2011 NHL Entry Draft
2011 NHL Entry Draft Hats
Posted On Tuesday, 01.18.2011 / 10:26 AM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

NexTesting 'injury'

As the first group of players was going through on-ice drills for the Nex Testing cameras, there was on near fatality -- not to a player, thankfully.

As Red Deer Rebels center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins left the starting line for a speed drill, his stick caught the big digital read-out board that displays the players' times, nearly knocking it from its perch midway up the glass to the ice. Thankfully, the board survived the injury.
Posted On Monday, 01.17.2011 / 11:12 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

Top Prospect Game coaches working their own way

The Top Prospects Game is a pretty intense affair, but the coaches don't go overboard.

For the first on-ice sessions, Team Cherry coach Don Cherry didn't make it out to the MasterCard Centre tonight, leaving the on-ice work to his assistant coach, junior coaching legend Brian Kilrea.

When asked how much coaching Cherry really does, as compared to a Hockey Hall of Famer like Kilrea, Kilrea was quick to tell NHL.com with a broad smile, "This is Don's team, we're just his helpers."

On the other side, Team Orr coach Doug Gilmour was on hand, but one of his assistants, Wendel Clark, was missing.

Gilmour said he saw Clark last weekend when their sons were playing in a tournament in Kingston.

"I said are you coming out Monday," Gilmour told NHL.com. "He said no, I'll see you Wednesday."
Posted On Monday, 01.17.2011 / 11:05 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

Top prospects ready for skills competition

When told he'd be competing in the breakaway contest during the 2011 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Skills Competition on Tuesday, Sven Baertschi of the Ontario Hockey League's Portland Winterhawks smiled and pointed to his cell phone.

"I'll be phoning a friend," he said.

That friend, of course, is Portland teammate and fellow Switzerland native Nino Niederreiter. After all, it was only last year Niederreiter wowed those in attendance during the same event when he scored a one-handed backhand goal after throwing off his glove to distract the goalie. Niederreiter, a fifth-round draft pick of the New York Islanders last June, lost out to Carolina Hurricanes rookie Jeff Skinner, however.

"I'll have to find a move … and pretty quick," Baertschi said. "I'm probably going to ask Nino for a move. I know a couple, but I'm still going to call him."

There will no doubt be plenty of players seeking advice when the skills competition takes center stage at Air Canada Centre on Tuesday beginning 7 p.m. ET. It's simply a tune-up to the annual Top Prospects Game slated for 7 p.m. ET Wednesday at Air Canada.

The skills competition will include 40 of the Canadian Hockey League's top prospects eligible for the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. They'll be divided into four different events including the fastest skater, hardest shot, shooting accuracy, and the breakaway. Following the four events, all participants will have the ability to showcase their skills in a 3-on-3 game.

The competition will open with the top two ranked OHL defensemen in the fastest skater event including Team Orr's Dougie Hamilton of the Niagara IceDogs, ranked seventh by NHL Central Scouting, and Team Cherry's Ryan Murphy of the Kitchener Rangers, who is ranked 10th. The hardest shot contest will include a pair of Western Hockey League defensemen in Team Orr's David Musil of the Vancouver Giants, who is ranked 26th, and Team Cherry's Duncan Siemens of the Saskatoon Blades, No. 14 on the mid-term ratings. Second-ranked forward Sean Couturier of the Drummondville Voltigeurs and Team Cherry will compete in the shooting accuracy along with Saint John Sea Dogs' sniper Zack Phillips of Team Orr.  

Phillips was ecstatic when informed he'd be included in the shooting accuracy.

"Of any of the things I was doing here, that's the one I would have picked," Phillips said. "If you've ever seen me play, I'm not the best skater, so I really didn't want to be in the fastest skater event. I don't have that hard of a shot, so if it's going to be anything, it would have to be my accuracy. I'm happy I was put in that, so hopefully I'll be able to do alright."

When told Couturier would also be competing in the event, Phillips turned serious.

"You're kidding," he said.

"I think this is going to be a lot of fun," Couturier said. "For the scouts and fans, I'm just going to try and leave a good impression. It's a great opportunity to showcase and compare yourself to the best in North America."

The competition opens with the top two ranked OHL defencemen in the Fastest Skater event including Team Orr’s Dougie Hamilton of the Niagara IceDogs who is ranked seventh by NHL Central Scouting and Team Cherry’s Ryan Murphy of the Kitchener Rangers who is ranked 10th. The Hardest Shot contest features a pair of WHL defencemen including Team Orr’s David Musil of the Vancouver Giants who is ranked 26th, and Team Cherry’s Duncan Siemens of the Saskatoon Blades. Siemens is No. 14 on the NHL Central Scouting midterm rankings.

