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Road to St. Paul blog

Sunday, 12.19.2010 / 8:56 PM / 2011 NHL Entry Draft

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Road to St. Paul blog
NHL.com dishes on the 2011 NHL Entry Draft in St. Paul, Minnesota.
U.S. loses to RPI in pre-WJC scrimmage
12.19.2010 / 9:00 PM ET

The U.S. National Junior Team opened its pre-World Junior Championship tournament schedule on Sunday with a 4-3 shootout setback to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute at the Houston Field House in Troy, N.Y.

The contest was the first of three pre-tournament games slated to prepare the U.S. for the 2011 IIHF WJC scheduled Dec. 26 through Jan. 5 in Buffalso, N.Y. The 29-player roster will be trimmed to 22 on Wednesday morning.

Chris Brown (Flower Mound, Texas/Univ. of Michigan) scored twice for the United States and goalie Jack Campbell stopped 12 of 14 shots in 31:58 of action before being replaced by Andy Iles (4 of 6 saves).

"I don't know if I'd call it a crazy game, but it certainly was an interesting finish," said USA coach Keith Allain. "We'll continue to evaluate our players as we get closer to the tournament."

Team USA took a 1-0 lead less than two minutes into the first period. Brock Nelson (Minneapolis, Minn./Univ. of North Dakota) won an offensive-zone faceoff cleanly to Brown, who fired a shot high past the blocker of Rensselaer goalie Allen York. York, incidentally, made 34 saves, including 17 of 18 in the opening period when the U.S. was consistently buzzing in the RPI end.

Rensselaer took a 2-1 lead early in the second period, but Team USA responded to tie it when Drew Shore (Denver, Colo./Univ. of Denver) slid a pass through the slot to Emerson Etem (Long Beach, Calif./Medicine Hat Tigers), who fired a quick shot over York's glove.

The U.S. regained its one-goal lead with less than 10 seconds remaining in the second off a three-on-two rush when Brown connected for his second of the night off a shot high to the far post. RPI answered back late in the third to square the game again and send it into overtime. After a scoreless extra frame, RPI needed 12 shootout rounds to defeat Team USA, as Jerry D'Amigo (Binghamton, N.Y./Toronto Marlies) failed to convert on the final shot. Team USA finished 0-for-4 on the power play, while Rensselaer was 1-for-3 with the man advantage

The U.S. will play its next pre-tournament game on Tuesday (Dec. 21) against the Czech Republic at The Sports Centre at MCC in Rochester, N.Y.

GAME SUMMARY

Scoring By Period
USA    1 -    2 -    0 -    0 -    0 -    3
RPI    0 -    2 -    1 -    0 -    1 -    4

First Period - Scoring: 1, USA, Brown (Nelson), 1:29. Penalties: RPI, Polacek (tripping), 9:44; RPI, Rogic (boarding), 17:19; USA, Brown (holding), 19:50.

Second Period - Scoring: 2, RPI, Lee (Cullen, O'Grady), 1:39 (pp); 3, RPI, Polacek (Rogic, Bailen), 6:37; 4, USA, Etem (Shore), 9:48; 5, USA, Brown (Nelson, Zucker); 19:53. Penalties: RPI, Bergin (roughing), 4:29; RPI, Bergin (elbowing), 11:58.

Third Period - Scoring: 6, RPI, Nolan (unassisted), 17:17. Penalties: USA, Brickley (charging), 12:00; USA, Brown (goalie interference), 18:57.

Overtime - Scoring: None. Penalties: None.

Shootout - USA, D'Amigo (no goal); RPI, Helfrich (no goal); USA, Bjugstad (no goal); RPI, Polacek (no goal); USA, Brown (no goal); RPI, Bailen (no goal); RPI, Polacek (no goal); USA, Nelson (no goal); RPI, Higgs (no goal); USA, Clendening (no goal); RPI, Lee (goal); USA, Zucker (goal); RPI, Polacek (no goal); USA, Zucker (no goal); RPI, Lee (goal); USA, Grimaldi (goal); RPI, Helfrich (no goal); USA, Grimaldi (no goal); RPI, Foss (goal); USA, Shore (goal); RPI, Bailen (goal); USA, Zucker (goal); RPI, O'Grady (goal); USA, D'Amigo (no goal).

