scored back-to-back 30-goal seasons with his club who could have had 40+ goals this year if not for a bone chip in his hip that shelved him for surgery with about a month to go is a high-end scoring talent. The 2010 CHL Rookie of the Year has unreal hands and offensive hockey sense. He can snipe pucks from anywhere in the offensive zone and does the unexplainable- able to fire the puck from seemingly impossible angles and situations. He ripped a bullet from the right side less than a minute into the gold medal game of the Ivan Hlinka in what ended up being a 1-0 win for Canada (who has owned that non-IIHF tourney since its inception btw). Where Puempel loses his shine is in the fact that he is of extremely average size, strength, skating ability and compete level. He's not poor in any of those areas, but NHL scouts look at him and keep thinking how much more dangerous and effective he could be if he just tried a little harder, had an extra step and adds the extra mass that's expected before he hits his physical peak. We don't think the hip injury will hurt him much at the draft- we're told it isn't a chronic condition and whichever team drafts him will do so based on everything they've seen from him over two seasons, not what he might have accomplished in the last month for a non-playoff team.

22. Jonathan "J.T." Miller, C/RW U.S. NTDP (USHL) 6-1, 198 03/14/1993
We're not as bullish on Miller as others are, but we agonized over whether to include the immensely talented Ohio native who played his minor hockey for the Pittsburgh Hornets organization after his explosion at the Under-18s in April. All year, we watched Miller and recognized his excellent size, skating, hands and sense, but wondered why he was having so much trouble translating his myriad natural gifts into production. Miller showed what he's capable of when he led Team USA in scoring en route to an unprecedented third consecutive gold medal at that tourney by the Americans. When on top of his game, he can back defenses up with his ability to handle the puck at top speed. He uses his big frame to shield the puck well and can hit open teammates with pinpoint passes. He and Rocco Grimaldi teamed up with Reid Boucher for a memorable goal against Canada- Grimaldi blew Travis Ewanyk off the puck with a big hit behind the net. As it skittered to Miller, he already knew where Boucher was just inside the left circle and zipped a crisp pass right into Boucher's wheelhouse. In a split second, it was by Malcolm Subban. Those are the kinds of plays Miller didn't make with enough regularity this season, but we wouldn't at all be surprised if an NHL club jumped on him in the top-15. The skills are there, we're just not sure about the rest of the package to be able to score consistently at the highest level.

21. Joel Armia, RW Assat Pori (FIN) 6-3, 198 05/31/1993
Another toolsy prospect that B2011DW will no doubt be second-guessed on, we've seen him live and we've seen him on video and sorry to all the Finnish hockey fans out there, but we just can't get on board with this guy in the top-20. We suspect an NHL club will jump on him in the top-15 because of his intriguing mix of size and scoring upside. That said, he's risky because to us, he looks a lot like a more skilled Mikko Lehtonen, who scored goals, but also went through the motions for two seasons as a member of the Providence Bruins before tearing it up in the Swedish Elite League this past year. The Bruins traded Lehtonen's rights to the Minnesota Wild, but like Lehtonen, Armia is an alternately a dazzling and frustrating player to watch. Whenever the puck is near him in the offensive zone, he's a threat to put it in the back of the net. He uses his large frame to fight off checkers and has a quick stick with laser-like release. However, when you watch the rest of his body of work, you keep wondering: "Where's the beef?" He doesn't backcheck much and just looks lazy skating up and down the wing at times. There's no denying the killer instincts offensively, but he's not nearly as talented as he and his fans think he is that he can get away with his lackadaisical approach to play in the neutral zone or his own end. Armia has the potential to blow this scouting report out of the water, but we gave him the benefit of the doubt several times. In the end, his uneven compete level and a lack of seeing him ever really take charge in any game we watched him play has him just outside the top-20.

Game 7 in Boston

The last time the Boston Bruins were faced with a Game 7 in the Conference Championship round was May 14, 1988- 23 years ago- when they went up against the New Jersey Devils.

The final score was 6-2, but that is deceptive, given that the Bruins roared out to a 3-0 lead in the first period before the Devils cut that margin to 3-2 by the end of the second (sound familiar, B's fans?).

