Today Bob McKenzie released his draft rankings based on a survey of 10 hockey scouts. Here is a summary of the top ranked picks, as well as my quick take on the players as well.
#1 – Adam Larsson
What the scouts say: The scouts are throwing out the “next Lidstrom” phrase again, in regards to another player – this time Adam Larsson. He is a quick skater (although acceleration apparently is the knock on him), and can quarterback a powerplay. Too boot, he has great size and plays with a lot of poise.
One-liner: All-around, highly-skilled defensemen.
Should we pick him if we had pick #1?: Hell, effin’ yes. This team definitely could use a defenseman of his caliber. It could take a while before he fits in, however, one could hope that he jumps right into the game a la Drew Doughty. At any rate, he should give a very good argument for selecting him if the Oilers should be so lucky to have him available at when their pick comes.
#2 – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
What the scouts say: Great offensive upside and high hockey IQ. He is apparently the most offensive prospect of the 2011 draft class, however his small frame is a big issue that might make teams think twice.
One-liner: Highly offensive, small center (possibly future winger).
Should we pick him if we had pick #1?: If we’re picking #1 overall, I say no. Unless he is a rather large leap ahead of the rest of the draft class in scouts eyes. I know we have passed up on small skill players for the talentless coke machines and gotten burned. However, much of our core group is smaller. So to pick up a slender center to complement a player like Eberle or Omark might not be a good idea. There is buzz that this guy might have to become a winger to succeed at the NHL level as well too, so I don’t think we’re looking at the guy to fill our #1C spot in the future with Nugent-Hopkins.
#3 – Sean Couturier
What the scouts say: The obvious – big. He’s also quite skilled and can play a solid two-way game. Couturier was the #1 prospect for most scouts, at the start of the season. However, Couturier has seen a steady decline since the 2011 World Junior Hockey Championships in Buffalo. I think this is where you have to caution against “saw him good/bad”. Before that, scouts raved about Couturier’s strong ability not only with the puck, as a playmaker, but without it. He’s strong in the corners and plays a solid defensive game.
One-liner: Big, strong playmaker who can take care of his own zone.
Should we pick him if we had pick #1?: Absolutely, I think he should be one of the top considerations by the Oilers. We’ve been crying for a big #1 center. We’ve been crying for a center who can battle for the puck. We’ve been crying for a center who can play solid defensively. Here we have it all wrapped up in one package.
#4 – Gabriel Landeskog
What the scouts say: Scouts are comparing him to Mike Richards. They say he can score, he can fight, he can check, and he can play defensively. He brings the most complete game of the entire draft class. One thing to always worry about with players like that, is does he bring a strong game in all those senses, or is he a jack-of-all-trades, master of none? The biggest knock on him is that he isn’t a “natural goal scorer”. But 25 goals in 32 games for Kitchener so far this year is nothing to scoff at.
One-liner: The complete package.
Should we pick him if we had pick #1?: This is a tough call. Do we need another winger? I’d say if he becomes what scouts think is the best player in the draft, then go for it. That would mean that we’re likely moving a big name player like Penner or Hemsky to open the door for him though, whenever he’s ready. And when we move one of those big players, we should be looking for that elusive, big, #1 center. Really though, even though we need another winger like we need a hole in the head, I would still pick him up if the Richards comparisons are accurate though.
The Rest of the Best
Missed this in the original post.. here are the rest of the top 10…
#5 – Dougie Hamilton (Niagara Ice Dogs – defenseman with good size/mobility)
#6 – Ryan Strome (Niagara Ice Dogs – offensive center)
#7 – Ryan Murphy (Kichener Rangers – offensive defenseman)
#8 – Brandon Saad (Saginaw Spirit – big left winger)
#9 – Jonathan Huberdeau (Saint John Sea Dogs – offensive center)
#10 – Tyler Biggs (U.S. Under-18 National Development Team – power forward right winger)