Home > 2011 NHL Entry Draft, OHL, Prospects, QMJHL, WHL > [The Recap] Draft Class Hierarchy: Final Cuts and Favourites

[The Recap] Draft Class Hierarchy: Final Cuts and Favourites

(Aaron Bell/CHL Images)

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

The scouting process is instrumental for NHL teams looking to remain competitive and it can be extremely stressful. Scouts spend the majority of the hockey season on the road, travelling from rink to rink, looking to discover the next big thing. The hours, miles and stress all pile up as the NHL Entry Draft nears and it is critical for teams to make the correct pick.

The 2011 Draft Class Hierarchy series’ mission was to identify the top rated talent available in the first round. The consequences of any mistakes on my part were miniscule compared to actual NHL scouting staffs but, nonetheless, the decisions-making process was extremely difficult. As a result, the final release of this series will identify some prospects that fell just outside of the Top 30 and were the “Final Cuts”. On top of all this glorious information, you will read about a few players who have the potential to be “steals” or “sleepers” of the draft class.

The Final Cuts – 10 First Round Talents

Brett Ritchie (Sarnia, OHL, RW)

The large power forward is coming off a disappointing season after battling some injuries and a bout with mononucleosis but will be flying under-the-radar because of it. Ritchie was once pegged to be a first round selection and he almost made my list. At 6-foot 3-inches and 210-pounds, Ritchie is a large forward who possesses soft hands and a good shot. The Orangeville native has represented Canada several times and is coming off a strong Under-18 Tournament last month.

Stefan Noesen (Plymouth, OHL, C)

Born and raised in Texas, Noesen came to Plymouth looking to chase his NHL dream. Noesen competes extremely hard and his foot speed is likely his best attribute. In this past season, Noesen proved to everyone that he can play after his minutes were limited in his first OHL season due to the Whalers’ tremendous depth (Seguin, McRae). Stefan Noesen is one of my favourite sleepers in the draft.

Tyler Biggs (US NTDP, USHL, RW)

Biggs is an interesting prospect and I will admit that I passed on him in the Top 30 because I could not accurately project his NHL value. Biggs plays an aggressive power forward game similar to players like Evander Kane and Jerome Iginla but with less offensive upside. NHL scouts really like his physical skills as he combines his size (6’2″, 210 lbs) well with the offensive skills that he owns a great shot, good passing skills and strong hockey sense. There is little doubt that Tyler Biggs will become an NHLer but his role has yet to be determined. Biggs can play anywhere from the first to fourth line.

Oscar Klefbom (Farjestad, SEL, D)

Klefbom was the final cut from the Top 30 list and the decision may come back to haunt me. Scouts are not always looking for flash and dash and that Klefdom is a perfect example. Klefdom is a shutdown defenseman who will be extremely valuable to an NHL club with his ability to play a simple mistake free game. Klefbom has experience playing at the professional level for the Swedish Elite Leagues�€™ Farjestad and his responsibilities have increased as the season progressed. The 6-foot 4-inch defender has limited offensive abilities but is an absolute rock defensively.

Victor Rask (Leksand, SEL, C)

Rask is another player who was once considered a lock to be drafted in the first round but expectations placed on him were so high that he failed to meet them. Last season, Rask competed for Leksand in the Swedish Elite League and struggled to find enough playing time to produce offensively. It is extremely likely that Rask ends up being selected within the first 30 picks but he could fall into a GM’s lap in the second. Rask already owns an NHL shot that is deadly accurate and can also feather passes with the best of players. Victor Rask had a very strong Under-18 World Championship Tournament last month and that should help eliminate any sourness remaining in a lot of scouts’ mouths after his poor season.

Phillip Danault (Victoriaville, QMJHL, LW) Danault is a strong center playing for Victoriaville in the ‘Q’ who has really good upside. Danault is a smooth skater that sees the ice very well creating offensive chances each and every shift. Scouts are always looking for players with high compete levels and Danault plays each shift like it is his last. He is a first round talent and if he slips outside of it then a team will be getting a steal.Shane Prince (Ottawa, OHL, LW)

Prince represents the Ottawa 67’s and might slide due to a few concussion issues. The New York-born winger plays the game hard and features a good shot, good hockey IQ, loads of creativity and average skating abilities. His concussion and questionable size could impact his draft position.

David Musil (Vancouver, WHL, D)

It was just a few seasons ago that former NHLer Frank Musil’s son was projected to be a top ten pick in the 2011 NHL Draft but scouts have continued to knock the large defenseman down the rankings. Musil is projected to be a defensive defenseman but could step into an offensive role if needed. The Czech defenseman has fallen mostly due to his poor skating and decision making. If scouts view these flaws as “fixable” then Musil could easily go in the Top 30.

