McKenzie's List, Top Prospects

Lowetide
January 17 2011 05:03PM

This is Sean Couturier. Tonight, we'll find out if he's the mid-season #1 ranked prospect for the 2011 Entry Draft. Bob McKenzie will unveil his list on tsn this evening, which kicks off a big week for those who follow the draft each season.
 

Bob McKenzie has been commenting on hockey for many years. I remember reading his column in the Hockey News close to 30 years ago, so there isn't a lot that he hasn't seen over the years. McKenzie is as connected as anyone in the sport, and his twitter account boasts over 80,000 followers. I think that's a pretty impressive number, although twitter is not my field of expertise.

McKenzie's value to the NHL fan comes into view on trade deadline and draft day. Although he is featured on many tsn games as an intermission expert, McKenzie's contacts make him the king of trade deadline and draft day (and to a certain extent July 1).

For draft nuts, McKenzie's season ending list is an exceptional guideline. Tonight's mid-season primer will give us an indication about what NHL scouts are thinking at the top of the draft; unlike last year, there are no clear cut favorites (there were two a season ago) and in fact there are 4 teenagers grading out at about the same number on many lists. McKenzie breaks the tie on tsn tonight, with the help of his scouting contacts in the game.

I find McKenzie's draft updates to be the best "news" about the draft. It really is what NHL scouts are thinking, and if McKenzie didn't make it available there's no chance we'd get access. McKenzie saw a need and addressed it.

The show goes at 5:30 tonight. The top 4 contenders are Gabriel Landeskog, Sean Couturier, Adam Larsson and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. In the fall, McKenzie had Couturier and Larsson in a tie. That update is here.

--

I'm stil onside with Couturier as my number one pick, but Landeskog is very close. Central Scouting's EJ McGuire on Couturier:

  • "Couturier is a bit on the unpolished side. He's not your prototypical Quebec League skater ... not to bring up bad memories like Alexandre Daigle. I'm an old-timer. To me, he's Jean Ratelle. He is a slinky offensive player and nobody plays better in his end.

Kirk Luedeke, Bruins Draft Watch:

  • Couturier is an excellent puckhandler who can do it all- make moves in open ice or in tight traffic, rip off a rocket shot or soft-touch it to teammates for the easy score. His vision and offensive hockey sense are elite right now-- he can do pretty much whatever he wants to dictate the tempo/flow at this level. His skating is only average, however. He has a lumbering first few steps and lacks the explosion/suddenness that scouts would love to see.

I remember the day the Oilers traded Mark Messier, and I also remember a long list of also-rans and wannabe's who tried to fill that big, skilled center role with little success. If the Oilers get a chance to land one, they'll do it. If he's not on the table, I'd bet Gabriel Landeskog, Adam Larsson and RNH would be listed in that order.

--

The best part of this week for draft fans is the CHL Prospects game. The cream of the 2011 crop will be on display, with only Landeskog (injury) not part of the fun. Taylor Hall had an assist in last year's game. This year's rosters and all of the details are here. The game goes Wednesday on Sportsnet.

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Lowetide has been one of the Oilogosphere's shining lights for over a century. You can check him out here at OilersNation and at lowetide.ca. He is also the host of Lowdown with Lowetide weekday mornings 10-noon on TSN 1260.
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#51 Bi-Curious Gord
January 18 2011, 12:27AM
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I'm just glad that the entire hockey world will again be pointing and laughing at Brian Burke when the Leafs are forced to relinquish another top 5 pick.

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#52 Quicksilver ballet
January 18 2011, 12:52AM
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Bi-Curious Gord wrote:

I'm just glad that the entire hockey world will again be pointing and laughing at Brian Burke when the Leafs are forced to relinquish another top 5 pick.

He can't be that bad, this is the same guy who traded up and drafted both Sedins when he was the GM for the Canucks. Every GM has made a deal or two that hasn't worked out in his favor. Give it some time, maybe Burke wins this trade afterall if Seguin and whomever else they select this summer bombs. Kessel could score 30+ goals for Leafs for the next five years, maybe the 2 kids the Bruins get score 10 in total. Who's going to be laughing at who is still years away.

