Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sunday Top 10 - Early Season Media Top 10

It's time for the first edition of our media/scouting agency top 10 for 2012.

Helping out for the early season list are Dominic Tiano (2012 OHL Draft Eligible Players), Future Considerations Chief Scout Dan Stewart and contributor Sean Lafortune, Corey Pronman (Hockey Prospectus), Scott Campbell (The Scouting Report), and Nathan Fournier (The World of Junior Hockey). I also incorporated my list into the discussion.

10. Matt Finn - Guelph Storm
Received Votes From: 4 out of 7
Highest Placement/Lowest Placement: 5 (twice)/Outside of the Top 10 (thrice)
Comments: Finn still seems to be flying under the radar, despite his solid start to the OHL season. One contributor loves the maturation of his offensive game this year. "Already known for his defensive work from his rookie season, he has found the offensive side of his game this year. He's calm under pressure in his own zone never seeming to panic. He gets quality power play time, has an accurate shot and a great passer." However one contributor says he needs to prove that his offensive performance thus far isn't just a hot start. "He has helped the upstart Storm to a far better record than most predicted they would have coming in. The real trick is sustaining that nice start through the Christmas break which at that point he will start to prove to scouts that this is not just a hot start where he is playing above his head." Another contributor agrees. "He and Andrey Pedan have been a HUGE reason as to why the Guelph Storm are playing way better than people thought they would. How he's not getting a ton of credit for that from the scouting community, I don't know."

9. Andreas Athanasiou - London Knights
Received Votes From: 4 out of 7
Highest Placement/Lowest Placement: 4 (once)/Outside of the Top 10 (thrice)
Comments: One contributor said it best. "I just love the skating and puck skills as both are high-end traits, but he does need some work around the edges." No question Athanasiou has gotten off to a slow start and has the potential for more. The question is why hasn't he performed better this year? "I've been unimpressed by the lack of development in his overall game," says one contributor. "He's still a one trick pony to some extent and he'll need to figure out how to adapt to get the most out of his innate offensive abilities." But one contributor says "you just have to be enticed by the type of ceiling he has several years down the road." Another used the word "untapped potential." Now it's just a matter of whether he can start tapping.

8. Gianluca Curcuruto - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Received Votes From: 5 out of 7
Highest Placement/Lowest Placement: 7 (once)/Outside of the Top 10 (twice)
Comments: The Hounds are playing well and their defense has been a big part of that. But Curcuruto's offensive game hasn't really played a large part of that. Expected to really take that next step this year, he's on pace for well under what he did offensively as a rookie last year. One contributor isn't worried. "Curcuruto is a real smart, do-it-all type of defender that could see his name really rising up draft lists fast if he starts producing more offense on a consistent basis. He is a real competitor, and the rest of his game is pretty strong already as he improved his mobility and consistency from last season." Another contributor says "he's getting better every time I see him." One contributor praises his defensive game. "He's a beast in his own zone and quite possibly the best of the bunch listed here defensively." Definitely high praise. But there is one contributor who is slightly concerned with his lack of offensive production. "I'm starting to wonder about his high end potential. He's a rock solid defender, but there are so many quality defenders available this year. He's starting to look more like a second rounder than a first for me."

7. Brendan Gaunce - Belleville Bulls
Received Votes From: 7 out of 7
Highest Placement/Lowest Placement: 2 (once)/ 9 (twice)
Comments: Gaunce is the type of guy where what you see is what you get. "Quite possibly the best power forward available from the OHL in 2012. Has made improvements where he's needed to, although I think he could work on his skating a little more. Plays a solid two way game and his defensive game is as close to NHL ready as they come," says one contributor. Another describes him as "a potential beast at the next level. I think he's got more potential than people are giving him credit for." But not everyone is convinced. "Everything that I have seen suggests that he will be a strong NHL player, but I may not be as high on him as others are. I’m still concerned about his consistency and his ability to always bring his best level of play, but the potential is there." Another contributor agrees. "Gaunce is one of those prospects that you either really like him or you have your doubts about his projected role at the next level. I tend to lean to the later as he does have the size, and willingness to be involved but I am just not sure that he has high end offensive potential or that his skating will not be a detriment at the next level. Right now he looks like a potential solid third liner to me, if he improves those feet." I'll end with a strong statement made by another contributor. "What is it about draft eligible players who are already strong two way players? We always hear the same crap about them and their lack of offensive potential. Heck, it happened with Landeskog last year. At the end of the day, we've got a second year player leading his surprisingly good team in scoring...and we're talking about his lack of potential? Please."