Shots 1    2    3    OT   SO Total
USA   18    9    8    2    0    37
RPI    7    8    4    0    1    20
                              
Goaltenders (SH/SV)    1    2    3    OT    SO    Total
USA, Campbell 31:58   7-7    7-5    --    --    --    14-12
USA, Iles 33:02    --    1-1    4-3    0-0    1-0    6-4
RPI, York 60:00    ---18-17    9-7    8-8    2-2    0-0    37-34

Ellis to captain Canada at WJC
12.19.2010 / 1:15 PM ET

The longest-tenured member of the 2011 National Junior Canadian Team, defenseman Ryan Ellis, was named the captain for the upcoming tournament in Buffalo, N.Y. beginning Dec. 26.

The decision was made Sunday by Canada's managerial staff, including head coach Dave Cameron.

Ellis will be taking part in his third World Junior Championship, having won gold in 2009 and silver in 2010.  He is only the seventh player in Hockey Canada's program to represent Canada at three IIHF World Junior Championships, joining Jay Bouwmeester (2000-02), Jason Spezza (2000-02), Jason Botterill (1995-97), Martin Lapointe (1991-93), Eric Lindros (1990-92) and Trevor Kidd (1990-92).  The native of Freelton, Ont. is also the co-leading top scoring defenceman of all-time with Canada's National Junior Team, with 14 points (tied with Alex Pietrangelo).

Ellis is the 31st captain all-time for the National Junior Team since 1982 -- there were two captains in 1998 -- and the 11th captain from Ontario and 10th from the OHL.

Ellis serves as captain of the OHL's Windsor Spitfires, and won Memorial Cups with Windsor in 2010 and in 2009.

Serving as alternate captains for Team Canada will be the three other returnees to the World Junior roster, including Jared Cowen (Allan, Sask./ Spokane, WHL), Calvin de Haan (Carp, Ont./Oshawa, OHL) and Brayden Schenn (Saskatoon, Sask./Brandon, WHL).

-- Mike G. Morreale

Canada's in and out
12.15.2010 / 12:13 PM ET

Hockey Canada has made the roster for the National Junior Team official, which you can read about here.

No real surprises, although if Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had made the team I wouldn't have been surprised. But coach Dave Cameron is a pretty sharp guy, and he knows what it takes to build a World Juniors winner -- he was an assistant to Pat Quinn for the gold-medal winners in 2009 as well as an assistant to Willie Desjardins last year in Saskatoon.

Offensively, Canada certainly has good size, with Curtis Hamilton, Sean Couturier, Zack Kassian and Carter Ashton all standing at least 6-foot-3. They also look solid defensivley with good puck-movers in Ryan Ellis, Calvin de Haan and Tyson Barrie, as well as big bangers in Jared Cowen and Erik Gudbranson.

Goaltending will be a question, as neither Olivier Roy nor Mark Visentin has World Junior experience. The same was said about Jake Allen and Martin Jones, last year's goaltenders, part of the reason Canada took home the silver.

Canada will play three exhibition games to get ready for its WJC debut, against Russia on Dec. 26.

And stay tuned for more on Canada news today. NHL.com will have a camera at the MasterCard Centre today to record all the day's news from the public unveiling of the team.

-- Adam Kimelman

Report: Canada sets WJC roster
12.15.2010 / 10:14 AM ET

According to TSN, Hockey Canada has made its final nine roster cuts and has its team in place for the 2011 World Juniors.

Only one of the three 2011 Entry Draft prospects invited to the camp will travel to Buffalo -- Drummondville center Sean Couturier. Kitchener defenseman Ryan Murphy and Red Deer center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins were sent home. Also released was Everett defenseman Ryan Murray, who will be a top choice at the 2012 Draft.

Four players from last year's silver medalist look like they'll be back -- Brayden Schenn, Jared Cowen, Ryan Ellis (it'll be his third WJC) and Calvin de Haan.

The team will be officially announced today at 11 a.m., so check back with NHL.com for the official list, as well as video interviews with the players who made it.

-- Adam Kimelman

Canadian Junior National Team releases nine

12.14.2010 / 8:30 AM ET

Following two days of intrasquad scrimmaging and some serious note-taking, Hockey Canada and the Canadian Hockey League announced the release of nine players from Canada's National Junior Team selection camp on Tuesday morning.

