I've always been fascinated by the NHL draft, and this year I've decided to embark on a rather ambitious project: to look at every player ranked by Central Scouting, and a few others too if at all possible. It seems like a silly time to start this project, given that the playoffs haven't even started yet, but this was the only way I could be certain I'd have time to go over the entire list provided by the CSB.
Naturally, I won't be giving the same level of consideration to every player listedthe players lower in the rankings will be covered in large articles, like this one today. Later in the series, as the talent level of the prospects gets higher, I'll narrow the focus and spend more time on each. This is the first article focusing on domestic skaters, and I'll start at the bottom.
200. Curtis Leonard, Defense, 6'3", 180 lbs. OJHL: 48GP, 2G, 20A, 22P. Leonard's playing in the OJHL so as to retain his college eligibility, he hopes to land an NCAA Division 1 scholarship. Nine of his 22 points have come on the power play. My call: He's got size and some offense, though a lot less than would be ideal. It's tough to get a read on the player from the available information.
201. Alex Lemieux, Right Wing, 6'0", 189 lbs. QMJHL: 45GP, 3G, 9A, 12P, -4. Normally, the nice thing about being ranked 201st among North American skaters is that there's plenty of room to move up. Lemieux, unfortunately, is going the other directionafter scoring 10 points in his first 13 games, he scored just one in his next 21 for Halifax before demanding a trade. So far, he's played 11 games for his new team, with one assist to show for it. Sure, he's got some energy to his game, but
My call: Not a chance this guy gets drafted.
202. Larry Smith, Defense, 6'3", 175 lbs. USHL: 35GP, 1G, 3A, 4P, -8. His lone goal came on the power play. Smith has recorded just 15 minutes in penalties this season. He might be a bit of a wild card, as his game has improved dramatically since the start of the year. My call: It's always tough to judge these defensive defensemen, but Smith's a big guy coming on strong.
203. Joe Carrabino, Defense, 6'6", 230 lbs. EJHL: 32GP, 5G, 24A, 29P. The most important thing to know about Carrabino is his ageborn in February 1991, he's almost a full two years older than a player like Larry Smith. He's big and he plays in all situations, but then again he's been passed over twice and plays in the EJHL. My call: I don't see any reason to believe that 2011 will be different than 2009 or 2010.
204. Cole Bardreau, Center, 5'10", 184 lbs. USHL: 21GP, 3G, 7A -10P, -2. After managing just one assist in his first eight games, Bardreau has put up nine points in his last 13. He plays in all situations, and is committed to Cornell University for next season. My call: If Bardreau were bigger, we'd probably be hearing more about his wide range of skills. As it is, he might be worth a flyer.
205. Sam Jardine, Defense, 6'1", 190 lbs. AJHL: 50GP, 6G, 16A, 22P. The 205 ranking has to be a bit of a disappointment for Jardine, who was projected as a mid-round pick by Central Scouting on their preliminary list. Jardine's bound for Ohio State next season. My call: I've seen Jardine billed as a two-way guy, but those offensive numbers aren't all that good.
206. Reid Boucher, Center, 5'10", 192 lbs. USHL: 21GP, 13G, 6A, 19P, +7. The Michigan State-bound Boucher is the second-highest scoring forward on the U.S. National Development team. Remarkably, just three of his 19 points have come on the power play. My call: Something's got to be up with this draft ranking; Boucher's offensive numbers are superb. He's also one of the youngest players in the draft. I'm sure that somebody likes him more than Central.
207. Brian Ferlin, Right Wing, 6'2", 201 lbs. USHL: 46GP, 23G, 36A, 59P, +25. Ferlin's numbers are phenomenal, but there are two caveats: first off, he went undrafted last year after a poor offensive season, and secondly, his eye-popping numbers actually place him third in scoring on his team. He has 21 points with the man advantage after recording just one last year, and is now bound for Cornell. My call: I think he'll get drafted, but almost certainly not early. I'm worried that his offensive outburst has been fuelled by his linemates.
208. Ryan Renz, Defense, 6'2", 210 lbs. BCHL: 35GP, 4G, 10A, 14P. Renz is a physical defenseman who plays in all situations. Renz is committed to Northeastern University for next season, which is of course why he's not in the WHL. He was traded twice this season. My call: I think the fact that Renz is playing in the BCHL is going to hurt him here, and I wonder if teams are going to be suspicious of the fact he was traded twice this season.
209. John Gaudreau, Left Wing, 5'6", 137 lbs. USHL: 50GP, 32G, 28A, 60P, +19. Gaudreau's a brilliant offensive player, a phenomenal skater, and basically everything a team looks for in a scorer: except that he's itty-bitty. He leads his USHL squad in goals, plus-minus, and sits one point back of a player three years older than him for the overall scoring league. My call: I can't remember the last 5'6" player to have a long career (Theo Fleury, maybe?), but on the other hand it's hard to find premiere scorers late in the draft.
210. Mike Seward, Left Wing, 6'1", 190 lbs. EJHL: 45GP, 21G, 13A, 34P. Seward was actually eligible for the draft last season as a high school player, but was passed over. There's a lot to like about the Harvard-bound player: he's intelligent, tough, has good size and some offensive ability. Seward's high school coach raved about his personality, saying, "As a father of three, I now have an idea of what I want my kids to be in high school." My call: Seward's undeniably a long-shot, and playing in lower levels has not done him any favours with NHL teams. I suspect he gets a solid education at Harvard and tops out as a college player, though with the kind of character references he's getting, maybe an NHL team takes a chance on him.
LV. Austin Wuthrich, Right Wing, 6'1", 190 lbs. USHL: 9GP, 1G, 3A, 4P, -4. Wuthrich broke his leg early this season, which is why he's on Central Scouting's "Limited Viewing" list. He's a decently-sized player who gets time on the penalty kill (though not the power play) and probably tops out as a checking line forward in professional hockey. My call: Some team might get lucky and snag a good player nobody's watching, but the more likely outcome is that teams will be scared away by Wuthrich's injury and he'll slide into next year's draft.
LV. Connor Murphy, Defense, 6'3", 185 lbs. USHL: 7GP, 2G, 0A, 2P, +5. The son of ex-NHLer Gord Murphy was projected as a possible first round draft pick this fall after an impressive showing at the Ivan Hlinka tournament this summer. He projects as a two-way defenseman, with a combination of offensive skill and the ability to shutdown opposition forwards. He's also viewed as a leader (he captained the American entry at the Hlinka tournament) but the big caveat is injuries: he's missed a lot of time the last few years thanks to a ruptured spleen and a spinal fracture. My call: He'll be drafted, the only question is when. The package is impressive, but those injuries are truly terrifying.
Jonathan Willis is an author of Hockey Prospectus.
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