Before I begin a hearty congratulation to Team USA for winning gold at the World Juniors, despite all the flaws the tournament structure had, the event was certainly special to watch. With all of the major international tournaments behind us and the Top Prospects game upcoming in Windsor on January 20th, it’s time to turn our attention from the U-20 age range to the Draft eligible kind for the 2010 Entry Draft in sunny Los Angeles, California.
This year boasts a pretty decent top end crop as any team picking in the first 10-12 spots will be guaranteed a quality prospect. The Windsor Spitfires of the OHL have two of the 2010 elite prospects Taylor Hall and Cam Fowler, both of whom played in the recent World Juniors as well as Austin Watson and Justin Shugg. The USNTDP again brings a plethora of talent to the draft: Derek Forbort, Jon Merrill, Stephen Johns, Justin Faulk, Luke Moffatt, Jason Zucker and the top goalie in the draft class as well as the winning goaltender in relief during the USA-Canada gold medal World Juniors game in Jack Campbell. This year also boasts a return of the Russians to the NHL Draft, with top end prospects such as Kirill Kabanov and Vladimir Tarasenko as well as many more names in the mix. Last season, the Russians were pretty much non-existent in the NHL Entry Draft aside from Kulikov.
I present here my mid-term rankings for the 2010 Draft, using the best combination of talent analysis and performance analysis possible. In terms of performance, Puck Prospectus’ Iain Fyffe wrote last summer about the major factors that influenced prospect production. The ones he really nailed were factors such as age, assist rate and team strength. Those are the essential variables to keep in mind when looking at what could influence a prospects numbers amongst many, many other factors. However, there is more to a prospect than just the cumulative statistics of goals and points. A prospect needs to have good skating ability, should be able to play a physical game, and should play smart amongst countless other qualities. Statistics can be valuable when evaluating a prospect, but there has to be a balance between scouting traits and performance analysis. This list is a good balance of the two sides. Take into note with my rankings that I like to separate my prospects into tiers, just so you can get an idea of the quality of the prospect.
2010 NHL Entry Draft Top 100 Prospects
1. Taylor Hall, Left Wing, Windsor –OHL
Scouting Report: If you don’t know who Taylor Hall is by now you haven’t been following the 2010 Draft probably at all. The Windsor Spitfires star has dominated the OHL for three seasons and brings an excellent skill set to the forefront. He has an awkward lean when he skates, but Hall can fly. He’s tenacious on the forecheck, dazzles with soft hands and has a hard, accurate shot. Hall is probably the safest bet in this Draft to be an eventual NHL All-Star.
2. Tyler Seguin, Center, Plymouth – OHL
Scouting Report: If you asked me who had the highest ceiling in this Draft class, my answer wouldn’t be Taylor Hall but rather the young Seguin. Tyler has exploded onto the OHL scene this year. With great vision and passing ability Seguin is an elite playmaker but also shows a goal-scoring touch. His development has come a long way in a short amount of time and the team that drafts him can only hope that the development curve stays steep.
3. Cam Fowler, Defense, Windsor –OHL
Scouting Report: Teammate of Taylor Hall, Fowler is the top defender in this year’s class. Puck-mover extraordinaire, Fowler can make cross-ice and stretch passes at ease. When he has the puck on his stick, his hands, vision and awareness are smooth and beautiful to watch. Not much of a physical presence, preferring to use stick work and positioning on defense. The only knock on him would be the lack of goals for such a skilled player, but there is no doubt of his high-end potential.
4. Erik Gudbranson, Defense, Kingston – OHL
Scouting Report: Gudbranson is an overall great defenseman. He’s a physical player, he’s smart and plays well in his own end, can move the puck and play on the power-play. He’s the type of player that, when a team drafts him, can be slated in for 25 minutes each night, all of which are quality.
5. Brett Connolly, Left Wing, Prince George- WHL
Scouting Report: Another player who brings many dimensions. Connolly is a great skater with great strength. He battles it out for the puck, can bring his physical game to the ice at anytime and he's a smart player who can consistently be found around the puck. Saddled with a lengthy injury, where Brett goes in this Draft remains a mystery depending on how he heals.
