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Burnaby centre Turris tops Central Scouting final rankings before NHL draft

The 17-year-old from New Westminster, B.C., was listed first among North American skaters in the final 2006-07 rankings released by NHL Central Scouting on Wednesday.

Central Scouting director E.J. McGuire said Turris has great vision and anticipation.

"He sees the ice, he sees that play three moves ahead where you or I see one move," McGuire said. "He's also a high-scoring team leader. I'll predict that he'll be a prominent NHL player in three or four years."

The Chicago Blackhawks won the lottery and will select first at the NHL draft June 22 in Columbus.

Each NHL club makes its own evaluation of draft prospects and they often vary widely from the Central Scouting lists. McGuire said his lists are "a sounding board, a second opinion" for team scouts.

Turris, who was fifth in mid-season rankings in January, replaced centre Angelo Esposito of the Quebec Remparts in top spot. A weak second half saw Esposito tumble to eighth.

The six-foot-one 171-pound Turris led the B.C. Hockey League with 66 goals and was second in points with 121. He also led all playoff scorers with 26 points.

Turris, who expects to play at the University of Wisconsin next season, is the first junior A player ever to top the Central Scouting rankings.

Quick but smaller (5-9, 162 pounds) right-winger Patrick Kane of the London Knights was ranked second, moving up two places from January, while power winger James vanRiemsdyk of the U.S. National Development Team dropped from second to third.

They are followed by hard-hitting, hard-shooting six-foot-four defenceman Keaton Ellerby of the Kamloops Blazers and defensively strong blue-liner Karl Alzner of the Calgary Hitmen.

The top European skater remains right-winger Alexei Cherepanov of the Omsk club, who broke Pavel Bure's 1988-89 Russian league rookie record with 18 goals this season.

Next were Swedish forwards Mikael Backlund of Vasteras and Lars Eller of Frolunda.

Jeremy Smith of the Plymouth Whalers edged Trevor Cann of the Peterborough Petes for top spot among North American goalies. Joel Gistedt of Frolunda bumped Mark Owuya of Djurgarden from top spot among European goaltenders.

Cherepanov is not widely considered a candidate for the first overall pick, but the independent International Scouting Services listed him third overall in its April 7 rankings.

The ISS also listed centre Jakub Voracek of the Halifax Mooseheads first, while Central Scouting has him seventh. The ISS had Kane in the No. 2 spot, Turris fourth and Esposito 11th.

Kane, a native of Buffalo, is a flashy playmaker McGuire compared to Sabres' star Daniel Briere as a smaller player who may excel in the new NHL.

He was an all-star for the U.S. at the world junior championships, where his London teammate Sam Gagner played for Canada's gold-medal team. Gagner, son of former NHL forward Dave Gagner, is ranked sixth.

Scouts don't see an instant star like Sidney Crosby in this year's draft, but McGuire called it "the most balanced at the top end we've had.

"Just because there's a Crosby or an Alexander Ovechkin (available) doesn't mean that a whole draft is good," he cautioned.

There was big movement from January.

Red Deer Rebels forward Brandon Sutter, son of former NHL forward Brent Sutter, dropped from eighth to 28th. Vancouver Giants defenceman John Blum went from seventh to 17th.

Centre Maxime Tanguay of the Rimouski Oceanic, brother of Calgary Flames winger Alex Tanguay, fell from 29th to 60th.

The ranking of 210 skaters and 30 goaltenders from North America and 175 skaters and 16 goalies from Europe was compiled by Central Scouting's nine full-time and six part-time scouts in North America and five full-time scouts in Europe.



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