Tuesday, May 21st
Good morning hockey lovers! I apologize for the lack of ramblings but life has been extremely busy and all my free time is being dedicated to the Fantasy Prospect Report scheduled for a June 1st release. In the guide I personally profile 90+ draft eligible players for the upcoming 2013 NHL Entry Draft as well as include several fantasy hockey related lists and an extensive mock draft.
I am taking a few minutes from the prospect report writing to spit out a few thoughts on some prospects….an overdue assignment, as Dobber graciously pointed out in his ramblings haha.
Let me start with my baby – the Canadian Hockey League’s Memorial Cup, aka the best junior league tournament in the world (excluding the World Junior Championships). This year in particular features an extremely talented lineup of top prospects – both drafted and undrafted. Without researching, I think it would be extremely hard to find a CHL Memorial Cup tournament to feature the top three projected draft eligible skaters. Portland Winterhawks’ Seth Jones and Halifax Mooseheads’ Jonathan Drouin and Nathan MacKinnon are slated to be drafted with the first three selections in the upcoming draft and this tournament gives them one last chance to show scouts who deserves to be drafted first. One outstanding tournament won’t decide the fate of these players since scouts have watched these players for several years but it could definitely bump a player up enough to separate them from the rest.
In my last rankings, Seth Jones was my top ranked player for the draft and his performance through two games has been mediocre, at best. Jones’ only tournament highlight is him getting beat wide on a goal scored by fellow draft eligible Nathan MacKinnon. A few nights later, Sharks' prospect Chris Tierney beat Jones on almost an identical play. Jones has been the favourite to go number one in the draft but Avs top scout says it is not a lock.
Nathan MacKinnon Memorial Cup Hatty:
Nathan MacKinnon has been the best performer of the three top draft eligible through two games. His speed is an extremely dangerous weapon as there are few players in the world who can reach his top speed as quickly as him. MacKinnon has four goals and five points in games against Portland and Saskatoon.
Jonathan Drouin hasn’t had the same offensive success as MacKinnon but damn, this kid continually impresses me. As a hockey guy who is a big fan of skilled and possession type of players, I absolutely love Jonathan Drouin’s game. His ability to gain extra time and space using deceptive puck skills and elite vision are rare…extremely rare. I won’t divulge too much information (that’s for the Prospect Report) but Jonathan Drouin remains my top forward pick in all fantasy formats.
The London Knights boast a bevy of top prospects as well. Bo Horvat, who I have been pumping since his rookie debut saying that he was vastly under-the-radarbecause of how the Knights utilize him (shutdown role), is starting to dominate the competition. Not only is he excelling at defending his opponent’s top line but he is producing at critical times in games. He really amps up his game when it matters most and that’s a very attractive quality that could see him drafted as early as top 5.
Max Domi has been okay in the Memorial Cup but his highlight-reel assist in last night’s game was one for the ages. Arguably, one of the best assists I have ever witnessed…at any level. I am very interested to see where Max Domi gets drafted this June. He owns top 10 offensive talent but rumblings around the scouting world have him drafted anywhere from top 10 to late first round.
Max Domi's filthy pass to teammate Bo Horvat:
Projecting the draft’s top 10 is extremely difficult this year as there are arguably 15 players who are worthy of landing inside the opening picks. Good news for teams picking through the middle of the draft.
Gut feeling: Portland’s Oliver Bjorkstrand is a huge sleeper for the draft. The Danish forward’s scoring ability is impressive as his game features a pro-release. He displayed that last night scoring in Portland’s 6-3 win over the London Knights. Bjorkstrand could stand to add strength to his game but he owns quick feet and an impressive scoring instinct. He’s a potential second round selection for the 2013 NHL Draft but I think he’s deserving of going early in the second. There will be more on Bjorkstrand in the Prospect Report.
St. Louis Blues’ prospect Ty Rattie is ready for professional hockey. I remember at the 2011 NHL Draft that he was one of my favourite prospects at the time and all he has done is score goals since being drafted 32nd overall to St. Louis that year. Rattie leads the CHL Memorial Cup in scoring with three goals and six points after two games. St. Louis is in desperate need of scoring help and Rattie would certainly provide that but unfortunately the team is deep on the right side (Oshie, Tarasenko, Stewart and even prospect Dmitri Jaskin).
Ty Rattie Memorial Cup goal:
Oilers’ 2012 3rd round pick, Daniil Zharkov, has signed to play in the KHL. Zharkov scored 25 goals and 43 points in 59 games for the Belleville Bulls of the OHL last season.
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