"I've never done (hardest shot) in a competition before so it'll be different," said Team Cherry defenseman Scott Harrington of the London Knights. "Growing up and shooting pucks in my backyard, I had a radar, but I don't know how accurate that was. It was always nice to compete against yourself and get your shot up there, but it'll be interesting to see how my shot matches up against the rest of the guys. That's what I'm looking forward to the most."

The breakaway competitors include Team Orr's No. 3-rated Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Red Deer Rebels and No. 4 Bartschi of the Winterhawks. They will try and outperform Team Cherry's No. 24-rated player Tomas Jurco of Saint John and No. 19 Ryan Strome of Niagara. Both Jurco and Strome had highlight-reel breakaway goals this season for their respective clubs.

The showdown breakaway made its debut last season in Windsor.

The best individual score in each event receives a goal for their team, with another goal awarded for the best team average from each event for a total of eight available goals. The 3-on-3 game consists of two 15-minute periods with running time with all goals scored counting towards the overall competition score.

CHL/NHL Top Prospects Skills Competition

Fastest Skater

Team Orr:
Dougie Hamilton, Niagara IceDogs
Shane McColgan, Kelowna Rockets
Nathan Beaulieu, Saint John Sea Dogs
Daniel Catenacci, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds

Team Cherry:
Ryan Murphy, Kitchener Rangers
Mark McNeill, Prince Albert Raiders
Tobias Rieder, Kitchener Rangers
Rickard Rakell, Plymouth Whalers

Hardest Shot

Team Orr:
David Musil, Vancouver Giants
Stuart Percy, Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors
Vincent Trocheck, Saginaw Spirit
Reece Scarlett, Swift Current Broncos

Team Cherry:
Myles Bell, Regina Pats
Scott Harrington, London Knights
Duncan Siemens, Saskatoon Blades
Tyler Wotherspoon, Portland Winterhawks

Shooting Accuracy

Team Orr:
Lucas Lessio, Oshawa Generals
Zack Phillips, Saint John Sea Dogs
Boone Jenner, Oshawa Generals
Colin Jacobs, Seattle Thunderbirds

Team Cherry:
Sean Couturier, Drummondville Voltigeurs
Matthew Puempel, Peterborough Petes
Shane Prince, Ottawa 67’s
Phillip Danault, Victoriaville Tigres

Showdown Breakaway

Team Orr:
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Red Deer Rebels
Brandon Saad, Saginaw Spirit
Sven Bartschi, Portland Winterhawks
Vladislav Namestnikov, London Knights
Jonathan Huberdeau, Saint John Sea Dogs
Xavier Ouellet, Montreal Juniors

Team Cherry:
Ty Rattie, Portland Winterhawks
Tomas Jurco, Saint John Sea Dogs
Nicklas Jensen, Oshawa Generals
Ryan Strome, Niagara IceDogs
Mark Scheifele, Barrie Colts
Joe Morrow, Portland Winterhawks


Team Orr:
Jordan Binnington, Owen Sound Attack
Liam Liston, Brandon Wheat Kings

Team Cherry:
Christopher Gibson, Chicoutimi Sagueneens
David Honzik, Victoriaville Tigres

Posted On Monday, 01.10.2011 / 1:10 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

NHL Central Scouting releases mid-term rankings

The tireless hours spent by NHL Central Scouting the last three months culminated in the mid-term release of the top North American and international skaters and best North American and international goaltenders on Monday afternoon.

Interestingly, a couple of Swedes, forward Gabriel Landeskog and defenseman Adam Larsson, top their respective lists. Both players were recent teammates for Sweden during the 2011 IIHF World Junior Championship in Buffalo, N.Y., although Landeskog was limited to just one game after re-aggravating an ankle sprain.

Landeskog, the power-forward who is in his second season with the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League, heads the North American group. Larsson, who has spent his career building an impressive resume in the Swedish Elite league, tops the international list.

NHL.com has all the details and lists available on its home page, so check them out if you haven't already done so. In case you missed an earlier feature on Landeskog, check it out right here.

Another interesting note is the fact, unlike previous draft lists, no North American defenseman is rated among the top five. In fact, you'd have to go to No. 7 on the list, Dougie Hamilton of the OHL's Niagara IceDogs, before you find a blue liner. He is followed by No. 9 Nathan Beaulieu of Saint John in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and No. 10 Ryan Murphy of the OHL's Kitchener Rangers.

