How tough is it at this point in the season to pinpoint one prospect capable of living up to all the hype as the first overall choice in the 2011 Entry Draft in June?
So tough that even E.J. McGuire, the Director of NHL's Central Scouting, admits there is no consensus No. 1 -- for now.
"In mid-November, (Central Scouting) will put out their (preliminary rankings) once we've had a chance to comb the major junior leagues and, from that, we'll usually get our top 1-2-3 guys," McGuire told NHL Live! on Thursday. "There are some top guys from each of the three leagues this year and there's probably one Swedish guy (defenseman Adam Larsson) who'll also be top 5 next year."
While no one player has taken the lead as top gun, McGuire certainly didn't hold back when asked his opinion of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of Red Deer in the Western Hockey League.
"Ryan is the type of player who goes through traffic -- he's not likeable in a china shop," McGuire said. "I had the pleasure to watch him at the Research, Development and Orientation Camp in Toronto in August and no one executed the long pass better than Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. He's a bring-the-fans-out-of-your-seat kind of player with all his offensive moves."
Nugent-Hopkins is more of a skilled forward as compared to those power types, according to McGuire. To get more insight into Nugent-Hopkins, check out his blog on NHL.com.
"Early in the season, Sean Couturier is that power-forward type playing with Drummondville in QMJHL," McGuire said. "He's a big, strapping center, tall and rangy, and he might go No. 1 overall."
Sean was born in Phoenix, Arizona, when his father Sylvain Couturier played for the IHL's Phoenix Roadrunners and moved to Bathurst after his dad's retirement. Couturier has drawn comparisons to a young Vincent Lecavalier, although he claims to model his game after Pittsburgh Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin. Through 19 games this season, he's produced 11 goals and 25 points.
McGuire also touched on a few players generating a buzz throughout Central Scouting headquarters. Three of the five players he mentioned -- Adam Clendening of Boston University, Shane McColgan of Kelowna in the WHL and Seth Ambroz of the Omaha Lancers in the USHL -- have already been featured on NHL.com.
McGuire also recognized U.S. National Team Development Program member Connor Murphy, a defenseman who is currently sidelined with an ailing back, and David Musil of the Vancouver Giants in the WHL. Musil, also a defenseman, has 2 goals, 10 points and 24 penalty minutes in 16 games with Vancouver this season. He produced 7 goals, 32 points and 67 PIM in 71 contests last season.