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#53 Crash
January 18 2011, 12:58AM
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Wanyes bastard child wrote:

Those props are from me :)

Thanks :)

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#54 bigrroberto
January 18 2011, 01:08AM
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It's too bad many if you don't get to see RNH on a regular basis. I live in red deer and let me tell you, this kid is something else with the puck. The above Kane/Sakic comparison is spot on. It's astonishing what he can do with the puck in tight spaces. In his spare time all he does is win face offs. So yeah if agree he deserves his ranking and deserves a little more respect then mist give him because he's smaller. Just wait till he fills out.

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#55 pelhem grenville
January 18 2011, 06:06AM
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Larsson... #1...i say trade for the pick to get him...the Oilers need to build their blue line, period...around a stud like Larsson...i know gregor had 7 elite Dmen counted outta the last 138 years or somethin' but this kid is an elite.One year to acclimatize,we move forward. I've seen [every bit of] video there is on the net and he is strong on the puck,he's not small,heavy shot, he plays the position excellently and he could play 20+ minutes right outta the gate...he even has a nasty side making opponents pay for their space. NHL readier than any Dman out there imo. He'll even get bigger than 205 pounds they have him at now.

With Edmonton's back end as awful as it is, really,where's the downside to picking him?

hey...if not we won't have to trade squat to get Couturier or Landerskoooooog!

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#56 John Chambers
January 18 2011, 06:56AM
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For some reason I get the sense that this class will have about as much impact as the 2007 draft where Pat Kane went first overall, MBS selected Sam Gagner 6th with his genious, and Logan Couture seems like the only other impact player taken 7th.

http://www.mynhldraft.com/2007

Usually you can't go wrong with a #1 overall pick, with apologies to Atlanta and Ottawa, but this suggests that drafting #2 or #3 doesn't guarantee you an impact player.

Stay tuned to a future episode of Oil Change to find out who Stu chose among the fray.

In other news, New Jersey won last night!

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#57 John Chambers
January 18 2011, 06:59AM
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@pelhem grenville

I've decided that I think you're right. I changed my mind.

If the only sure thing in the draft is a stud franchise defenseman, then why the hell wouldn't we take Larsson. I just get the feeling that Couturier could turn into Chris Gratton.

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#58 Jon
January 18 2011, 07:27AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Interestingly, if we take Couturier's numbers from 2009-10 and compare them to Nugent-Hopkins and Landeskog in 2010-11, he still comes out ahead.

For me, it comes down to Couturier or Larsson. That's at odds with the scouting consensus - which shows the four-man race above - but that is how I see it.

I'm not sure who I like better, but I don't think the pure offensive numbers mean that much. Nugent-Hopkins is seen as physically immature, so I'm sure his numbers get boosted in a scouts mind when they're projecting for the future. Whereas Courturier, who although I'm sure can still fill out too, is still larger than the average junior player at 6'4. Landeskog, it seems like the guys that like him only project him as a ~80pt Mike Richards player...that's not high end scoring potential so it seems those scouts just seem to think his two-way game will translate better to the NHL than Couturier, and that makes up for Couturier's better offence as this level in their minds. Or at least that's what I've gathered.

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#59 Jonathan Willis
January 18 2011, 07:33AM
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@ Jon:

I think that's a sensible take, and more or less how I'd guess it.

The thing that bugs me about Landeskog's offensive potential is Jason Akeson. Couturier's leading his team in scoring by a mile, while Landeskog's 25 points back.

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#60 Jonathan Willis
January 18 2011, 07:35AM
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Ryan Murphy ~ Ryan Ellis Pt. 2

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#61 Jon
January 18 2011, 07:47AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

@ Jon:

I think that's a sensible take, and more or less how I'd guess it.

The thing that bugs me about Landeskog's offensive potential is Jason Akeson. Couturier's leading his team in scoring by a mile, while Landeskog's 25 points back.

Sort of. Landeskog was injured for a bit...prorate his numbers and hes about 12 points back from Akeson. Couturier is second in scoring on his team...but prorate his numbers to Palat's GP and Couturier is about 3 points ahead. But I get your point, it makes you wonder about the offensive potential there.

