As part of my preparation for the NHL Draft, I began keeping a running list of draft prospects that I had seen play. With NHL Central Scouting releasing their own mid-term rankings today, now is a good time to release my own mid-term rankings as a point of comparison.
I limit my list to players that I've seen in the past year, and that I felt comfortable ranking.(I cheated a bit this year and added a few players from the World Juniors and Junior A Challenge that I watched enough of to feel comfortable ranking). Since I'm bound by financial and temporal restrictions the multi-person NHL Central Scouting staff doesn't face, my list isn't going to be nearly as extensive, but it's a good to compare my opinions with those that appear on the Central Scouting list.
So here's the list as I have as of January 13th, 2014:
-To give a point of reference, I think the top six names on my list are all first round draft picks. The cut-off mark for the end of the seventh round is likely somewhere between 40-45.
- At the very top of the draft, this could be one of the harder years to make the first overall pick because nobody has really jumped out and taken command of the spot. I think Aaron Ekblad might be the best overall player right now, but I would be hesitant taking a defenseman, especially one that projects as more of a defensive defenseman with the first overall pick. Reinhart played well enough at the World Juniors, and I think there's a little more upside there. Central Scouting went with Sam Bennett at the top spot. I saw Bennett play last year and was pretty impressed with him, but didn't know enough about him this year to rank him. Central Scouting also had Leon Draisaitl above Ekblad and Reinhart. Draisaitl had a really ugly World Juniors with a bad German team, so it was tough to really gauge where he was it. It's hard to shine as a great playmaker when you don't have anyone to pass to.
-I should point out that I didn't include NTDP F Sonny Milano, since he was injured when the saw the NTDPs play. By all accounts, he's played his way into the first round of the draft though.
-One of the bigger disparities my list has with Central Scouting is on Anthony DeAngelo. They put him pretty solidly in the middle of the first round, while I have him in more the second or third round range. He's in a very good situation for himself in Sarnia where he can run the whole show by himself and put up big numbers, but I'm less sold on how he'll fit into a more complete team, and I'm not convinced he'll hold up when he faces stiffer competition on the defensive end.
-Ryan Collins appears to have made a pretty big jump up Central Scouting's list. He made a big move up my list too after his game in St. Cloud.
-Nikita Tryamkin and Lucas Wallmark were two players that have been passed over in the draft before, but were really impressive at the World Juniors. Tryamkin's draft status is obviously quite dependent on being able to lure him away from the KHL.
- Central Scouting is a lot higher on some of the depth forwards on the NTDP team than I am.
-There were plenty of guys I'm a lot more excited about than Central Scouting as well. I've had Travis Brown pretty high on my list all year while Central Scouting has ignored him. I've got Ryan Mantha and Chase Phelps way higher too. I haven't dropped Austin Poganski as much as Central Scouting did yet, but he's certainly trending in that direction.
-Central Scouting rankings pretty much reflected what I wrote about Plymouth/Owen Sound this past November. Matt Mistele dropped from first round territory to 2nd/3rd round. They really liked Connor Chatham--I thought I had Chatham higher than most people do, but CS has him way higher.They also added Josh Wesley and Damir Sharipzyanov, who I thought were worthy of picks. The only disagreement we seem to have is that I haven't given up on Brett Hargrave yet.
-A couple interesting names on the Central Scouting list getting some attention after being passed over before: Western Michigan recruit Mat Iacopelli impressed me with Belle Tire last year, and has really scored with Muskegon this year. Didn't feel comfortable putting him on my list, but he should be drafted somewhere. Brett Beauvais was on my list early last year when he played in the NAHL. This year, he's been great in the BCHL and is now starting to get the attention he deserves. Omaha commit Jake Randolph, formerly of Duluth East HS, doesn't really play a pro style game, but has scored at such an insane rate in the USHL that he's starting to draw some attention too. St. Lawrence D Gavin Bayreuther should have been picked last year by multiple accounts, and according to Central Scouting, that should be rectified this year.
-A couple players I would have drafted last year got listed this time around. Neal Pionk was listed at 91, so he's appears to be the best bet to get drafted this time around. Michigan's Evan Allen was also thrown on at the very end of this list.
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