First Blush 2011

Lowetide
April 20 2011 05:43PM

The 2011 Entry draft is coming into view. We've mulled over the talent and read the tea leaves. Bob McKenzie's latest update was most informative and now we await the final Redline, McKenzie, ISS lists. In the meantime, here's my first ranking of this year's top 10 prospects eligible for the 2011 entry draft.

This is not an attempt to predict the top 10, nor is it a mock draft. This is my ranking of the "across the board" talents with math as the deciding factor. My list relies heavily on NHL equivalencies courtesy Gabriel Desjardins and uses Bob McKenzie's list as a template.

  • #10: RW Joel Armia 6.03, 191. Has size, speed and skill, a deadly combination. Armia is a load, highly skilled with great anticipation.
  • #9: LW Sven Bartschi 5.10, 185. Undersized winger with terrific skill is being undervalued by some. He is a pure WHL rookie and delivered an exceptional season.
  • #8: D Ryan Murphy 5.10, 168. He's one dimensional but man what  a dimension. Murphy is an exceptionally talented puck mover, his lack of size for the position he plays and some questions about his strength are the only real negatives. He could be the best player in this draft.
  • #7: D Dougie Hamilton 6.04, 190. Big man can skate very well and has a major impact on his team's powerplay. I'm nicking him a little because his offense is inflated via the powerplay and it's very unlikely he'll bring that to the NHL for some time (if at all). Still, a terrific player.
  • #6: L Jonathan Huberdeau 6.01, 168. I have him lower than many of the mock drafts or seedings, but Huberdeau is on an exceptionally talented team and his offensive numbers may have been inflated quite a lot courtesy the quality of team. He's a talent, no doubt. I just like the other 5 kids better.
  • #5: L Gabriel Landeskog 6.05, 205. The one guy in the draft I'm having a hard time slotting. Landeskog has a nice range of skills and that's high value in my opinion. Landeskog is a difficult player to play against, a leader. He's tough and because of the wide range of skills he's certainly worth a lottery pick.
  • #4: D Adam Larsson 6.03, 220. Big defender is already a seasoned pro in the SEL. I have him at #4 because it's likely Larsson won't be a major offensive contributor based on how he's being used in the SEL. Despite having a lot to recommend him defensively, I don't think he's as valuable as the men above him.
  • #3: C Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 6.0, 170. In ranking RNH here it's with the belief that he'll go 1st overall. Is he the best player available? I don't think so. There are two players whose skills are RNH's equal and both possess a wider range of skills than the kid.

  • #2: C Ryan Strome 6.0, 183. A dynamic offensive player with a motor that won't stop took a massive step forward this season. Excellent skater, soft hands, sees the ice well and he has decent size. Doesn't have a lot of flaws to his game and it's ridiculous how much he improved season over season.

NUMBER ONE

  • #1: C Sean Couturier 6.04, 195. Huge center had a wonderful season (again) and delivered eye popping numbers compared to the rest of his team (along with Ondrej Palat). He's falling down everyone's lists but I'm staying the course. Why? There's just too much here. Size, skill, impressive wingspan and a long resume of results. Here's what Kirk Luedeke wrote about him at Bruins Draft Watch about his skating:  it's not a major flaw and is correctible with some work on mechanics. He has the size and power to be a legitimate power forward and top-six player for years in this league.
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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 Team 1260.
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#1 #EM
April 20 2011, 05:48PM
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FIST. I like the photographs of beautiful women. These women need to grace every single blog post here.

My top 3: Larsson, Couterier, RNH. But it's getting closer in my mind. Larsson was my consensus pick for much of the last year, but it's getting extremely difficult to keep a big center and the increasing hyped Nuge out of the rearview mirror...

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#2 Smokey
April 20 2011, 05:48PM
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First post, woohoo

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#3 D
April 20 2011, 05:49PM
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I respect that you kept Sean #1, even though I hope the Oil don't draft him.

