The 2010 draft was probably one of the most important drafts in the history of the Edmonton Oilers. It marked a new low for the organization which boasts a rich history and spends a lot of time celebrating it. But that draft gave us clarity and Taylor hall, both of which are supposed to take the organization out of the gutter which Lowebellini have skillfully dumped us in. While Taylor Hall is working hard and exceeding expectation, clarity is only taking us to another lottery finish. Not unlike 2010, the 2011 draft is a very important one for the organization as well.
If there is one person who is most informed in the business of hockey, it is TSN's Bob McKenzie. His end of the year prospect list is one of the most awaited and informative lists available to a hockey fan. His rankings are based on what the actual NHL scouts are saying, which makes his rankings all the more informative. For those who haven't read it yet, the list is here. It is an interesting list. Almost every player in the top 6 fills a need in the organization. Sean Couturier and Ryan Strome are the center with size and defensive acumen. Larsson and Hamilton are the potential top pairing D men with size. Landeskog is the gritty winger with enough skill to play in the top 6. It seems that we can do no wrong!
After the jump, we'll take a look at the full CHL update. These are the year to date totals as of January 18th 2011. The situational scoring between the updates will be posted as fan posts for reference purposes. I have added Mark Mcneill of Prince Albert Raiders and Zach Phillips of Saint John Sea Dogs to the list. If you would like to see the situational scoring of any more prospects on a regular basis please let me know in the comments section.
As usual, ZPG is Zero point games. Players in black are draft prospects for the upcoming draft. Players in copper are Oiler prospects. Players in red are first round draft picks from the previous draft and those in blue were drafted in 2009.
- Since coming back from the World Junior Championships, Sean Couturier has been on fire in the Q, scoring 10 points in 5 games, most at EV. If he continues such an offensive surge, he should be back to being number 1 in the draft rankings in no time. Him slipping past Ryan Nugent Hopkins is surprising for me. Sean Couturier made the WJC, while RNH did not. While SC had an average showing offensively, RNH did not really dominate the WHL. SC is also bigger and has more offense than RNH. Many people claim RNH to be like Seguin, with him playing on a lesser team and being younger as reasons for RNH to be ranked this high. Seguin had over 60 ES points last season and also scored 48 goals! RNH has been average at best at EV and his goal scoring is dismal. Maybe its one of those things which can't be measured in stats.
- One thing that pleases me is that Johnathan Huberdeau is ranked in the top 10. I have been rallying for his inclusion among the best for a while and he has deserved to be on that list. Saint John have a very strong team with Nathan Beaulieau, Zach Phillips and Thomas Jurco as fellow 2011 eligible prospects. At the start of the season Jurco was ranked the highest among them, but other with some solid play have established themselves as better prospective picks in the eyes of the scouts.
- Doug Hamilton, another favorite of mine, has cracked the top 5 rankings. He has been consistently good for the Icedogs and his offense has increased over the period of time. While he scored 7 points in 6 games, Ryan Murphy had only one point during the same period. Since the injury to Gabriel Landeskog, the Kitchener Rangers have slumped and Ryan Murphy too is finding a hard time scoring. Brandon Saad, Vincent Trochek and Alexander Khokhlachev have slowed down as well. Alexander Khokhlachev has had an inconsistent December and January. He is ultra-talented and his scoring should come back soon. When it comes to Brandon Saad, nothing particularly stands out other than his size. But he has been consistently good and is a top penalty killer on the team. He is a complete package, but I am doubtful as to how much scoring will translate in the NHL.
- The Oiler prospects had a pretty good fortnight. Martin Marincin is back to his scoring ways in the W. He has scored 7 points in his last 6 games. I cant recall the last time, the Oilers had such a point producing D man in CHL. Marincin is huge and has clearly showed his ability to play in a physical league as the Whl. If all that play translates to the AHL next season, I will be really excited about him. Tyler Pitlick seems to be doing well in his first WHL season. Derek pointed out recently that he had finally gotten his scoring touch in the W. He now has 47 points, 31 of which have come on ES. Martindale has continued his exceptional season as have Curtis Hamilton and Jeremie Blain. Drew Czerwonka too has had a pretty good season. He has somehow found a scoring touch which has continued and progressed along the season. Cameron Abney doubled his point totals in the last 2 weeks which should be applauded as that must be some sort of a career high for him Only prospect to have a rough time was Brandon Davidson who only scored one point.
- Edmonton Oil Kings are probably the only team in the city to have a shot at the playoffs. They have been playing well and I will like to quote Bruce McCurdy:
I am nonetheless catching the Oil Kings each time, and the club is starting to grow on me. It’s great that there are two "players of interest" for Oiler fans right here on the home team that I can see developing before my eyes. Pelss has come a long way already, and in more ways than one. While "love" might be a bit strong, I do "really like" the kid’s game and I’m really pulling for him. And over time you can’t help but start to notice guys like Mark Pysyk, Dylan Wruck, Michael St. Croix, Keegan Lowe, and here’s a name to watch, Griffin Reinhart. Better yet, don’t watch the name, get out to a game(s) and watch the player!
The Oil Kings aren't selling enough tickets. They should, because they are good and a very solid team. I have watched them live twice now and have been very entertained. Get on the LRT people and watch some fun hockey for cheap! Trust me Griffin Rienhart alone is worth the price of admission.