In the final frame, Craig Janney scored his most memorable goal as a Bruin, stealing defenseman Ken Daneyko's poor clearing pass and then going in alone and deking rookie Sean Burke out of his jock and sliding the puck home only to be tripped down from behind by Claude Loiselle. Janney flew through the air in a manner somewhat reminiscent to Bobby Orr in 1970 before getting to his feet right by the end boards and pounding on the glass to the delight of the fans (a NESN camera was right there to capture it in all its glory).

The picture and audio quality is poor, but you can see the vid here at about the 1:30 mark.

The Bruins then added two empty netters to seal it. (And did you see that defenseman Ray Bourque won the faceoff on the Rick Middleton goal to make it 3-0? I had forgotten about that play- guy did everything!) Reggie Lemelin made a memorable save on Pat Verbeek, who was a year away from being traded to the Hartford Whalers for Sylvain Turgeon.

Another guy you can see in those highlights is No. 36 Moe Lemay for the Bruins. The former Ottawa 67's star and Vancouver Canucks draft pick was acquired from the Edmonton Oilers as veteran depth for the stretch and forever earned his black and gold spurs with the Bruins when he helped his new team get past the Montreal Canadiens in the postseason after more than four decades. Lemay went to the net and took a beating in front of it, but he was a key contributor who did exactly what coach Terry O'Reilly needed him to.

Well, here we are- facing another tough Game 7 matchup in Boston, where the Bruins have been anything but invincible in recent years. Yes, they did win the conference quarterfinal round against Montreal, but that took a Nathan Horton OT goal.

If you're a hockey player, this is what you live for, but Tampa Bay is going to be a tough matchup. Torture for the fans.

So, we're in for a long day until the 8 pm puck drop. If the Bruins can get back to basics and fix that horrific performance from their defense and goaltender in Game 6, they can do it. If not, then Boston fandom is in for more heartbreak a la Carolina in '09 and Philly a year ago. Those weren't conference final games, but hurt all the same.

The B's will get the Game 7 playoff monkey off their back tonight- and the TD Garden will have no choice but to party like its 1988.

(Editor note- We will be back later today with the next installment of the 50 in 30, taking you from 21-30. After this next post, we'll begin with the top-20 countdown to 1- with in-depth scouting reports and player profiles on every player in the bracket)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

An interesting statistical look at the 2011 draft's top prospects

If you aren't familiar with the Bluechip Bulletin blog, you ought to head over there and check it out.

Author BCB knows his stuff. He's based in the heart of Plymouth Whalers country and sees a lot of high-level hockey from the OHL to the U.S. NTDP and everything in between.

He's done a statistical analysis that is worth looking at by projecting player production over the course of 82 games based on their point-per-game numbers. His findings/conclusions about Sean Couturier are eye-opening to say the least, so be sure to check it out.

It's the kind of thing that we don't spend a lot of time doing here at B2011DW, but are very happy to see on the web because it's one more solid analysis and food for thought that gets away from a lot of the conventional wisdom and accepted "knowns" about the top players.

We applaud BCB and his work. We know he's got some other posts and studies in the hopper, so give his site and visit. Whether you agree with the conclusions or not isn't the point. In getting to know him over the past few months, he doesn't give a fig about what everyone else thinks. He's got some strong opinions but defends them well.

At the end of the day, we'll always welcome engaged and hard-hitting draft analysis. He gets to the heart of the matter right here when he says:

I don’t claim to be a statistics expert, and I certainly wouldn’t go so far as to suggest that teams base their selections solely on statistics. While there are some concepts within Moneyball that are applicable to hockey, anyone who has ever looked at Ramzi Abid’s numbers his draft year and then seen him in person knows that there’s more to a player than his statistics. Still, there are some things about a player that you can only learn by looking at his statistics.

In an age where the internet has plenty of venues through which to explore the hockey draft, Bluechip Bulletin is a thinking man's blog.

NHL scout weighs in on key 2011 draft prospects

We had an interesting exchange the other day with an NHL scout who gave us an unvarnished look at some of the top players available in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

This particular scout is a veteran and has been around a long time and knows what he's talking about when it comes to evaluating prospects. His experience has always made him a valuable resource, and he was kind enough to share some detailed views.

What immediately springs to mind with some of these observations is how they fly in the face of the some of the established reports on players that have become a given over the course of the 2010-11 hockey season. While some may look at these notes and disagree, remember that it's an opinion backed up by multiple viewings and years of doing this.