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#63 michael
January 18 2011, 08:01AM
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Jason Bonsingnor. I can't get that thought out of head when I see Sean Courtier. I think once bitten twice shy is apt. Larrson would be nice but I think that we have seen this season what Ryan Whitney can produce given the opportunity. I gotta believe that the addition of either Landeskog or RNH woud be the better way to go.

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#64 CM
January 18 2011, 08:31AM
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As per Gare Joyce at ESPN

"Yes, Landeskog's stock has surged this year, but he is like Tyler Seguin -- a kid who came from off the pace, a candidate for the top 10 who enjoyed a breakthrough and established a new level of play. Couturier, RN-H and Larsson are pieces that you build around, while Landeskog would play in support of a center. The latter doesn't sound like a No. 1 overall pick.

What gives with the No. 1 ranking? Well, it seems to be part of a trend. NHL CSS has made a habit recently of provocative picks: Kyle Turris over Patrick Kane, Seguin over Taylor Hall. These didn't reflect industry opinion -- for instance, of more than a dozen scouts and execs I surveyed regarding Hall and Seguin, not one hinted that Seguin would be the pick at No. 1.

But these and other out-of-the-box rankings started chatter in places such as this blog. It's not a bad stunt, but I'm not sure it's really fair to the prospects. Angelo Esposito's career has been shortcircuited by injury, but fans will think of him as a No. 1 in the midterms who flopped. If you can fall from No. 1 to No. 8 from midterms to finals and then to No. 20 in the draft, you really never resembled a No 1 to start with. (Kane was the No. 1 pick that season and everybody knew it.)

Landeskog is a better player than Esposito was at the same stage and there's no chance that he'll fall to No. 8 in the finals or No. 20 in the draft. Still, No. 1? As much as I like him and even though I've written that he was closing on Couturier, RN-H and Larsson, I don't think he'll end up as the No. 1 overall selection."

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#65 RossCreekNation
January 18 2011, 08:35AM
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So as far as comparables go, it would SEEM to be:

Victor Hedman (Larsson)
Patrick Kane (Nugent-Hopkins)
Mike Richards (Landeskog)
Jordan Staal (Couturier)

Hmm...

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#66 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
January 18 2011, 08:43AM
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Crash wrote:

My only concern for Couturier if he gets drafted here is if he doesn't start to blow the doors off the NHL by age 21 (ala Sam Gagner), many guys here won't like that he is big, doesn't skate real well and doesn't hit or fight and they'll want to run him out of town or trade him for a draft pick.

Many of the Penner haters will call him Penner part 2 because he's a soft giant. His only hope here would be to light up the league within two years or the run him out of town posts will start.

For the first time in my life, I give you props Crash.

;0

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#67 OvenChicken8 - Team JSBM
January 18 2011, 08:47AM
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@RossCreekNation

If that is the case, I would take Larsson.

I have watched more of Tampa Bay this year and Hedman is turning into the real deal. Big, strong, patient and fast for a big man. He makes a beauty first pass and is on the same early curve as CFP.

If Larsson turns out to be a Hedman, but with more offense, he will be a gem.

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#68 Jonathan Willis
January 18 2011, 08:50AM
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@ Jon:

I don't know what I was high on this morning, but I somehow forgot Palat entirely.

Thanks for the correction.

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#69 Horcsky
January 18 2011, 09:24AM
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RossCreekNation wrote:

So as far as comparables go, it would SEEM to be:

Victor Hedman (Larsson)
Patrick Kane (Nugent-Hopkins)
Mike Richards (Landeskog)
Jordan Staal (Couturier)

Hmm...

God this team needs a Mike Richards. (Like many teams)

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#70 VMR
January 18 2011, 09:42AM
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Lowetide wrote:

The #1 thing I take from this list is that the Oilers need to add a pick in the top 50. There's going to be good value, maybe all the way to the Staios pick.

Absolutely. I dont watch the juniors often enough to get any idea what these top end guys are like so I'm not going to be an armchair GM and say we need a big center take Couturier. Well if Couturier is a big center like Chris Gratton is a big center I'm fine with a small center like RNH if he's a small center like Joe Sakic was.

If we can get another pick in the top 2 rounds I say go for it, and no trading up to get a marginal two way prospect like Riley Nash. I think we're better off with more draft picks and we'll have a better shot at getting someone then we will if we target specific players to fill specific holes. Nobody knows what most of these kids will do going forward.

