Home > 2011 NHL Entry Draft, OHL, Prospects, QMJHL, WHL > [Part Two] 2011 Draft Class Hierarchy

[Part Two] 2011 Draft Class Hierarchy

(Aaron Bell/CHL Images)

Special thanks to Aaron Bell of CHL Images for the use of his spectacular images

 

Part Two – Number 11 to 20

Last week I released the first part of the 2011 Draft Class Hierarchy which focuses on the NHL’s top prospects available for this year’s NHL Draft.

This week, we reveal the prospects that occupy at the number 11 through 20 spots. The Top 10 spots are largely already determined for the upcoming draft with only a few spots that are up for discussion. However, NHL scouts have shuffled the prospect deck on the middle portion of the first round and dealt out different rankings each time it seems. There are a few prospects who seem to always appear in the middle third of the draft rankings but there are lots of players who could definitely jump up the rankings come draft day and surprise us all. The following ten players are my personal favourites to go Top 20 in this year’s prospect crop.

Before we start, a few disclaimers are needed:

  • Rankings are not based on fantasy value
  • Rankings are not a mock draft (to be released later)
  • Estimated Time of Arrivals (ETA) are best personal guesses and will depend largely on the team who selects them. Subject to change

Lets take a look at #11-20 in the Draft Class Hierarchy…

11. Mark McNeil, Prince Albert Raiders (WHL)
Position: Center, Shoots: Right, Height: 6’2″, Weight: 210 lbs, Hometown: Langley, BC

70GP-32G-49A-81P

Video1
Video2 (Fight)

After Ryan Hopkins-Nugent, McNeil may be the WHL’s next best player. The Prince Albert Raider is a powerful forward who can pass, shoot, score and fight when needed. There are some scouts who do not feel that McNeil possesses much offensive upside but others will tell you that he is a Top 10 talent. McNeil participated in the Under 18 World Championships and surely improved his draft stock with his responsible play. His ability to defend his own zone while creating offense in the oppositions’ zone using his puck skills and size will put McNeil into the scouts’ good books. McNeil will be drafted in the Top 20 and there are some that predict he could go in the first ten picks.

ETA: 2013-14

Readiness: Mark will lmost likely return to Prince Albert next season and turn pro in the following season. There is always a chance that McNeil surprises us and jumps into the NHL in 2012-13 but I would bank on at least one full season (probably more) in the AHL.

12. Nathan Beaulieu, Saint Johns Sea Dogs (QMJHL)
Position: Defenseman, Shoots: Left, Height: 6’2″, Weight: 174 lbs, Hometown: Strathroy, ON

65GP-12G-33A-45P

NHL.com Draft Prospect Video
Video

Beaulieu has been surrounded by great hockey minds throughout his entire childhood. Beaulieu’s father played for the OHL’s Soo Greyhounds and currently serves as the Assistant Coach for the OHL’s London Knights. In the offseason, Nathan works out with current NHLers Sam Gagner, John Carlson and Cody Hodgson and skates with Drew Doughty who he tries to pattern his game after. Beaulieu projects to be an offensive defenseman at the next level as he is not afraid to jump into the rush to create scoring chances. The Sea Dogs backend was anchored by Beaulieu both offensively and defensively this past season. Beaulieu does play with a bit of a nasty edge and likes to hit and will fight if needed. There has been a lot of discussion about where Beaulieu will be selected and some believe he could be the second defenseman chosen after Larsson.

ETA: 2014 or later

Readiness: Defensemen are usually always a longer project and with the inconsistencies in his game, Beaulieu will not be rushed into action. Beaulieu should return to Saint John to join some of his draft eligible teammates next season in hopes of a Memorial Cup. Following junior hockey, expect Beaulieu to spend a few seasons in the American Hockey League to further his development.