The nine players released were defensemen Jesse Blacker (Toronto, Ont./Owen Sound, OHL) and Brayden McNabb (Davidson, Sask./Kootenay, WHL) and forwards Brendan Gallagher (Delta, B.C./ Vancouver, WHL), Joey Hishon (Stratford, Ont./Owen Sound, OHL), Ryan Howse (Prince George, B.C./ Chilliwack, WHL), Brad Ross (Lethbridge, Alta./Portland, WHL), Reilly Smith (Mimico, Ont./Miami University, CCHA), Linden Vey (Wakaw, Sask./Medicine Hat, WHL) and Garrett Wilson (Elmvale, Ont.).

''It's definitely not a good feeling,'' said Hishon. ''It's probably the first time I've ever been cut by a team, but it's hard to argue with Hockey Canada's decision with their track record.

''I'll be their biggest fan over Christmas. It was tough, the games were pretty scrambly and tough to show your stuff, but I can't make any excuses. I should have played better.''

Blacker actually replaced injured defenseman Brandon Gormley on the pre-camp roster. Gormley sustained a knee injury while playing for the Moncton Wildcats of the Quebeck Major Junior League just prior to the selection camp announcement.

Canada coach Dave Cameron had defenseman Erik Gudbranson paired with Jared Cowen in Monday's scrimmage. While nothing has been set in stone, there's little doubt defenders Cowen, Calvin de Haan and Ryan Ellis and forward Brayden Schenn will return to the Canadian lineup this year.

The remaining nine players released will likely be determined on Wednesday, if not earlier, in order to determine the final 22 roster spots at the 2011 IIHF World Junior Championship. The selection camp roster now stands at 31 players, including four goaltenders, 10 defensemen and 17 forwards.



A roster of players at selection camp will face a CIS all-star team on Dec. 14. Canada will play its first game of the 2011 IIHF World Junior Championship on Boxing Day, Dec. 26 versus Russia.

Canada has medaled at twelve straight IIHF World Junior Championships including gold medal performances in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009, silver medals in 1999, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2010 and bronze medals in 2000 and 2001.

Forward Marcus Foligno, who holds dual Canadian-U.S. citizenship and is the son of former NHLer and ex-Buffalo Sabre Mike Foligno, scored a pair of goals for Team Red in Sunday's exhibition at MasterCard Centre in Toronto.

In Monday's scrimmage, Team White rebounded for a 7-5 victory behind goals from Ryan Johansen, Zack Kassian, Gallagher, Cody Eakin, Jared Cowen, Casey Cizikas and Vey. Quinton Howden chipped in with three assists. For Team Red, Jaden Schwartz, Curtis Hamilton, Ryan Howse, Reilly Smith and Carter Ashton connected.

Cameron said he will evaluate all four goalies -- J.P. Anderson of Mississauga St. Michael's (OHL), Calvin Pickard of Seattle (WHL), Olivier Roy of Acadie-Bathurst (QMJHL) and Mark Visentin of Niagara (OHL) -- before making his final cuts at the position.

All 2011 draft eligible camp invites -- Ryan Murphy of Kitchener (OHL), Sean Couturier of Drummondville (QMJHL) and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of Red Deer (WHL) -- remain, as does 17-year-old defenseman Ryan Murray of Everett (WHL). Murray is eligible for the 2012 Draft.

-- Mike G. Morreale

Carolina draft guru discusses Jeff Skinner
12.13.2010 / 9:27 AM ET

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.

-- Mike G. Morreale

A 'Big Chill' in the air
12.10.2010 / 9:15 AM ET

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.

--Mike G. Morreale

Running tab of WJC camp rosters
12.10.2010 / 9:10 AM ET

So just about all the preliminary rosters for all 10 countries participating in the 2011 IIHF World Junior Championship beginning Dec. 26 all set.

Here's the rundown:

Group A
USA
Switzerland
Finland
Slovakia
Germany

Group B
Canada
Sweden
Russia
Czech Republic
Norway

-- Mike G. Morreale

A 'Boone' for any team
12.03.2010 / 9:40 AM ET

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."

-- Mike G. Morreale

Time to start thinking World Juniors
11.29.2010 / 10:15 AM ET

Don't look now, but the 2011 IIHF World Junior Championship is quickly approaching.

This year's tournament will take place Dec. 26 - Jan. 5 in Buffalo, N.Y. A full tournament schedule and ticket information can be found at BuffaloWorldJuniors.com.