We can't always be right about every player all the time. However, it does provide very good food for thought and a reminder that this draft year, more than others in recent memory, could get pretty interesting on June 24, with certain players not thought of as high picks jumping up to come off the board early, while other taken-for-granted favorites slipping a bit. Or, it could play out exactly as many of us believe. (Yeah, right)

Whether you agree with the assessments or not, this is typical of the kind of debate and discussion you might hear in an NHL war room if you were a fly on the wall as they deliberate their final rankings.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C Red Deer (WHL) -" I like him plenty, but I have nagging doubts. Why do I feel like I'm watching the next Jamie Lundmark? That lackluster track record of Western League dynamic offensive whiz kids is always in the back of my mind. He seems to me like a guy with a high floor, but I would have said that about Gilbert Brule also."

Dougie Hamilton, D Niagara (OHL) - "Why is this guy not getting any mention as a possibility in the top 3 or 4 picks overall? I think he's a Tyler Myers or Alex Pietrangelo. I can't find anything about his game that will keep him from being a good top pairing d-man."

Sven Bartschi, LW Portland (WHL) - "A greater than the sum of his parts player - the opposite of the sort of guy scouts usually love (those 6-5, raw, toolsy guys who we let the imagination run wild on). There's nothing to imagine with on this guy - he's smallish, only an average skater, far from dynamic, but all he does is get on the scoresheet and help his team win games. His improvement on the defensive and penalty killing side really opened my eyes, he could end up being a pretty complete guy even if he only ends up being a 10-15 goal guy in the NHL."

Nathan Beaulieu, D Saint John (QMJHL)- "Was so underrated so long by so many people that he's now become overrated. I love everything about him but the hockey sense, and that's a big concern."

(EDIT- Going to reincorporate some of the quotes on other players in the top-30 list coming soon)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Encore post: Side-by-side comparison- 2009 NHL Draft Guides

We had such a big response from the look back at the various 2008 NHL Draft Guides that we thought we'd fire up the way-back machine one more time and look at the same publications and what they had going in 2009.

Because HockeyProspect.com didn't come out with a draft guide until last year, they are not included in the study. (EDIT- HockeyProspect did publish a draft guide in '09, but we don't have one to peruse) However, Mark Edwards and Co.'s 2011 Draft Guide has hit the streets and it is chock full of content and player profiles. If you want a comprehensive reference for the upcoming draft, then this one is up there with the best.

The B2011DW library is not complete without the Red Line Report Draft Guide, which has more hard information in it than any other publication in our view. Every draft product brings something a little different to the table, but for us, RLR has always been the gold standard. It isn't for everyone, but if you are a hardcore draft junkie who doesn't need a lot of bells & whistles like photos and stats, it's a definitive draft source. Make your choices based on what is important to you and what you can afford- there is so much more in the way of options now than there have ever been.

As for the draft group of two years ago, the 2009 class was considered three-deep in terms of a breakaway group which included John Tavares, Victor Hedman and Matt Duchene. Thus far, Duchene has enjoyed the most success of the trio, but all three are legit NHL players.

So with that in mind, here is a look at the key draft publications from two years ago and where they ranked the players/what reality looked like at the Bell Centre at the 2009 LNH Repechage.

The actual draft order from 2009

1. John Tavares, NY Islanders
2. Victor Hedman,Tampa Bay
3. Matt Duchene, Colorado
4. Evander Kane, Atlanta
5. BraydenSchenn, Los Angeles
6. Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Phoenix
7. Nazem Kadri, Toronto
8. Scott Glennie, Dallas
9. Jared Cowen, Ottawa
10. Magnus Pajaarvi-Svensson, Edmonton
11. Ryan Ellis, Nashville
12. Calvin de Haan NY Islanders
13. Zack Kassian, Buffalo
14. Dmitri Kulikov, Florida
15. Peter Holland, Anaheim
16. Nick Leddy, Minnesota
17. David Rundblad, St. Louis
18. Louis Leblanc, Montreal
19. Chris Kreider, NY Rangers
20. Jacob Josefson, Devils
21. John Moore, Columbus
22. Jordan Schoeder, Vancouver
23. Tim Erixon, Calgary
24. Marcus Johansson, Washington
25. Jordan Caron, Boston
26. Kyle Palmieri, Anaheim
27. Philippe Paradis, Carolina
28. Dylan Olsen, Chicago
29. Carter Ashton, Tampa Bay
30. Simon Depres, Pittsburgh

The Hockey News Draft Preview
Publication type: Print only (e-version available on Zinio.com)
Release Date Late April (to subscribers); In stores May 9, 2011 (in Canada, may be delated in U.S.- check with store beforehand)
Price $6.99
What you get: 70 pages of articles, prospect capsules, team draft analyses and other features. THN publishes a top-100 each year, but only the top-60 have dedicated profiles. THN interviews and polls NHL scouts who provide input on the player capsules and help with the formation of the overall rankings.