13. Sven Bartschi, Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
Position: Left Wing, Shoots: Left, Height: 5’10”, Weight: 181 lbs, Hometown: Langenthal, SUI

66GP-34G-51A-85P

Video

The WHL Rookie of the Year took the WHL by storm this past season as he outscored all rookies by eighteen points and finished second in team scoring behind Columbus prospect Ryan Johansen. The undersized winger impressed many by outscoring swiss teammate and Islanders prospect Niederreiter as well as fellow 2011 prospect Ty Rattie. There are many scouts who are concerned about Sven’s size however every scout will tell you that Bartschi is probably the WHL’s best playmaker after top ranked prospect Ryan Nugent Hopkins.

Bartchi has quick feet and is very shifty which should ease some of the concern about his size as he does possess some elusiveness on the ice. The first year Winterhawk owns a accurate and hard shot that he often uses on the rush. In that sense, there is a resemblance to Phil Kessel but scouts would like to see Sven rely less on his perimeter game. Bartchi is one player who has been ranked as high as seventh and also as low as in the late teens in this draft class. Bartschi likely will not have to wait past the 15th spot to be drafted. Bartschi is currently having a good playoffs as he sits ninth in league scoring with 18 points in 15 games.

ETA: 2014 (or later)

Readiness: Gaining size and strength will be Sven’s goals in order to fast track himself into the professional ranks.

14. Joel Armia, Assat (SM-Liiga)
Position: Right Wing, Shoots: Right, Height: 6’3″, Weight: 191 lbs, Hometown: Pori, Finland

48GP-18G-11A-29P

Video1, Video2, Video3

Joel Armia is one of my favourite prospects in this draft class. Armia is blessed with great size (6’3″, 191lbs), slick puck skills and already has had success at the professional level. The young Finn has good hockey sense and can really fire the puck. Armia plays a power forward type of game and is very effective when cycling the puck. There is a chance that Armia is selected inside the Top 10 however he is likely destined to be selected anywhere from 10th to 15th. Armia’s draft stock has definitely risen after an impressiveUnder-18 World Championship Tournament in Germany last month. Armia was Finland’s top scorer and finished fourth in Tournament scoring with four goals and thirteen points in just six games.

Joel has compared his game to Washington’s Alexander Semin which can be good and bad. Like Semin, Armia owns a wicked shot but he has been criticized by some to be very lazy when the puck is not on his stick. He will need to improve that area of the game but his overall package of skills will be very attractive to many NHL teams.

ETA: 2013-14

Readiness: The inconsistencies in effort of Armia’s game will need to be ironed out but the young Finn has the NHL size and experience that could see him in NHL action sooner than later. Whichever NHL team selects Armia this summer will likely want to see him play in the AHL for at least a year.

15. Vladislav Namestnikov, London Knights (OHL)
Position: Center, Shoots: Left, Height: 6’0″, Weight: 170 lbs, Hometown: Voskresensk, RUS

68GP-30G-38A-68P

Video1, Video2

The 2011 NHL draft features some elite playmakers and London has the pleasure of seeing one every night. Namestnikov comes from good blood lines as his father (Evgeny) and uncle (Vyacheslav Kozlov) played in the NHL. Vladimir came over this past year for his first OHL season and the transition appeared to be very smooth as the skilled centerman finished at a point-per-game pace (68 points in 68 games). Namestnikov has an average frame but will need to ensure that he keeps in good physical condition at the professional level to compete night in and night out. Every year we see Russian players fall in the draft however Vladislav has several factors that should prevent him from sliding. First, Namestnikov is currently playing in Canada. Secondly, Vladislav has had family members compete in the NHL. Lastly, the young Russian already speaks perfect English after spending most of his childhood in North America following his father around.

Namestnikov is a fantastic playmaker who can also finish and he enters the draft as one of the best skaters available. NHL GM’s better practice saying “Namestnikov” for this June’s Entry Draft.

ETA: 2014

Readiness: Russians are always difficult to project in terms of their development. Many times, Russian junior players who come over do not want to spend the time developing in the AHL when they could be earning bigger money in the KHL. Namestnikov is not your typical Russian player as he is familiar with the American culture. Vladimir will spend the next two seasons with the London Knights and could make the immediate jump to the NHL after that.