Hockey Canada will host pre-competition games in December prior to the 2011 IIHF World Junior Championship in Buffalo, N.Y., including three featuring Canada's National Junior Team. Canada is scheduled to play Switzerland in Oshawa on December 20, Sweden in Toronto on December 21 and Finland in Kitchener on December 23. A fourth pre-competition game between Sweden and Switzerland will take place in St. Catharines, also on Dec. 23.

On Nov. 29, Hockey Canada will send out 39 invitations for its selection camp scheduled Dec. 11-15 in Toronto. There will be no NHL junior-aged Canadians on the list, but Hockey Canada will keep roster spots open until Dec. 11 for any players who will be released by their NHL teams in the meantime.

The U.S. National Junior Team will also play a pre-tournament schedule with games in Rochester and Jamestown, N.Y. A total of five games will be played from Dec. 21 - 23 involving the U.S., Czech Republic, Germany, Norway, Russia and Slovakia. Team USA will face off against the Czechs on Dec. 21 at The Sports Centre at Monroe Community College in Rochester and the Norwegians two days later at Savings Bank Arena in Jamestown. The Americans will also travel to Troy, N.Y., on Dec. 19 to face Renssalaer Polytechnic Institute at Houston Field House.

Approximately 28 players will be invited to Team USA's pre-tournament training camp to begin Dec. 16 in Albany, N.Y. The final 22-player U.S. roster for the WJC will be unveiled prior to Team USA's pre-tournament game against Norway. Keith Allain, head coach at Yale University, will serve as head coach of the 2011 U.S. National Junior Team.

--Mike G. Morreale

Murphy leads OHL defenders
11.29.2010 / 10:00 AM ET



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.



--Mike G. Morreale

NHL.com staffers offer initial mock draft
11.19.2010 / 2:15 PM ET

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.

-- Mike G. Morreale

Point leaders among CSS-rated players
11.18.2010 / 3:30 PM ET

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.

--Mike G. Morreale

Preliminary Central Scouting ratings released;
Oilers' Eberle warns not to get too hyped-up

11.16.2010 / 11:00 AM ET

They're here

Yes, the day every prospect prognosticator and player wishing to hear his name announced at the Entry Draft craves. The NHL's Central Scouting service on Tuesday unveiled their preliminary North American and European ratings for the upcoming draft in St. Paul, Minn. It's the first of three big ratings' installments -- a midterm release in January and final release in April are forthcoming.

A special thanks to those gentlemen over at Central Scouting, who do a fantastic job at compiling these lists for the benefit of the 30 NHL franchises. I especially want to commend the boys who spend countless hours on the road yet still find the time to return a phone call or email at the drop of a hat whenever a question arises about a potential star in the making.

The preliminary rankings, which include the top 25 skaters and most coveted goalies from the OHL, WHL, QMJHL and the USHL, may be accessed off the main story that ran on NHL.com Tuesday morning. There are also sidebars on those top-ranked European standouts and those in the collegiate ranks, including two from Boston University and two from the University of Wisconsin.

For those players checking in for the first time to learn where they stand, my suggestion is to not get too wrapped up in having a number attached to your name. Continue playing hard while conducting yourself in a professional manner.

I recently had an opportunity to chat with Edmonton Oilers 20-year-old rookie Jordan Eberle about the preliminary draft lists.

Eberle, of course, was drafted in the first round (No. 22 overall) in 2008 by the Oilers. If you'll recall, he was told he would be an early choice in the WHL bantam draft but, despite great numbers, scouts shied away because of his size (5-foot-8, 145 pounds at the time). He ended up falling all the way to the seventh round, where the Regina Pats grabbed him 126th overall. He'd go on to score 70 goals and 130 points in two seasons -- that's hard work.

Eberle's advice to those starry-eyed prospects:


"I remember (the preliminary lists) clearly," Eberle told NHL.com. "It's something as you go through your draft year … there's so many ups and downs but I think the big thing is you can't get too hyped up and focused in on all of that stuff.

"It really affects your game. You see guys rated high and they worry way too much about their ranking and all that stuff and they start dropping," he continued. "The thing is to just play your game, don't worry if you're high or low. I mean, I'm a seventh-round draft pick in bantam so I don't think that the draft is really … if you're a good enough player people are going to find you, it's as simple as that."

No better words spoken.

--Mike G. Morreale

USA wins third straight gold medal
11.15.2010 / 9:15 AM ET

Jimmy Mullin scored his team-leading sixth goal 16:07 into the third period to rally the U.S. Junior Select Team to a 6-4 victory over Canada East in the championship game of the 2010 World Junior A Challenge on Sunday at Okanagan Event Centre in Penticton, B.C.