Another interesting tidbit is the fact the last time the QMJHL produced as many as four first-round NHL draft picks was 2007 when forwards Jakub Voracek, Logan MacMillan, Angelo Esposito and David Perron were all taken among the top 26 selections.

There's a good chance that mark will be equaled, if not surpassed, on June 24 when the opening round of the 2011 Entry Draft is held at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. According to Central Scouting's mid-term ratings, there's a chance as many as four players will be selected in the first round from the Sea Dogs. They include No. 4 Jonathan Huberdeau, No. 9 Nathan Beaulieu, No. 12 Zack Phillips and No. 24 Tomas Jurco.

There's little doubt center Sean Couturier of the Drummondville Voltigeurs will be the first player plucked from the QMJHL in the opening round. He's collected 57 goals and 149 points in 101 games in Drummondville over two seasons and is considered the can't-miss prospect from the league. He also sports a plus-85 rating.

"I think this year is going to be an outstanding year for the 'Q'," Sea Dogs coach Gerard Gallant told NHL.com. "Couturier is obviously a big guy in there, but just from seeing some of the teams already, there's real good young talent in the league. Last year, we weren't to happy with the talent in the Q that went in the draft, but from what I'm seeing, it's going to be a good draft year for the Q in the NHL. We'll have more high-end talent in the league this year for sure."
Posted On Monday, 12.13.2010 / 9:27 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

Carolina draft guru discusses Jeff Skinner

In October, Edmonton Oilers head amateur scout Stu MacGregor spoke to NHL.com about the process of pinpointing the top players eligible for the Entry Draft. It was rather enlightening, particularly since MacGregor played one of the lead roles in choosing Taylor Hall with the first overall pick in the 2010 Draft. Read MacGregor's story here.

This month, we spoke to Carolina Hurricanes head amateur scout Tony MacDonald, who provided the story behind the drafting of Jeff Skinner seventh overall in the 2010 Draft.

It's interesting to hear about what the top scouts are looking for and how they ultimately determine who should be drafted when and where. For one thing, it's certainly interesting reading for those eligible 2011 prospects.

The drafting of Skinner was somewhat of an eye-opener, particularly since the Kitchener Rangers center had been rated 34th among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting heading into the draft at Staples Center in Los Angeles. But he was deemed much higher by MacDonald, whose decision is now looking pretty golden.

Instead of getting an invite to the Canadian World Junior camp, Skinner continues to do his best in helping the Hurricanes as one of the top rookies in the League. Skinner has 8 goals and 20 points in 28 games for the 'Canes this season in 16:21 of ice time per game.

In recent games, Skinner has basically played left wing alongside center Tuomo Ruutu and Chad LaRose.

In case you missed it, the top-rated defenseman in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Saint John Sea Dogs blueliner Nathan Beaulieu, explains his path to prominence in the Canadian juniors.
Posted On Friday, 12.10.2010 / 9:15 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

A 'Big Chill' in the air

The hockey programs at No. 11 Michigan and Michigan State are set to go head-to-head on Saturday in 'The Big Chill' -- the much anticipate outdoor hockey extravaganza that is sure to leave more than its share of lasting memories of the Big House at Michigan University.

In case you missed it, NHL.com correspondent James Murphy crafted an eloquent piece on the big game. Read it here.

The Wolverines were practicing in flurries in their first two days of workouts outdoors this week and no matter the elements or conditions on Saturday, a crowd of over 100,000 is expected. For the record, however, there's a 20 percent chance of snow for the fifth major college outdoor hockey game.

All 109,901 tickets have been sold for the Central Collegiate Hockey Association game. The original Cold War game on the campus of Michigan State at Spartan Stadium in 2001 broke the all-time hockey attendance, 74,544. A world-record attendance of 77,803 last May watched the USA play Germany in the domed Veletins Arena soccer stadium at the World Championships in Gelsenkirchen, Germany.

If you're going to the game, you might want to pay special attention to three players who were named 'C Players' to watch in the CCHA by the NHL's Central Scouting Service. A 'C Rating' is designated to a player the Central Scouting is tracking as a potential late-round selection for the 2011 Entry Draft.

Those players include defenseman Kevin Clare and center Jacob Fallon of Michigan and goaltender Will Yanakeff of Michigan State. There's a strong possibility, however, that Yanakeff will be backing up Drew Palmisano in the MSU net on Saturday.

