As we creep closer to June 24th’s NHL Draft in Minnesota, amateur scouts and management teams are working hard to piece together their lists of potential picks, and the Red Wings are no exception. A few weeks ago, we took a peek at the top ten draft eligible players — also known as “dudes who will never be Red Wings.” But, you can’t get to the guys on the Wings’ radar without getting through the top prospects.
Obviously, these lists are fluid and a lot of the guys on the lower half of Top Ten may well have helped their cases (namely Huberdeau) with strong post-season performances. Before we get busy with Part II, a look back at the first ten prospects profiled:
PART I RECAP
1. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
2. Adam Larsson
3. Gabriel Landeskog
4. Sean Couturier
5. Ryan Strome
6. Ryan Murphy
7. Jonathan Huberdeau
8. Dougie Hamilton
9. Brandon Saad
10. Tyler Biggs
11. Mika Zibanejad, C, Djurgardens (SEL), 6-2, 192
“Modern power forward” who loves hitting the shit out of people…but also has “great hands and hockey sense.” Sounds too good to be true, no? Like Jonathan Huberdeau, his stock has skyrocketed in recent weeks/months, and some folks think he’s the most NHL-ready of all Draft-eligible players this year. I even read one opinion that said he may be the best forward to come out of Sweden since Henrik Zetterberg.
12. Joel Armia, RW, Porin Assat (FIN), 6-4, 187
Armia has slipped a bit — once considered a top ten pick because of his red hot start to the SM-Liiga season, he struggled on the big stage of the WJC. He’s obviously huge, and he reportedly has great hands, so if the right team drafts him and remains patient, they should have a good one in the cupboard.
13. Duncan Siemens, D, Saskatoon Blades (WHL), 6-3, 192
Siemens claims he models his game after Scott Stevens, and is quoted as saying that he “likes to catch guys with their heads down.” He doesn’t score terribly often, but he adds a ton of assists and quite a few penalty minutes (SHOCKER!). Thanks to a September, 1993 birthday (Jesus Christ, I’m old), he’s one of the youngest players eligible for the Draft, so teams will have a long time to groom him.
14. Sven Baertschi, LW, Portland Winterhawks (WHL), 5-10, 185
The Swiss-born winger left Europe after being drafted in the CHL’s import draft. By all accounts, he’s adapted well to the North American game, finishing with 85 points in 66 games — the most of any WHL rookie and 15th most overall.
15. Nathan Beaulieu, D, Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL), 6-3, 190
Another big guy, and another Saint John Sea Dog. He scores quite a bit from the blueline, but lacks “something” to set himself apart from other talented players at the next level. Sound defensively and a solid player, but projects as a middle pairing kind of guy in the big leagues.
16. Jamieson Oleksiak, D, Northeastern (Hockey East), 6-7, 244
SIX FOOT SEVEN! Billed as “the next Zdeno Chara,” and for good reason, homeboy is a monster. He just turned 18 in December, and played 33 games as a freshman this season. He wasn’t a big point-producer playing in the USHL, but delivered fine numbers for collegiate hockey, hinting that maybe he’ll be a later bloomer than some of his contemporaries.
17. Ty Rattie, RW, Portland Winterhawks (WHL), 6-0, 167
A name that’s been on the radar since he was only fifteen or so, Ty Rattie joins teammate Sven Baertschi in the likely-first-round group. Skilled and creative, he needed a year of Juniors under his belt before he realized that the “flashy Bantam moves” wouldn’t work up there and he adapted. Everyone seems to be in agreement: he shoots to score.
18. Daniel Catenacci, C, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL), 5-10, 180
Well here’s a nice Italian boy who was the top selection in 2009 OHL Priority Selection — ahead of other Draft-eligible players like Ryan Strome, Ryan Murphy, Matt Puempel, and Boone Jenner. He’s improved offensively in his two seasons in Juniors, and scouts are salivating over his speed. One has to wonder, though, if his drop below the Stromes and Murphys are symptomatic of a bigger issue… or if they just developed on a different curve.
19. Vladislav Namestnikov, C, London Knights (OHL), 6-0, 170
Like Alexander Burmistrov a year ago, we have a Russian player already in North America, potentially indicating he’d rather be noticed by NHL scouts than KHL personnel. Reliable finisher, good skater, and takes advantage of his skill set but the common criticism is that he needs to get stronger — probably like all other players in the OHL. Oh, also… his uncle is Slava Kozlov.
20. Mark McNeill, C, Prince Albert Raiders (WHL), 6-2, 210
Prototypical power forward: strong skater, tough to play against, two-way smarts, not afraid to drop the gloves. McNeill is another guy — like Huberdeau — who seems to be climbing the mock drafts in the last few weeks and with good reason: he seems to be coming into his own and carving out a niche for himself.