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."