The 2011 NHL Entry Draft is all set to go in Minnesota, so what better time to look at the Top 10 prospects as listed in THN’s annual Draft Preview edition.
The 6-foot-4 Toronto native isn’t just a big body for a team’s blueline. He’s got offensive talent as well. “He has the potential to be a real high-end, two-way defenseman at the next level,” one scout told THN. “He has the offensive ability and skill set to contribute and the size, composure and toughness to be a shutdown guy.”
The lone Canadian Maritimer in the Top 10, Phillips rose through the ranks thanks to an offensive explosion this season. Scouts have criticized his skating, but he remains a valued prospect nonetheless. “Everybody knocks his skating, but all he does is keep putting up points.”
The small-ish (5-foot-10) winger hails from Switzerland, but doesn’t play with that nation’s famous sense of objectivity. “If someone didn’t tell you he was from Switzerland, you’d never know,” a scout said. “He’s got great hands, great vision and great hockey sense.”
Named the best skater in the Ontario League’s Western Conference, Murphy won’t be mistaken for a lockdown blueliner – it’s hard to play that role when you’re only 5-foot-11 – but he makes up for it with his wheels. “He’s exceptional on one hand (in terms of skating) and has a limitation (defensive shortcomings) on the other,” a scout said. “Will one take care of the other? The way he thinks, yeah I think it will.”
Strome began the season as a project second-rounder, but improved his status drastically and finished third in the OHL in scoring. Part of the reason for that is his doggedness on the puck. “He’s crafty,” a scout said. “When he loses the puck, he works hard to get it back.”
One of the late risers through the draft ranks, Huberdeau parlayed a great second half and Memorial Cup showing into more hype for his wares. “(He’s got) great hands,” a scout said. “He has vision and playmaking (skills), but those hands…unbelievable.”
Couturier’s stock has dropped since the beginning of the season. However, at 6-foot-4 and nearly 200 pounds, he’s got the talents to make a team very happy. “He’s not really flashy,” a scout said, “but he’s big and has a solid skill set. He’ll end up as a second-line center and be a 60- to 70-point guy.”
A potential No. 1 pick, Landeskog was named captain of the OHL’s Rangers as a 17-year-old. His all-around skill and drive has scouts drooling. “He’s the best player in the draft,” one scout said of the 6-foot-1, 207-pounder. “He could have played in the NHL two years ago.”
The 18-year-old blueliner, who has spent three years in the Swedish Elite League, may be one of the fullest-formed prospects in the draft. “He’s everything you want,” a scout said. “He never makes a bad pass and he’s a really smart player.”
He’s got nowhere near an NHL-ready body (6-foot-1, 170 pounds), but Nugent-Hopkins has exactly the kind of soft hands, puck sense and skating skills you’d want in a franchise player. “He’s along the lines of a Matt Duchene,” one scout said.
The THN.com Top 10 appears Wednesdays only on TheHockeyNews.com.
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