With the NHL trade deadline on the immediate horizon and the recent flurry of activity that has included 2nd round picks, it's probably time to look at the list of names projected to still be available with the 30-60th picks this June.
The Florida Panthers have acquired a pair of 2nd rounders in the last month, the first coming from Montréal for Dominic Moore and the second coming back from the Penguins in exchange for defenceman Jordan Leopold. New Jersey and Atlanta swapped second rounders this year in the multi-asset deal that featured Ilya Kovalchuk. In early February the Carolina Hurricanes sent Niclas Wallin to San Jose and got the Sabres' 2nd rounder (acquired by San Jose in 2008) and then also picked up Ottawa's for Matt Cullen. Yesterday the Edmonton Oilers collected the 2nd rounder that the Nashville Predators had in exchange for Denis Grebeshkov. Today the Islanders sent Andy Sutton to Ottawa for the pick the Senators got from the Sharks in the Dany Heatley deal.
Boston currently holds Toronto's and Tampa Bay's 2nd rounder as well as their own as well.
By no means do we think those teams are certain to be using those picks to select players, it's as likely that they'll try and use them as trade fodder to move even higher. Still, should efforts to do that fail, plan B is still pretty good as there are players in the Class of 2010 who will be available in round 2 that teams will be happy to draft. Is there a Ryan O'Reilly among them? Only time will tell.
Here are 5 guys who have peaked my interest who are currently listed outside the top 20 in North America/top 5 in Europe by NHL Central Scouting including goalies not named Calvin Pickard and Jack Campbell.
5. Alex Petrovic (D) - Red Deer Rebels (WHL)
Central Scouting Rank: 34th NA
The big defenceman has had a solid year with the Rebels although he slipped a bit in Central's rankings from the start of the year when he was listed as the 3rd best prospect in the WHL. I know that when I've spoken with scouts at the rink, Petrovic is seen as an all around talent who possesses a physical edge to him that they wish they saw in a guy like Mark Pysyk. "Petro", a 6'3.5 and 212 lb native of Edmonton, isn't afraid to drop the gloves as anyone can see with a quick perusal of Youtube. He doesn't always win those fights but he's a gamer and he can do it with body checks or with a his stick. He's chipped in with 6 goals and 23 points this year but probably isn't projected as a point getter as a pro.
He reminds me a little of former Rebel Doug Lynch although I'm told by someone closer to the team that "Petrovic has a different style; he plays mean and will be really tough to beat 1-on-1 in the next two years. Lynch played mean too but probably had a little more of an offensive side. Petrovic is probably a better skater." Lynch was a second round pick going 43rd overall to Edmonton in 2001. (Photo: Dave Brunner Photography/Red Deer Rebels)
4. Tom Kuehnhackl (RW) - Landshutt Cannibals (GBun2)
Central Scouting Rank: 10th Euro
We talked recently about the talented German forward when it was announced that he had committed to joining the Windsor Spitfires for next season. I just profiled Kuehnhackl in that last piece and don't want to just repeat myself so click the link to get educated on him. He's fought injuries this year but like I've said before, the fact that he's headed to the OHL, and the Spitfires in particular, will help his draft stock. He was mentioned by Ryan Kennedy on his latest Hot List at THN.com (linked on the right). (Photo: Getty Images)
3. Beau Bennett (RW) - Penticton Vees (BCHL)
Central Scouting Rank: 48th NA
We had Bennett on the program recently and since then the top BCHL prospect has just continued to flourish in Penticton. His coach, Fred Harbinson, spoke very highly of him when I chatted him up and I know scouts who consider him a guy worthy of 1st round consideration. Bennett finished in a tie atop the scoring race in the BCHL this year with 120 points and he was a rookie. He has 3 points in 3 playoff games so far and the Vees are considered a favorite to come out of the BCHL as league champs. (Photo: Veesblog)
Bennett was a standout for USA at the 2009 WJAC in Summerside PEI and will join the Denver Pioneers next year, stressing with us that he's not considering the Calgary Hitmen who hold his WHL playing rights. He'll discuss it with the NHL team that drafts him but I find it unlikely that they'll be opposed to his playing in an excellent NCAA program like Denver.
2. Jaden Schwartz (C) - Tri-City Storm (USHL)
Central Scouting Rank: 41st NA
Another guy who was on The Pipeline Show recently is this Saskatchewan native who is currently destroying the USHL despite playing on a very average team in Tri-City. Schwartz leads the league in scoring with 74 points after 49 games, he has twice as many points as anyone else on his team. Schwartz is committed to Colorado College but admitted that he'll talk it over with his NHL club in the summer and if they'd prefer that he jump to the WHL, the Tri-City would be happier than hell to have him join them for next year.
He's on the small side at 5'10 but strength and toughness won't be a concern because he's now listed at 193 lbs. Schwartz would be a definite first round pick if not for the fact of where he's playing. Scouts want to know that his numbers aren't inflated because of the league and the weak team he's playing on. (Photo: USHL Images)
1. Brad Ross (LW) - Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
Central Scouting Rank: 69th NA
You'll notice that of the guys on my top 5 he's the lowest ranked by Central Scouting but I'll stand by it. Every year there's a guy who really stands out and intrigues me and this year it's the feisty forward from Portland. Ross, the younger brother of Nick Ross (PHX), was red hot for Portland over the WJC break when the Hawks were without Nino Niederreiter. His production has slowed a bit over the last two months but he contributes in so many other ways that a dip in offence can be forgiven. He's currently the WHL leader in PIM with 189 and he was recently named the second most irritating player in the Western Conference behind Kyle Beach - someone who Ross might share a lot of similarities to; skill, tenacious work ethic, hitting and decent size at 6'1. What's not to like? I'm actually quite surprised that Ross is ranked where he is because everyone I've talked to feels the same way - he'll be a steal if he's still available in round 2. (Photo: Soobum Images/Portland Winterhawks)