THN 2009 Rankings
1. John Tavares
2. Victor Hedman
3. Matt Duchene
4. Jared Cowen
5.Evander Kane
6. Brayden Schenn
7. Magnus Pajaarvi-Svensson
8. Nazem Kadri
9. Jordan Schroeder
10.David Rundblad
11. Dmitri Kulikov
12. Simon Despres
13. Oliver Ekman-Larsson
14. Scott Glennie
15. Jacob Josefson
16. Zack Kassian
17. Ryan Ellis
18. John Moore
19. Peter Holland
20. Carter Ashton
21. Jeremy Morin
22. Calvin de Haan
23. Drew Shore
24. Chris Kreider
25. Nick Leddy
26. Kyle Palmieri
27. Stefan Elliott
28. Landon Ferraro
29. Louis Leblanc
30. JMarcus Johansson

No. of 1st-round picks in rankings: 26
Missed 1st-rounders: Tim Erixon (32), Jordan Caron (33), Dylan Olsen (41), Philippe Paradis (60)

Red Line Report Draft Guide
Publication type: Print
Release Date 1st week in June; usually arrives between 7th-10th of the month
Price: $45
What you get (2009 version): 32 pages of prospect profiles, team needs analyses, 2 mock drafts and an "awards" section, plus two in-depth spotlight articles on two select first-round prospects. Red Line does a complete ranking of 300 players, with the top-110-114 having in-depth scouting reports gleaned from the entire season (and in some cases the previous year and beyond). RLR also releases its preliminary rankings for the next year in the draft guide. There are no photos, stats or anything of the like- it is printed on red paper and you are getting hard information with no frills whatsoever (unless you consider the "Wizard of Oz Tinman Trophy- for those who lack heart" award a frill)
Ordering information: Red Line website

Red Line 2009 Rankings
1. Victor Hedman
2. Matt Duchene
3. John Tavares
4. Brayden Schenn
5. Evander Kane
6. Magnus Pajaarvi-Svensson
7. Oliver Ekman-Larsson
8. Jared Cowen
9. Dmitri Kulikov
10.Louis Leblanc
11. Jordan Schroeder
12. David Rundblad
13. Ryan Ellis
14. Charles-Olivier Roussel
15. Jeremy Morin
16. Zack Kassian
17. Nazem Kadri
18.Scott Glennie
19. Nick Leddy
20. Calvin de Haan
21. John Moore
22. Carter Ashton
23. Tim Erixon
24. Peter Holland
25. Eric Gelinas
26. Kyle Palmieri
27. Chris Kreider
28. Dylan Olsen
29. Zach Budish
30. Jordan Caron

No. of 1st-round picks in rankings: 26
Missed 1st rounders: Jacob Josefson (32), Simon Despres (33), Philippe Paradis (40), Marcus Johansson (42)

International Hockey Services
Publication type: Print and electronic
Release Date Late May/early June (site lists May 25 as release date, but allow 1-2 days normally for delivery of electronic product)
Price $50
What you get (2008 version): Mock draft, team depth charts, best/worst of the ISS top-250 (plus top-20 separate goalie rankings), prospect profiles on the top-30, with scouting reports on the additional 31-100 prospects. A look ahead at preliminary rankings for the next two draft classes also contained therein. Like Red Line, there are no photos, though ISS does include season statistics for players profiled.
Information: Website

2008 ISS rankings

1. John Tavares
2. Matt Duchene
3. Victor Hedman
4. Magnus Pajaarvi-Svensson
5. Evander Kane
6. Brayden Schenn
7. Jared Cowen
8. Nazem Kadri
9. Oliver Ekman-Larsson
10. Dmitri Kulikov
11. Jacob Josefson
12. Louis Leblanc
13. Ryan Ellis
14. Jordan Schroeder
15. Peter Holland
16. John Moore
17. Landon Ferraro
18. Drew Shore
19. Scott Glennie
20. Zack Kassian
21. Nick Leddy
22. David Rundblad
23. Kyle Palmieri
24. Chris Kreider
25. Jordan Caron
26. Ethan Werek
27. Jeremy Morin
28. Joonas Nattinen
29. Dmitri Orlov
30. Simon Despres
*ISS does not include goalies in rankings, but instead lists them separately.