Mullin, who was drafted in the fourth round (118th overall) by the Tampa Bay Lightning last June, scored his decisive goal just 40 seconds after Austin Czarnik (2011 draft eligible) had tied the game for Team USA. Czarnik, who scored twice in the game, was named Team USA's player of the game while defenseman Scott Mayfield (2011 draft eligible) and Mullin were named to the tournament all-star team. Mayfield, who has been maintaining a monthly blog for NHL.com, was also named the tournament's most valuable player.

"Our goal for the entire tournament was to climb the mountain," said U.S. coach P.K. O'Handley. "We
were naturally concerned, down 4-1. But we stuck with our plan and came out on top. This was one of my best hockey experiences of my coaching career."

Canada East had taken a 4-1 lead with a pair of goals in the first five minutes of the second by Scott Wilson (East's player of the game, 2011 draft eligible) and Matthew Peca (2011 draft eligible) but the U.S. responded to pull within one on goals by Sam Warning (2011 draft eligible) and Brian Cooper (2011 draft eligible) to close out the middle period.

Michael Parks' empty-net goal with 1:24 remaining sealed the deal while U.S. goalie Casey DeSmith (2011 draft eligible), who replaced starter Zane Gothberg (10 saves in 25 minutes) early in the second period, turned aside all eight shots he faced. Jordan Ruby made 37 saves in the loss for Canada East and was one of three easterners named to the all-star team. He joined defender Tyson Wilson (2011 draft eligible) and forward Evan Rodrigues (2011 draft eligible), who co-led the tournament with 7 points.

Russian forward Mikhail Girgorenko (2012 draft eligible) earned the other all-star forward spot.

In the bronze medal game, Switzerland scored an 8-3 victory over Canada West as 14 different players notched at least one point. Gregory Hofmann (2011 draft eligible) scored twice in the victory.

The Swiss broke open a 2-2 game in the third with six unanswered goals in a span of 11:43 by Reto Schappi  (2011 draft eligible), Manuel Holenstein (2011 draft eligible), Joel Vermin (2011 draft eligible), Romain Loeffel (Swiss player of the game, 2011 draft eligible), Gaetan Haas (2011 draft eligible) and Hofmann. Canada West goalie Matthew Krahn (2011 draft eligible) was named best player for his team.

--Mike G. Morreale

Canada East vs. USA in World Jr A Challenge final
11.14.2010 / 01:10 PM ET

The United States and Canada East won semifinal-round contests on Saturday and will face-off in the gold-medal game on Sunday at the 2010 World Junior A Challenge at the South Okanagan Events Centre in Penticton, B.C.

The U.S. defeated Canada East, 6-1, on Nov. 8 in its first game of the preliminary around.

Team USA, which has won two straight World Junior A golds, received a goal and one assist from Garrett Allen in the opening 11 minutes of the game and Jimmy Mullin scored his tournament-leading fifth goal via a penalty shot in the third period as the Americans rolled to a 5-1 victory over Canada West.

"I was very pleased with our start tonight," said Team USA coach P.K. O'Handley. "I know it sounds cliche, but this game was just another step. We need to remain focused (Sunday) and compete like we did tonight."

The U.S. took a 1-0 lead seven minutes into the game when Caleb Herbert knocked in a rebound goal. Only three minutes later, Allen, of Delafield, Wis., extended the lead 2-0 with a goal.

The U.S. had beaten Canada West in the last two gold medal games. The loss means Canada West will not be playing for a gold medal for the first time in the tournament's five-year history. Zane Gothberg made 27 saves for the U.S. Allen was named player of the game for the Americans and Dylan Walchuk was best player for Canada West.

The U.S. was 1-for-6 on the power play and Canada West went 0-for-9 -- the U.S. has allowed only one power-play goal in 21 shorthanded situations in the tournament.

Canada East, meanwhile, knocked off previously unbeaten Switzerland, 4-2, as team player of the game Nick Huard scored twice and Jordan Ruby made 39 saves.  

Canada East received goals by Huard and Maxime Dumond in the second period to grabe a 3-1 lead over Switzerland, which will battle Canada West in the bronze medal game on Sunday.

Swiss forward Ryan McGregor, whose late goal in the first had pulled his team into a 1-1 tie, was named Switzerland's player of the game.

