Archive for the ‘WHL’ Category

@RossyYoungblood’s 2014 NHL Mock Draft


2014 NHL Entry Draft


  • Not-so-Bold Predictions:
    • Florida trades the 1st overall selection swapping spots with one of the Canadian teams in Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames, Vancouver Canucks or Toronto Maple Leafs
    • In general, trading should be on the rise in 2014 with many teams looking to get “their” targeted player in a crop that’s fairly tightly packed together (and consequently, difficult to project who goes where). Trading up will ensure teams get their guy.


  • 3 Potential Draft Fallers:
    • Sam Bennett – NHL CSS’ top ranking of Bennett could be a curse. He’s certainly got the skill to go 1st overall but both Aaron Ekblad and Sam Reinhart have promising potentials as well. In addition, their playing styles are easy to project into the NHL and that might give them an edge in a group that’s tightly packed. Mix in big skilled forwards Leon Draisaitl, Michael Dal Colle and Nick Ritchie (who is considered #1 by some NHL scouts) and Bennett may slide further than people expect.
    • Brendan Perlini – A hot start to his draft season was promising but fizzling down the stretch sticks in scouts’ minds didn’t help IceDogs’ winger Brendan Perlini. He remained a Top 10 prospect throughout the season but the concerns about his competitiveness are legitimate and he could slide into double digits.
    • Tony DeAngelo – Publicly discussed and debated, Tony DeAngelo’s troubles on the ice and off the ice have been a hot topic throughout the season and that has left a sour taste in scouts’ mouths. Despite rumoured strong interviews at the NHL Draft Combine, there are just some scouts who just won’t risk a 1st round pick on a defenseman who is one dimensional and has some red flags. DeAngelo is the most interesting storyline, in my opinion, at the 2014 NHL Draft. Personally, I want to see him selected well and prove that these were all overstated “troubles”. In the end, the gifted offensive defenseman could end up being selected anywhere from 10th to 75th overall.


  • 3 Potential Draft Risers:
    • Dominik Masin – Not an overly familiar name in North America, Czech defenseman Dominik Masin receives rave reviews from those who have followed him this season. He captained his nation to a silver medal at the Under-18 World Championships and showed that he can log huge minutes in both offensive and defensive situations. Don’t be shocked to see him scooped up inside the opening round.
    • Sonny Milano – Largely considered a mid-to-late 1st round selection, American Sonny Milano could be considered a “riser” if he creeps inside the Top 15. He is a wizard with the puck and in a draft class that’s fairly wide open after the opening 8-9 picks, Milano could get snatched up quickly by a team who values his game-breaking abilities.
    • Travis Sanheim – Calgary Hitmen defenseman Travis Sanheim elevated his game down the stretch and his performance at the Under-18 World Championships was nothing short of outstanding, lifting him into first round consideration. Sanheim could hear his name called any time after the Top 10, especially in a relatively weak defensive crop at the top of the draft


  • Sleepers to Watch: Jaden Lindo, Dylan Sadowy, Jake Walman, Louis Belpedio, Josh Wesley, Ryan Foss


  • Valuable Long-term Investments (Project Picks): Ryan MacInnis, Eric Cornel, Brett Pollock, Nicolas Aube-Kubel, Brycen Martin, Jacob Middleton


  • Rossy’s Favourite Draft Prospects Team: 
  • Just  some of my favourite prospects heading into the 2014 NHL Draft that I have enjoyed following or watching. Most of these players I have been high on dating back to last year (especially the forward trio)

Nick Ritchie (LW) – Robby Fabbri (C) – Nikolay Goldobin (RW)

Travis Sanheim (LD) – Julius Honka (RD)

Brandon Halverson (G)


  • The Coaches Choice Team:
    • Players who provide an element found on championship teams

John Quenneville (LW) – Conner Bleackley (C) – Brendan Lemieux (LW/RW)

Dominik Masin (LD) – Josh Jacobs (RD)

Alex Nedeljkovic (G)

  • Draft Eligible Wildcard Team (Boom/Bust):

                            Vladimir Tkachyov (LW) – Nikolay Goldobin (C) – Josh Ho-Sang (RW)

Joe Hicketts (LD) – Tony DeAngelo (RD)

Julio Billia (G)

Notes About the Analysis:

Alternative Option – This subsection provides one or two logical player options for the team under analysis to consider (within a reasonable projectable draft slot)

Rossy’s Ideal Target – I give the one prospect (within a reasonable projectable range) that each franchise should be targeting. Trading up or down is not an option with this scenario and occasionally, the player picked in the mock draft is the same ideal target.


1st Round


Aaron Ekblad (OHL Images)

Aaron Ekblad (OHL Images)

1st Florida Panthers – Aaron Ekblad (RD)

If the Panthers keep the 1st overall pick, the mature Aaron Ekblad would be a defenseman that would strengthen Florida’s blueline and be ready to step into the lineup immediately. Expect GM Dale Tallon to field plenty of trade offers but Ekblad is a great consolation pick if the proposals fail to impress.

Alternative Option: Trade down to land top wingers Michael Dal Colle, William Nylander or Nikolaj Ehlers.