Clare has played just six games and has one assist and four shots. Fallon, whose strengths are his speed and passing ability, has a goal and three points in 12 games for the Wolverines. Fallon's career took a bit of a hit last winter when he was suspended by the USNTDP for a drinking violation. A month and a half after returning from suspension, he was involved in another incident and chose to leave the program for the Indiana Ice of the United States Hockey League for a fresh start. Despite all that, Fallon has made good for head coach Red Berenson and still expects to be an NHL draft pick in June.

Yanakeff, whose favorite player is former MSU standout and 2010 Vezina Trophy winning NHL goalie Ryan Miller of the Buffalo Sabres, is 0-1-0 with a 3.00 GAA and .886 save percentage this season. In 10 games with the Waterloo Blackhawks of the USHL, Yanakeff went 5-5-0 with a 3.41 GAA.

More details and a live audio feed of the game, which begins 3 p.m. ET, can be accessed here.
Posted On Friday, 12.03.2010 / 9:40 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

A 'Boone' for any team

NHL.com offered a few interesting 2011 draft eligible prospect pieces posted this week.

The first was on YouTube sensation Ryan Strome of the Niagara IceDogs in the Ontario Hockey League. Strome connected for a pair of goals on Thursday to lead Niagara to a 5-3 victory over the Windsor Spitfires before 5,960 at the WFCU Centre. Read Strome's tale right here.

Scott Mayfield of the Youngstown Phantoms in the USHL wrapped up a huge month of November, which included a gold medal for Team USA at the World Junior 'A' Challenge in Penticton, B.C., in his draft blog. Excellent read.

On Dec. 2, we released a feature on Oshawa's Boone Jenner, who learned very early in life the value of heavy labor. Read it here.

Some of you may recall the time Matt and Terri Jenner were in quite a quandary on Sept. 19, 2009, when their youngest son, Boone, and eldest, Leo, were scheduled to go head-to-head in an OHL match at Compuware Arena in Plymouth, Mich.

Leo, at the time a 6-foot-4, 224-pound defenseman for the OHL's Plymouth Whalers, even found himself denying little brother Boone at certain points in the game within the defensive zone.

"It was nerve-wracking," Terri Jenner told Peter Krupsky of the Plymouth Whalers Examiner after the game. "But it was fun and worth it."

Terri donned an Oshawa jersey in honor of Boone while Matt wore a Plymouth jersey for Leo, who played five seasons in Plymouth. He's currently starring at Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia.

As it turned out, 6-1/4, 194-pound Boone held his own playing center for the Oshawa Generals but Plymouth would prevail in overtime, 6-5.

The Jenners would combine for three goals and an assist in the game -- Leo hitting once and Boone depositing a pair of deflections when Oshawa rallied to tie the contest in the third period. The end wasn't quick enough for the parents, however.

"I remember scoring a goal in that first game we played them and he was on the ice so I let him know about that every now and again," Boone said. "He always says it was on the power play so I had the advantage."
Posted On Monday, 11.29.2010 / 10:00 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

Murphy leads OHL defenders

Kitchener Rangers defenseman Ryan Murphy admits he used to model his game after defenseman Bryan McCabe.

"But (McCabe) has gotten a little older know, so I've moved on to Mike Green," he admits. Still, the Markham, Ont. native has also listed San Jose's Dan Boyle as his favorite NHL player.

Whatever the case may be, Murphy is doing a fine job of making a name for himself in his second season in the Ontario Hockey League. He leads all defensemen in goals (13), assists (26) and points (39) while compiling an angelic-like 8 penalty minutes in 24 contests. He also sports a plus-5 rating.

It was quite a learning experience in 2009-10 for Murphy, who is No. 8 on the NHL Central Scouting's preliminary ratings for OHL players. Murphy was cut from Canada's Under-18 team that won a third straight gold at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial in Slovakia and the Czech Republic last August. He felt the team just wasn't in need of an offensive-defenseman.

"Coming in, I was pretty scared of all the hazing I guess, but in Kitchener, everyone was just great to me," Murphy recalled. "All the vets treated me like just another player and I just loved being there. It's a great organization."

Murphy recorded 17 points, including 5 goals, in 20 games to help the Rangers reach the semifinals of the OHL tournament last season -- taking eventual champ Windsor to the limit. He notched 6 goals and 39 points in 62 regular-season games.

"Going into the playoffs, only four or five players on the team had playoff experience," Murphy said. "So my coach told us, 'get ready for the next year.' Going that deep in the playoffs, a bunch of us got playoff experience, it was just great for us."

