For my first blog, I will lay out my top 20 prospects for the 2008 NHL entry draft to be held in Ottawa.
No. 1: Drew Doughty; D, Guelph Storm
Although there has been much talk about Steve Stamkos being the best prospect for the draft, in my opinion, the opportunity to secure a franchise defenseman takes precedence over a franchise center because of the scarcity of the position.
Doughty possesses all of the tools you want in a franchise blueliner, from being a great skater with tremendous offensive skills to the ability to shut down the other team’s top players.
Furthermore, he can quarterback your power play and has tremendous leadership qualities that will make him a huge hit in whatever city gets him in June.
No. 2: Alex Pietrangelo; D, Niagara IceDogs
Pietrangelo has a lot of the skills Doughty has, but adds a frame that will top out at 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds.
His game isn’t as refined as Doughty’s just yet, but by the end of the season I wouldn’t be surprised to see him become the first overall selection because he continues to get better every night at both ends of the ice.
His upside is limitless and although Doughty holds the top spot currently, it will be an epic battle all year for the coveted No. 1 position.
No. 3: Steven Stamkos; C, Sarnia Sting
Stamkos has been a phenom since he was 12 years old, but despite those lofty expectations he does things on a nightly basis that amaze the most seasoned scouts.
He is an offensive machine that will produce goals at the NHL level almost immediately and will maintain an offensive output that will be remarkable.
His vision, ability to distribute the puck and finish opportunities is unparalleled in this draft and is on par with last year’s top pick, Patrick Kane.
No. 4: Zac Bogosian; D, Peterborough
Bogosian is an American defenseman playing in the hockey factory known as the Peterborough Petes and his development has been astounding.
Although not as offensive as the first two defenseman listed, his physical play and ability to punish opponents is remarkable and he still contributes on the offensive end.
His physical skills are improving every day and although he’ll never be as flashy as Pietrangelo or Doughty, his long and decorated NHL career will make his team very happy.
No. 5: Nikita Filatov; RW, CSKA Moscow
Filatov showed his vast array of skills at the recent Junior A Challenge in Trail, B.C., and left those in attendance quite impressed.
He combines lightning quickness with tremendous vision and a creativity that has been lacking in the Russians for a while.
Although he isn’t the biggest kid in the world (5-foot-11, 170 pounds), he also showed a willingness to engage his opponents physically that reminds me a little of Ilya Kovalchuk in his draft year.
He certainly has the skills and tools to become a star in the NHL and if he continues to show a nasty disposition, that will only help.
No. 6: Kyle Beach; LW, Everett Silvertips
Much has been written about Beach and his childish antics at times, but the fact remains he is an incredible talent who will grow up and become a star in the NHL.
His offensive instincts are very good and his willingness to battle and compete is legendary. If I had to pick someone to get into a foxhole with, Beach would be that guy because I think he can be a ferocious competitor and as long as he directs it in the appropriate way, he will be a challenge to play against on a nightly basis.
No. 7: Colten Teubert; D, Regina Pats
The steadiest defenseman from the west in this year’s draft is the big stud playing in Regina. Teubert combines good size and strength with a very mature game that features tremendous poise and patience, while being physical enough to intimidate opponents.
He was recently handed a two-game suspension for simply being bigger and stronger than his opponent on a hit that even the league claimed was clean, but an injury resulted.
It may take a while for him to become a solid contributor in the NHL, but he certainly has the framework for a solid career.
No. 8: Kiril Petrov; LW; Ak Bars Kazan
Petrov was another competitor at the World Junior A Challenge and we were impressed with his overall skill set combined with a long, lean frame.
Our guys in Russia tell us he has a tendency for taking shifts and/or nights off, but if an NHL team can get him to bring it every night, he has a chance to become the best player in the draft.
He distributes the puck very well and has that scorer’s sense to get into the seams and finish quickly. He has a great shot that he gets off fast and although it may come down to motivation with him, when he matures he could be a steal.
No. 9: Michael Del Zotto; D, Oshawa Generals
Heading into the season, Del Zotto was considered on a level with Doughty and Pietrangelo. Although he has had an awful start to the season, my job is to evaluate the prospect long term and I think his struggles have had as much to do with playing in Oshawa as they have with him.
He is an amazing offensive contributor who understands the concept of where and when to jump into the rush and is wise beyond his years when it comes to quarterbacking a power play.
His defensive zone coverage this year has, at times, left me shaking my head, but that aspect will improve as he matures. But in today’s game, a defenseman who can create offense and run a power play is invaluable to a team and Del Zotto has those skills in spades.
No. 10: Colin Wilson; C, Boston University
The much-touted son of former NHLer Carey Wilson, Colin Wilson has had a good start with BU and although there is no specific aspect to his game that will blow evaluators away, it is his incredibly high hockey IQ that impresses me.
Wilson has every component to his game that you want in a prospect, but he follows in a recent string of NHL sons who possess that something extra that can’t be quantified. He understands the game exceptionally well and makes all the right decisions on the ice.
While I’m not sure he will ever become a big-time scorer, he will certainly chip in offensively. And by the way, he’s a sure-fire captain down the road.
The Next 10:
No. 11 – Cody Hodgson; C, Brampton Battalion
No. 12 – Luke Schenn; D, Kelowna Rockets
No. 13 – Tyler Cuma; D, Ottawa 67’s
No. 14 – Yann Sauve; D, Saint John Seadogs
No. 15 – Michael Bodker; RW, Kitchener Rangers
No. 16 – Joe Colbourne; C, Camrose Kodiaks
No. 17 – Evgeni Grachev; RW, Yaroslavl
No. 18 – Mikhail Stefanovich; RW, Quebec Remparts
No. 19 – Zac Boychuk; C, Lethbridge Hurricanes
No. 20 – David Toews; LW, Shattuck St. Mary’s
How can so many coaches be fired and new ones hired without Pat Quinn, Olympic gold medal coach, getting a job?…
Memo to coach Ron Wilson: Keep your lines intact for more than a period if you want consistent scoring…
The situation in Toronto is embarrassing and unless it gets sorted out, you will see free agents avoiding the team…
From the “even a broken clock is right twice a day” column, jeers to THN writers Ken Campbell, Adam Proteau and the Toronto Sun’s Mike Zeisberger for openly mocking my opinion last year at the draft of Sam Gagner being the third-best prospect…
Brian Burke’s willingness to place Ilya Bryzgalov on waivers and thus keep his word, is an example of why guys want to play for him…
Teams using video and independent services in place of real scouts to get ready for the draft will pay the price in the very near future…
The real reason the London Knights are so successful is GM Mark Hunter is the hardest working executive in major junior…
Michel Therrien, the coach of the Pens, has never been the right man for the job and Ray Shero will realize it any day now…
Until next week, thanks for reading.
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.