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Posted On Monday, 04.02.2012 / 1:45 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Prospecting with Central Scouting

A special dinner with Mr. Jim Gregory

The highlight of my weekend stay with NHL Central Scouting was, without question, Saturday night.

After being told a table for seven at a local steak establishment would take approximately 45 minutes, Hall of Famer Jim Gregory, 77, took out his cell phone and began punching in numbers while sitting in the driver's seat of his white Cadillac.

I'm thinking to myself, "This is going to be good."
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Posted On Monday, 04.02.2012 / 1:27 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Prospecting with Central Scouting

Who's your goalie?

Before I left the meetings for the flight back to New York, Central Scouting's Al Jensen was given the floor just prior to the lunch break to discuss the top North American goalies he had locked in on the draft board.

Keep in mind, the top eight goalies are usually invited to the NHL Combine in May.

Here are the numbers for the top five North American goalies  that Central Scouting had listed on their midterm rankings.

1-Malcolm Subban, Belleville, OHL, 39 games, 2.50 GAA, .923 save percentage
2-Matthew Murray, Sault Ste. Marie, OHL, 36 games, 4.08 GAA, .876 save percentage
3-Brandon Whitney, Victoriaville, QMJHL, 36 games, 2.74 GAA, .896 save percentage
4-Jon Gillies, Indiana, USHL, 48 games, 2.76 GAA, .916 save percentage
5-Jake Paterson, Saginaw, OHL 42 games, 3.42 GAA, .904 save percentage

Jensen went one by one, starting from the top. Many of the scouts, who obviously were involved with keeping tabs on skaters for much of the year, also watched a few of the top goalies ranked.

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Posted On Monday, 04.02.2012 / 11:17 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Prospecting with Central Scouting

Expectations for the top 2013 draft prospects

The scouts at Central Scouting had an interesting discussion on Monday morning regarding expectations of certain underage players in the season leading up to their draft year.

  Nathan MacKinnon, Halifax Mooseheads
Halifax forward Nathan MacKinnon, for instance, is regarded as a top five pick for the 2013 Draft. MacKinnon, who centered 2012 draft eligible wing Martin Frk most of the season, finished the regular season with 31 goals, 78 points and a plus-11 rating this season for the Mooseheads.  

Needless to say, expectations for the 16-year-old, 5-foot-11, 179-pounder will be through the roof in 2012-13. Add to that the fact MacKinnon is from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, the home to Sidney Crosby. He also played at Shattuck-St. Mary's, where Crosby spent some of his early years.

"It really isn't fair to put those expectations on Nathan," Central Scouting's B.J. MacDonald told NHL.com. "It's a tough label to carry. You're comparing him to Crosby, who has been the premier player in the NHL in the last number of years and probably the foreseeable future. That's tough."
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Posted On Monday, 04.02.2012 / 9:00 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Prospecting with Central Scouting

Central Scouting pleased with final top 10

I caught up with most of the scouts prior to calling it a day on Sunday and they all agree that the top 5 of the 2012 rankings of North American skaters is as solid as it can get at this stage in the season.

Here's a wrap-up of NHL.com's four days at the final Central Scouting meetings.

"Right now you have to be pleased," Central Scouting's Peter Sullivan told NHL.com. "We'll go back and hum and haw. It's never finished until it's finished [on Wednesday] and we have that luxury to go back, but we're pleased overall."

Sullivan and B.J. MacDonald are the lead scouts of the Western Hockey League, which is stocked with many talented defensemen this year. Making the decisions are never easy, but they both feel confident in the placement of players.

"We all have our individual lists and after the area groups are put in order [read here], we have to have respect for our part-time guys who do a lot of work for us," Sullivan said. "If my player isn't where I want him, I have to respect the rest of the group. If they've seen them as much as I have, and if they feel a player is better than my own personal player, so be it. We are here as a team, and that's the way we operate.
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Posted On Monday, 04.02.2012 / 8:01 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Prospecting with Central Scouting

NHL Combine

The next big NHL event following the Draft Lottery in two weeks is the NHL Combine held in Toronto from May 28 through June 2.

While there is no confirmation to the number of North American and European invites at the Combine just yet, the 2011 Combine had the top 75 North American skaters and 18 international standouts. Head goalie scout Al Jensen has traditionally had the top eight goalies attend.
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Posted On Sunday, 04.01.2012 / 9:00 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Prospecting with Central Scouting

NHL Central Scouting league lists

It's early Sunday morning and the men of NHL Central Scouting have returned to the hotel conference room here in Vaughan, Ont., to continue ranking the top North American prospects eligible for the 2012 NHL Draft.

