This spring, I’ve written several posts here at ON to serve as a "guide" for fans like me who want to follow the annual entry draft closely. Like the swallows at Capistrano, the top 30 marks the moment of arrival. This is the Lowetide top 30.
First, a couple of points. This is a "fan’s" version of the top 30, not meant to be a mock draft or compete with any other lists you may have seen. I use Gabriel Desjardins’ NHLE heavily and also read Corey Pronman, Redline Report, ISS and closely follow Blue Bullet’s lists (which are listed on my blog–I hope to have BB on next week’s show).
The summaries come from all over but are not intended to represent the full bio on any player. If you wish to read on these and more kids, I’d suggest reading Pronman and getting the final Redline report (it is now available).
THE TOP 30
- R Nail Yakupov NHLE 18-22-40. Yakupov is a famous prospect now, as famous as Hall and the Nuge before him. At this point the story will be ‘Edmonton takes Nail’ or ‘Oilers defy wisdom, pass on Nail’ The race is over.
- D Ryan Murray NHLE 5-12-17. Two-way defender with a nice range of skills, we’ve discussed him at length so no need to go over it again. I’m convinced Nail is the man, but any lingering doubt comes from the perfect fit of Oilers need to Murray’s skills.
- C Alex Galchenyuk NHLE 11-19-30 (this is based on his 10-11 season). Oilers have a choice of two sure things, but this wild card could end up being the star of the show. Exceptional puck handler and his size makes him a lock for the lottery.
- C Mikhail Grigorenko NHLE 16-17-33. I know there are questions about effort, but there’s just too much here. Size AND skill AND he’s a center and on it goes. There is no doubt some risk but the possible reward is immense.
- D Griffin Reinhart NHLE 5-10-15. He has convinced NHL scouts that he’s going to be a shutdown defender of some quality. Solid defender who can move the puck and like his Dad he should have some success on the PP because of his shot (Paul Reinhart scored 49% of his NHL goals on the powerplay). However, it is important to remember this: of the top end defenders, none have more value invested in goal prevention.
- R Teuvo Teravainen NHLE 12-8-20. Highly skilled winger with creativity, finish and good foot speed, he’s far less a question mark due to already playing a regular shift in a man’s league (SM-Liiga). Teravainen is exactly the type of player who often rips up the charts late in a draft season, perhaps suggesting he is somehow less impressive than the kids we’ve been reading about all winter. Not so. Teravainen has been there all along, our focus was elsewhere.
- D Morgan Rielly NHLE 4-21-25. Best offensive potential among the high end defenders, I keep coming back to those flashes of brilliance he showed against the Oil Kings in the playoffs. This guy could absolutely make grown men cry for passing on him in the draft if he delivers at the “saw him good” levels we saw this spring in Edmonton.
- D Matt Dumba NHLE 7-13-20 Without the reckless style combined with being undersized (6.0, 173) for the position, Dumba would be ranked much higher, probably 2nd among defenders on the list. If he can stay healthy while delivering those monster hits he might end up being one of the very best players in the 2012 draft.
- L Filip Forsberg NHLE 3-3-6. PF with skill, he’d rank higher on my list if Forsberg had posted better offense in Sweden’s 2nd league or at the WJ’s. Martin Lunden knows a lot about the Swe-2 league and told me his offensive chances (or rather being placed in high offensive situations) would probably be very low. Forsberg’s agent feels he needs another year of development in Sweden.
- D Olli Maatta NHLE 2-12-14. Has a nice range of skills and might be that very rare player who just "gets" playing defense at a very young age. Has a nice range of skills both offensively and defensively, Calm feet, good skater, moves the puck expertly and recovers well, Maatta closes the gap in a heartbeat and looks completely in control.
- D Cody Ceci NHLE 7-16-23. Nice range of skills, good size-speed and he’s clearly a talented young player. I think Ceci is the last of the defenseman we could reasonably assume that has at least a chance to become the best defender in the draft—it is exceptionally deep and there’s a chance this OHL defender is being overlooked. Not much out of place here.
- L Pontus Aberg NHLE 11-9-20. Speed winger with good skill level, Corey Pronman tells us he played about 10 minutes a night in the SEL (making his production very good). I have him this far behind Teravainen—who appears to be a similar player—based purely on their descriptions. Aberg could be the better player.
- C Radek Faksa NHLE 12-15-27. Big forward (6.03, 203) with a nice range of skills and no obvious weaknesses. What’s more, he’s apparently healthy and his size/skill will get him noticed. He could easily end up among the top 10 picks this year. OHL prospects says "he’s big but also has an explosive first few steps" and a team looking for just that might reach a little.
- D Jacob Trouba NHLE 4-14-18. 6.02, 194 and played well for Team USA at the World Juniors. Yet another defender with a wide range of skills, A little like Ryan Murray in that he’s an excellent skater and effective puck mover but it isn’t a certainty he’ll be a big PP contributor once he arrives in the NHL. Off to play NCAA with Michigan in the fall.
- C Zemgus Girgensons NHLE 11-14-25. Skilled player from the same country as Oilers prospect Kristians Pelss (Latvia) Girgensons has been lighting up Dubuque (USHL) for two winters in a row now. 2-way center, excellent skater and all kinds of skill. Plays with grit, 6.02, 200.
- D Dalton Thrower NHL 7-13-20. Exactly the kind of player teams look for in one significant way: he improved a great deal from September to March. Fine skater with good offensive ability, he’s also a hard hitter and an agitator. Oilers haven’t said a word about him but I can’t imagine they’re unaware of his skills.
