It's one of those banner days during the NHL draft season for players, scouts, media and fans alike; the NHL Central Scouting mid-term rankings have been released. As always, the list will get picked apart by folks who have differing opinions but as the late great E.J. McGuire said at least once during every appearance he made on The Pipeline Show - "We're a recommending body to the NHL, our list is meant as a recommending list to the NHL team scouts".
That said, the Central Scouting list is a good barometer for many. The links and some thoughts follow...
As always, Central Scouting separates North American and European players and goaltenders. The list of North American skaters includes a little more than 210 players which is plenty considering there are only 210 players drafted in the typical 7 round, 30 team event (only compensatory picks can increase that number).
Two Russians top the list of North American skaters - Nail Yakupov (Sarnia) and Mikhail Grigorenko (Quebec). Four of the top six are, in fact, European born skaters with Czech forward Radek Faksa (Kitchener) and Olli Maatta (London) in that top grouping.
Half of the players listed in the top 10 come from the Western Hockey League and all five of them are blueliners. Ryan Murray (Everett) in 3rd, 5th goes to Morgan Rielly (Moose Jaw), Matt Dumba (Red Deer) is 7th followed closely by Griffin Reinhart (Edmonton) in 8th and Derrick Pouliot (Portland) rounds out the top 10.
The top-ranked WHL forward is Kelowna's Colton Sissons who is slotted 14th.
Positions 15-24 are all Ontario Hockey League based players except for one, Brady Skjei who skates for the US-NTDP in the USHL.
Speaking of the USHL, there are six players from the league in the top 30 lead by US-NTDP defenceman Jacob Trouba in 9th. By comparison, there are only two QMJHL players to be found that high with Martin Frk (Halifax) joining Grigorenko.
The highest ranked high school player is Cristoval "Boo" Nieves playing at Kent.
The first Canadian Jr. A players to be found are Jujhar Khaira and Alex Kerfoot, both from the BCHL, coming in at 80th and 81st respectively. Only two Alberta Junior Hockey League skaters made the grade; Peter Quennville (Sherwood Park) is 150th followed by Rhett Holland (Okotoks) at 192nd.
I was recently speaking with a long-time NHL scout about the Edmonton Oil Kings and made the argument that there would be five members of the team drafted this year. I said the same thing on the TEAM 1260 morning show last week. Today there are indeed 5 Oil Kings listed - Reinhart (8th), Ashton Sautner (91st), Cody Corbett (92nd), Mitch Moroz (171st) and Henrik Samuelsson who has yet to play in the North America so is still ranked on the European list.
Speaking of the European skaters list, despite only recording a single point at the World Junior Championship, Filip Forsberg is still considered by Central scouting as the top Euro available in June. Sebastian Collberg, who had no trouble piling up points in Calgary, ranks second behind his fellow countryman.
It's a good year for defenceman overseas this year as well it seems as half of the top 12 consists of rearguards. The top blueliner from Europe in Ville Pokka who was very good for Finland during the recent 2012 WJC.
The aforementioned Henrik Samuelsson is ranked much lower than I personally expected; 33rd in Europe. We'll see if his move to North America turns out to boost his draft stock as expected.
The crop of goaltenders in the Class of 2012 is growing on me. The North American goalie list is led by Malcom Subban (Belleville) and includes Russian WJC goalie Andrey Makarov (Saskatoon) at 8th, Czech import Patrik Bartosak (Red Deer) 10th and Chris Driedger (Calgary) 12th.
On the European side of the net, Andrei Vasilevski's breakout on the big stage of the World Junior Championship will be remembered for a long time and earned him the top ranking. The gap between him and Sweden's Oscar Dansk has to be almost airtight though and the European pair may be the first two netminders drafted in June. Joonas Korpisalo has his fans too; one NHL scout told TPS that his team is very high on the Finnish netminder.
What stands out for you?