NHL Central Scouting released their mid-term rankings today, and as with any list like this, it's always fun to compare my amateur, personal opinion with the opinions of the pros.
As usual, most of the list looks pretty good to my eyes, but there are always going to be differences of opinion. In reading through the list, I picked out a few guys that struck me as either ranked too high or too low.
Zach Werenski(6th NA skaters)-Werenski and Hanifin have both an almost complete 180 in my opinions of them this past year. Last year, I thought Hanifin was a bit overrated because he lacked defensive responsibility and Werenski was a bit underrated because he wasn't as flashy offensively. This year, Hanifin has become much more reliable defensively, though I've heard a few complaints(which are absolutely silly) that he didn't do enough offensively at the WJCs. Werenski, meanwhile, has started to put up some nice offensive numbers, but has been a disappointment defensively this year. The potential is still there for him to develop into a complete player, but there has been some troubling signs this year.
Timo Meier(12th NA skaters)- I hesitate to put him on this list because I don't necessarily hate the ranking. Conventional wisdom had Meier in the 2nd round range, but he was absolutely fantastic at the World Juniors, and reportedly played very well with Halifax after returning from the tournament. I had him in the late first round area on my list after really liking him at the World Juniors. Mid-first round feels like going a little overboard based on a really strong tournament. If he keeps playing like he has been though, that ranking won't look too high by the end of the year.
Brendan Warren(34th NA skaters)-If we're ranking who the best players are right now, I wouldn't have much disagreement. But if we're projecting long-term potential, Warren is a nice skater and works hard, but I just don't see much of a scorer there. You could find a player like that anywhere in the draft. I'd rather take a chance on finding someone that can create offense at that stage in the draft.
Jack Sadek(83th NA skaters)- I don't hate this ranking. There's a group of about four or five defensemen playing MN HS hockey that are pretty interchangeable based on personal preference. Sadek ended up highest in the CSB's eyes. I can see why they'd make that argument, but I don't know if I buy it.
Jake Jaremko(106th NA skaters)-There's no doubt that Jaremko has torn up the Minnesota high school ranks this season, and looked impressive doing it. This just seems a little high for a kid that age-wise a 13th grader and tearing up weaker competition. There's just a lot of risk in picking someone like that that early.
Denis Godla(4th ITL goalies)-Godla was the darling of the World Juniors, leading Slovakia to an improbable bronze medal. It was a great two weeks and a nice story, but the long-term prospects of an older 5'11" goalie aren't great.
Pavel Zacha(8th NA skaters)-Zacha is without a doubt a top-five talent, but I also totally understand why he's not in the top five right now. Having only seen him a few times, it's easy to love his combination of size and natural skill. But for those that watch him on a more regular basis, his inconsistency must be maddening and troublesome. I still think he's worth the gamble, but I'm sure many wouldn't feel the same way.
Jeremy Bracco(36th NA skaters)-I've made this argument many times before so I won't retread, but give me a guy that can put up points like Bracco any day and then I'll worry about the rest.
Erik Foley(57th NA skaters)-I'm a big fan of Foley's game. He's not huge, but plays bigger than his size and is always making things happen out on the ice.
Troy Terry(87th NA skaters)- Terry hasn't torn it up offensively with the NTDP, mostly playing a lower line role. But I like his offensive upside. Once he fills out a little bit, he could be capable of playing a nice offensive role for somebody down the road.
Casey Fitzgerald(102nd NA skaters)- Fitzgerald hasn't been super-impressive in the games I've seen him this year, but his footwork is exceptional and despite being a smaller defenseman, he's got the tools to be a high-possession player at the pro level.
Lukas Jaycox(132nd NA skaters)-Jaycox has made a big improvement in the last year, but has had his high school season slowed due to injury. He took a puck off the jaw, breaking it, and while getting x-rayed, also discovered he was playing with a broken wrist. He's a bit of an unknown right now, but might have as much upside as anybody in the Minnesota HS ranks this year.
Cameron Hughes(183rd NA skater)-Like every freshman on Wisconsin's team, he's been forced into a role above his current abilities this year, and has struggled a bit in the process. But he's holding his own at a very tough level. He's an excellent skater, and while some other areas of his game still need to round out, he's intriguing enough that he should be higher on the list.
Frederik Tiffels(unranked)-Central Scouting doesn't usually focus as much on players that have been passed over as NHL teams do. But Tiffels had an excellent World Juniors for Team Germany and has played well at Western Michigan this year. He should definitely be in the running to be selected in next summer's draft.
Jonas Siegenthaler(12th ITL skaters)-I'm a big fan of Siegenthaler, putting him in my first round all year. I thought he played pretty well at the World Juniors considering he's a '97. A strong performance at the World U18s later in the year could really move him up draft boards like Swiss teammate Kevin Fiala last year.
Vladislav Gavrikov(26th ITL skaters)-Gavrikov was an absolute horse on the Russian blue line at the World Juniors. He's an older prospect, but he'll definitely get taken fairly early in the draft this year.