6. Brandon Gormley, Defense, Moncton – QMJHL
Scouting Report: Gormley comes with a great set of tools. He is such a good puck-mover and makes quality decisions, time after time, with the puck. He isn’t one-dimensional and will be a tremendous asset on the backend.
7. Mark Pysyk, Defense, Edmonton- WHL
Scouting Report: Pysyk is a rock for the Edmonton Oil Kings and is a very steady defender. He already plays huge minutes and has shown some offensive flash this season. He may not have huge high-end potential, but you could certainly do a lot worse than Mark.
8. Mikael Granlund, Center, HIFK - SM-Liiga
Scouting Report: What comes to mind when thinking of Granlund is pure skill. Mikael has some of the softest hands in the Draft and is extremely creative with the puck. Already playing and excelling in the Finnish professional league, Granlund’s main criticism is his size. Make no mistake about it, he is no wimp and he will battle it out for every puck.
9. Kirill Kabanov, Left Wing, Moncton- QMJHL
Scouting Report: Kirill is one of the most talented Russians to come along in multiple years. While the drama surrounding him has been an issue as well as an early-season injury, his skills cannot be ignored. An overall great offensive skill set, Kabanov can help his stock with a strong second half with Moncton. His main knock tends to be his penchant for taking bad penalties and getting over-emotional.
10. Jaden Schwartz, Center, Tri-City- USHL
Scouting Report: Born in Wilcox, Saskatchewan but playing in the US, Schwartz is a very gifted all-around player. Smart with great vision, Schwartz seems to slow the game down when he has the puck and can always be looked to as a primary source of offense.
11. Vladimir Tarasenko, Left Wing, Sibir – KHL
Scouting Report: Already playing on the second line for Sibir in the KHL as a 18 year old, Tarasenko is a great offensive player. Very anticipating and aggressive on the puck, Tarasenko always is around the play and uses his body and great hands to create offense. He also has a defensive side to his game as well and he can kill penalties. His game is very developed, and should he come overseas, he may be one of the quickest players outside of the top three in this Draft to make it to the NHL.
12. John McFarland, Center, Sudbury- OHL
Scouting Report: How the mighty have fallen for John McFarland. Once regarded as an elite prospect in this Draft class, John McFarland has come a long way in the wrong direction since being a Midget phenom and applying for Exceptional Status within the OHL akin to John Tavares. He still is extremely skilled, strong, quick and creative, but McFarland just seems to be lacking the hockey sense and feel for the game that every elite player possesses. He’s a risky player to take depending on how high he goes, but if he puts it all together the team who owns him will walk away very happy.
13. Ryan Spooner, Center, Peterborough- OHL
Scouting Report: Size is an issue for Spooner, but the man is an offensive demon. Playing for the Petes, he is a regular threat on the ice for the opposition. Great skater and soft hands, Spooner is not afraid to battle or skate into the more dangerous situations despite his minuscule stature.
14. Jeffrey Skinner, Center, Kitchener- OHL
15. Joey Hishon, Center, Owen Sound- OHL
16. Evgeny Kuznetsov- Right Wing, Traktor- KHL
Scouting Report: Playing on the Russian junior squad this past World Juniors, Kuznetsov is a very gifted offensive player. His combination of speed, awareness, and hands makes him very elusive and gives defenders fits. He may not be as developed as other prospects in my fourth tier, but he certainly has a high ceiling.
17. Nino Niederreiter, Right Wing, Portland- WHL
18. Tyler Toffoli, Right Wing- Ottawa- OHL
19. Jonathan Merrill, Defense, U-18- USNTDP
Scouting Report: Merrill is one of the many talented defensemen on the US U-18 team, but what separates him from others on his team is that he brings a much wider package. He plays his position very well, with smart positioning and good physical play. Showing some offense this year, which has raised his stock, Merrill will be watched for the rest of the season to see whether he's the real deal.