The scouts currently are 50 players deep and into the heart of the second round. We're at a point now where it could be time to find those diamonds in the rough. That's precisely what Central Scouting is paid to do.

As promised, here are the top 10 players Central Scouting ranked in each league. In order to maintain some level of confidentiality, the players are listed in alphabetical order.

Keep in mind, this is the closest thing you'll get to a finalized list until the actual release of the "Big Chart", tentatively scheduled for April 9. The number beside each league represents the projected amount of first-round picks from that league's top 10.

Can you predict what the actual top 10 for each league might look like?

Western Hockey League (7)
Mathew Dumba, D, Red Deer
Ryan Murray, D, Everett
Derrick Pouliot, D, Portland
Griffin Reinhart, D, Edmonton
Morgan Rielly, D, Moose Jaw
Colton Sissons, C, Kelowna
Chandler Stephenson, C/LW, Regina
Lukas Sutter, C, Saskatoon
Dalton Thrower, D, Saskatoon
Mike Winther, C, Prince Albert

Ontario Hockey League (10)
Cody Ceci, D, Ottawa
Radek Faksa, C, Kitchener
Matthew Finn, D, Guelph
Alex Galchenyuk, C, Sarnia
Brendan Gaunce, C, Belleville
Slater Koekkoek, D, Peterborough
Scott Kosmachuk, RW, Guelph
Olli Maatta, D, London
Thomas Wilson, RW, Plymouth
Nail Yakupov, RW, Sarnia

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (2)
Francis Beauvillier, C/LW, Rimouski
Matej Beran, C, Prince Edward Island
Ryan Culkin, D, Quebec
Martin Frk, RW, Halifax
Mikhail Grigorenko, C, Quebec
Charles Hudon, LW, Chicoutimi
Tomas Hyka, RW, Gatineau
Christophe Lalancette, RW, Acadie-Bathurst
James Melindy, D, Moncton
Andrew Ryan, LW, Halifax

USA East (0)
Chris Calnan, RW, Nobles
Adam Gilmour, RW, Nobels
Brian Hart, RW, Exeter
Mark Jankowski, C, Stanstead High School
Samuel Kurker, RW, St. John's Prep
Cristoval 'Boo' Nieves, C, Kent School
Daniel O'Regan, C, St. Sebastian School
Doyle Somerby, D, Kimball Union
Devin Tringale, LW, Lawrence
Jimmy Vesey, LW, South Shore

USA West (5)
Phillip DiGiuseppe, LW, University of Michigan
Zemgus Girgensons, C, Dubuque
Nicolas Kerdiles, LW, USNTDP
Michael Matheson, D, Dubuque
Stefan Matteau, C, USNTDP
Jake McCabe, D, University of Wisconsin
Jordan Schmaltz, D, Green Bay
Patrick Sieloff, D, USNTDP
Brady Skjei, D, USNTDP
Jacob Trouba, D, USNTDP

Canadian Juniors (0)
Matthew Benning, D, Spruce Grove
Paul Dejersey, RW, Prince George
Rhett Holland, D, Okotoks
Alexander Kerfoot, C, Coquitlam
Jujhar Khara, LW, Prince George
Wade Murphy, RW, Penticton
Peter Quenneville, C, Sherwood
Devin Shore, C, Whitby
Reece Willcox, D, Merritt
Morgan Zulinick, C, Salmon Arm

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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Posted On Saturday, 03.31.2012 / 6:18 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Prospecting with Central Scouting

NHL Central Scouting completes Day 1

So NHL Central Scouting has wrapped up Day 1 of its final meetings of the top 2012 draft eligible North American players.

The group will do it all over again at 9 a.m. on Sunday, continuing where they left off on Saturday. The votes will continue to be tabulated to determine the top 210 North American skaters. The scouts will submit their votes via 'Meeting Manager' and, if needed, incorporate some hand votes if needed to break a tie.

On Monday, head goalie scout Al Jensen will offer his analysis of the top 30 goalies in North America.

On Sunday morning, the 'Prospecting with Central Scouting' blog will post the exclusive top 10 list of players selected from each league. The only catch is, players will be listed alphabetically, so you'll have to try and guess the order.

Check back on Sunday for more reports from the final Central Scouting meetings. In case you missed Saturday's feature on what the scouts think of prospect comparisons to NHL players, check it out.
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Posted On Saturday, 03.31.2012 / 1:19 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Prospecting with Central Scouting

US Hockey-West/OHL to dominant afternoon session

5:56 p.m. (ET) - So Central has whipped through the first round and is now tearing through Round 2 -- 50 names have been voted upon. While I know it's probably killing you not to know who is rated where, my apologies. The final list is tentatively scheduled for release on April 9.