No. of 1st-round picks in rankings: 24
Missed 1st rounders: Carter Ashton (33), Calvin de Haan (36), Dylan Olsen (39), Tim Erixon (55), Philippe Paradis (88), Marcus Johansson (93)

Future Considerations NHL Entry Draft Guide
Publication type: Electronic only
Release Date: Early June
Price: $20
What you get: Format varies from year to year; FC did profiles of top-100 prospects on their list for 2009 version, plus team depth charts/analyses, mock draft, interviews, awards section and other features.
Information: Website Sample profiles of FC's Top-10 available by following the link.

2009 FC rankings
1. John Tavares
2. Victor Hedman
3. Matt Duchene
4. Magnus Pajaarvi-Svensson
5. Evander Kane
6. Brayden Schenn
7. Dmitri Kulikov
8. Oliver Ekman-Larsson
9. Jared Cowen
10. John Moore
11. Jordan Schroeder
12. Zack Kassian
13. Nazem Kadri
14. Ryan Ellis
15. Simon Despres
16. Peter Holland
17. Jacob Josefson
18. Kyle Palmieri
19. Scott Glennie
20. Calvin de Haan
21. Chris Kreider
22. Louis Leblanc
23. Jeremy Morin
24. David Rundblad
25. Dylan Olsen
26. Olivier Roy
27. Jordan Caron
28. Landon Ferraro
29. Stefan Elliott
30. Michael Lee

No. of 1st-round picks in rankings: 25
Missed 1st-rounders: Tim Erixon (31), Carter Ashton (32), Marcus Johansson (39), Nick Leddy (40), Philippe Paradis (44)

McKeen's Hockey Draft Guide
Release Date Not publishing a 2011 draft guide
Price NA

McKeen's 2009 draft guide rankings
1. Victor Hedman
2. John Tavares
3. Matt Duchene
4. Oliver Ekman-Larsson
5. Evander Kane
6. Brayden Schenn
7. Dmitri Kulikov
8. Jared Cowen
9. Nazem Kadri
10. Magnus Pajaarvi-Svensson
11. Ryan Eliis
12. John Moore
13. Jordan Schoeder
14. Scott Glennie
15. Louis Leblanc
16. Jacob Josefson
17. Dylan Olsen
18. Zack Kassian
19. Simon Despres
20. Drew Shore
21. Jordan Caron
22. Carter Ashton
23. David Rundblad
24. Nick Leddy
25. Peter Holland
26. Ryan O'Reilly
27. Carl Klingberg
28. Calvin de Haan
29. Kenny Ryan
30. Tim Erixon

No. of 1st-round picks in rankings: 26
Missed 1st-rounders: Chris Kreider (31), Kyle Palmieri (42),Philippe Paradis (48), Marcus Johansson (49)

Summary: The highest rate of correct picks was 26 (Red Line, THN, McKeen's), but most guides are not laid out like a mock draft, but are rather rankings based on where they assess the players. All four draft guides averaged 26 out of 30 prospects ranked correctly as 1st-round picks. While ISS had the fewest number of 1st-round picks correct (24) their top-three played out in the exact order taken.

Conclusion: Draft guides are a great way to familiarize yourself with the prospects in the class, but understand what you are getting before you buy. If visual presentation is important to you, then the RLR guide will be the least appealing of the options. However, if hard information gained over multiple viewings by a network of scouts is what is a priority, then that publication will likely satisfy your interests depending on your budget.

Final thoughts: It's too early to judge the success rate of the 2009 NHL draft class. While all of the publications fared better at projecting who the first-round picks would be that year as compared to 2008, when they averaged 23 correct picks, we have to remember that all they were doing was getting close to the established draft order. We have yet to know who the true impact players are from 2009 and which players taken in subsequent rounds will establish themselves as superior NHL performers over some taken in the first round or ahead of them in other rounds. It happens with every single draft class, no matter how strong or weak. Case in point- 1996, where the two best, most productive defensemen from that year- Zdeno Chara and Tomas Kaberle- were taken in the third and eighth rounds respectively.

