Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Draft Watch Tougher With Stars at Home

There are only 14 CHL teams still active in their respective playoffs, that number will drop to 12 in the next couple of days, then down to 6 within a couple of weeks. With the scouting world still out in full force, it's an opportunity for those players still showcasing their talents for the 2011 NHL Entry Draft and a just the opposite for the big names already done for the year.

20 of Central Scouting's top 30 players in North America are no longer playing in the CHL playoffs. A handful of them, including Tyler Biggs, J.T. Miller, Ryan Murphy and Mark McNeil, are over in Germany at the U18s for a few more days and then they'll hang them up for the summer. Others such as Matt Puempel, Scott Mayfield and Jamie Oleksiak have been done for awhile because of injury, a short college schedule or failure to make the postseason.

Last year we saw how Taylor Hall's performance through the end of the OHL playoffs and Memorial Cup helped separate him from Tyler Seguin. Will the same hold true this year?

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Sean Couturier and Gabriel Landeskog have all gotten consideration for the #1 overall selection at times this season but all three are now inactive. They, like Seguin last year, will step up their off ice training to get in the best physical condition that they can in advance of the NHL Combine but they can longer strut their skills on the ice.

Meanwhile, the 2011 eligible contingent from Saint John is headed to the QMJHL semi-finals and are the favourite to represent that league at the Memorial Cup. Should that come to fruition, will the extra exposure and time in the spotlight help elevate Jonathan Huberdeau, Nathan Beaulieu, Tomas Jurco and Zack Phillips even higher up the rankings?

What about the Portland trio of Sven Bartschi, Ty Rattie and Joe Morrow? Or Niagara IceDogs stars Dougie Hamilton and Ryan Strome?

Perhaps the biggest benefactors will be those guys currently thought of as mid-rounders. Will we start hearing more and more about Sea Dogs like Scott Oke and Ryan Tesink? Tyler Wotherspoon in Portland?

Might Seth Ambroz move back into 1st round consideration should his Omaha Lancers advance deeper into the USHL playoffs?

Just food for thought as the old adage, "Out of sight, out of mind" is often accurate when it comes to the draft.

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