6. Nick Ebert - Windsor Spitfires
Received Votes From: 7 out of 7
Highest Placement/Lowest Placement: 3 (once)/ 8 (once)
Comments: Pretty good timing on our part to rank Ebert 6th among OHL players, considering NHL Central Scouting doesn't believe he's part of the top 25...let alone knocking on the door of the top 5. One contributor sums it up well. "It’s been a disappointing season so far for Ebert who is struggling with the loss of Ryan Ellis, among others. Ebert hasn’t really played well defensively, and his offensive game has suffered as well. He’s still a very talented player but he needs to simplify his game and avoid trying to do to much. There’s a lot of hockey left, and if he can focus on making better decisions with the puck and playing within his means, he’ll see a lot more progress in his play." However one contributor is still a believer. "I know a lot of people have been frustrated by Ebert's progression this season, but to be honest I view his as another Sean Couturier. A player who has been in the spotlight for 3-4 years who we have had the opportunity to nitpick. His intelligence with and without the puck, his puck skills and his projectable tools make him one of the best defenceman in the draft." Another somewhat agrees. "Hes not off to the season he wanted and thats why I have him where I do. With that said, I think this is another case of a kid being in the spotlight and under the mircoscope for two full years now onto his third year."

5. Olli Maatta - London Knights
Received Votes From: 7 out of 7
Highest Placement/Lowest Placement: 3 (once)/ 8 (once)
Comments: Here's a guy who has definitely lived up to the hype. "He's got way more offensive talent than the numbers suggest right now. He's the real deal at both ends of the ice," says a contributor. Another applauds his hockey sense. "I really like how advanced his mental game is and how well he controls possession from his end outward." And while many of the contributors talk about his high end skating ability and puck rushing poise, one contributor feels the smoothness of his skating is masking a lack of high end speed. "The more I see him the more I like the quiet Finn and his understated game. He is a smooth, yet slow footed skater that needs to pick up the pace skating wise before he can be considered one of the top defenders in 2012." A few other contributors use the phrases "safe" and "not sure about his high end potential." But one contributor loves him and thinks people are underrating his offensive ability. "Maatta has become an early favorite of mine. Coming into the season, We all knew of his high end intelligence and his strong positional play. What we wondered about was his offensive abilities. In early viewings, Maatta has eased a lot of those concerns. He shows strong vision with the puck and makes strong, crisp outlet passes. He skates well both with and without the puck. He always seems to be in the right place at the right time."

4. Slater Koekkoek - Peterborough Petes
Received Votes From: 7 out of 7
Highest Placement/Lowest Placement: 3 (once)/ 8 (twice)
Comments: As many know by now, Koekkoek oozes potential. "Koekkoek is a player who brings a high upside. He can do whatever you want. He can play a strong defensive game, an elite puck moving game or a shut down style. He is at his best with his head up, skating the puck out of his end and distributing it on the rush. Of all the players that I have seen this year, he may have the highest ceiling / potential level," says one contributor. But it's all about consistency. If he were to put it all together by the end of the year, he could go very high. "Has shown the potential at times that he could be the best defenseman taken in the draft and other times you'd think he was a late rounder. But no question the talent is there. The question really is can he put it all together consistently? Going to go with a yes here and say potential wins out." Another contributor agrees. "You watch a Peterborough game and Slater really jumps right out at you as a skilled two-way defender with impressive upside. His potential is that of a top pairing guy at the next level, however, he slips a little because much of his game is still a work in progress. Consistency in his play in both zones will go a long ways in improving his draft stock." One contributor makes an interesting comparison. "Zach Bogosian was the 4th pick in 2008, and in my opinion, Slater Koekkoek is a better player. He played 30 minutes a night at 16, and it looks like he’s pushing 35 a night at 17. I think Koekkoek is a pretty complete package who is only going to get better as he continues to fill out his frame. The ceiling is very high with this player."