Rossy’s Ideal Panthers’ Target: Aaron Ekblad



2nd Buffalo Sabres – Sam Reinhart (RC)

While Aaron Ekblad is the stud defenseman of the draft, Kootenay’s Sam Reinhart will be heavily targeted. Even though Sam Bennett got the nod on NHL CSS’ final ranking, it’s Reinhart that could be the target of many teams looking to trade up.

Alternative Option: If Sam Reinhart is unavailable, the rebuilding Sabres must select defenseman Aaron Ekblad. Case closed.

Rossy’s Ideal Sabres’ Target: Sam Bennett


3rd Edmonton Oilers – Sam Bennett (LC)

Building down the middle is the standard course of action in the NHL and Edmonton will snatch up one of Bennett, Reinhart or Draisaitl when GM Craig MacTavish takes the stage. Loaded with character, compete and two-way skill, Bennett gives the Oilers a potential number one centerman but he won’t be arriving in 2014-15, a scenario Edmonton isn’t familiar with.

Alternative Option: Leon Draisaitl is the type of pivot the Oilers could use as he offers a strong possession game and size down the middle. Also, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Oilers give Nick Ritchie some serious consideration.

Rossy’s Ideal Oilers’ Target: Sam Reinhart


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22 CHL Players Invited to Under-18 Training Camp

Media Release


CALGARY, Alta. – Hockey Canada, in partnership with the Canadian Hockey League (CHL), announced Saturday the 22 players who have been invited to attend Canada’s National Men’s Under-18 Team training camp, April 5-8 at the MasterCard Centre in Toronto, Ont.


The roster includes three goaltenders, six defencemen and 13 forwards.

Read more…

Youngblood Special Release: 2014 NHL Draft Midterm Edition

February 18, 2014 1 comment
(OHL Images by Aaron Bell/Terry Wilson; Blended by Brendan Ross)

(OHL Images by Aaron Bell/Terry Wilson; Blended by Brendan Ross)

With the 2014 NHL Entry Draft scheduled to take place in just over four months, @RossyYoungblood has put together a special edition of Youngblood for hockey prospect fans.

Inside the latest Youngblood [2014 NHL Draft Midterm Edition] release, read up on the Top 30 prospect profiles (as ranked by @RossyYoungblood), browse through the Top 75 potential prospects for the upcoming draft and check off some notable OHL players to watch. Furthermore, enjoy a Mock Draft and feature story on Evaluating the Boom/Bust Prospect compiled exclusively for this special Youngblood edition.

As usual, all components of the Youngblood release are complimentary so sit back and enjoy.

FREE Download: 2014 NHL Draft Midterm Youngblood Edition


Read more…

Draft Watch 2013 – Top 10 WHL Players

Originally published at by Brendan Ross on March 11, 2013


Previous Draft Watch 2013 Articles:

Draft Watch 2013: Top 10 OHL Players


In modern day draft history, the Western Hockey League has produced some outstanding NHL players. Traditionally known as the go-to league when seeking out franchise defensemen, the NHL has welcomed familiar names like Dion Phaneuf, Brent Seabrook, Shea Weber, Mike Green, Cody Franson, Karl Alzner, Luke Schenn, Tyler Myers, Luca Sbisa, and Travis Hamonic from the Western Hockey League. In addition, up-and-coming players in Jared Cowen, Duncan Siemens, Joseph Morrow and 2012 NHL draftees Ryan Murray, Griffin Reinhart, Morgan Rielly, Mathew Dumba and Derrick Pouliot come with massive defensive potential. While the WHL continues to pump out valuable top defensemen, the 20-team league has been privileged to feature star talent at the forward position as well.  Evander Kane, Brayden Schenn, Ryan Johansen, Nino Niederreiter, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Sven Baertschi are all young forwards that have honed their skills in the Western Hockey League and all went on to be selected in the opening round of the annual NHL Entry Draft.

The WHL is one of the best developmental junior leagues in the world and scouts continue to travel vast distances across the prairies and mountainous landscape in search of the next top star player. Ryan Murray, selected 2nd overall in 2012, was one of 32 players drafted out of the Western Hockey League last year, and the first of six first round selections that featured Islanders’ Griffin Reinhart (4th), Maple Leafs’ Morgan Rielly (5th), Wild’s Mathew Dumba (7th), Penguins’ Derrick Pouliot (8th) and Coyotes’ Henrik Samuelsson (27th). Looking towards the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, the Western Hockey League features the top-ranked prospect available in defenseman Seth Jones of the Portland Winterhawks. With the assistance of Cody Nickolet (@WHLFromAbove), WHL radio colourman, who observes these players on a regular basis, the following list breaks down the Top 10 WHL Players available for the upcoming 2013 NHL Entry Draft:



Seth Jones (Image Courtesy of

Seth Jones (Image Courtesy of

1. Seth Jones, D (Portland Winterhawks)Skating in an already pro-size body, Seth Jones oozes the elite hockey sense, astute defensive awareness and confident poise that few defenders currently playing in the National Hockey League even own. Described by Nickolet as the “unquestionable number one ranked WHL player for the draft”, Jones is also considered the top ranked player in the entire draft class by virtually every major scouting agency. The rangy blue liner has revved up his offensive production as he nears a point-per-game pace and really has no glaring weakness in his game. Seth Jones may be the most complete defenseman to come along in modern day draft history and he is a player that projects perfectly to the NHL game and that makes him all that more attractive to scouts as the number overall selection.