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#71 Dan the Man
January 18 2011, 10:14AM
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RossCreekNation wrote:

So as far as comparables go, it would SEEM to be:

Victor Hedman (Larsson)
Patrick Kane (Nugent-Hopkins)
Mike Richards (Landeskog)
Jordan Staal (Couturier)

Hmm...

So the Oilers need to somehow acquire the top 4 picks.

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#72 PorknCheeze
January 18 2011, 10:45AM
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Former NHLer Louis DeBrusk facing assault charges after Vancouver taxicab incident

source: Vancouver Sun

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#73 Pajamah
January 18 2011, 10:56AM
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PorknCheeze wrote:

Former NHLer Louis DeBrusk facing assault charges after Vancouver taxicab incident

source: Vancouver Sun

I heard the cabbie was talking junk about Kevin Quinn and Gene Principe.

**I didn't actually hear that**

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#74 Ender
January 18 2011, 10:58AM
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PorknCheeze wrote:

Former NHLer Louis DeBrusk facing assault charges after Vancouver taxicab incident

source: Vancouver Sun

Sounds like he beat the crap out of four guys. I wonder if this will affect his Sportsnet gig.

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#75 Oilers4ever
January 18 2011, 11:10AM
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tyler wrote:

I wouldnt put rnh out of the possibility, his size kind of scares me but his 6 ft and will probably get to 185 eventually which would be like a hemsky which isnt overly small. People say that he has the puck handling skills of a patrick kane and a shot like joe sackic not bad.

Yeah... he's definately not as big as Couturier is, that's for sure. But I dunno, RNH makes everyone around him better. Like I said, I've seen the kid play several times this year. There's a reason the Rebels are 1st in their division and 2nd best in WHL only behind the Blades. I don't disagree with JW's talk about numbers and size... but his performance at the WJ's alarms me somewhat. 3rd line he might have played but if he's that good he should have been able to light a fire around everyone and get them going. His performance, among other things and players, is one of the reason Canada didn't win gold. It would have been interesting to see how RNH would have done had he made the team. It was an error and travesty to begin with that he didn't as he is a much better player than a lot of other guys who made the team. Don't be wrong, Couturier would look good as the Oil's #1 Center (although if Hall keeps playing well there we won't need that anymore), I just think overall RNH is the better selection for 5 years from now.

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#76 Chris.
January 18 2011, 11:15AM
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@Ender

Who in their right mind would go toe to toe with Louis freaking DeBrusk?

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#77 Rob...
January 18 2011, 11:21AM
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~Can someone help me out with the correct link? I can't find the DeBrusk fight on Hockeyfights.com.~

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#78 Dan the Man
January 18 2011, 12:06PM
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Per Sporsnet: SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The San Jose Sharks added some depth up front Tuesday by claiming Kyle Wellwood off waivers from the St. Louis Blues and acquiring Ben Eager from the Atlanta Thrashers for a fifth-round draft pick.

The Sharks must really be desperate to sign Wellwood.

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#79 madjam
January 18 2011, 12:10PM
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Defensively , i'd like to see Oilers get Larson and Musil( with luck trading down slightly) , and perhaps Phillips in a trade with Ottawa . Spezza as well ?

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#80 esa tikkanen
January 18 2011, 12:12PM
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If Ben Eager was available for a 5th I wonder why the Oilers wouldn't have taken him. He is ten times the player JFJ is, only 26. Canfight and actually play. Very good skater for a big guy.

Thoughts??

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#81 Harlie
January 18 2011, 12:17PM
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esa tikkanen wrote:

If Ben Eager was available for a 5th I wonder why the Oilers wouldn't have taken him. He is ten times the player JFJ is, only 26. Canfight and actually play. Very good skater for a big guy.

Thoughts??

the idea and the game plan this year is to TANK. Hence, we won't be adding anyone new to the payroll unless it means moving people out at the same time.

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#82 Hungoverman
January 18 2011, 12:41PM
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@madjam

Spezza is a player that I think would work well here between Hall and Eberle. His age is good as we need a few veterans and although his pricetag is steep we do have cap space. Try to trade for him this summer. Draft the defenceman this year and give him time to develop. If Horcoff is our #3 and Gagner is our #2 center then we are a lot better.

