NHL Draft: Risers and tumblers
The Seguin-Hall debate
Before we get into the rising and falling players of the past eight weeks, we must address the issue of Taylor vs. Tyler and as you can see from our top 150 rankings, we still feel that Tyler Seguin will ultimately have the better NHL career and is a slightly better prospect.
We debated the issue vociferously but at the end of the day, we decided to stick with our beliefs that when both guys are 25, they will both be all-stars but Seguin will be more valuable to his team. With that being said, there is no doubt in our mind that Taylor Hall is the best player in the draft right now but because of the advantage of his birth date, he has played an extra season in the OHL and is thus further along in his development than Seguin. But at the end of the careers, we believe that the highly skilled centreman will have a better career.
Since April, we've seen some prospects rise up the draft board, while others have slipped in the last two months.
Here are few notable names:
Jeff Skinner: No. 5 (Kitchener Rangers, L/C, Dec. 1 Ranking: 25)
The more we saw this kid as the season progressed, we found it harder and harder to find differences in this kid's game from that of Hall and Seguin. All this kid does is score goals, 27 in his rookie season and then 50 in his sophomore season along with another 20 in the 2010 playoffs. As a result, we think this kid has risen dramatically but justifiably over the past four months.
Nino Neiderreiter: No. 17 (Portland Winterhawks, RW, Dec. 1 Ranking: 73)
We were probably a little late to the dance on Neiderreiter but he springboarded a fantastic world junior championship in Saskatoon into a great second-half and has busted into our top 20. Many of our competitors still have him much higher than we do but we think he would be good value at No. 17 with the draft being as deep as it is this year.
Ryan Johanson: No. 20 (Portland Winterhawks, LW, Dec. 1 Ranking: No. 64)
Not to turn this into a Portland lovefest but our Western Canada scout has been raving about Johanson all year and I was slow to listen but a trip after Christmas convinced me that this kid is a special player. I personally think he may be a better prospect than Neiderreiter but the multiple viewings by Jason Golden, our WHL guy, has convinced me that as special as Johanson is, Neiderreiter may be better. Either way, Winterhawk fans should be thankful for seeing these kids along with a few others all year and potentially next year as well.
Phillip Grubauer: No. 60 (Windsor Spitfires, G, Dec. 1: Not Ranked)
As late as April of this year, I wasn't convinced that Grubauer should even be in our Top 200 but his play from mid-series against Kitchener until Sunday night when the Spits won the Memorial Cup has been outstanding. He was a huge part of their comeback against Kitchener and an even bigger part of the sweep of Barrie. As a result, we think that he now warrants a late second or third-round pick.
Zach Hyman: No. 115 (Hamilton Red Wings, C, Dec 1: Not Ranked)
I have spoken in the past about teams getting fooled by kids that play at the Tier 2 level. Because of the level of play, it can certainly work in reverse because some kids slip through the cracks that should be highly rated. The 17-year-old captain of the Hamilton Red Wings is certainly one of these cases because although he has committed to Princeton for the fall of 2011, he may be one of the best Ontario players in his age group.
I recently took in a workout and this kid has devoted a lot of time in the gym to compete against the men of the Ivy League, but along with being an impressive physical specimen, he showed that he could really play this year as well by putting up 75 points on a decent Tier 2 team while showing he understands the game as well as any in the draft. His dad owns my chief competitor, ISS, so it pains me to say, but this kid may become the steal of the draft. Last year Riley Smith put up 75 points on a powerful St. Michaels Buzzer team and was a third-round pick of the Dallas Stars, and for our money, Smith isn’t even close to this kid in terms of upside.
Kiril Kabanov: No. 19 (Moncton Wildcats, LW, Dec. 1 Ranking: No. 4)
I know that its pretty fashionable to jump all over the Russian star and we hate to tell the Moncton Wildcats we told you so but this kid has been trouble wherever he has been, and his bailing on the Wildcats has been death for his ranking. He is an incredible talent and has top-5 skills and despite his public proclamations that he never wants to go back to Russia, we will be surprised if anyone in the first round takes this kid because of the risk associated with him.
Riku Harma: No. 113 (JYP/Finland, G, Dec. 1 Ranking: No. 60)
We have always been concerned about his size — 5'10, 156 pounds — and it seemed like the more the season went on, the more the shooters figured out his weaknesses, and as a result, he is better value as a fourth-round pick as opposed to a second-round slot that we thought he deserved. He was also inconsistent and gave up some bad goals and despite his athleticism, he is a far bigger risk than we thought he might be.
Guillaume Asselin: No. 103 (Montreal, RW, Dec. 1 Ranking: No. 48)
A guy who we liked coming into the season just didn't get a whole lot done over the course of the season and his size is a troubling area. There is no way we would look at drafting him in the second round like we thought we would near the beginning of the season. We still think he has some tools but a fourth-round pick is where we think he would represent value.
Mark Seidel is the chief scout for North American Central Scouting. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org