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#4 Smokey
April 20 2011, 05:49PM
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damn you FIST

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#5 Nis002
April 20 2011, 06:03PM
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FIRST CHOICE (and only choice) Ryan Nugent-Hopkins It's hard to pass on a quality center like him. He has the Datsyukian agility and Sakic vision. Now who wouldn't want that?

Had a couple of buddies that played with him and they all stated this: "He's SICK"

A great quote: "runt in, runt out" Robin Brownlee.

(posting this msg while I'm surrounded by Canucks fans) YIKES. GO OILERS GO :)

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#6 zpak
April 20 2011, 06:18PM
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I Like RNH but sometimes think Coutourier is getting overlooked,the skills mentioned shouldn't.!We've been wishing we had a "Big 1st line center" since Arnott.I wouldn't freak out if we drafted the big kid over RNH. Go Stu!

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#7 Bucknuck
April 20 2011, 06:24PM
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I do hope that Tambellini manages to sneak into the top ten with a second pick somehow. The more I hear about this draft the more I think they should have two picks in the top ten.

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#8 Quicksilver ballet
April 20 2011, 06:32PM
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The wonders of make-up

Probably takes those girls an hour in the morning to put all that war paint on.

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#9 HOFFFF
April 20 2011, 06:51PM
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Agree 100%. Nice work Lowetide!

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#10 Steve Smith
April 20 2011, 06:56PM
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@Nis002

So you had some buddies who played hockey with one of the best hockey players of his age in the world, and they thought he was very good at hockey? I'm sold.

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#11 ken
April 20 2011, 07:01PM
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There is something about sean that bothers me.Maybe its because his agent wouldnt let him interview.Was the stress of a high draft selection getting to him,If so Edmonton is not the place for him. Does anyone have access to the NEXT testing that they had at prospect game?I heard that RNH blew the other prospects away in those tests.

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#12 Ribs
April 20 2011, 07:03PM
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Strome at #2 is the big surprise here. I like the kid and wish I had seen more of him.

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#13 jake
April 20 2011, 07:10PM
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Lowetide, any comments on any of them regarding character? What kind of heart, humility, passion for the game do some of these kid have? Teams can't have too many "quality people" around I say.

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#14 speeds
April 20 2011, 07:12PM
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Interesting LT. I really like Strome as well, but I don't think I have him ahead of RNH.

Statistically, it's uncanny how similar their "box car" stats look, close in size (Strome weighs more), yet it sounds like the scouts are consistently rating RNH ahead of Strome. What do you see in Strome that makes you think he'll be a better pro than RNH?

Also, which potential first round prospects are still alive in the CHL playoffs, and how much impact, if any, do you think that'll have on final rankings?

Off the top of my head, there's, what, 3 or 4 guys from each of St. John and Portland that might be first rounders, plus Hamilton and Strome from Niagara?

And, if I can pack more into this post, would you be looking to trade into the 3-5 range this draft if you were he GM, or would you just call Couturier at one and be happy with that?

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#16 René Guerra
April 20 2011, 07:26PM
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It's hard to argue against math, but that's probably a moot point for most "saw-him-good" scouts. To add insult to injury, the Devils and lucipher himself, Lamoriello, will take Couturier.

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#18 CurtisS
April 20 2011, 08:17PM
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So you take Bobby Macs list and apply math? No wonder these rankings look like they do. I have a feeling Strome will go before Couturier and after Huberdeau, Larsson, Landeskog and Hopkins...... in exactly that order.

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#19 CurtisS
April 20 2011, 08:18PM
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Nice to see Linus starting to get a little comfy in OK city with a goal and apple so far tonight.

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#20 Butters
April 20 2011, 09:32PM
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I don't want to knock SMB, he has made some really good selections, but Taylor Hall was the safe pick. The correct one for the Oilers but the safe one. I think the Oilers will take the safe pick again which is either RNH or Larsson.