- L Tomas Hertl NHLE 19-21-40. Impressive season in the Czech league (the NHLE number for Czech may be inflated but we’ll stick with it with an asterisk) and he’s clearly skilled. Hertl’s foot speed is an issue and that could impact his draft number, but he’s described as a heady player and the results in a Euro pro league are exceptional for his age.
- D Matt Finn NHLE 6-13-19. Mobile defender with good speed–this defense crop never ends–and looks like a decent candidate to push through and have an NHL career as a PP defender. Finn is not as physical as some of the other kids and that might impact where he goes.
- D Derrick Pouliot NHLE 4-16-20. Another puck moving defender and a player with plus skating skills. Average size (6.0, 181) and does not have a physical reputation. He’s a terrific passer, it’s one of his best skills. Played on a very good junior team so the numbers may be somewhat inflated.
- C Brendan Gaunce NHLE 10-15-25. Big forward with skill who can crash and bang. He’s certainly good enough to project as a skill player and he does have plenty of grit. He’s a player the Oilers might consider trading up for in their efforts to add a skill/grit player for the top 6F.
- L Tim Bozon NHLE 13-12-25. I like this player a lot, he’s a good skater with a plus shot and good footspeed. Described as a terrific passer and his shot is rated as being one of the best in the draft. Thinks the game well too, and there’s not much left to criticize.
- D Hampus Lindholm NHLE unavailable. A good skating defenseman, he also has size and there’s quite a bit on him defensively. Redline loves him–well likes him quite a bit–and there’s some offensive potential too.
- G Andre Vasilevski NHLE unavailable I’ve made every effort not to steal from a specific draft expert, but Corey Pronman’s description of this player–and reason for his ranking–is so good I’m just going to send you over there. Needless to say, a very interesting prospect.
- R Henrik Samuelsson NHLE 6-14-20. PF and a player whose draft stock rose through the spring as he helped power the Oil Kings to the Memorial Cup. Size/skill combination makes him a terrific prospect, and he’s right in the wheelhouse for a team like Edmonton. He might be a perfect fit.
- R Tanner Pearson NHLE 15-22-37. He’ll be 20 two months after the draft so we’re talking about a player who doesn’t have the development time ahead of him that we’ll see from the others on this list. Smart player with skill and good size and he could come right away with the right opportunity.
- D Slater Koekkoek NHLE 5-12-17. Offensive defenseman with size, skill and an injury history. He’s the first player on my list who could fall out of the first round (well, at least I think so) and he’s a raw player in that it’s going to take some time. Described as a physical defender.
- C Scott Laughton NHLE 8-12-20. If this was 1973, Laughton would be on his way to the Flyers–hell, he could be a Flyer now. Lacks top end skill but can play the game, but he makes a lot of things happen because of his agitating style. Smart, determined player and at 6.0, 175 he certainly doesn’t shy away from physical play.
- D Damon Severson NHLE 3-13-16. Makes the list for a nice range of skills and his size will make him stand out for some teams (6.02, 200 at age 18). Streaky offense, not as promising offensively as some of the others in this year’s draft.
- R Sebastian Collberg NHLE 0-0-0. Played in the SEL this season but didn’t get a lot of playing time.Collberg did play well at the World Juniors (6, 4-3-7) and his scouting report suggests good things offensively. Speed is his calling card and elite prospects tells us he doesn’t shy away from traffic.
- G Malcom Subban NHLE unavailable. .923SP is a terrific number for a player his age, and he appears to be something of a freak in terms of physical ability. Former NHL goalie Al Jensen compared him to Carey Price.
**edit to add: in an earlier edition of the top 30 (since fixed), I mistakenly listed Matt Dumba as having suffered an injury. My sincere apologies for the error.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
If the Oilers take Nail Yakupov #1 overall, they should have a chance to add another big piece to the puzzle with their second pick at the draft–be that a center, a defender or a powerforward. I expect they’ll try to move into the first round with their second rd pick and something else, something they did in 2008 to secure Riley Nash.
We are getting close to draft day, so the focus is on the kids. Lots of other items too and your questions are always the best. Email [email protected] or you can drop them on twitter @ItsNationRadio or lowetide_ Finally, you can simply leave your questions in the comments section and we’ll ask our guests.
Scheduled to appear:
- Tom Lynn, former NHL GM, assistant GM and current player agent. His exceptional experience on both sides of the process offers us great insight. We’ll talk about the draft, trades and how they develop, and some CBA-related items.
- Corey Pronman, draft expert from Hockey Prospectus. His top 100 list and profiles are an absolute wonder, and we’ll discuss the top of the draft, the sheer number of quality defensemen and ask Corey to rate the Oilers blue prospects.
- Kirk Luedeke from Redline Report. Kirk has been a friend of the show since we started and we’ll have one more look at this year’s kids. We’ll pay special attention to injuries and their impact, goalies who might go early and I’ll ask about the draft implications for kids going to big NCAA schools.
- Cam Charron from Leafs Nation. Cam took over the managing editor gig for Leafs Nation this week after doing outstanding work at Canucks Army and all of the nations. The entire segment will be devoted to Chris Tanev. Probably.
- Michael Spiedel (speeds) from Hockey Symposium. We’ll talk about the draft, free agency, the CBA and I’ll remind speeds about his kinds words for Dean Lombardi last summer on Nation Radio.
- Jeff Krushell from Krush Health Show. We’ll talk to Jeff about the injuries to these top end prospects, and the possible impact long term. We’ll also ask him what the heck these NHL teams get out of the combine.
Noon to 2pm Edmonton time on the Team 1260.