20. Quinton Howden, Left Wing, Moose Jaw- WHL
21. Jordan Weal, Center, Regina- WHL
22. Stephen Shipley, Left Wing, Owen Sound- OHL
23. Stanislav Galiev, Left Wing, Saint John- QMJHL
24. Devante Smith-Pelly, Right Wing, Mississauga- OHL
Scouting Report: This is probably the first big surprise to many reading this list, but Smith-Pelly deserves to be this high. Devante Smith-Pelly is a bulldog for Mississauga. A good skater, he may not possess the high-end hands, but he has good net awareness and he’s a finisher. You will always find Smith-Pelly bringing his physical game to the ice.
25. Derek Forbort, Defense, U-18- USNTDP
26. Teemu Pulkkinen, Right Wing, Jokerit- SM- Liiga
27. Alexander Burmistrov, Center, Barrie- OHL
Scouting Report: Some may not agree with Burmistrov being this low. While it is nothing against the impressive Russian prospect, he’s a good and elusive skater, it's difficult to see the high-end tools outside of the skating propelling him to anything higher.
28. Emerson Etem, Center, Medicine Hat- WHL
29. Jack Campbell, Goalie, U-18- USNTDP
Scouting Report: The unquestioned top goalie in this year’s Draft, Campbell is a very developed netminder. He plays his angles impressively with an aggression and swagger not seen in many young goalies. Great reflexes and athleticism, Campbell’s mental game is also far ahead of where many goalies tend to be pre-Draft and that usually tends to be the biggest obstacle. He will need to straighten out the finer points in his positioning, but he has the potential to be a great goalie in 5-7 years time.
30. Nick Bjugstad, Center, Blaine- Minn. HS
Scouting Report: It’s always risky when talking about US High School players, but Bjugstad is making a legitimate case as a late first rounder akin to Chris Kreider this past year. Very physically blessed, Bjugstad’s game refinements will be the question when selecting him but the tools he has can certainly raise some eyebrows.
31. Kevin Sundher, Center, Chilliwack- WHL
32. Austin Watson, Right Wing, Windsor- OHL
33. Victor Ohman, Right Wing, Malmo- Allsvenkanen
Scouting Report: Ohman playing over in Sweden has some great hockey sense and brings multiple dimensions to his game. He has good size and brings a physical element to his game, but also has been a dangerous scorer in the junior levels. Better production versus men will help his stock.
34. Brock Beukeboom, Defense, Sault Ste. Marie- OHL
35. Christian Thomas, Right Wing, Oshawa- OHL
36. Maxim Kitsyn, Left Wing, Metallurg- KHL
37. Ryan Martindale, Center, Ottawa- OHL
Scouting Report: Martindale displays many good and bad qualities in his game. Blessed with a great body, Martindale needs to become more physical and win more battles. He’s great in open ice, but lacks that great acceleration to create open ice for himself on a regular basis. With a '91 birthdate, teams will be taking some risk on the hope that Ryan’s flaws lessen through development.
38. Justin Faulk, Defense, U-18- USNTDP
Scouting Report: On a team full of the USA’s best young players on the U-18 team, defenseman Justin Faulk is tied for the team lead in goals with Zucker with 11. Coming out of nowhere onto the scene this year, Faulk has displayed some tremendous offensive tools.
39. Troy Rutkowski, Defense, Portland- WHL
40. Petr Straka, Left Wing, Rimouski- QMJHL
41. Jason Zucker, Left Wing, U-18- USNTDP
Scouting Report: Zucker may not be a great all-around offensive player, but he is a good goal-scorer. His shot is feared by many goaltenders, and while he may disappear for the odd game, when he gets his chances in the high percentage areas he is deadly.
42. Riley Sheahan, Center, Notre Dame- NCAA
43. Ryan Johansen, Left Wing, Portland- WHL
44. Ivan Telegin, Left Wing, Saginaw- OHL
45. Stephen Johns, Defense, U-18- USNTDP
46. Tom Kuhnhackl, Center, Landshut- Germany-2
Scouting Report: One of the more highly regarded Germans to come around in a while. Has a good skill set that has some thinking that the youngster is a possible first round selection. Kuhnhackl still needs to show a little more before he should be placed that high as his skills haven't fully developed yet. Good sleeper for the Draft.