Draft guides are an indicator of how the draft will play out, but the real success is known in 5-10 years, when the draft class matures and the true impact is felt when said players are in their primes. For now, however, all we have to go on is where the players were picked in comparison to their rankings on the public lists.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Jonathan Huberdeau: J-Money doing strong Taylor Hall impression

One year ago, Windsor's Taylor Hall used the OHL playoffs and 2010 MasterCard Memorial Cup tournament in Brandon as a springboard for establishing himself as his draft class's No. 1 pick.

In 2011, that honor has gone to Saint John Sea Dogs left winger Jonathan Huberdeau- we've calling him "J-Money" these days.

Here's an NHL-produced video on him, but even it doesn't do much justice to him.

Although he's a member of a deep and "stacked" team, so was Hall, right? Players on great teams still have to produce and make the plays, and Huberdeau has done that.

"It's not just the production, but the timeliness and importance of his goals and points," said an NHL scout recently. "He was a big-time scorer for them in the regular season and he's carried it over."

He scored an overtime goal to win one of his team's games against Victoriaville in the second round (winning the series 4 games to 1), and then in the deciding game of the President's Cup series against Gatineau, he tied it with less than 30 seconds remaining in regulation with as calm and poised a play you will ever see. His team then went on to win the QMJHL championship in double-OT on a goal by Alexandre Beauregard.

In Game 2 of the Memorial Cup against Owen Sound, Huberdeau capped a come-from-behind victory with an overtime strike against Jordan Binnington, another 2011 draft candidate. It may not have been the prettiest goal, but J-Money was left alone in front of the Owen Sound net and was able to beat the netminder, who has been quite good in his own right since coming into Game 6 of the OHL championship series. It wasn't a picture perfect goal as it took him an extra second to get control of the puck after Stanislav Galiev's pass slid off his stick blade. However, he buried it to send his team to the final.

Here's the call in French on RDS and it's a beaut. (Or is it a but? It's both!) Thanks to Jérôme Bérubé for the hookup.

Huberdeau came into the season as a solid second-rounder, but now he might go as high as second overall. It probably won't happen, as we still see Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Gabriel Landeskog as better players overall, but you never know. Those guys haven't been playing hockey since late March/earl April.

J-Money is still writing his scouting report and staying fresh in teams' minds. There's a lot to be said about that extra spring bounce that not every player has a chance to benefit from.

Just ask Hall.

The last time the Bruins were 1 win away from the Stanley Cup finals...

It was 1990, and this writer 17 years old and a month away from high school graduation.

Cam Neely was the team's leading goal scorer in the regular season (55) and in the playoffs. Ray Bourque had not yet turned 30 and was about to win his third of five Norris Trophies. The other major award winners for Boston that season (1989-90): Andy Moog and Reggie Lemelin for the Jennings Trophy, Gord Kluzak for the Masterton.

George H.W. Bush had been president for a little over 16 months on May 7, 1990 when the B's were up 3-0 in the Wales Conference Final series against the Washington Capitals.

We had some fun with this on Twitter last night, asking folks to weigh in on some of their memories (for those old enough to remember) about what life was like for them 21 years ago.

- Arnold Schwarzenegger was starring in Total Recall

- Top pop album on the Billboard chart was: Sinéd O'Connor I Do Not Want What I haven't Got (Chrysalis)

- Yngwie Malmsteen released his metal album "Eclipse"

- The Simpsons was about to start Season 1 (@TedStarkey)

- Mark Recchi had his first NHL 30-goal season with the Penguins (@Steve_Dangle)

- Nelson Mandela was released from prison; the Hubble Telescope was launched; & the USSR was beginning to break apart! (@HockeyBroad)

- The Bad Boys were big in the spring of 1990. (@twharry)

There's still one more win required for Boston to reach the final series, but it has been too long.

In 1990, Moog was a big part of the B's run, even if the wheels fell off in the finals against Edmonton (which ended 21 years ago today with a whimper- 4-1 loss to the Oilers in Boston Garden with Lyndon Byers scoring the B's lone goal)

In 2011, it's Tim Thomas, coming off a game-stealing performance in Boston's 3-1 victory in Game 5. Had you told me in 1990 that the babies being born at that time would be of legal drinking age before the Bruins had a chance to return to the Stanley Cup-deciding series, I would have thought you were nuts. Be sure to read friend Joe Haggerty's latest on Timmy the Tank on CSNNE if you haven't already.

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.