3. Cody Ceci - Ottawa 67's
Received Votes From: 7 out of 7
Highest Placement/Lowest Placement: 2 (thrice)/ 6 (once)
Comments: Ceci definitely received some high praise from our contributors. "In my opinion, without question the best all around defenseman available from the OHL at this point. He is playing with confidence in the offensive zone and has put up points at a better pace than I expected without hurting his defensive game," says one contributor. Another contributor loves the fact that he just continues to get better. "Ceci is a player who's progression year over year continues to impress. He always has been strong in his own end both positionally and physically, however we always wondered about his offensive ability and mobility. When I originally saw him at his years NHL Prospect Combine, he looked to really have improved on both of those issues. His footwork and lateral movement looked quite improved, while he was much more aggressive and assertive with the puck. His progression this year has been excellent, and easily is the highest riser of the group." But he's not without some bruises. One contributor wonders about his ability to use his size in the defensive end. "The only thing now holding him back in the eyes of scouts is his lack of consistency with his physical play despite his impressive stature. But he has the size, the mobility and the on-ice awareness to be a top-four NHL defender before too long."

2. Alex Galchenyuk - Sarnia Sting
Received Votes From: 7 out 7
Highest Placement/Lowest Placement: 2 (thrice)/ 4 (twice)
Comments: I'm sure the comments here will be pretty predictable and pretty much everyone said the same thing about him. It's a case of weighing his serious knee injury and lost year of development, against his insane offensive talent level. Nearly every contributor said "it was really hard to place him." As another contributor said, "it will really depend on the medical reports teams and scouts get closer to the draft." A lot of contributors also point to his poor performance at the Ivan Hlinka tournament this summer. "Based on pure talent and offensive ability, it could be argued that he is the second best player in this draft, and should be a top five draft selection. However, given his knee injury and his iffy performance at the Ivan Hlinka earlier this year, projections will be all over the board on him. That said, I'd be shocked if he fell out of the top 10." But scouts do have a long memory as another contributor says. "If NHL scouts have on thing it is a long memory for exquisite talent and the thoughts of Alex dashing up and down the ice making plays and using his frame and hands to beat d-men should be enough to keep him in the top five overall of this impressive draft class." In the end, it's all about his projection at the next level, injury or no injury, as one contributor says. "I see a lot of Evgeni Malkin in Galchenyuk, and while he’s going to miss most (or all) of the season, I would still take him in the Top 5 right now. Galchenyuk has a strong presence on the ice and has that deceptive ability that Malkin has to drift in and out of traffic. Has a great shot, terrific offensive instincts, and a ton of potential moving forward even with the ACL injury."

1. Nail Yakupov - Sarnia Sting
Received Votes From: 7 out of 7
Highest Placement: 1 (seven times)
Comments: Come on, we've all heard it by now. This dude can play the game and he has the potential to be right there with some of the best players the OHL has had to offer in recent years (Stamkos, Tavares, Hall, Seguin, Kane, etc). So instead of boring you with the same ol' comments. I did something interesting. I took all the comments I got about Yakupov and put them into WORDLE (a very cool program if you've never used it) to give us a collage highlighting the most consistent words used to describe the Sarnia Sting rocket.

Honorable Mention:
Jarrod Maidens (two votes)
Matia Marcantuoni (two votes)
Tom Wilson (one vote)
Dylan Blujus (one vote)
Matthew Murray (one vote)
Michael Clarke (one vote)

Thanks to all those that contributed!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i cant believe athanasiou was rated higher than maidens.