The scouts have spoken, the ballots are in, the spreadsheet has calculated. Alex Pietrangelo is the No. 1 prospect in Future Watch 2010.
The future St. Louis Blues defenseman edged out an impressive field of players drafted by NHL teams who are playing at development levels such as major junior, college, minor pro and Europe.
Twenty-three NHL scouts or directors of player personnel participated in The Hockey News annual ranking of prospects. As always, we ask the scouts to rank NHL-affiliated prospects one to 50 and we have a weighted point system that determines the overall result. Pietrangelo was first on four ballots, while seven other scouts had him in the top four. Ten other prospects received first-place votes.
The fourth overall pick by the Blues in the 2008 NHL draft – behind young luminaries Steve Stamkos, Drew Doughty and Zach Bogosian – Pietrangelo is enjoying another exceptional Ontario League season with the Barrie Colts, after getting traded from the Niagara Ice Dogs. The 6-foot-3, 204-pound defenseman has managed eight NHL games with the Blues last season and nine more this season, but he was at his best on the Canadian blueline at the World Junior Championship in Saskatchewan, where he was selected top defenseman.
We start working on Future Watch immediately after the WJC, getting feedback from each NHL team on their top 10 prospects, then cross-referencing them with input from the 23-member panel of scouts. We consider all prospects who have played fewer than 50 NHL games, although we rule out some players who have proven themselves as NHLers, but have not yet reached that plateau (example, Anaheim’s Dan Sexton). We also re-consider players who have gone beyond the 50 games, but find themselves back in development leagues (example, Kyle Turris).
The results are always a surprise. Some have impressive moves upwards, others slide from the previous year. The new names are always interesting. Pietrangelo made the jump from No. 5 last year to top spot.
Last year’s No. 1 prospect, Nikita Filatov of the Columbus Blue Jackets system, dropped, but still finds himself in the top 10. Same can be said for No. 2 prospect Cody Hodgson, who missed the first three-plus months of the season with injury.
Future Watch 2010 will be on newsstands March 8, but will be in the hands of subscribers earlier than that. We can’t give you too many results now, but here are the names of other prospects in the top 10, alphabetically:
Washington defenseman John Carlson, Edmonton center Jordan Eberle, Filatov, Hodgson, Phoenix defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Florida goalie Jacob Markstrom, Anaheim defenseman Luca Sbisa, Los Angeles center Brayden Schenn and Nashville center Colin Wilson.
Brian Costello is The Hockey News’s senior special editions editor and a regular contributor to THN.com. You can find his blog each weekend.
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