16. Zack Phillips, Saint John SeaDogs (QMJHL)
Position: Center, Shoots: Right, Height: 6’1″, Weight: 178 lbs, Hometown: Fredericton, NB67GP-38G-57A-95P

NHL.com Draft Prospect Video
Video

Phillips is the third Sea Dog to be listed (so far) in these rankings. There are definitely advantages of being the number one center on Canada’s top junior team (Saint John) but there are disadvantages as well. Phillips’ draft stock has been put into question (as has the other draft eligible Sea Dogs) as scouts try to determine how much of his success this year is dependent on his teammates. In his second QMJHL season, Phillips improved on his rookie production by an alarming 51 points. There is no doubt that playing with the likes of Huberdeau, Beaulieu and Jurco has benefited his point totals but Zack does own some impressive skills.

Phillips is a goal scorer and has the ability to finish off plays all over the ice. Phillips had initially decided to take the NCAA route but made a last minute decision to join Saint John after growing nine-inches in the summer of 2009. Zack works extremely hard and his extremely high hockey sense makes him a great playmaker and responsible forward. Phillips will need to continue to work on his skating as his foot speed is an area of concern.

The Sea Dogs organization is thrilled with his rapid development in his first two years of junior hockey. Phillips will return next season to Saint John and they will once again compete as one of the nations top teams. Zack currently sits fourth in QMJHL Playoff Scoring with 22 points in 13 games as his team currenly waits to see who they will play in the Championship series.

ETA: 2015 (or later)

Readiness: Scouts and NHL Teams will want to see Phillips repeat his tremendous season for a second time to prove that it was no fluke. Phillips will use another couple years of junior hockey to improve his skating and develop as a hockey player. The same can be said about all junior prospects but Zack’s ETA will depend largely on how well he can adjust to the pro-level.

17. Mark Scheifele, Barrie Colts (OHL)
Position: Center, Shoots: Right, Height: 6’2″, Weight: 182 lbs, Hometown: Kitchener, ON

66GP-22G-53A-75P

Video

The Barrie Colts had to be pleased with Scheifele’s first OHL season as he finished second in team scoring with 75 points. Scheifele is a very interesting prospect and his rank seems to fluctuate with every release. In the NHL’s Central Scouting final release, Mark was placed int he 16th position among all North American skaters which had him moving up from the previous mid-term rankings (21st). This kid owns NHL size and can really skate for a player of his stature. Scheifele has similarities to Joe Thornton in the way he is able to protect and distribute the puck but he is a project of sorts.

Mark is fairly unpolished at this stage of his development but the skills are there to become one of the steals of the draft if he does fall. The first year OHLer was one of Canada’s better players at the Under-18s last month as he finished as Canada’s top forward scorer with 6 goals and 8 points in 7 games. Scheifele will need to fill out his large frame and add muscle and with his tremendous work effort that should not be an issue. Scheifele is a good skater, has a great release, owns lots of hockey smarts and can take care of both ends of the rink. Scouts will be very interested.

ETA: 2014 (or later)

Readiness: Again, Scheifele’s development over the next few years will determine how fast he takes to reach the NHL level. Adding muscle will become a priority if he wants to become a successful professional.

18. Nicklas Jensen, Oshawa Generals (OHL)
Position: Left Wing, Shoots: Left, Height: 6’2″, Weight: 187 lbs, Hometown: Herning, DEN

61GP-29G-29A-58P

Video

Most rankings do not have the young Danish star as high as 18 but Jensen has become one of my favourite dark horses of this draft. Recently, there have been some good players hail from the small country of Denmark including Mikkel Boedker, Lars Eller and Jannik Hansen. Most scouts think that Jensen will Denmark’s best player. Jensen has great size and possesses a strong two-way game but his skating has been described as effortless.