The trick for Murphy to have an even greater impression on scouts heading into the 2001 Entry Draft will be to play well enough so that people forget about his diminutive frame (5-foot-10 1/2, 176 pounds). He has the capability, too, with his smarts and quickness in tight spaces.

"I'm an offensive defenseman," Murphy said. "I love to handle the puck. I like to play defense, but I would rather be in the offensive zone, I love points."

Said Central Scouting's Chris Edwards: "Ryan has real good mobility. He's a bit of a gambler. He's going to have to concentrate on making good plays. He got himself into trouble making those high-risk plays, but that's what they used to say about (Montreal rookie) P.K. Subban. He's at least as good a skater as Subban."

Murphy, Kitchener's first round selection (third overall) in the 2009 OHL Priority Selection, was invited to Team Canada's summer selection camp in July.

He was surrounded by other draft-eligible prospects on the White Team, including Dougie Hamilton of Niagara and Duncan Siemens of Saskatoon (WHL). Hamilton is rated No. 3 on Central Scouting's OHL list and Siemens No. 8 on the Western Hockey League list.
Posted On Friday, 11.19.2010 / 2:15 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

NHL.com staffers offer initial mock draft

There's never a right or wrong time to sit down and put together a mock draft, but now that NHL's Central Scouting has done much of the heavy lifting after producing their preliminary ratings for the 2011 Draft in June, it seemed like a pretty good time to make an attempt.

That's what me and Adam Kimelman determined, at least, when we each sat down and put our best foot forward by scribing our first -- of what could be several -- mock drafts. It wasn't easy, but at least it'll get all of us talking, debating, yelling, criticizing and, we hope, smiling (It's Thanksgiving, for crying out loud). Give thanks, not grief.

Anyway, you can eye our picks right here! I love the fact that we both have a different player going to the Islanders at the top spot and, of course, for different reasons.

By the way, in case you missed it, Kelowna Rockets forward Shane McColgan checked in with his monthly blog this week and shared some interesting insight into former Kelowna alum who have aided him during his draft year.
Posted On Thursday, 11.18.2010 / 3:30 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

Point leaders among CSS-rated players

With the NHL's Central Scouting preliminary rankings still fresh in everyone's mind, now's as good a time as any to take a look at each of the three Canadian Hockey Leagues and the United States Hockey League and compare those ratings with the top scorers.

Of course, what does it mean? Not much when you take into consideration defenders aren't asked to be goal-scorers and players competing for teams that are struggling are at a disadvantage. But, it is fun to take a look at where some of the top-rated prospects are in terms of production in their respective leagues.

Ontario Hockey League
Ryan Murphy, Kitchener, 20 games, 11-24-35, 8th CSS, 4th in scoring
Ryan Strome, Niagara, 21 games, 10-23-33, 4th CSS, 8th in scoring
Gabriel Landeskog, Kitchener, 20 games, 17-14-31, 1st CSS, 10th in scoring
Alexander Khokhlachev, Plymouth, 20 games, 9-19-28, 12th CSS, 14th in scoring
Daniel Catenacci, Sault Ste. Marie, 22 games, 10-15-25, 16th CSS, 18th in scoring

Western Hockey League
Ty Rattie, Portland, 23 games, 14-25-39, 3rd CSS, 2nd in scoring
Sven Bartschi, Portland, 23 games, 16-17-33, 2nd CSS, 4th in scoring
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Red Deer, 22 games, 5-25-30, 1st CSS, 10th in scoring

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League
Sean Couturier, Drummondville, 26 games, 14-20-34, 1st CSS, 5th in scoring
Jonathan Huberdeau, Saint John, 23 games, 15-15-30, 2nd CSS, 10th in scoring
Phillip Danault, Victoriaville, 23 games, 11-16-27, 4th CSS, 17th in scoring

United States Hockey League
Rocco Grimaldi, USNTDP, 19 games, 14-10-24, 4th CSS, 1st in scoring on USNTDP
Reid Boucher, USNTDP, 18 games, 6-7-13, 13th CSS, 3rd in scoring on USNTDP
J.T. Miller, USNTDP, 17 games, 2-11-13, 2nd CSS, 4th in scoring on USNTDP
Tyler Biggs, USNTDP, 17 games, 6-4-10, 1st CSS, 5th in scoring on USNTDP
*Seth Ambroz, Omaha, 8 games, 2-2-4, 3rd CSS
*Scott Mayfield, Youngstown, 10 games, 1-2-3, 4th CSS

* - Have played fewer games in USHL in order to compete for U.S. Selects Team.
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