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1. RD Adam Larsson | Skelleftea (Elisterien)
Height: 6.03 | Weight: 220 | Birthdate: 11/12/92 | Nationality: Swedish
Heading into the 2010/2011 season it’s clear to see that the top spot will be Adam Larsson’s to lose. While there was a prevailing notion that Victor Hedman was the top Swedish defensive prospect possibly ever, only two years later it looks like Larsson will poised to take that mantle. Larsson is an imposing figure with tremendous size, but his game extends well beyond that. He’s very calm with the puck and has great poise and vision. He’s very capable offensively and it looks like his offensive play will continue to grow as he matures. His skating is likely the primary concern if you’re looking for one, as his acceleration and quickness aren’t great, but he will have time to work on that aspect. You could also consider that his foot speed might improve if he adjusts his playing weight to the 210-215 range.
2. LC Ryan Nugent-Hopkins | Red Deer (WHL)
Height: 6.00 | Weight: 160 | Birthdate: 04/12/93 | Nationality: Canadian
Nugent-Hopkins probably isn’t the consensus #2 among most right now, but he’s a player that we feel is just on the cusp of his ability. Coming off a fine first season in the WHL where he walked away as the league’s rookie of the year, Nugent-Hopkins was Canada’s most productive player in their Gold Medal run at the Ivan Hlinka tournament. He skates tremendously well and is a very creative playmaker with great vision. Not only does he make those around him better, he’s also an adept scorer and as he puts on weight, he will be a very tough player to contain. After leading a very mediocre team last year, Nugent-Hopkins will be poised for a big year this season and it wouldn’t be out of the realm for him to approach the 100 point mark as well as a potential spot on the Canadian Under 20 team. While Couturier might be the better player today, Nugent-Hopkins might have the highest ceiling of any player in this draft.
3. LC Sean Couturier | Drummondville (QMJHL)
Height: 6.03 | Weight: 192 | Birthdate: 12/07/92 | Nationality: Canadian
Couturier struggled to adapt to the QMJHL as a 16 year old as his awkward skating style limited his offensive output along with being on a very deep Drummondville team that went all the way to the Memorial Cup. Oh how a year can make a difference. Last season, Couturier took the league by storm, easily establishing himself as the most dominant player in the league. His combination of size and skill are very hard to come by and his game has drawn a lot of comparisons to Vincent Lecavalier, and rightfully so. His skating improved tremendously last season but will still need to be a focus of improvement for him. With another big season this year, Couturier should cement himself as a Top 3 player in this draft and will stay in contention for what could shape up to be another battle for first overall.
4. LD David Musil | Vancouver (WHL)
Height: 6.03 | Weight: 190 | Birthdate: 04/09/93 | Nationality: Czech
David Musil had an interesting road to the WHL last season. After the WHL amended some rules to allow a European to join the league as a 16 year old (Musil’s family has ties to North America and moved to Vancouver last summer), the Kooteney Ice acquired his rights in a waiver draft. He was then dealt to Vancouver after requesting a trade to live with his family for a 1st and 5th round picks in the WHL Bantam Draft. Musil proceeded to have a very strong rookie year with the Giants. His game is laced with pro qualities and he has all the traits of a shut-down defenseman that can play important minutes. While his offensive numbers were very good last year, they don’t really reflect his style of play and he’ll have to take a few more chances if he wants to be that type of player at the NHL level.
5. LW Brandon Saad | Saginaw (OHL)
Height: 6.01 | Weight: 196 | Birthdate: 10/27/92 | Nationality: American
Saad has developed considerably after being a very raw AAA player in Pittsburgh only three years ago. After spending a couple of productive seasons with the US Development Team, Saad will be making to the move to Saginaw this year after they’ve waited patiently since taking him in the first round back in 2008. Saad should be able to make a seamless transition to the Major Junior game. He’s got a pro style frame, and his style of play matches it. Saad is a good skater with a good scoring touch. He competes hard and battles in the tough areas on the ice and is the type of player that coaches love to have in their lineup as he brings a very solid physical element to his game. His offensive upside at the NHL level probably will be as a 30/30 type player, but like Niederreiter in 2010, he’s a guy that has a lot of versatility and is the type of player that will help you win big games.
6. RW (LS) Gabriel Landeskog | Kitchener (OHL)
Height: 6.00 | Weight: 201 | Birthdate: 11/23/92 | Nationality: Swedish
There were high expectations for Gabriel Landeskog last season and after having some early difficulty adjusting to the North American game, by the end of the year he became a player that was dominating OHL games at the age of 17. Landeskog’s style of play is anything but what you’d expect from the prototypical European style. He relishes the opportunity to compete and loves getting involved physically. He’s great on the cycle and can make life very tough for opposing defensemen. He’s got a solid scoring touch, although his offensive awareness could be considered fairly average. Even still, he does a good enough job of putting himself into positions where he can score goals. Like Saad, don’t expect Landeskog to set the world on fire offensively at the NHL level, but he’s a safe bet to be another one of those Brendan Morrow types of players who can play in your Top 6 and add a different dynamic to your team that seems to be so rare these days.
7. LW Matt Puempel | Peterborough (OHL)
Height: 6.00 | Weight: 190 | Birthdate: 01/24/93 | Nationality: Canadian
Coming off a very impressive rookie season where he was awarded the CHL Rookie of the Year, Puempel is one of the top pure goal scorers available in this crop. When you see him, he may go through lulls where you might not notice him very much on the ice, but he’s always dangerous in the offensive zone. He does a good job of finding seams in the defense and his shot power and release are both pro quality. Overall, his game is a little ho-hum, but his drive to improve and goal scoring prowess both indicate that at the NHL level, he should be a potent goal scorer in the NHL.