--Mike G. Morreale  

Canadian contingent advances to semifinals
11.12.2010 / 9:00 AM ET

Canada West and Canada East each scored quarterfinal-round victories on Thursday to advance into the medal round of the 2010 World Junior A Challenge at the South Okanagan Events Centre in Penticton, B.C.

Canada West, which will play the defending champion, United States, in the semifinals on Saturday (7:30 p.m. PT), received a power-play goal by Nolan Kaiser at 5:18 of the third period to snap a 2-2 deadlock and Matthew Krahn made it stand behind 31 saves en route to a 3-2 victory over Sweden. Dylan Walchuk and Ben Gallacher also hit for Canada West and Linus Hulstrom and Sebastian Dyk connected for Sweden. Kaiser was selected as Canada West's player of the game and Dyk was named top player for Sweden, which outshot the Canadians, 33-22.

In the other quarterfinal game, Matthew Peca and Evan Rodrigues scored 42 seconds apart in the second period to give Canada East a four-goal cushion before Russia began a rally only to fall one-goal short, 4-3. Canada East will now face Switzerland in the other semifinal on Saturday.

Matt Chiarantano and Zach Hyman -- Canada's player of the game -- also hit for Canada East, which received a 35-save performance by Jordan Ruby. Mikhail Grigorenko, who scored two goals in the third period to pull Russia within one with over 11 minutes remaining, was named his team's best player in the contest.

Friday
Sweden vs. Russia (consolation game)

Saturday - Semifinals
Canada East vs. Switzerland
Canada West vs. United States

--Mike G. Morreale

Day 3 at World Junior A Challenge
11.11.2010 / 8:40 AM ET

The United States remained unbeaten and Canada West scored its first victory during the third day of preliminary-round action at the 2010 World Junior A Challenge on Wednesday at the South Okanagan Events Centre in Penticton, B.C.

The U.S. received two points apiece by Seth Ambroz, Max Gaede, Cason Hohmann and Sam Warning, who each scored once, and goalie Zane Gothberg turned aside 32 shots as the Americans secured a spot in the semifinal round by wrapping up first place in Group A with a 5-1 victory over Sweden.

Gaede, Hohmann and Ambroz all scored in a span of 7:25 in the second period to give the United States a 4-1 advantage. Jimmy Mullin also connected for the U.S., notching his tournament-leading fourth goal. Ambroz, a likely top 15 draft pick in June, was named the Player of the Game for the Americans. Ambroz is blogging for NHL.com this season.

Filip Gunnarsson, who had an assist, was named Player of the Game for Sweden, which received its
lone goal off the stick of Alexander Lagerstrom. The U.S. will have Thursday and Friday off before Saturday's semifinals while the Swedes (0-2) will face Canada West in Thursday's quarterfinal round.

In the other preliminary contest held Wednesday, Grayson Downing and Dylan Walchuk scored third-period goals to snap a 2-2 tie and give Canada West a 4-2 triumph over Russia before 3,497 in attendance.

Russia, which yielded 52 shots to Switzerland one night earlier, allowed 53 shots to Canada West. Russian goalie Oleg Dyatlov made 49 saves and was named Player of the Game for his team. Downing received similar honors for Canada West, which will next face Sweden. Russia will battle Canada East.

--Mike G. Morreale

Day 2 at World Junior A Challenge
11.10.2010 / 8:25 AM ET

Canada East rebounded from a disappointing opening-day loss and Switzerland won its second straight contest during preliminary round action of the 2010 World Junior A Challenge on Tuesday at the South Okanagan Events Centre in Penticton, B.C.

The Swiss, who are making their first-ever appearance in the tournament, defeated Russia, 5-1, to clinch first place in Group B and solidify a spot in Saturday's semifinals. With the victory, Switzerland has now beaten last year's silver medalist -- Canada West -- and bronze medalists.

The teams combined for 91 shots to set a World Junior A Challenge record for one game, two more than the previous mark of 89 set by Germany and Belarus on Nov. 11, 2006. Switzerland outshot Russia, 52-39. Gaetan Haas (2011 draft eligible) scored a pair of goals in a 61-second span early in the third period to give Switzerland a 4-0 advantage. Russian goalie Denis Perevozchikov (2011 draft eligible) made 47 saves, including 16 in the opening 20 minutes. Perevozchikov, incidentally, plays for Bars Kazan back home.