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#22 jbh
April 20 2011, 09:39PM
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@ribs...it's all promo video but you can at least see some of the skills these guys have.I linked Strome but just click on any name you want to watch.

http://nhldraftvideo.blogspot.com/search/label/Ryan%20Strome%20%282011%29

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#23 ItsTheBGB
April 20 2011, 10:11PM
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Better safe than sorry! =)

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#24 Justin R
April 20 2011, 10:28PM
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I'm just happy to read an article that isn't about headshots, and how they are ruining all things that are holy. Great job LT

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#25 Justin R
April 20 2011, 10:31PM
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p.s. The above isn't in reference to ON. More just sports media in general

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#26 Mike Modano's Dog
April 20 2011, 10:36PM
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@Nis002

Don't listen to that poster. I found your opinion a lot more interesting than what he had to say.

I, for one, am interested in what your buddies had to say (I certainly don't know anyone who has played with or against him.) What else did they say - and when did they play with him (recently/youth hockey)?

I just wanted you to know that you're entitled to your opinion just as much as the next guy and thank you taking the time to share it with us.

It's a lot easier to critique what others say than come up with an original thought of your own.

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#27 Steve Smith
April 20 2011, 10:50PM
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Mike Modano's Dog wrote:

Don't listen to that poster. I found your opinion a lot more interesting than what he had to say.

I, for one, am interested in what your buddies had to say (I certainly don't know anyone who has played with or against him.) What else did they say - and when did they play with him (recently/youth hockey)?

I just wanted you to know that you're entitled to your opinion just as much as the next guy and thank you taking the time to share it with us.

It's a lot easier to critique what others say than come up with an original thought of your own.

More fun, too!

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#28 Ribs
April 20 2011, 10:51PM
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Thanks jbh! I'd prefer to see them in games but highlights are always fun to watch too.

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#29 speeds
April 20 2011, 10:51PM
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Lowetide wrote:

1. Strome versus RNH. For me their EV numbers are telling. Strome at EV (65gp, 22-42-64 .985ppg) versus RNH (69gp, 20-27-47 .681ppg) and RNH's large percentage of PP points/overall points.

2. I think Strome is the guy to watch this post-season. Huberdeau too, but he's been a hot item for enough time for cracks to show. I'll bet that will be next month's hot news.

3. I'd deal down and pick Couturier. You could slide to #3 comfortably imo, if you felt he was the guy. I don't think he'll make it to #6 overall.

It'll be interesting to see what happens with Strome and Hamilton, they are down 1-0 in their series playing against the best team in the OHL; their postseason could be over pretty quickly or they could be going for awhile.

We'll see if cracks start to show with Huberdeau. He's definitely on a stacked team, but so far he's at 21 pts in 9 games, +11, after his excellent regular season, tough to imagine he'd be sliding backwards with those numbers but I guess it's possible.

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#30 Lebowski
April 20 2011, 11:45PM
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Steve Smith likes to snipe and condescend. Then he tries to brush it off with his brand of humour. Getting quite aggravating actually.

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#31 Steve Smith
April 21 2011, 03:23AM
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@Lebowski

If you let yourself get aggravated, you're letting the terrorists win.

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#32 Benjammin
April 21 2011, 07:16AM
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Is it just me, or does the first picture look like Taylor Hall in drag?

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#33 Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"
April 21 2011, 08:02AM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

The wonders of make-up

Probably takes those girls an hour in the morning to put all that war paint on.

Your Avatar tells me you are a man in the Know on that subject so I will take your word for it!

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#34 Woodguy
April 21 2011, 08:25AM
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Steve Smith wrote:

If you let yourself get aggravated, you're letting the terrorists win.

I usually manage to resist the comments sections

Haha!

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#35 FastOil
April 21 2011, 09:14AM
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I have been thinking about RNH and Couturier. I would see if I could land 2 picks in the top 4 using Gagner, picks and non core players.

I think RNH is a better version of Gagner but should have at least a year in the Dub and with the Barons. I think Couturier will play next year and will produce the same points as Sam and better numbers overall, so there is no detriment short term to the team. Only long term gain.

