NHL Central Scouting has released their mid-term rankings today and as always, it's a ton o'fun to go over the list and take note of the glaring errors the pro scouts have made - yes, tongue firmly planted in cheek.
Here's a look at the top 20 goalies from North America:
1 Edward PASQUALE - SAGINAW OHL
2 Scott STAJCER - OWEN SOUND OHL
3 Mike LEE - FARGO USHL
4 Olivier ROY - CAPE BRETON QMJHL
5 J.F. BERUBE - MONTREAL QMJHL
6 Darcy KUEMPER - RED DEER WHL
7 Cab MORRIS - HOTCHKISS SCHOOL HIGH-CT
8 Matt HACKETT - PLYMOUTH OHL
9 Alex VAZZANO - THE GUNNERY HIGH-CT
10 Michael ZADOR - OSHAWA OHL
11 Brandon MAXWELL - USA U-18 USDP
12 Nathan LIEUWEN - KOOTENAY WHL
13 Peter DI SALVO - BARRIE OHL
14 J.S. BOUCHER - VAL D'OR QMJHL
15 Jon GROENHEYDE - KAMLOOPS WHL
16 Chris PERUGINI - OTTAWA OHL
17 Michael CONDON - BELMONT HILL HIGH-MA
18 Jaroslav JANUS - ERIE OHL
19 Karel ST-LAURENT - SAINT JOHN QMJHL
20 Adam MURRAY - USA U-18
Notables WHLers outside the top 20 include #21 Steven Stanford of Prince Albert, #24 Regina's Damien Kelto (who would have been an Oil King this year if Robin Figren had approved the trade deadline deal last year with the Regina Pats) and #28 Jamie Tucker who is the heir apparent to Tyson Sexsmith in Vancouver.
The first thing I noticed when I looked at the new ranking was that Olivier Roy (left) was no longer the top rated goalie and in fact had dropped all the way to 4th. I'm not a scout and don't pretend to be one so I can't profess to say I know why he's fallen off but it is a bit of a surprise considering I hadn't heard anything to suggest that would happen.
Brandon Maxwell from the US Development Program has tumbled down the list as well falling all the way to 11th. His CHL rights were traded twice this season and he's now property of the Kitchener Rangers as Windsor included him in the deal last week to get Josh Unice and Ben Shutron.
I am a big fan of Mike Lee's after getting to watch him at the 2008 WJAC in Camrose last November. I Liked him on the ice and off of it as well when I had the chance to interview him. He's helped get expansion Fargo to 3rd place in their USHL conference and I'm hearing that they could be a real spoiler team for anyone who takes them on simply because of his stellar play between the pipes. I'm glad to see him ranked 3rd overall here.
Nathan Lieuwen in the #12th spot is a bit of a surprise. He gets a lot of hype out west and has a lot of potential despite a fairly average season so far. He's got great size though, I won't be surprised to see him higher than this at the end of the year.
The last one that jumps out at me is Jaroslav Janus all the way back at #18. By now everyone knows that he almost single handedly eliminated USA from the medal round at the 2009 WJC in Ottawa. I'll be stunned if Janus isn't one of the first ten goalies taken despite his age. He's now a proven performer in high pressure games and that will be something that sticks in the minds of the NHL teams on draft day. Clutch goaltending is worth its weight in gold and Janus checks in at just under 200 Lbs. (that's a lot of gold).
Back later to discuss the forwards and Euro goalies and skaters.