Alex Pietrangelo is the NACS No. 1 ranked blueliner for the 2008 NHL draft. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
In my newest rankings, a few guys have gone up and a few have dropped. In this week’s blog, I’ll give the top 20 with a comment on each, as well as some players that have been shooting up the rankings and a few that are dropping like stones.
#1 – Steven Stamkos; C, Sarnia Sting
Continues to dominate. Fans in Sarnia should pay close attention because it’s doubtful he’ll be back next year.
#2 – Alex Pietrangelo; RD, Niagara IceDogs
Defensive play is still less than ideal, so his playoff performance will be very important to maintaining the No. 2 slot.
#3 – Drew Doughty; LD, Guelph Storm
Most guys are convinced he is No. 2, but I still think his upside is less than Pietrangelo’s. But there have been nights when he has simply dominated.
#4 – Zach Bogosian; RD, Peterborough Petes
Play has tailed off on occasion, but the overall package is brimming with upside and thus he maintains his No. 4 ranking.
#5 – Nikita Filatov; RW, CSKA Moscow
Had a phenomenal performance at the Five Nations and is clearly the second-best forward in the draft.
#6 – Luke Schenn; RD, Kelowna Rockets
Amazing world junior play helped springboard him to a great second half. At No. 6, a team will get a stud defender.
#7 – Kyle Beach; LW, Everett Silvertips
Huge difference of opinion amongst scouts, but we love his upside, nastiness and competitive spirit. However, the pick wouldn’t be without moments of frustration.
#8 – Colten Teubert; RD, Regina Pats
Has had an up and down year, but we feel his size, smarts and steadiness are a very attractive package and, at times, he has shown flashes of superstar ability.
#9 – Colin Wilson; C, Boston University
Point-a-game in the very competitive Hockey East conference and has been very impressive as a true freshman. Off-the-charts intangibles are another reason why he stays in our top 10.
#10 – Zach Boychuk; LC, Lethbridge Hurricanes
Another guy who learned at the WJC and came back for a great second half. Will lead the Hurricanes into the playoffs and don’t be surprised if he carries them on his back for a long run.
#11 – Colby Robak; LD, Brandon Wheat Kings
Big jump since last month is well-deserved because his play has continued to improve. He skates effortlessly like Paul Coffey, but does not quite have the offensive output.
#12 – Cody Hodgson; C, Brampton Battalion
Hockey smarts and high IQ are important, and this kid has them in spades. He understands the game and sees it so well that a long, productive career is guaranteed.
#13 – Josh Bailey; C, Windsor Spitfires
Has taken a team that didn’t make the playoffs a year ago and turned them into a very scary, free wheeling squad that nobody wants to face in the post-season.
#14 - Mikkel Boedker; RW, Kitchener Rangers
Will be interesting to see how he plays in May, as Kitchener is hosting the Memorial Cup. The playoff grind will show whether he’ll score at the next level.
#15 – Michael Del Zotto; LD, Oshawa Generals
Could end up as one of the biggest steals of the entire draft because he has all the tools to become a difference making blueliner. His defensive play, however, has been atrocious.
#16 – Tyler Myers; RD; Kelowna Rockets
Behemoth defender invokes visions of Zdeno Chara. You can’t teach that size and his play has improved, but there is still a long way to go.
#17 – Tyler Cuma; LD, Ottawa 67’s
Quietly going about his business in the nation’s capital, but he plays with a steadiness and has a solid first pass coaches love. Also, has better feet than people give him credit for.
#18 – Mikhail Stefanovich; RW, Quebec Remparts
Another guy who has to score to be effective, but he has that knack for finding seams and finishing that cannot be taught. Leads the “Q” in rookie scoring at a little more than a point per game.
#19 – Jared Staal; RW, Sudbury
The last of the Staals, and by far the biggest project of the four, his huge frame, good stick skills and typical Staal work ethic will see him become a solid power forward in five years.
#20 – Brandon Burlon – LD; St. Mike’s Buzzers
Intriguing prospect who plays Junior-A for the same team that produced Andrew Cogliano and Red Wings prospect Brendan Smith. Had a tremendous World Junior-A Challenge and has impressive offensive skills that will be good at any level.
Nikita Filatov - His great Five Nations performance helped him move a few spots in our rankings, and it really solidified him in the top five. It will make teams at the top of the draft consider him, despite the transfer agreement issue, because he has shown he is well worth the risk.
Eric O’Dell – We liked him early playing Junior-A in Ottawa, but an average performance at the CJAHL Prospects game caused us concern. However, since he was traded to Sudbury and began playing in the OHL, he has been eye-popping. On a very young team lacking in offensive teammates, he has been unbelievable and done so much on his own that our second-round ranking may still be selling him short.
Josh Brittain – How about a 6-foot-4 power forward who will score 30 goals in his sophomore season on a Kingston Frontenacs team that won’t come close to making the playoffs? He has been outstanding since Larry Mavety took over behind the bench. Along with his scoring touch, Brittain has shown a grit and toughness that were absent from his game with Bruce Cassidy as coach. Much like O’Dell, we may be underselling him in the second round, but since their teams won’t make the playoffs, we’re hopeful they’ll be selected for the Canadian under-18 team to further examine their potential.
Jimmy Hayes – Hayes was a kid who two years ago we thought was a sure-fire top 10 pick in this year’s draft, but his game has fallen off the rails and he has ended up with Lincoln of the USHL. He has all the tools and, at times, he has shown he can dominate, but there have been nights when you wonder if he even cares. Occasionally he has reminded us of Angelo Esposito. Hayes could be the steal of the draft, but we wouldn’t want to put our jobs on the line to guarantee it.
Phil McRae – The son of Basil McRae had a tremendously bright future, especially after the cooked deal was manufactured to get him to the London Knights, but his game has never really advanced since he arrived there. As an underage player at the U.S. NDTP, we thought he too would be a locked-in top 10 pick like Hayes, but he has struggled at both ends of the ice. A change of scenery might be the best thing for this potential star who still needs to get stronger and increase his level of competition.
Joe Colborne – After watching Colborne play at the World Junior-A Challenge, we felt confident he could become this year’s Kyle Turris and a top-10 pick out of Canadian Junior-A. However, since those games, he has been a complete bust. His play at the CJAHL Prospects game was embarrassing and the games we’ve seen him play in Camrose have been much of the same. He has size, skill and a great stride, but there are questions about his motivation. He will be going to Denver next year so he has time to develop his game, but we wouldn’t dare take him in the first round after so many uninspired performances.
Mark Seidel is the chief scout for North American Central Scouting, the commissioner of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League, and appears as a host on Leafs Lunch on AM 640 radio in Toronto.