Beginning 9 a.m. Sunday morning, the boys will return to the conference room and look over the lists. It's possible a few hand votes will take place if there is a discrepancy somewhere.

4:17 p.m. (ET) - The OHL is now complete and that means the scouts will be voting on those players who should be considered in the first round, in order. Central Scouting Director Dan Marr (tongue in cheek) just asked me in front of the whole group, "Ok Mike, who do you take?"

A great honor indeed. But I passed. Marr is now just awaiting word from New York that 'Meeting Manager' is ready to accept votes. The scouts will then load in their first few picks and 'Meeting Manager' will then provide the average picks. Discussion will then commence.

3:20 p.m. (ET) - Ottawa's Cody Ceci has received some nice praise here at the scouting meetings. Discussion of Belleville's Daniil Zharkov, Oshawa's Scott Laughton and Owen Sound's Jarrod Maidens are on the table.

One scout said, "Brendan Gaunce is going to make one NHL team very happy," and another told the group "Olli Maatta may be the smartest player in the draft."

2:52 p.m. (ET)
- So Chris Edwards is ready to begin discussion of the Ontario Hockey League and first item up up for discussion - that Nail kid.

I'm very interested in finding out where Yakupov's teammate in Sarnia, Alex Galchenyuk, will wind up. He was listed at a 'limited viewing' at the midterm ranks in January.

2:15 p.m. (ET) - Jack Barzee still meandering through US West players and we're now discussing possible sixth-round picks. Al Jensen, David Gregory and Dan Marr all making their points as Barzee moves down his list.

1:10 p.m. (ET) - So Hockey Hall of Famer Jim Gregory opened up the afternoon with some inspiring and encouraging words. He basically told the boys how proud he is to be associated with such a great group of workers. The scouts then thanked Gregory.

Jack Barzee is now leading the talks on those U.S. - Western players on the chart. The players are from many U.S. colleges, high schools and the United States Hockey League, which includes the National Team Development Program. Needless to say, USNTDP defenseman Jacob Trouba is highly regarded.

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Posted On Saturday, 03.31.2012 / 8:47 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Prospecting with Central Scouting

NHL Central Scouting begins final discussions ...


11:40 a.m. (ET) - The scouts have completed the ranking of players from the WHL. Quite an undertaking, but the boys broke it down extremely well and have left the meeting room for lunch. The Ontario Hockey League and U.S.-West skaters are up for discussion following the one-hour break.

11:00 a.m. (ET) -
Some great debate on Saskatoon's Dalton Thrower and Lukas Sutter and Regina's Chandler Stephenson, who played center/left wing.

10:40 a.m. (ET) - The Western Hockey League is now up for discussion. Of course, the league is stocked with defenseman. Ryan Murray, Morgan Rielly, Mathew Dumba, Griffin Reinhart and Derrick Pouliot were among the top 10 blue liners regarded highly at the midterm rankings in January.

Fantastic discussion on whether or not Dumba has accelerated his play over the second half of the season to make a jump in the final WHL ranks.

While defenders are dominating the talks, center Colton Sissons of the Kelowna Rockets is certainly a player that isn't overlooked here.

Scouts now viewing a fight that took place at Top Prospects Game between Dumba and Raphael Bussieres. You have to be here to hear the banter that takes place as they view a fight. It's like kids in a candy store.

And, yes, Ryan Murray, as you might expect, is regarded highly by every scout.
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Posted On Saturday, 03.31.2012 / 8:05 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Prospecting with Central Scouting

NHL Central Scouting ready to debate 2012 draft class

NHL Central Scouting is ready to rock here in Ontario this week to determine its final rankings of the top draft-eligible players on the board this June at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pa.

On Saturday, the pro scouts will have a go at it to determine this year's final list of the top 210 draft-eligible skaters and 30 goalies from North America for the 2012 NHL Draft.

NHL.com will also be present for the opening three days of the meetings, providing exclusive coverage. The scouts will no doubt be in heated debate, unveiling the pros and cons of every player from all the major junior leagues throughout North America.

Discussions will heat up almost immediately on Saturday morning as the scouts debate over who should receive the No. 1 overall placement among North American skaters. The four candidates expected to vie for that position will be Sarnia's Nail Yakupov, Quebec's Mikhail Grigorenko, Everett's Ryan Murray and Red Deer's Mathew Dumba.
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2012 NHL Draft