Philippe Cornet has slipped a bit in the rankings since July 2009, when Copper & Blue had him pegged as the 14th best prospect in the system. In February, when we last did our updated rankings, he had fallen to 20th, and now he has slipped down to 23rd on the list.
After the jump, I’ll tell you why.
The reason Cornet’s dropping is pretty straightforward: his offensive numbers haven’t progressed the way that we had hoped they would.
Here’s a look at how Cornet’s offence has come along over his junior career. These are NHL Equivalency numbers, projected over an 82-game season:
|Season||NHLE G||NHLE A||NHLE PTS|
We see a pattern of nice steady growth from 2007-08 to Cornet’s draft year, and from his draft year to 2008-09. Had we seen a similar spike this past season, we’d be pushing Cornet up the charts as fast as we could, excited that the Oilers might have drafted a future NHL scorer with a late pick. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen; Cornet moved to a better QMJHL team but his offence stagnated.
It isn’t all bad news for Cornet though. He isn’t really a high-end shooter but he does take a lot of shots; 2009-10 was his second consecutive season around the 250-shot mark. Additionally, Cornet’s goal-scoring became less dependent on the power play this past season: last year 52% of his goal-scoring happened on the power play, whereas this year that total dropped to 39%. Finally, last season Cornet was minus-2 on a team that finished plus-44, while this season he was plus-6 on a team that went plus-51.
The scouting report on Cornet hasn’t changed significantly since his draft day. When it comes to listing his attributes, his on-ice vision remains at the top of the list, as does his willingness to go to the corners and do whatever sort of mucking and grinding work is necessary. Skating and size remain adequate but not exceptional, while the traditional prospect line ("must improve strength and defensive play") continues to ring true.
Like most fifth-round picks, two years out Cornet is a long shot to have a significant NHL career. From my perspective, a Liam Reddox-like transformation is what's needed: Cornet probably doesn’t have sufficient scoring skill to get by just on that, but he’s already shown a willingness to go to the ugly areas of the rink, he has some skill, and if he can add that strength and that defensive ability, he could turn into a valuable depth player.
In short: there are definitely things to like about Cornet, but at this stage of the game he’s still a project. That's why he's here on the list, but that's also why he's the first player to make everyone's individual top-25 list.