2. Hunter Shinkaruk, LW (Medicine Hat Tigers)

“The WHL prospect with likely the highest offensive upside in the draft”, states Nickolet, as he mentions his offensive skillset and compete level as admirable qualities in Hunter Shinkaruk. He is a talented winger that plays a dynamic offensive game with an ability to dance around opposing defenders, release a dangerously accurate shot at the drop of a hat or use his advanced on-ice vision to feed a streaking teammate.


3. Ryan Pulock, D (Brandon Wheat Kings)

Among the top scoring defensemen in the WHL, Ryan Pulock was not able to surpass his impressive offensive totals from last year but his defensive game has improved in his third year of major junior hockey.  Pulock plays on a struggling Brandon Wheat Kings team which will not make playoffs and that limits scouts to just regular season action to gauge this hard-shooting defenseman’s potential. Pulock owns top 10 potential but after a few ups and downs this season and the fact that he is among one of the oldest players available, Pulock could slip a bit in the draft.


4, Josh Morrissey, D (Prince Albert Raiders)

NIckolet has Morrissey ranked as his 5th best WHL player but based on strong gut feelings, I feel as though Morrissey’s potential gives him the edge over borderline first round prospect Curtis Lazar (Nickolet’s 4th ranked WHL player).  As Cody Nickolet explains, “[Morrissey’s] stock has slid a bit for me since the start of the year but I still think he is a future top 3 defender.”  The Raiders’ leader in defensive scoring, Morrissey projects as a solid puck moving defenseman that can skate in defensive shut down situations, an area he has greatly improved during his draft year.


5. Madison Bowey, D (Kelowna Rockets)

Flawless skater with four-way mobility rarely observed in defensemen, Bowey uses his feetwork to create offensive chances as well as defend the opposition. He can skate the puck out of trouble and maintains good defensive positioning in the Rockets’ zone with his capability of jumping into the rush and easily getting back due to his quick feet. Bowey’s ability to make smart decisions and execute a clean first pass makes him an attractive selection inside the first round.


Nicolas Petan, C (Portland Winterhawks)

The Portland Winterhawks have become one of the top factories for producing NHL talent. After losing Sven Baertschi and Ty Rattie to the professional leagues, Portland Winterhawk sophomore Nic Petan has stepped up large. Competing relentlessly in a 5-foot-9 and sub 170-pound frame, Nic Petan has thrashed the WHL scoresheets racking up 45 goals and 111 points with just a few games remaining in the regular season of his draft year. Legitimate concerns surround Petan’s smaller stature and how his game will translate to the big leagues but with several promising smaller players experiencing current success in the NHL, a team with a middle to late first round selection may roll the dice early in the first round on this offensively dynamic forward.



7. Morgan Klimchuk, LW (Regina Pats)

Klimchuk is a hard-working winger that battles to get to the scoring areas and once he is there, he rarely misses. Regina’s scoring winger is not an overly dynamic forward but his strong hockey intelligence allows him to read the ice well as a scorer and a solid playmaker as well.  As primarily a shooter, Klimchuk owns a quick release and good accuracy but his ability to cover the ice using his feet is an underrated attribute as his scoring chances usually increase when the left winger is moving his feet. Klimchuk projects as a late first or early second round selection for the upcoming draft.


8. Curtis Lazar, C (Edmonton Oil Kings)

Lazar’s biggest criticism as a prospect is his limited offensive potential. NHL teams find it difficult to warrant the use of a first round selection on a player that projects merely as a “shutdown defensive forward, especially in a draft class littered with forwards owning intriguing offensive upsides. In saying that, Lazar was spectacular in the Edmonton Oil Kings’ 2012 WHL Championship run and his ability to step-up under pressure shows great character and a winning attitude and that attribute alone, could see him drafted very high.


9. Shea Theodore, D (Seattle Thunderbirds)

There seems to be a similar trend coming with WHL blue liners as most of the draft eligible defensemen are very good skaters. Seattle’s Shea Theodore is no different. His offensive style of game stems from his advanced skating ability. A defenseman who exemplifies smooth four-way ability, Theodore packages his quick feet with a deadly accurate point shot that makes him a true powerplay threat. As the WHL regular season approaches an end, Shea Theodore sits amongst the defensive scoring leaders in both goals (18) and points (48).


10. Dillon Heatherington, D (Swift Current Broncos)

Ranked ahead of Madison Bowey, Shea Theodore and Nicolas Petan on his personal list, Nickolet’s high praise of Broncos’ defenseman Dillon Heatherington was quickly noted by me as I personally had the former three players ahead of Heatherington.  Nickolet emphasized Heatherington’s large sized frame, great skating ability and two-way versatility as his best attributes and claimed, “Heatherington could be a top two defenseman [at the NHL level] if he hits his top ceiling.” However, the WHL radio colourman admitted, “Heatherington will more likely be a 30th to 45th selection but I like him more than most people.”