Having RNH and Couturier as your top centres in 2-4 years could be pretty amazing.

If the juices were flowing and GM's were in the mood for hockey trades, I'd keep going and would be willing to part with Hemsky or Whitney for a top 5.

They are tremendous players, but are unlikely to play full seasons from here on in, so how much do they help in the end? They are about to begin losing value IMO so if they aren't in the long term plan it is a benefit to cash them in for the quality that is available this year.

For others to trade a first for a high end player and take the risk on health might work - offense is the candy GM's have trouble turning down.

I am confident in all of the top 6-7 picks to be as good NHL'ers overall as Hemsky or Whitney.

To also grab Hamilton or another top D and maybe Landeskog would mostly finish the rebuild.

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#36 mikey
April 21 2011, 09:16AM
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LT, Don't understand the addition of goals and assists at the other site. Specifically these lines:

Jonathan Huberdeau 67gp, 27-32-70 1.04 Sean Couturier 58gp, 19-31-51 .879

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#37 mikey
April 21 2011, 09:21AM
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One problem with ignoring PP results is that (in the absense of icetime info) shouldn't we assume that some of the PP time is at the expense of ES time?

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#38 Mantastic
April 21 2011, 10:24AM
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i know when they were interviewing hall last year, he genuinely really wanted to be the star of the oilers and to be picked 1st overall, he just sounded like he had so much passion for the sport. from seguin's interviews he seemed indifferent to whether he was picked first or second and had far less desire(from what i saw).

is there anyone on that list that exudes passion, like hall?

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#39 KB
April 21 2011, 10:53AM
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Lowetide wrote:

1. Strome versus RNH. For me their EV numbers are telling. Strome at EV (65gp, 22-42-64 .985ppg) versus RNH (69gp, 20-27-47 .681ppg) and RNH's large percentage of PP points/overall points.

2. I think Strome is the guy to watch this post-season. Huberdeau too, but he's been a hot item for enough time for cracks to show. I'll bet that will be next month's hot news.

3. I'd deal down and pick Couturier. You could slide to #3 comfortably imo, if you felt he was the guy. I don't think he'll make it to #6 overall.

In response to your firts point, LT, is there any stat out there that could tell us how many penalties the other team takes while RNH is on the ice (in other words how good is he at drawing penalties)? If RNH is out there consistently drawing penalties from the other team, and happens to be awesome on the PP, is that a knock on him?

I'm not trying to start an argument here, just throwing this out there. I have no idea the answer to my questions above, and I don't know yet who I would personally select at #1 overall (although I am becoming a victim of th ehype and leaning towards RNH).

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#40 KB
April 21 2011, 10:55AM
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mikey wrote:

One problem with ignoring PP results is that (in the absense of icetime info) shouldn't we assume that some of the PP time is at the expense of ES time?

Add mikey's comment to mine above (good point mikey).

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#41 Neilio
April 21 2011, 02:19PM
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I like the list. I don't rate RNH as high as everyone else because I don't think he is a safe pick. I don't buy the Datsuyk comparisons. And I don't think he steps into this team and immediately makes it better, as some people suggest. IMO, he's top 10. Not sure if I'd take him over Huberdeau or Strome and definitely not SC or Landeskog. VS Larsson, they may have the same time-frame for becoming effective. As in not for 4 years. Datsuyk didn't become dominant until he was around 25. I don't think the fanbase has the patience to wait for RNH to become that, if ever.

Its been 20 years since we've had the chance to draft someone like SC, and it may be that long again. In this draft alone, there are Huberdeau, Strome, and RNH that are talented, and not that big in the top 5. How many Centers that are 6.04 with SC's talent are there? Or last year's draft? Or the year before?

Trade down if you like, but he's not going past the Devils. And if we don't take him, we'll be trying to trade for someone like him for the foreseeable future. Meanwhile we'll be trading Gagner for 50 cents on the dollar because his skill-set is duplicated if we draft RNH.

