This is Ty Rattie of the Portland Winterhawks. He leads his team in points and is fifth in the entire Western Hockey league. He has soft hands and oozes creativity. He is said to have a good understanding of the game and is often praised for his on-ice vision. Yet, I will be surprised if he ends up as a top ten selection in next June's draft. He has only average size and his skating is more shifty than dynamic. But the thing that will keep him away from the cream of the draft class is his lack of consistency. In the first quarter of the season he showed a lot of promise by scoring almost at will (he scored 34 points in his first 21 games). Now, that pace seemed unsustainable, so some drop in scoring was to be expected, but even having considered that, his 16 points over the next 19 games is still rather underwhelming. One of the reasons may be Nino Niederreiter's absence (it doesn't coincide exactly with the last 19 games, but since Nino left for the WJC's, Rattie's scoring hasn't really improved, perhaps because he's more of a target). If the first 20 games are regarded as a hot streak, then the next 20 should be held as a cold one. I am ready to give him the benefit of the doubt and say that his true scoring levels lie somewhere in between those two streaks, but I certainly wouldn't be prepared to put him in the upper echelon of this season's prospects.
After the jump, we'll take a look at the full CHL update. These are the year to date totals as of January 2011. I have updated the year to date totals for players like Strome, Hamilton and others who were added late. Furthermore, previous editions had many errors, which have also been corrected.
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.
- Not much activity in the QMJHL section. Sean Couturier and Thomas Jurco are playing in the World Junior Championship for Canada and Slovakia respectively and Brandon Gormley is injured. Jeremie Blain has been more than solid since his return from injury, collecting nine points in ten games. I don't understand why Blain was ranked very low among almost all scouting reports. He is big, gritty, has a good offensive element to his game, and his defensive play isn't heavily criticized. If he stays relatively healthy over his junior career, then that is another great pick for MacGregor and Co.
- Jonathan Huberdeau is not getting the love he deserves. He is second in the QMJHL in scoring and has been extremely consistent throughout the season. Of course, at 6'1'' and 165 lbs. he has a lot of filling out to do, but he is still just 17 and will not turn 18 until June 4th of this year, which makes him one of the youngest draft prospects for 2011! Did I mention that he has 38 EV points?
- One of the biggest surprises has been the play of Ryan Strome. Last season, he only scored 27 points and wasn't looked at as a major scorer for the Icedogs. This season, he eclipsed that 27-point barrier in 17 games and has now doubled it only halfway through the season! His consistent production (combined with his skating, hands and decent size) has vaulted him into consideration as a top 10 pick. Some mock drafts have him before Saad in their rankings. Speaking of Saad, he's been solid, but not really spectacular. I see him more as something close to a Dustin Penner type power-forward who uses his size to advantage but might not crash and bang as much as some observers would like. And sticking with power forwards, Seth Ambroz has overcome a slow start to his season with a very productive December.
- Doug Hamilton has done nothing to refute my belief that he will be the first Canadian D-man selected in the upcoming draft. He is a big, strong, physical defenseman with good offense to boot - he has essentially the same EV production as Ryan Murphy! The best part is that he is 17, and like Huberdeau, is one of the youngest prospects for this draft. If he is this good so young, it is enticing to think about his play two years down the line! That being said, Murphy has continued his offensive assault. He is the best offensive D-man for the upcoming draft.
- A pair of Petes - Matt Puempel and Austin Watson - have upped their play in December. Puempel was the CHL rookie of the year last year, but still did not excite a lot of scouts. Nonetheless, his production has been solid and he has had a steady development curve. Austin Watson had a very disappointing start to his season, and I even thought about dropping him from the updates. However, he has upped his play and has now become a P/G player. If he keeps up this level of production, he should be able to surpass his point totals from last season.
- Moving onto WHL, the most impressive prospect of late is Michael St. Croix. After a slow start to the season, he has set the league on fire. After just 18 points in his first 21 games, he has scored 31 in his last 17! Even if he continues on a pace of just over a point per game he should be a top 20 selection in the upcoming draft. Shane McColgan too had a very good December after a slow start to his season. Many people believe Duncan Siemens might be able to one-up Murphy and Hamilton to be the first Canadian defender selected in the draft. However, I am skeptical and my mind is pretty well made up. Scott Glennie is making Dallas (and me) look bad. I was in favor of drafting Glennie/ Kulikov for 10th overall before the draft in 2009 (of course, that assumed that MPS would be gone; with him available, the choice seemed pretty obvious). Thank God we got MPS!
- Ryan Martindale is having a very good season. Of course, a lot has to do with Tyler Toffoli. I think Johnathan Willis was rooting for the Oilers to draft him and for good reason. Toffoli, in fact, leads the entire CHL in goals scored. He is now a Los Angeles prospect and was drafted right in between Marincin and Hamilton at 47th overall. LA also went on to take Jordan Weal (another Willis favorite) in the 3rd round. Weal is 4th overall in WHL scoring, and has scored 51 points even though Jordan Eberle has moved on to the NHL and the rest of his squad is offensively deficient (only one other Pats' forward has at least 30 points).
- Other Oiler prospects are having very good seasons too. Brandon Davidson and Tyler Pitlick have been consistent point producers for their respective teams. A special mention needs to be made about the fact that most of Davidson's production has been at EV. Drew Czerwonka is having a nice season too. When he was drafted, I did not think he had any offense in him; maybe he is a late bloomer. Tyler Bunz is not on this list, but he is sixth in the WHL in Sv%. His play has been a pleasant surprise this season for Medicine Hat and the Oilers! Krisitans Pelss has also come around recently and has 9 points in the last 11 games.
- Something that I have been thinking about for a while and Johnathan Willis and Derek pointed out is that the 2009 draft wasn't really a great one for Stu and Co. MPS fell into our laps and I must give 'em props for Lander pick, but after that it was not really a good draft. Hesketh has only been talked about for the wrong reasons this season, and I haven't heard anything about Bigos. The Cameron Abney pick was terrible! If Oilers haven't signed him yet, I urge them to not do so! We do have Olivier Roy and Toni Rajala, but even if the cost was those two, I think we would have been better off with Kyle Brodziak!
- Some recommended read for prospect junkies: David Staples with his first impressions of Anton Lander; Bruce McCurdy on present and possible Oiler prospects in the WJC; Kirk Luedeke's three part interview with Kyle Woodlief; and of course, Coming Down the Pipe with Guy Flaming and Dean Millard.