Seth Ambroz (Omaha, USHL, RW)

Ambroz’s draft stock has fallen since the beginning of the year but it will be hard for scouts to pass on a kid with his size and scoring touch. Ambroz has appeared to look bored with the USHL after spending three years there and his lack of production might be a reflection of that. The power forward from Minnesota might just need a bigger challenge to get him going again.

Stuart Percy (Mississauga, OHL, D)

Percy has rocketed up the draft rankings especially in the past month. If I were to compose the Draft Class Hierarchy a few weeks later then there is a good chance that Percy cracks the Top 30. Recently, scouts have begun to mention Stuart Percy’s name in first round discussions and if his OHL Playoff run has anything to do with it then he deserves it. Percy logs big minutes for the Majors and plays a clean game making very few mistakes. Stuart Percy reminds me a little of Ryan Suter in the way that he can contribute offensively and take care of his own zone all in the same shift.

Sleepers to Watch

Myles Bell (Regina, WHL, D)

Bell was involved in a fatal car crash last month and it will likely impact his draft status. Bell has been a personal favourite of mine for the last year as he oozes offense scoring 45 points in 66 WHL games. Myles is an excellent skater, good puck handler, and has a cannon of a shot. Bell is a defenseman that does everything well and that can be attributed to his high hockey IQ. It will be interesting to see how the recent accident impacts his draft position.

Miikka Salomaki (Kapat, SM-Liiga, RW)

Salomaki plays a complete game and was one of Finland�€™s better players at the World Junior Championships. Miikka�€™s hockey sense and work ethic are the reasons I am listing him as a sleeper. Salomaki owns a very good shot and notch a respectable 10 points in the SM-Liiga playing against men.

Reid Boucher (US NTDP, USHL, LW)

If a team selects Boucher inside of the Top 50 I wouldn�€™t be entirely surprised but most scouts have him projected to go third round. Boucher is one of my sleepers mainly because he deserves to be mentioned among the top offensive players. Boucher was the linemate of Rocco Grimaldi and is being described as one of the best ever pure goal scorers that has passed through the US NTDP. Reid Boucher will be a steal if he is selected any later than the second round.

Nikita Kucherov (CSKA Moskow, KHL, RW )

Kucherov notched a record breaking 11 goals and 21 points in only eight games to lead Russia to the Under-18 World Championship and boosting his draft stock. Kucherov is a small, fast, offensive forward who can dominate a game with his elite puck handling skills. If a team can look past the �€œRussian-factor�€� and see the immense upside then a team could hit one of the biggest homeruns of the draft �€“ especially if he falls passed the second round.

There are clearly many other prospects capable of being selected in the first round (Brodin, Granlund and JT Miller are three other players I really like) but personal preferences will likely be the deciding factor between the prospects with almost identical ratings.

Recap: The Top 30 Ranked Players as released in the 2011 Draft Class Hierarchy Series

1. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Red Deer, OHL, C)
2. Adam Larsson (Skellaftea, SEL, D)
3. Gabriel Landeskog (Kitchener, OHL, RW)
4. Sean Couturier (Drummondville, QMJHL, C)
5. Dougie Hamilton (Niagara, OHL, D)
6. Jonathon Huberdeau (Saint John, QMJHL, C/LW)
7. Ryan Strome (Niagara, OHL, C)
8. Ryan Murphy (Kitchener, OHL, D)
9. Mika Zibanejad (Djurgarden, SEL, C)
10. Duncan Siemens (Saskatoon, WHL, D)
11. Mark McNeil (Prince Albert, WHL, C)
12. Nathan Beaulieu (Saint John, QMJHL, D)
13. Sven Bartschi (Portland, WHL, LW)
14. Joel Armia (Assat, SM-Liiga, RW)
15. Vladislav Namestnikov (London, OHL, C)
16. Zach Phillips (Saint John, QMJHL, C)
17. Mark Scheifele (Barrie, OHL, C)
18. Nicklas Jensen (Oshawa, OHL, LW)
19. Alexander Khokhlachev (Windsor, OHL, C)
20. Jamie Oleksiak (Northeaster, H-East, D)
21. Matt Puempel (Peterborough, OHL, LW)
22. Boone Jenner (Oshawa, OHL, C)
23. Brandon Saad (Saginaw, OHL, LW)
24. Joseph Morrow (Portland, WHL, D)
25. Dmitrij Jaskin (Slavia, CZE, RW)
26. Scott Mayfield (Youngstown, USHL, D)
27. Ty Rattie (Portland, WHL, LW)
28. Rocco Grimaldi (US NTDP, USHL, C)
29. Tomas Jurco (Saint John, QMJHL, RW)
30. Rickard Rakell (Plymouth, OHL, RW)

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