TORONTO -- Is there any question the Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League had the team to watch if you were a fan of blue-chip prospects eligible for the 2013 NHL Draft?
In addition to possessing forwards Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin, No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, on NHL Central Scouting's midterm ranking of the top draft-eligible North American skaters, Halifax goalie Zachary Fucale was rated No. 1 at his position.
Now, inquiring minds would like to know if the 2014 draft will offer a similar scenario, with one team cornering the market on top-tier draft prospects. NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards said he believes there might just be such a team.
"In 2013-14, Kingston in the Ontario Hockey League could be this year's Halifax," Edwards told NHL.com.
According to the veteran scout, the Frontenacs have a trio of players looking to make an impact in their draft season -- defenseman Roland McKeown, right wing Spencer Watson and center Sam Bennett.
"Roland has played in every situation and head coach Todd Gill has really worked with him," Edwards said. "He skates well, handles the puck well and can really move it. He plays a simple game and makes the right plays. He's still young, so you can't really say if he'll be more of a defensive guy or become more of an offensive defenseman, but it's going to be really interesting watching him grow into his game."
The 6-foot-1, 186-pound McKeown had seven goals and 29 points in 61 games for Kingston this season. He also was invited to Hockey Canada's training camp for the World Under-18 Championship team.
|Sam Reinhart, Kootenay Ice (WHL)|
Watson (5-10, 157) had 23 goals and 43 points in 63 games, while Bennett (6-0, 168) had 18 goals and 40 points in 60 games. Bennett will join McKeown at the World U-18 camp.
One of the players projected to go among the top three choices at the 2014 draft is center Sam Reinhart of the Kootenay Ice of the Western Hockey League.
Reinhart has solid bloodlines -- he's the youngest son of former Calgary Flames standout defenseman, Paul Reinhart.
"He's a complete package, meaning he has a complete game at both ends of the ice," Central Scouting's Peter Sullivan told NHL.com. "He does everything well. Thing is, he doesn't get you really excited, but from a coaching perspective, he's the guy you always want on the ice in critical situations. He's your go-to guy, a team leader. He's just going to be consistent at the junior level, and will eventually be the same way at the pro level."
Sullivan also said that Sam plays a different brand of game than his older brothers. Oldest brother Max, also a forward, made his NHL debut Saturday with the Calgary Flames. Middle brother Griffin, a defenseman, was taken by the New York Islanders with the fourth pick of the 2012 draft.
In his second full season with the Ice, Sam (6-0, 182) collected 35 goals and 85 points in 72 games. He has 65 goals and 149 points in 143 career regular-season games. He also was invited to the tryout camp for Canada's World U-18 team.
"All three Reinhart's are different players," Sullivan said. "But the youngest one [Sam] could turn out to be the best of the bunch."