The Next 10….


11. Eric Comrie, G (Tri-City Americans)

12. Mirco Muller, D (Everett Silvertips)

13. Tristan Jarry, G (Edmonton Oil Kings)

14. Oliver Bjorkstrand, RW (Portland Winterhawks)

15. Eric Roy, D (Brandon Wheat Kings)

16. Mitchell Wheaton, D (Kelowna Rockets)

17. Kayle Doetzel, D (Red Deer Rebels)

18. Mason Geertsen, D (Vancouver Giants)

19. Greg Chase, C (Calgary Hitmen)

20. Jackson Houck, RW (Vancouver Giants)



The Next Best…

(Alphabetical Order)


Myles Bell, LW/D (Kelowna Rockets)

Jared Hauf, D (Seattle Thunderbirds)

Spenser Jensen, D (Medicine Hat Tigers)

Tyler Lewington, D (Medicine Hat Tigers)

JC Lipon, RW (Kamloops Blazers)

Roberts Lipsbergs, LW (Seattle Thunderbirds)

Marc McNulty, D (Prince George Cougars)

Connor Rankin, C (Tri-City Americans)

Ty Stanton, D (Medicine Hat Tigers)

Cole Ully, LW (Kamloops Blazers)


Interesting Player to Watch: Alex Forsberg, C (formerly on the Prince George Cougars)


Previous Draft Watch 2013 Articles:

Draft Watch 2013: Top 10 OHL Players


Coming soon…


Draft Watch 2013: Top 10 QMJHL Players

Categories: 2013 NHL Entry Draft, WHL

2013 Draft Class: The WHL Talents to Watch

March 21, 2013 Leave a comment


Originally Published at Dobber Hockey on Novermber 3rd, 2012




To start off the month of November the Dean’s List continues its focus on the 2013 NHL Draft Class as we head west to take a look at several names popping up in the Western Hockey League as potential first round talents. DobberProspects’ WHL scout Zenon Herasymiuk helps us out with his own first-hand observations of these prospects, each special in their own right.


At the 2012 NHL Entry Draft in Pittsburgh, the Western Hockey League produced six first round selections and five of those were snatched up within the first eight picks.  Ryan Murray (Everett) was the first WHL skater off the board when Columbus Blue Jackets’ drafted the two-way defender 2nd overall, and the dominos quickly fell after him as Griffin Reinhart (Edmonton), Morgan Rielly (Moose Jaw), Mathew Dumba (Red Deer) and Derrick Pouliot (Portland) were selected by the Islanders, Maple Leafs, Wild and Penguins respectively.


Henrik Samuelsson (Edmonton) was the lone WHL forward selected in the first round as the Phoenix Coyotes stepped up to the podium making the 27th overall selection.  As we look ahead to the 2013 NHL Draft, it appears that the first round talent from the WHL crop will be highlighted by both high-end defensemen and forwards. 


Seth Jones, D (Portland Winterhawks)


Featured over a year ago on The Dean’s List series, Texas-born defenseman Seth Jones has quickly ascended to the top of the 2013 draft class. With an athletic lineage (father was NBA’er “Popeye Jones”) it is not unexpected that Seth Jones acquired the natural athletic ability that his hockey game is so strongly built around. Jones opted to join the Portland Winterhawks for his draft year and the rookie defender has made lasting impressions early in his first WHL campaign.  Currently ranked second on TDL’s draft rankings, Jones is a toolsy defender that plays a complete game – a true franchise defender. His ability to move the puck, defend the attack, or intimidate the opposition with his physicality truly defines his versatility as a potential franchise defender. At 6’4” and over 205-pounds, Seth Jones is an intelligent defenseman that can out muscle and out think the opposition in so many ways that he will be leaned on as a minute-munching defenseman in all situations.


Jones has already been featured in some rankings as the top-ranked prospect available and while this rare type of coveted defender could certainly be worthy of first overall selection, TDL still feels as though Mooseheads’ Nathan MacKinnon holds the slight edge over Jones based solely on his elite upside. Jones has been compared to veteran NHLer Chris Pronger as he shares his compete level, incredibly complete package and ability to raise his game to elite levels when his team needs him most. As Seth Jones prepares himself on 2013 draft day, the rangy defender could very well find himself in a similar situation as Chris Pronger was back in 1993 when Hartford drafted the future hall of famer second overall.

After posting 12 points in 20 games as the captain of the USNTDP Junior team last season, Seth Jones has debuted in the WHL scoring four goals and 10 points, sitting with shiny plus-7 rating, through 13 regular season games.


