ST PAUL, MN - JUNE 24: (L-R) General Manager Steve Tambellini of the Edmonton Oilers, first overall pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Edmonton Oilers and a member of the Edmonton Oilers organization stand on the podium for a photo during day one of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft at Xcel Energy Center on June 24, 2011 in St Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
In theory, the NHL entry draft is a very monotonous process. Every year the same 30 teams march to the podium and call out a name and lay claim to a player. Sometimes its the first time we hear about the said prospect, especially in the Oilers' case. No it's true, shining examples are Kristians Pelss and Frans Touhimaa. And sometimes its the only time we hear about a said prospect, as in Atte Engren (who? Trust me I really don't have a clue). However every year people are obsessed with the draft. Why? Maybe it is because of the mystery the draft brings each year. Trades and picks, empire makers and flops, all wrapped up in 18-year-old kids. Or maybe it because of the promise a lottery pick holds, especially for sad Oilers' fans like me. Or maybe it's just the next big thing after the Stanley Cup and zealous hockey fans need hockey. Whatever the reason maybe, fans spend countless hours reading, researching, watching the draft prospects; forming opinions, biases and favorites. And it is my pleasure, no my obsession, to help the cause!
I have included most of the top draft prospects from the CHL.This list looks short, but it towers above the first list of the 2010-11 season. So take heart, I will include more players as the season goes along and as they rise above their peers. I have not done any color coding as the list is fairly small, but I've indicated the year the said player was drafted or is eligible for draft. Lets look at the list after the jump.
*click to enlarge
- It seems like this season WHL and QMJHL have a weaker contingent of forwards than last season. As expected, Mikhail Grigorienko is off to a fast start - he's among the league leaders in scoring. Readers will remember that I like the ESP as a criterion for evaluation and his point distribution makes me happy. Martin Frk is injured and has yet to play a game. He is not a top 5 choice on any of the published draft rankings and this injury will not help his cause. If Nathan MacKinnon is the next Sidney Crosby, then Luca Ciampini is the next Marc-Antoine Pouliot. MacKinnon was involved in 6 of Ciampini's 8 points.
- Jeremie Blain has had a slow start to his campaign. However we know he is an impact defenseman at the CHL level. I must say I am surprised to see Brandon Gormley on this list. I expected him to be one of the last cuts on that Coyotes team.
- The OHL boasts a strong contingent of 2012 draft prospects starting with consensus #1 Nail Yakupov, who has started the season on fire. Its disappointing to see Alex Galchenyuk go down with an injury. He was my darkhorse candidate for the 1st overall pick in June, but missing significant time will do him no favors on these lists. Yes, I liked him for 1st overall ahead of Yakupov and Grigorienko. Other than Yakupov, the other standout 2012 prospect has been Codi Ceci, the defenseman from the Ottawa 67s. If he continues his scoring pace, soon he will be counted among the elite for this season. But he has some really strong competitiors in Ebert and Koekkoek.
- The WHL boasts some of the best defensemen in the upcoming draft and the group is headed by Ryan Murray who has been compared to Scott Neidermeyer. He is joined by Matt Dumba and impressive physical specimen with a good offensive game. Some scouting agencies have him ahead of Ryan Murray, but I am a more conservative person. However the forwards would have to be better if they are to retain thier status as top prospects.
- Holy cow! What a great start to the season for Martin Gernat, He is on fire! I know its only 4 games, but I am already thinking "what if he keeps it up?". Then I think about Marincin and temper my expectations. Marincin also has had a good start to this season, but the key is going to be consistency. David Musil has had an excellent start with 3 points in 5 games. All of it has come at even strength, so I would like to konw how much ice team is he getting on the power play. I have excluded Dylan McIlrath from the list as I was adding Jamie Oleksiak and did not want 2 of the same kind of player - big, tough, rugged defensemen. Plus I ragged on McIlrath a lot last season anyway, but I will add him back to the list if his production picks up.