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.