Jensen was able to find the back of the net 29 times in his first OHL season which is very impressive. The young Dane has good hockey sense and playmaking abilities. The biggest knock on Jensen has been inconsistency so he will need to improve his effort level to ensure that he plays hard the entire game. At 6-foot-2-inches, Jensen does not utilize his large frame in the dirty areas of the ice. If Jensen can learn to dominate the along the walls with his large body scouts will surely take note. Jensen’s compete level really is the only thing stopping him from becoming a top 10 selection in this draft. He could be worth the risk for a team that holds several first round picks (ahem, Toronto).

ETA: 2014-15

Readiness: Jensen will return to Oshawa next season to lead the Generals and hopefully show his NHL team that consistency will not be an issue. Jensen’s effort level will dictate his ETA.

 
19. Alexander Khokhlachev, Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
Position: Center, Shoots: Left, Height: 5”10″, Weight: 188 lbs, Hometown: Moscow, RUS67GP-34G-42A-76P

Video1, Video2

The diminitive Russian had a fantastic rookie season for the Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League. Khokhlachev provided a huge boost for the Windsor Spitfires as he finished 3rd on his team in scoring and third in league rookie scoring. The dynamic center is a good skater with explosive speed that makes it extremely difficult to contain him. At 5-foot-10-inches, there is some concern from scouts that his size will be an issue at the next level but Khokhlachev has a certain elusiveness to his game and loves to play in the “dirty areas”. Alex does not provide much in terms of defensive play but his offensive skills will make those scouts look past that deficiency.

Earlier this season, Khokhlachev notched four goals in a game against the mighty Kitchener Rangers (see video2 above). Russian players tend to be fairly creative with their puck skills and khokhlachev definitely qualifies as creative. It bodes well for Alexander that he decided to leave Russia to fill his dream of playing in the NHL by coming to Canada. The youngster from Moscow oozes pure offense and that should surely make him a first round selection in St. Paul, Minnesota later this summer.

There is a lot of speculation about which Russian player will be selected first this year, Namestnikov or Khokhlachev. Both Russians are extremely talented but it appears that Khokhlachev has the higher upside of the two so do not be surprised if you hear the Spitfire’s name called first.

ETA: 2014 (or later)

Readiness: See Namestnikov’s Readiness Note regarding Russian prospects. Khokhlachev will return to Windsor next season and join Nick Ebert (2012 Eligible) as Windsor’s go-to guys. Do not be surprised to see Khokhlachev atop the OHL Scoring charts next season as he proves to his NHL club that he is ready sooner than later.

20. Jamieson Oleksiak, Northeastern (H-East NCAA)
Position: Defence, Shoots: Left, Height: 6’7″, Weight: 244 lbs, Hometown: Toronto, ON

34GP-3G-9A-12P

Video1, Video2

Take a look at Oleksiak’s physical attributes and most people are shocked at the size of this seventeen-year-old. At 6-foot-7-inches, Oleksiak has the size advantage on his opponents every single night and is the largest prospect available in this years draft class. Scouts have started to take notice of Oleksiak’s upside as both a defensive and offensive prospect. Defensively, Jamie possesses a huge wingspan and is a very good skater for his size.

The size alone often leads people to compare him to Tyler Myers and Zdeno Chara but I would be hesitant to put him beside those high-calibre defenseman just yet. Oleksiak is a very responsible defenseman and he is rarely found out of position. Offensively, Oleksiak moves the puck well, has soft hands and owns a good shot but his offensive abilities are somewhat unknown at the moment. Oleksiak was not afraid to square off with his opponents (nor should he) as he fought six times last season. Oleksiak has made a huge jump in the rankings over this past year and that often leads scouts to be extra careful in their analysis. The native of Toronto will likely become a good NHL defenseman someday but whether he suits up as a number 2 or number 6 defenseman will be determined later in his development.

Right now, Oleksiak looks to be a good investment for a team looking to add solid depth to their roster and maybe hit a homerun later on down the road. Oleksiak is the largest prospect available in this years draft class.

ETA: 2015 (or later)

Readiness: This project defenseman has three more years of NCAA eligibility so his development is just beginning. There is always a chance that Jamie decides to turn pro early but he would likely benefit from logging huge minutes in his senior year to refine his overall game.

 

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