Early Professional Projection (Upside): Franchise Defenseman



Ryan Pulock, D (Brandon Wheatkings) 


Knocking Seth Jones from his pedestal as the top ranked WHL defender will be impossible, but Wheat Kings’ offensive blueliner Ryan Pulock will certainly strive to push him. Currently sitting third in WHL defensive scoring with seven goals and 18 points, Pulock is this year’s most offensive defenseman available from the WHL. Pulock is an instinctual rearguard that uses his on-ice vision and hockey intelligence to read unfolding plays well in advance. “Pulock is a confident defenseman with an ability to make crisp outlet passes but can also skate the puck up the ice with poise”, explains Herasymiuk. He owns a “boomer” of a shot that features the quickness, heaviness and accuracy any NHL squad would love to add.

Herasymiuk points out that, “Pulock is decent defensively, but has room to grow in that area of his game. Ryan could also engage himself more physically as he does possess a good-sized frame”. Look for Pulock to be a hot commodity and finish among the leading defensive scorers in the WHL in both goals and points. The Dean’s List placed Ryan Pulock in the 6th position for its November 2013 NHL Draft rankings.


Early Professional Projection (Upside): Top-four offensive defenseman



Hunter Shinkaruk, LW (Medicine Hat Tigers)


The second 2013 prospect to be featured last year by TDL, Hunter Shinkaruk has been turning heads for several years now since being selected 14th overall by the Tigers in the 2009 WHL Bantam Draft. Shinkaruk is quickly making a name for himself as a dangerous forward capable of exploding with huge offensive games, as evident by his two four-point games and one five-point game already this season.  “Elite offensive skill set” is the response TDL received from Zenon Herasymiuk after asking him what Shinkaruk’s standout trait was. “Hunter has an ability to generate offense in a variety of ways – driving wide, gaining the line and pulling up to feed a teammate or using his quick shot”, explains Herasymiuk. Hunter Shinkaruk owns elite skating skills that feature smooth edgework, good agility and the elusiveness to shake off opponents. Herasymiuk confirms that Skinkaruk’s current weakness remains his “limited size and strength” but adds that the small winger “often suffers from narrow-mindedness and can be individualistic at times”.


Early indications appear to have Shinkaruk as a potential top-20 pick in the upcoming draft class but The Dean’s List has the offensively dangerous winger ranked ninth to start the month of November. In his sophomore season, Hunter Shinkaruk registered 49 goals and 91 points to finish among the WHL’s best and already has 25 points, including 11 goals, in his opening 18 games this season. Zenon Heramysiuk likes Hunter Shinkaruk’s playing style to current Calgary Flames’ winger Michael Cammalleri.


Early Professional Projection (Upside): Offensive scoring winger


 Curtis Lazar, C (Edmonton Oil Kings)


Scouts are enthusiastic about Edmonton Oil Kings’ forward Curtis Lazar and his professional style of game. Dobber Prospects’ writer Zenon Herasymiuk identified Lazar’s strength, “Curtis has an ability to make an impact at both ends of the ice. Lazar owns elite hockey intelligence and his adaptability as a player is certainly intriguing.” Herasymiuk informed TDL that Lazar can acclimate himself as a scorer, playmaker, penalty killer and excels in the shot blocking game as well.

The former 2nd overall selection in the 2010 WHL Bantam Draft, Lazar is skating in his second full WHL season and has already shown his value as a critical member of the Edmonton Oil Kings’ 2011-12 WHL Championship team. As a 17-year-old rookie, Curtis Lazar led his Oil Kings team in playoff scoring with 19 points in 20 post-season games. The 6’0”, 200-pound pivot packs a remarkable compete level and drive to win making him a coach’s luxury to have on the bench. As a centerman, Lazar is very responsible but could stand to improve in the faceoff dot. Furthermore, he doesn’t pack the offensive punch that one would expect from a top 10 draft pick and comes with less upside than most of his projected opening round peers. 

Through 15 games, Lazar has tallied eight goals and 11 points and owns a very responsible plus-4 rating. Herasymiuk throws out a Ryan Kesler as a comparison for Curtis Lazar’s playing style. Lazar currently sits 13th in TDL’s 2013 NHL Entry Draft rankings.


Early Professional Projection (Upside): Second line versatile center


Josh Morrissey, D (Prince Albert Raiders) Morrissey


Morrissey really came to the forefront of this WHL draft crop after his exceptional showing at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament this past August when he was among Team Canada’s top defensemen.  Formerly a sixth overall pick in the 2010 WHL Bantam Draft, Josh or J.T. Morrissey has become one of the WHL’s premiere puck-moving defenseman with a complete arsenal of offensive weaponry. Considered a two-way defenseman by most experts, Morrissey is extremely efficient as a member of the Raiders’ penalty kill and power play units. With the man advantage, Morrissey is the team’s powerplay quarterback utilizing his ability to walk the line and make clean crisp passes. Herasymiuk confesses, “Morrissey is an outlet specialist that uses his high-end hockey sense and smooth skating abilities to find open lanes for his teammates.” In his freshman season, Morrissey put up 10 goals and 38 points, as well as a minus-2 rating, on a last place team and those numbers are impressive considering the situation.


Morrissey’s most glaring weaknesses are his smaller stature  for a defenseman (6’0”, 185 lbs) and lower level of strength, although he does play with an edge. “Josh Morrissey has room to improve defensively as he relies too much on stick-checking in the defensive zone rather than playing the body physically”, Herasymiuk recognizes.