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#83 D-Man
January 18 2011, 01:34PM
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Hungoverman wrote:

Spezza is a player that I think would work well here between Hall and Eberle. His age is good as we need a few veterans and although his pricetag is steep we do have cap space. Try to trade for him this summer. Draft the defenceman this year and give him time to develop. If Horcoff is our #3 and Gagner is our #2 center then we are a lot better.

How do you get Spezza?? Are you willing to deal Penner or Hemsky, Gagner/high draft pick and possibly one of the kids?? Remember you're going to have give about $7 million back in contracts should you propose a deal.

The other factor we need to consider is the fact that you now have $14 million in a $60 million/cap tied in two players with two to three of the kids most likely demanding multi-million dollar contracts in another two years... Spezza is only good for probably 60-70 points/year. Is that worth $7 million?? Spezza has had two 90 point seasons, but the last one was well over three years ago.

No - you leave Spezza alone, unless you can dump Horcoff's contract in exchange. He might be an upgrade to what we have; but not as much as you think. We need to focus our attention with our D-core and bottom six forwards... Continue to stay the course and rebuild through the draft.

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#84 Hungoverman
January 18 2011, 02:40PM
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@D-Man

I think if we have Khabi coming off the books in a few years and the kids contracts being the first raise AND if the cap continues to rise as projected you could make it happen. I personally would keep Penner for his size and durability and see if Murray wants to go out with a bang. Hemsky and Brule for Spezza and a salary dump? Hemmer is a great player but if he is our best player we will be in a lot of trouble moving forward. I think Spezza proved that when he is paired with great talent (Heatley) he can be quite effective. And lord knows the Oilers need a number 1 center and a number one defenceman. Whew..long reply i need a beer. Sorry about that.

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#85 Bucknuck
January 18 2011, 02:53PM
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I don't think the Oil can lose if they pick in the top four this year. I lean toward Couturier since the Oil need some size and grit and sound defensive play. How is the big man on Faceoffs?

I think ST better get another 1st round pick for Stu this year, but i am unsure how he could acquire it without losing real good assets.

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#86 Crash
January 18 2011, 03:03PM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

For the first time in my life, I give you props Crash.

;0

Much appreciated OB1...

Actually I think we agree on more things than you might think ;)

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#87 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
January 18 2011, 03:11PM
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Bucknuck wrote:

I don't think the Oil can lose if they pick in the top four this year. I lean toward Couturier since the Oil need some size and grit and sound defensive play. How is the big man on Faceoffs?

I think ST better get another 1st round pick for Stu this year, but i am unsure how he could acquire it without losing real good assets.

Agreed, last year I was dead set on Hall. This year I've got my favorites, but would be happy with any of the 4.

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#88 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
January 18 2011, 03:12PM
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Crash wrote:

Much appreciated OB1...

Actually I think we agree on more things than you might think ;)

Ha-ha. Ya, I've actually noticed that lately.

Got off to a bad start I guess.

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#89 Cutterov
January 18 2011, 04:03PM
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Please no Nugent-Hopkins. Man would teams laugh at us if they looked down the middle and seen Gagner and Nugent-Hopkins as our 1-2 centres that would be hugely intimidating and give us no chance to get out of the west. Small skill guys are very easy for d-men to play against. RNH to me is Nilsson with less skill.

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#90 @NateInVegas
January 18 2011, 07:36PM
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@ Lowetide,

Has anyone mentioned the possibility of a Paajarvi/Lander/Landeskog line?

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#92 Oilcruzer
January 18 2011, 08:13PM
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This might be a bad year to pick first overall. If you pick second or third, you might get the best overall player. If you get second or third best you don't lose. But if you pick first, two or three or four might turn out to be better.

Then you have to answer to everyone.

Just a positive spin

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#93 Chris.
January 19 2011, 06:36PM
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@NateInVegas wrote:

@ Lowetide,

Has anyone mentioned the possibility of a Paajarvi/Lander/Landeskog line?

Let me be the first to annoy Brownlee with:

Palandeskog.

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