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#42 Team Couturier
April 21 2011, 03:11PM
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Well done, LT. Ballsy post imo. The in vogue thing to do is put RNH in top spot, and sink Couturier. But SC was #1 at the beginning of this year for a reason, and that pedigree didnt disappear. Imo, still the best player overall. BPA. With size.

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#43 tyler
April 21 2011, 05:12PM
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Neilio wrote:

I like the list. I don't rate RNH as high as everyone else because I don't think he is a safe pick. I don't buy the Datsuyk comparisons. And I don't think he steps into this team and immediately makes it better, as some people suggest. IMO, he's top 10. Not sure if I'd take him over Huberdeau or Strome and definitely not SC or Landeskog. VS Larsson, they may have the same time-frame for becoming effective. As in not for 4 years. Datsuyk didn't become dominant until he was around 25. I don't think the fanbase has the patience to wait for RNH to become that, if ever.

Its been 20 years since we've had the chance to draft someone like SC, and it may be that long again. In this draft alone, there are Huberdeau, Strome, and RNH that are talented, and not that big in the top 5. How many Centers that are 6.04 with SC's talent are there? Or last year's draft? Or the year before?

Trade down if you like, but he's not going past the Devils. And if we don't take him, we'll be trying to trade for someone like him for the foreseeable future. Meanwhile we'll be trading Gagner for 50 cents on the dollar because his skill-set is duplicated if we draft RNH.

your pretty high on coutourier, I think you overrate because of his size its funny scouts arent very positive, about him his footspeed is very average, and another knock on him is he plays soft and not with alot of heart, if you watch him when they show him play on tv he dosent look like he plays with alot of determination. Does that remind you of somebody like dustin penner. The nhl game moves faster which would make it difficult for sc. For all the people that think hopkins is like gagner think of this gagner has a very average shot hopkins has a joe sackic like shot gagner has good vision hopkins has elite level vision, gagner is an average skater at best hopkins is good skater.

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#44 SLURVE
April 21 2011, 09:31PM
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Yes, finally someone else besides me who thinks Couturier should go number one. I myself is an armchair hockey scout with years of experience and I think Couturier fits the Oilers mold-size, skill, finese, two way (MacT) player, hits (not always but when he needs to)... RNH is like all other Oilers-smaller, fast, scorer and not much weight to hit with. We need someone else to bring some different chemstry into the Oilers offence without assimilaton of sameness. Couturier will make room for Hall and Eberle. During playoffs when tight checking, hitting and defensive plays are always in play, Couturier will benefit the Oilers. Couturier is a rare breed - a 6'4" (200 pound) first line center who can score very well and play responsibly in his own end. How many first line centers in the NHL maybe 4 or 5 that fits that bill.

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#45 Team Couturier
April 21 2011, 10:16PM
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A pundit might say that since Couturier put up 96 pts last year, that he would have put up even more points this year had he not had MONO this year. Think about how scary that is for a second. LT, would we even be having this discussion if our boy Sean C. had put up 138 pts? That's getting up into Tavares country. Clear cut #1 overall if he hadnt contracted mono? Food for thought.

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#46 db7db7db7
April 22 2011, 06:30AM
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Does anyone track face-off % for the top centers in this year's draft? That would be very helpful in determining which one I like best.

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#47 db7db7db7
April 22 2011, 06:47AM
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http://video.nhl.com/videocenter/console?id=91730

Here's our chance to draft Arnott again. Let's not get rid of him this time.

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#48 oiler_head
April 22 2011, 12:26PM
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I am interested in where Bartschi ends up. Living in Portland and being involved in my son's hockey has given me an opportunity to get really engaged with the Winterhawks.

Sven, like all the current 'Hawks, is a great energetic player. His size has not hampered him in any way. I'm not much of a critical observer of players as I am much more a fan.

I don't know if the Oilers would be too interested in Bartschi as we've got to many small guys but I think he will be an NHL'r.

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