8. RD Ryan Murphy | Kitchener (OHL)
Height: 5.10 | Weight: 165 | Birthdate: 03/31/93 | Nationality: Canadian
Murphy is a very unique prospect that doesn’t come around that often. While his slender build and lack of defensive polish are pretty big concerns, you can’t ignore the sheer offensive potential he has. Murphy is a tremendous skater with great poise and the ability to make highly skilled moves at top speed. He’s got great agility and is a very good puck distributor. On the powerplay he sees the ice very well and while his shot lacks great power, he does a good job of getting it through and on target. He showed signs that his defensive game is getting better, but that will be a big point of interest for scouts this year as that could really make or break his game at the next level.
9. LW Seth Ambroz | Omaha (USHL)
Height: 6.03 | Weight: 198 | Birthdate: 04/01/93 | Nationality: American
One of the more highly touted American prospects in recent memory, Ambroz started his USHL career as a 15 year old with Omaha and tried to fast track his way to the NCAA this year at the University of Minnesota. However, Ambroz was informed that there would not be room for him on the team with a significant number of returnees, and as a result he will be back in the USHL, probably for the better as he will see considerably more ice time in Omaha. His skating is an issue as he does lack some quickness, but his ability to shield the puck and play a physical game do compensate a bit. He’s not a natural scorer but he is pretty clutch and is a player who is always working hard and rarely disappears on the ice.
10. LC Victor Rask | Leksand (Allsvenskan)
Height: 6.02 | Weight: 194 | Birthdate: 03/01/93 | Nationality: Swedish
After a bit of an underwhelming showing at the Ivan Hlinka tournament, Rask will need to have a quick start to the 2010/2011 season as it looks like he’ll be starting in the Allsvenskan this year. He’s a big guy who is very mobile and has high end puck skills. He’s pretty crafty, has good vision and is a dangerous goal scorer as well. With a good season he should cement himself in the 8-12 range as he is a good prospect heading into the year.
11. LD Duncan Siemens | Saskatoon (WHL)
Height: 6.03 | Weight: 194 | Birthdate: 09/11/93 | Nationality: Canadian
Siemens had a few growing pains last year and perhaps didn’t meet some of the lofty expectations, but there’s a lot to like about him and he’s a guy that could definitely be a riser this year. He’s a steady type of player that’s good in his own end, but is also very effective transitionally and does have some offensive skill. He’ll have a bigger role with the Blades this year and there will be plenty of opportunity for him to play in all different types of situations where he can really show off what type of player he can develop into.
12. LC Vladislav Namestnikov | London (OHL)
Height: 6.00 | Weight: 163 | Birthdate: 11/22/92 | Nationality: Russian
Namestnikov could very well be the 2011 version of Alexander Burmistrov as there are some parallels to be drawn between their games. Namestnikov is a good skater who has the prototypical Russian skill set. He’s great with the puck and is a threat any time he has the puck either through passing or as a finisher. He capitalizes well on any opportunity and can find holes in the defense. He’ll need to add some strength as that will be a concern, but playing in London this year shouldn’t be a problem as the rigors of the OHL schedule are still manageable.
13. LW Lucas Lessio | Oshawa (OHL)
Height: 6.01 | Weight: 187 | Birthdate: 01/23/93 | Nationality: Canadian
Lessio doesn’t have a wow factor, but he’s a blue-collar guy that works hard and gets rewarded for it. He’s not overly physical, but he doesn’t shy away from contact and is very good on the boards. He can play with highly skilled players and be effective and he’s good around the net. With his skill set, he compliments any line well but definitely has the offensive ability to be featured on the top couple of lines. His style of play projects well to the NHL and moving to the OHL this year will certainly provide him with a much greater competition level then he encountered in the CCHL a year ago.
14. RW Shane McColgan | Kelowna (WHL)
Height: 5.11 | Weight: 170 | Birthdate: 01/01/93 | Nationality: American
McColgan was one of the big revelations in the WHL last year as he exploded offensively to be a very reliable point producer as a 16 year old. His offensive skill can’t be denied but you really have to wonder how much his skating and lack of size will impede him at the NHL level. His defensive zone play is pretty questionable and he’s essentially a one dimensional player as of now, so barring an absolutely huge offensive season, scouts will really want to see him work on his complete game this year.
15. LC Boone Jenner | Oshawa (OHL)
Height: 6.01 | Weight: 192 | Birthdate: 06/15/93 | Nationality: Canadian
Rounding out the Top 15 is Boone Jenner who is a bit of a wild-card at this point. Last season Jenner looked like he began to show signs of wearing down as the year progressed and his lack of discipline in some games was an issue. Aside from that, his willingness to battle for the puck and sacrifice his body are major stigmas of his game. He’s an effective offensive player with good hands and makes things happen when he gets the puck. His skating still needs a lot of work as he has a real choppy wide stride, not so unlike a former General, John Tavares. While his rookie season was a positive one, this year he’ll need to establish some consistency and show signs of progression.
Tags: 2011 nhl draft prospects, 2011 nhl draft rankings, Adam Larsson, Boone Jenner, Brandon Saad, David Musil, Duncan Siemens, Gabriel Landeskog, Lucas Lessio, Matt Puempel, Ryan Murphy, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Sean Couturier, Seth Ambroz, Shane McColgan, Victor Rask, Vladislav Namestnikov