As the WHL season rolls over to November, Josh Morrissey currently sits seventh in WHL defensive scoring with three snipes and 14 points over the course of 16 games. When asked for a comparison from Dobber Prospects’ Zenon Herasymiuk, he directs us to Toronto Maple Leafs’ Jake Gardiner as a defenseman Morrissey models his game after. The Dean’s List has Prince Albert Raider Josh Morrissey ranked 14th in the 2013 NHL draft class for the month of November.


Early Professional Projection (Upside): Top-pairing puck moving defenseman.



A special thanks to DobberProspects’ WHL Scout Zenon Herasymiuk for his contributions. Feel free to follow him on Twitter



For all of you #FantasyHockey news and insight, please follow @RossyYoungblood as well as @DobberProspects

Categories: 2012 NHL Entry Draft, WHL

The Dean’s List – Battle of the 2009 WHL Bantam Top Picks

October 22, 2011 Leave a comment

Originally Published at Dobber Hockey

Written By:  Brendan Ross


In the next edition of The Dean’s List, the focus is turned to two potential first round picks that have been competing against each other for several years now. Previously, TDL examined a few defenders in “2012 Defensemen Draft Class” but now we turn our attention to two WHL defensemen impressing early on in the 2011-12 WHL season and are currently battling each other to earn the top draft position among WHL defenders.  There is no shortage of franchise defensemen in the 2012 NHL draft class but it appears that the WHL is breeding some of the best of the 2012 crop and both Morgan Rielly and Derrick Pouliot are among the league’s elite at the defenseman position.


Morgan Rielly – Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL) 

Born: March 9th, 1994
Height: 5’11.5”
Weight: 190
Shoots:  Left

2011-2012 Statistics:  10GP – 2G – 7A – 9P, 2PIM, +8

The Dean’s List has Morgan Rielly as the third best defender of the 2012 draft class after the likes of Everett’s Ryan Murray and Red Deer’s Mathew Dumba but Rielly could challenge both players for the top defenseman of the 2012 draft if his strong play continues.  The swift skating Rielly (not “Reilly”) is quickly moving up many scouting departments’ draft lists as he displays his strong two-way game.

Morgan has plenty of competition among blue liners for the upcoming draft but he has played near perfect hockey over the past six months and is establishing himself as a sure-fire first round (likely top ten) pick.  Rielly has impressive speed and agility which helps him offensively and defensively to both create and prevent goals.  The Vancouver native is a mobile defenseman capable of leading the rush and offensive play with his dynamic skating and puck handling abilities.  Prior to the Western Hockey League, Morgan racked up 18 goals and 55 points (43 games) playing for the Notre Dame Hounds AAA Midget team.  With the help of Rielly’s strong play the Notre Dame hounds won both the Provincial and Telus Cup championships.  The accomplishments would not go unnoticed as the Moose Jaw Warriors would make Rielly the second overall pick of the 2009 WHL Bantam draft.

Rielly has remarkable hockey sense and elite vision making him dangerous both on the rush and while defending the opposition.  The young seventeen year old is drawing early comparisons to Duncan Keith as scouts love the poise and confidence that Rielly displays on a nightly basis.  This past spring, Morgan had an exceptional Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament appearance for Team Canada and was often the team’s best player on the ice.  Morgan is off to a strong start playing for Moose Jaw as he has registered nine points in 10 games and sits at an impressive plus-eight rating.  Look for Morgan to challenge Murray and Dumba as he strives to become a top ten draft pick.


Derrick Pouliot – Portland Winterhawks (WHL)

Born: January 16th, 1994
Height: 5’11.25”
Weight: 186
Shoots:  Left

Statistics:  11GP – 3G – 8A – 11P, 6PIM, -5


The Saskatchewan native came out of the gates flying to open the 2011-12 WHL season scoring 10 points over his first seven games including a four-assist night against Seattle in his second game.  Derrick Pouliot was the first overall selection of the 2009 WHL Bantam Draft (ahead of aforementioned Morgan Rielly) and was a product of the Moose Jaw Warriors Midget AAA team where he managed to post a point-per-game pace with 43 points in 43 games (14 goals, 29 assists).  Pouliot is an elite skater and some people have called him the best offensive defenseman of the WHL’s top four (Murray, Dumba, Rielly and Pouliot).  Pouliot brings a similar game as his 2009 Bantam draft counterpart, Morgan Rielly, as both provide their teams with some game-breaking skills but Pouliot has struggled to develop the defensive acumen that Rielly has.

With his strong skating skills, Derrick is as dangerous as any 2012 defenseman and flourishes when showcasing his strong transition game. Pouliot thrives as a puck-moving defenseman capable of jumping into the rush at any moment and with his good on-ice vision he becomes a dangerous fourth forward in those rushes.  Scouts won’t be questioning Derrick Pouliot’s offensive abilities but they would like him to take the next step defensively to show that he can become a valuable top four defender at the NHL level.  The undersized defenseman will certainly be taken in the first round but at the moment he likely trails his WHL defensive colleagues in most draft rankings. 

