On Feb. 5, I looked at my new selections for the top five prospects for the 2008 entry draft. Here are Nos. 6-10. My run down will continue next week.
6 – Nikita Filatov; LW, CSKA Moscow 2
Filatov is another player who impressed at the WJC and as a result, he remains in my top 10.
His offensive abilities were on display throughout the event and he became the go-to guy when the chips were down late in the game. The transfer agreement issue is still troubling and I’m hopeful some resolution will be reached before June.
His skills warrant a high pick, but if teams have him equal with a North American prospect, you’ll see him drop, just like Alexei Cherepanov in last year’s festivities.
Filatov has none of the off-ice issues that dogged Cherepanov, but teams have decided, for the most part, that unless the player is head and shoulders above the others eligible, they’ll avoid the trouble associated with Russian players.
7 – Luke Schenn; RD, Kelowna
One of the most pleasant surprises of the WJC was the play of Schenn throughout the event. He was a mild surprise to be included on Canada’s roster, but he proved to be a wise choice, as he parlayed that selection into an outstanding tournament and a jump into my top 10.
He is a prototypical WHL defenseman – he punishes the opponents at every turn, while having a very solid game across the board. Schenn will never lead the league in points, but he makes solid decisions and takes care of his own end well.
He will have a solid NHL career that may not feature many SportsCenter highlights, but will help a team win consistently.
8 – Colin Wilson; LC, Boston University
Anybody who has seen BU play this season cannot come away from the game and not be impressed with the play of Wilson.
Despite being five or six years younger than some opponents, his headiness and skills show through on a nightly basis. He took a month out of his season to play for his country in the Czech Republic and was stellar throughout the tournament.
I have heard some teams have him rated very low and I must confess this boggles my mind because his play all season has been against much older competition and even if he never becomes a big-time scorer, his defensive play, leadership and work ethic make it inevitable he’ll be a very good NHLer for a very long time.
9 – Michael Del Zotto; LD, Oshawa Generals
I have been extremely critical of Del Zotto all season because his defensive zone play has been terrible and his sole focus on offense will not translate well in the pros, but there cannot be much debate about his skills.
The emphasis on power plays and the need so many teams have for a QB make him a sure-fire prospect. Once he moves out of Oshawa and his playing time depends on attention to detail in his own end, he should become the stud defender many foresaw earlier.
In much the same way that Alex Pietrangelo will not warrant such a high pick until he’s 21, Del Zotto will take a few years to learn the defensive side of the game, but his offensive instincts can’t be ignored.
10 – Zach Boychuk; LC, Lethbridge Hurricanes
Boychuk ended up being the 13th forward during the WJC, but his play during those limited minutes and his team-first attitude were extremely well received and he has since been on fire.
Along with being held pointless only twice since his return, he was the best player at the CHL Prospects game and put on a clinic for those who weren’t sure he had an offensive side to his game. His size is a slight concern, but he has overachieved at every level and that should continue in the NHL.
Look for the 2009 NHL Draft to be heavy on CHL players at the top, again…
With the number of players being taken out of Canadian Junior A, there needs to be a development fee structure, in the model of the CHL structure, developed and implemented…
All the teams looking for a GM should look to Hockey Canada’s head, Bob Nicholson, because everything he touches turns to gold, or Dave Branch, the commissioner of the CHL, because he has turned junior hockey into a multi-million dollar venture.
Mark Seidel is the chief scout for North American Central Scouting, the commissioner of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League, and appears as a host on Leafs Lunch on AM 640 radio in Toronto.