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NHL Central Scouting Releases Preliminary Jr. A League Rankings

NHL Central Scouting ranks the top prospects in the four North American Junior A leagues.

JT Compher(left) and Hudson Fasching(right) were first and third respectively on Central Scouting's USHL list.
JT Compher(left) and Hudson Fasching(right) were first and third respectively on Central Scouting's USHL list.
Bruce Bennett

NHL Central Scouting released a preliminary set of draft rankings for players playing Junior A hockey this year, ranking their top prospects within their respective leagues.

Of the most interest to college hockey fans is the USHL rankings. Here's how they have them ranked:

1 JT Compher
2 Ian McCoshen
3 Hudson Fasching
4 Steven Santini
5 Keaton Thompson
6 Michael Downing
7 Michael McCarron
8 Luke Johnson
9 Gustav Olofsson
10 Ross Olsson
11 Blake Heinrich
12 Tyler Motte
13 Jake Guentzel
14 Sean Malone
15 Trevor Moore
16 Brendan Harms
17 Connor Clifton
18 Taylor Cammarata
19 Evan Allen
20 Will Butcher
21 Garrett Gamez
22 Thomas Ebbing
23 Zack Pittman
24 Jacob Montgomery
25 Frederik Tiffels
LV John Hayden

A few of my quick thoughts:

The top six players on this list seem to be in the running for a first round draft pick, making this a pretty strong year for the US.

A slow start offensively hasn't dropped Lincoln's Luke Johnson and Ross Olsson that much yet, though I suspect they'll drop way lower if they don't start putting up more points.

Central Scouting remains relatively down on Taylor Cammarata. Just like when they only rated him a 'C' prospect, Central Scouting is basically like one team's opinion out of the 31, and opinions on Cammarata are going to be all over the board.

Overall, they have things pretty close to how I would have them. They added Zack Pittman after not having them on their first preliminary list. They're a little more down on Frederik Tiffels than I am. Tiffels is having a weird year, scoring a very nice 12 assists in 17 games, but not having any goals. Also in Muskegon, Michael Brodzinski probably deserves a spot on this list.

Elsewhere, it's very limited viewing--and on television, no less--but I got a little opportunity to see Hunter Shinkaruk and Morgan Klimchuk on NHL Network this past week and was extremely impressed with both. Maybe this is obvious given the general opinion out there but they're in the discussion with the top two guys on the USHL list, and clearly ahead of everyone else on the USHL list.

Like a North Dakota recruit, I'm headed to the OHL later this week to check out Plymouth and Kingston, so I should have more of an opinion on a couple players on that list next week.