Two years ago, the WHL held its annual Bantam draft and the first four picks were all highly touted defensemen.  Fast forward several years later as the focus turns to the 2012 NHL Entry Draft and the same four defensemen are headlining the Western Hockey League.  The Portland Winterhawks held the first overall selection of the 2009 WHL Bantam draft and selected defenseman Derrick Pouliot.  Next up was the Moose Jaw Warriors who opted to pluck Morgan Rielly out of the Saskatchewan Minor Hockey League.  Third on the docket was the Edmonton Oil Kings who chose Griffin Reinhart third overall.  The fourth pick was owned by the Red Deer Rebels who decided that Mathew Dumba would be the ideal pick.  These four defensemen join Ryan Murray (a first round selection in the 2008 Bantam draft) as some of the top defenders of the 2012 NHL Draft class and have their roots deeply buried in the Western Hockey League.

Derrick Pouliot may have had the upper hand in the 2009 WHL Bantam draft when he went first overall but The Dean’s List has the second overall pick, Morgan Rielly, leading the way in their 2012 NHL Draft rankings.  Look for Murray, Dumba, Rielly, Pouliot and Reinhart to represent the Western Hockey League when each of them becomes a first round selection next June.

The Dean’s List: Prospect Outlook – 2012 Forward Draft Class

August 5, 2011 Leave a comment

Originally Posted at

Written By:  Brendan Ross

Nail Yakupov aims to become the top pick of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft

The 2012 NHL draft class is quickly emerging as one of the best groups in recent years.  Highlighted by a slew of first round talent defensemen, the 2012 draft is shaping up to bring a little bit of everything from elite forwards to skilled agitators.  While the defensive depth will likely become what the 2012 draft is known for, there are also several skilled forwards who have the potential to become elite NHL stars.  The top three forward candidates make things even more intriguing as each of them are Russian talents and NHL GM’s surely couldn’t pass on all three of them because of their “Russian Factor”. Could they?  In its DobberHockey debut, The Dean’s List will take a look a few forward skaters who are likely to be selected in the first round of next year’s NHL Entry Draft.

Nail Yakupov, Sarnia Sting (OHL)

2010-11 Statistics:  65 GP – 49 G – 52 A – 101 P

Please welcome the “Nail” to the Mikhail vs. Nail 2012 first overall discussion.  When a high-flying, game breaking Russian talent enters the CHL and destroys all rookies finishing in the top five of OHL scoring all while breaking franchise scoring records (in less games) previously held by NHL Superstar Steven Stamkos, he will get noticed. Yakupov has solidified himself into the 2012 NHL Draft classes’ Top 5 (in my opinion) with his Bure-like speed, Datsyuk-like shiftiness, Kovalchuk-like sniping abilities and Ovechkin-like celebrations and passion.  Simply put, Yakupov is a treat to watch play hockey and Sarnia has never seen a talent like him in their franchise history (yes, even Stamkos).  The young Russian’s offensive flare and his love of the game have become contagious for everyone watching.  Last season, Nail Yakupov entered a foreign country and saw little (if any) adjustment period.

Entering his second OHL season, it will be interesting to see if Yakupov can improve on his production in his draft year, especially since Sarnia has added solid team depth that they did not have last season.  There is a chance that Yakupov does not improve on his numbers as scoring will be spread around and the young Russian may not be relied upon as much as last year.  If that situation arises, it will be intriguing to see if Yakupov becomes frustrated with his own personal success.  Yakupov loves to score goals and loves winning so I expect him to enjoy his season more as Sarnia finally becomes a winning team.

Mikhail Grigorenko, CKSA-Krasnaja Armija Moskva (MHL)

2010-11 Statistics:  43 GP – 17 G – 18 A – 35 P

NHL Scouts will not have to travel as far to see Grigorenko this upcoming season as the big Russian center has decided to come across the pond by committing to the QMJHL’s Quebec Remparts.  The decision to play in the CHL for his draft year will help ease some of the Russian factor that stigmatizes these Russian talents in past years.  Prior to his CHL commitment, Grigorenko appeared to be determined to make his mark in the KHL in his next step towards professional hockey.  Coming to North America will surely intensify the “Mikhail vs. Nail” discussions for first overall.  Unlike his country-mate, Grigorenko has favourable NHL size (6’3”) and has been compared to Canadian stars Joe Thornton and Mario Lemieux in the style of game that he plays.  Grigorenko was a dominating force during the past Under-18 World Championships notching four goals and 18 points in only seven games en route to Russia’s gold medal win. The 2011-2012 QMJHL Season will determine Grigorenko’s fate for the 2012 NHL Entry Draft and it wouldn’t be surprising to see the talented Russian lead all Q players in scoring.