47. Curtis Hamilton, Left Wing, Saskatoon- WHL
48. Stephen Silas, Defense, Belleville- OHL
49. Luke Moffat, Right Wing, U-18- USNTDP
50. Alex Petrovic, Defense, Red Deer- WHL
51. Brandon Hynes, Center, Victoriaville- QMJHL
52. Guillaume Asselin, Right Wing, Montreal- QMJHL
53. Jared Knight, Center, London- OHL
54. Calvin Pickard, Goalie, Seattle- WHL
55. Michael Bournival, Center, Shawinigan- QMJHL
56. Brandon Archibald, Defense, Sault Ste. Marie- OHL
57. Alex Theriau, Defense, Everett- WHL
58. Dalton Smith, Left Wing, Ottawa- OHL
59. Austin Madaisky, Defense, Calgary- WHL
60. Andrew Yogan, Center, Erie- OHL
61. Joonas Donskoi, Left Wing, Karpat, SM-Liiga
Scouting Report: A little more was expected of Donskoi this year. The skilled Fin has struggled at the professional level and will need a strong second half to keep his stock from plummeting.
62. T.J. Tynan, Center, Des Moines- USHL
Scouting Report: Coming out of nowhere this year, Tynan has dominated the USHL in his first season. The only obvious knocks on his game at the moment are his size and his lack of anything related to a physical game.
63. Brad Ross, Left Wing, Portland- WHL
64. Patrik Nemeth, Defense, AIK- SuperElit
Scouting Report: The gifted, big defenseman has looked impressive this season, but skating may hold him back. With that said, people have their eyes on Nemeth now.
65. Mark Stone, Right Wing, Brandon- WHL
66. Jakub Culek, Left Wing, Rimouski,- QMJHL
67. Yasin Cisse, Right Wing, Des Moines- USHL
68. Tyler Pitlick, Right Wing, Minnesota State U- NCAA
69. Ben Duffy, Center, P.E.I- QMJHL
70. Brock Nelson, Center, Warroad- Minn. HS
71. Taylor Carnevale, Center, Barrie- OHL
72. Oscar Lindberg, Left Wing, Skelleftea- SEL
73. Konrad Abeltshauser, Defense, Halifax- QMJHL
74. Louis-Marc Aubry, Center, Montreal- QMJHL
75. Charles Inglis, Center, Saskatoon- WHL
76. Kevin Lind, Defense, Chicago- USHL
77. Denis Kindl, Center, Gatineau- QMJHL
78. Max Gardiner, Center, Minnetonka- Minn. HS
79. Jarred Tinordi, Defense, U-18- USNTDP
80. Ryan Harrison, Center, Prince Albert- WHL
81. Johan Gustafsson, Goalie, Skare BK- Div 1 Sweden
82. Justin Shugg, Left Wing, Windsor- OHL
83. Martin Marincin, Defense, Kosice- Slovakia
84. Beau Bennett, Center, Penticton- BCHL
85. Brendan Shinnimin, Center, Tri-City- WHL
86. Adam Pettersson, Center, Skelleftea- SuperElit
87. Andrei Kuchin, Right Wing, Chicago- USHL
88. Mathieu Brisson, Defense, Omaha- USHL
89. Fredrik Weigel, Center, Djugarden- SuperElit
90. Nikita Zaitsev, Defense, Sibir- KHL
91. Jordan Messier, Right Wing, Tri-City- WHL
92. Matt MacKenzie, Defense, Calgary- WHL
93. Nick Mattson, Defense, Indiana Ice- USHL
94. Matthew Bissonnette, Center, Moncton- QMJHL
95. Chase Balisy, Center, U-18- USNTDP
96. Corey Durocher, Left Wing, Kingston- OHL
97. Maxime Clermont, Goalie, Gatineau- QMJHL
98. Charlie Coyle, Right Wing, South Shore- EJHL
99. Kevin Clare, Defense, U-18- USNTDP
100. Jacob Berglund, Left Wing, Portland- WHL
Corey Pronman is a contributor to Puck Prospectus, an Associate Scout for the USHL Sioux Falls Stampede and runs the statistical hockey site The Hock Project. You can contact him at CPronman@fau.edu.
Corey Pronman is an author of Hockey Prospectus.
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