Every CHL season is filled with surprises, and this one is no different. Considering the fact that most of the NHL's first rounders are picked from this league, the importance of the CHL for the future of NHL teams certainly isn't in doubt. As such, I've chosen to do an analysis of some of the top-ranked draft eligible players, some recent first rounders, and all of the Oiler draft picks still playing in the CHL. The charts are available after the jump.
The QMJHL, OHL and Seth Ambroz from USHL
*Click to enlarge
*Click to enlarge
- Sean Couturier and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins are in a battle for the first overall pick. Early rankings all have Couturier ahead, but it is Nugent-Hopkins who has had the better offensive output through this month. SC has had an especially slow period at the start of the month. I have read that Nugent-Hopkins is a pretty good goalscorer too, so the goals should come soon. Adam Larsson has scored just 2 points in 11 games so far in the SEL. For a guy who is touted to be better than Hedman offensively, he needs to put up more points to give the two top-ranked forwards a run for their money.
- This year, the Saint John Sea Dogs are like the Portland Winterhawks from last season. They have some very good draft eligible prospects like Thomas Jurco and Nathan Beaulieu, however Johnathan Heuberdeu is the best of them all.
- Jeremie Blaine is injured and Kirill Kabanov is MIA. Seriously! He is not on the game sheets. He is not on their roster. I don't know what has happened to him.
- Brandon Gormley fell down the draft despite being a sure thing, due to his limited offensive potential. Bet some of those teams are second-guessing themselves now. I am specifically talking about the Rangers and the Stars. Many bloggers talked about Dylan McIlrath's potential offensive ability, but so far he has not been able to showcase it at all with just one assist all season! Finally, Jack Campbell is struggling in Windsor.
- The OHL no longer has the elite level prospects like they did in the last three seasons, but they still have a few very very good prospects. Gabriel Landeskog, Brandon Saad and Matt Puempel are three forwards in the top 15 as of right now. Puempel is singlehandedly carrying the offense for Peterborough. Landeskog is not your prototypical European player. He does everything. He hits, he snipes, he plays a power forward game, and has helped ease the loss of Skinner for Kitchener. Ryan Murphy is dynamite. He has had more than two games with four or more points and is currently 3rd in OHL scoring. Remember Ryan Ellis? Murphy is a couple of inches taller and way faster. He should be able to slide into top 8 in the draft. Ryan Strome who plays for Niagara is another draft eligible player who has come out of nowhere and currently sits atop the OHL scoring list. He is a complete surprise and I will add him for the next edition.
- Someone else who I want to write about is Ty Rattie. He has decent size, is a good skater and has simply exploded this season. He is 2nd in the WHL scoring race as of today and should he keep up the scoring, he too will make a good case for being in the top 5 when the draft comes along. David Musil is sturdy, solid and he reminds me a lot of Brandon Gormley from last season. He is decent offensively but very good in his own zone. At the start of the season, many thought he should be able to make a case for being the first defenseman selected from NA, but right now that should belong to Ryan Murphy.
- Shane McColgan has come back from an early season injury and picked up where he left off, leading Kelowna's offense. He is small in stature and if he was any bigger, he would have been higher on many early draft lists.
- Most Oiler prospects have had a decent or good October. The only standouts have been Curtis Hamilton and Martin Marincin. Tyler Pitlick, after a slow start, has come around. Although Brandon Davidson has posted decent offensive numbers, he's also -9 through 9 games. He needs to improve his play away from the puck and at EV. Then again, Regina is not a good team at all, and that might be hurting him too. Bruce has very good game reviews on Marincin, Pitlick and Bunz on Cult of Hockey. If you havent read it already, I urge you to do so. For prospect followers, you should follow the blogs of Kirk Luedeke and Brock Otten. Furthermore, the great work done by Guy Flaming and Dean Millard at their blog "Coming Down The Pipe" and of course the "The Pipeline Show" deserves a special mention.
- I am very underwhelmed with Scott Glennie. This being his 4th season in the WHL, I expected more from him. Then again, the season is young. Emerson Etem from Medicine Hat and Austin Watson in Petersborough are others who are having a disappointing start to their seasons. Watson was taken 18th overall and Etem was taken 29th in the 2010 NHL entry draft.
- Olivier Roy has had a very strong start to his QMJHL season. The only blip was the last game where he was pulled after allowing 5 goals on 31 shots. It must have been a terrible game by the Titans as the next goalie let in 3 goals on 12 shots.
- Let me sign off by mentioning a couple more notable draft eligible prospects. Myles Bell from Regina. Duncan Siemens from Saskatoon and Doug Hamilton from the Niagra Ice Dogs are three defensemen now ranked in the top 30 in most rankings.