Lipon eyes 2013 draft

One of the storylines from the 2012 NHL draft was the number of players taken who had already been passed over once or twice. The trend was led by Tanner Pearson, taken by the Los Angeles Kings with the last pick of Round 1.

Pearson was snubbed twice before the Kings nabbed him. In 2010-11, the six-foot, 192-pounder scored only 15 goals and 42 points in 66 games – but in the season he finally was drafted, Pearson broke out with 37 goals and 91 points.

Passed-over players are very rarely taken in the first round of a draft and the fact it happened last season reflected on what was regarded as a thin talent pool. But this season, J.C. Lipon of the Kamloops Blazers is turning our heads. Not that we think he’ll go in Round 1, but he’s sure making a case for himself to be drafted this year after being passed over twice.

At six-foot, 181-pounds, Lipon is about the same size as Pearson and his 19 goals and 65 points last season are relatively close to Pearson’s pre-spike totals as well. And Lipon doesn’t have the benefit of playing with a top prospect as Pearson did with Mark Scheifele – the current Western League scoring leader is on a line with Canadiens third-rounder Tim Bozon and Avalanche seventh-rounder Colin Smith, though prolific WHL scorers in their own right.

It is highly unlikely Lipon rises as far as Pearson did, but if he keeps up his point totals, he’ll be worth another look.

Here are this week’s rankings, based off the weekly list distributed by the CHL.

Kamloops Blazers
Impressive 5-4 triumph over the defending WHL-champion Edmonton Oil Kings. In the final two minutes of regulation, over 36 seconds, Kamloops allowed a goal to fall behind, took a penalty and evened the score shorthanded. The Blazers later won in a shootout. Face Central Division low-riders Lethbridge and Kootenay on the road this week.
Quebec Remparts
Earned easy wins over Gatineau and Saint John. While Kamloops triumphed in its big test last week, it can’t be forgotten the Remparts lost theirs against the Armada the week before, hence their removal from top spot.
Halifax Mooseheads
Outscored its opponents 16-8 in three road wins and did it without International Scouting Services No. 10-ranked prospect Jonathan Drouin, who has been out with an upper body injury since Oct. 6. Nathan MacKinnon logged three goals and an assist on the week to sit eighth in league scoring.
Oshawa Generals
Two tough losses to Eastern rivals Belleville and Barrie, but rallied with 5-3 home win over underperforming London. Boone Jenner was caught in the Ontario League scoring race after managing only one point on the week. Saturday’s match in Owen Sound will have a major impact on next week’s rankings.
Blainville-Boisbriand Armada
The Armada have allowed more than two goals only once in October, a 5-3 loss to middling Victoriaville at home last week. The two-headed monster of Storm Phaneuf (2013 draft eligible) and Etienne Marcoux (undrafted) between the pipes has been dazzling. The two have split starting duties and, individually, both sit top-six in goals-against average and save percentage.
Owen Sound Attack
Only one game, a 5-4 win over the meek Petes. But do the St. Louis Blues have another stud goalie coming down the pipe? 2011 third-rounder Jordan Binnington sits fourth in GAA (2.23) and second in SP (.934) and his only loss so far came in a shootout.
Prince Albert Raiders
It was a terrible week for Prince Albert, who lost all three games, including a 9-0 drubbing to Moose Jaw in its only road game. The power play went 0-for-10 on the week. Draft eligible Josh Morrissey, despite a pointless, minus-3 week, continues to earn rave reviews with nine points and an even rating in 11 games.
Portland Winterhawks
Draft eligible Nicolas Petan was ranked No. 93 by ISS heading into the season, but the 5-foot-9, 166-pounder has found chemistry with St. Louis second-rounder Ty Rattie and is tied for ninth in league scoring with five goals, 15 points in 11 games.
Barrie Colts
Barrie passed its first big test, coming back from a 2-0 deficit to topple Oshawa 4-3 in a shootout. The Colts haven’t lost since Sept. 23 in Mississauga. Detroit 2012 fourth-rounder Andreas Athanasiou is turning it on, gathering a hat trick against Saginaw and totaling five points on the week (12 on the year) to sit one off Mark Scheifele’s team pace.
Rouyn-Noranda Huskies
J.C. Lipon led us off and Jean-Sebastien Dea will play us out. Another undrafted player from 2012, Dea already has three hat tricks on the season and added a goal and four points to his league-leading totals last week. The six-foot, 160-pounder is already two goals off his total of 17 from all of last season.
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