Alex Galchenyuk, Sarnia Sting (OHL)

2010-11 Statistics:  68 GP – 31 G – 52 A – 83 P

With “AG94” (my personal tag for Alex) playing in my own backyard, I have had the privilege of watching this emerging superstar on a nightly basis.  Galchenyuk often finds himself playing in Yakupov’s shadow but it’s my belief that Alex will become a more valuable NHLer.  Remember, Galchenyuk (83 points as a ’94) finished third in CHL rookie scoring behind Yakupov (101 points as a ’93) and Sven Bartschi (86 points as a ’92) which is impressive as a 16 year old for most of the year.  The dynamic two-way center has quickly become my favourite OHLer as he competes hard at such a high level in all areas of the rink.  Scouts will learn to love this American born Russian as he plays a game that is almost identical to NHLer Marian Hossa.  Finding any flaws in Galchenyuk’s game is very difficult.  Alex is a great skater, strong on the puck,a deft puckhandler, owns a hard accurate shot, plays extremely responsible in his own end and has elite vision.  While Grigorenko and Yakupov may have the upper hand on pure offensive upside, Galchenyuk is no slouch in that area yet he owns a better overall game.

Henrik Samuelsson, US Under-17 Team (USHL)

2010-11 Statistics:  38 GP – 12 G – 16 A – 28 P

The son of former NHLer Ulf Samuelsson, Henrik is a big strong talented winger with tremendous on-ice vision and playmaking abilities.  Samuelsson competed in the Under-17 Hockey Challenge where he tied the tournament lead with his six goals while notching an impressive 10 points in only five games en route to a USA Championship.  Henrik also represented Team USA in the U-18 World Championships scoring one assist in six games as USA earned Gold again.  Samuelsson’s blood lines (father Ulf and brother Philip) won’t hurt his draft status but it is his combination of size, skills and elite hockey sense that will make Henrik a 2012 first round selection next summer.

Martin Frk, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)

2010-11 Statistics:  62 GP – 22 G – 28 A – 50 P

Frk (pronounced “Firk”) finished his first CHL season with a respectable 50 points in 62 games on a poor Halifax Mooseheads team.  The 5-foot-11 solid powerful Czech winger has not quite broken out but Frk has the skills to become a very good NHLer.  Frk may be missing some vowels in his name but he’s not missing much in his hockey game as he’s gifted with plenty of attractive skills. Frk has a powerful skating stride with a fantastic shot and is a player who is not afraid to get dirty.  Frk has shown that he does not back away from much on the ice and plays an edgy game.  The Czech winger enters his second ‘Q’ season with some much needed junior experience and will be joined by top QMJHL prospect Nathan MacKinnon after a trade last week.  Frk will be given more responsibility on the Czech WJC team this December and it will be interesting to see how he succeeds.  There are several scouts who feel that Frk has fallen in the 2012 draft class ranks but the gritty winger has good upside and lots of intangibles that NHL teams search for year after year  It is too early to write off a player with Martin’s skills.  If Frk can put together his total package then we could be looking at a Cam Neely or Steve Downie clone.

Pontus Aberg, Djurgarden J20 (SuperElit)

2010-11 Statistics:  41 GP – 13 G – 17 A – 30 P

Pontus Aberg is an intriguing prospect as his progression has been trending upwards as his successes continue to add up.  The Swedish goal scoring winger has been dubbed as one of the best scorers of his age. Aberg possesses great speed with strong puck handling skills, a good shot and above-average hockey IQ.  The 5-foot-11, 190-pound Swede has caught the eye of many scouts with his skill but also his enviable work ethic.  Pontus Aberg formed a deadly line with recently drafted prospects Mika Zibanejad (OTT 1st Rd, 6th) and Victor Rask (CAR 2nd Rd, 42nd) during the 2010 Ivan Hlinka Tournament where Aberg notched 5 goals and 8 points in just 5 games.  Aberg rarely takes a shift off and plays the game consistently on a nightly basis.  These attributes will surely get him noticed for the 2012 draft.

Zemgus  Girgensons , Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL)

2010-11 Statistics:  51 GP – 21 G- 29 A – 49 P

The Latvian born centerman quickly earned the trust of his coach Jim Montgomery as he showed his urge to compete as hard defensively as he did offensively.  At 6-foot-1-inch, Girgensons has good size to go along with good hockey sense, strong puck protection skills and good feet.  Girgensons is another 2011 CHL import draft pick (Kelowna Rockets) and has already committed to playing at University of Vermont beginning in the fall of 2012.  Zemgus’ passion for the game of hockey is admirable and he prides himself on playing the game “the Canadian way” which is likely why he has been compared early on to strong character players like Jonathon Toews and Mark Messier.  Those comparisons will attract a tonne of scouts as this big strong center enters into his draft year.

With the 2012 NHL Entry Draft eleven months away, there will be plenty of movement within the first round (as Sean Couturier can attest to).  The next ten months will determine who rises to the top amongst his peers and who struggles to maintain their position.  The projected talent of the 2012 draft class gives NHL teams and fans lots to be excited about and there will be plenty of scrutiny of these young kids as they chase their NHL dreams.

Be sure to follow The Dean’s List as the series continues to release names for the upcoming draft and also prospects from past drafts as they look to become fantasy relevant.  Next up, The Dean’s List will feature the defensemen to watch for the upcoming 2012 NHL Draft.

Follow The Dean’s List writer on Twitter @rossyyoungblood for more prospect information.