Goalie Remo Giovannini (2011 draft eligible), who made 38 saves, was named Player of the Game for Switzerland and Maxim Shalunov (2011 draft eligible) received similar honors for Russia.

Canada East, which lost to the U.S. on Monday, received a goal and three assists from their Player of the Game, Evan Rodrigues (2011 draft eligible), while Jordan Ruby (2011 draft eligible) turned aside 34 shots in a 6-2 verdict over Sweden. Canada East connected for the opening four goals of the game in the first period before Sweden's Christian Nyman (2011 draft eligible) and Pontus Netterberg (2011 draft eligible) pulled Sweden to within 4-2. Netterberg, a product of HV 71 in the Swedish Elite League, was named Sweden's Player of the Game.

--Mike G. Morreale

Day 1 recap of World Junior A Challenge
11.09.2010 / 9:01 AM ET

The U.S. Junior Select Team and Switzerland each notched victories in the preliminary round of the 2010 World Junior A Challenge on Monday at the South Okanagan Event Centre in Penticton, B.C.

Jimmy Mullin (Lightning), named the Player of the Game, scored three goals and goalie Zane Gothberg (Bruins) made 23 saves, including three breakaway attempts, to lead the Americans to a 6-1 victory over Canada East.

"We ran into some penalty trouble early, but started to find our game in the second and third periods (when the U.S. outscored CE, 6-1)," U.S. Junior Select head coach P.K. O'Handley said. "We've been working hard to develop chemistry, and we hope to bring this energy throughout the rest of the tournament."

The U.S., which will next face Sweden on Wednesday, has won the last two WJAC golds. Canada
Colten St. Clair, Team USA, Fargo Force USHL
East, which received its lone goal off the stick of Evan Rodrigues (2011 draft eligible), is slated to play Tuesday against the Swedes. U.S. captain Colten St. Clair (2011 draft eligible) and teammates Ryan Dzingel (2011 draft eligible) and Garrett Allen (2011 draft eligible) all had two assists.

The U.S. roster, incidentally, is made up entirely of players from the United States Hockey League.

Switzerland, meanwhile, had a memorable debut in the tournament after scoring a 5-4 victory over Canada West when Nicholas Steiner (2011 draft eligible) connected for the game-winner while on the power-play 1:45 into overtime. Canada West actually erased deficits of 3-0 and 4-2 with a four-goal third period. Penticton native Mark MacMillan (Canadiens) scored twice in the third as CW pulled even before the game entered OT.

Swiss forward Ryan McGregor (2011 draft eligible) was named Player of the Game for the victors and MacMillan received similar honors for Canada West.

The Swiss return to action Tuesday against Russia. The Russians will then meet Canada West on Wednesday in the preliminary-round finale.

Monday, 8 November, 2010
CAN E 1 - USA 6
CAN W 4 - SUI 5 (OT)
Tuesday, 9 November, 2010
SWE - CAN E
SUI - RUS
Wednesday, 10 November, 2010
USA - SWE
RUS - CAN W

--Mike G. Morreale

Landeskog: No ordinary European
11.08.2010 / 10:00 AM ET

If not for the face, you would swear Gabriel Landeskog were American.

Read about him right here!

That's because his English is that good. It was something he was determined to learn when he turned 3 back in his native Stockholm, Sweden. Not only was he determined to perfect the English language, though, but enhance his chances at becoming a high-end prospect at the 2011 Entry Draft by playing the North American style at a very young age.

Landeskog did just that. After starring at Djurgarden in the Swedish Elite League at the tender age of 16 years, 90 days, Landeskog took his show to Kitchener in the Ontario Hockey League last year, producing an impressive 24 goals and 46 points in 61 games. He was named captain of the team this year, a sure sign he not only speaks the English language, but can relay any message of importance in a clear and concise manner. He wants to be regarded as the prototypical power-forward, following in the footsteps of former Swede Peter Forsberg and current stars Johan Franzen and Tomas Holmstrom.

"Both (Franzen and Holmstrom) are role models, they've won cups and that's someone you want to
look up to," Landeskog told NHL.com. "The strength Johan Franzen brings to the game and how strong he is low in corners is something I can learn from. Holmstrom is very good he is in front. Having a similar role in Kitchener, I try to study that to the best of my ability."

Landeskog told me he doesn't think the path he took to the Canadian Hockey League should be the same for every European player. But, he did go on to say that learning the North American style at a young age was of great importance to him.

"I'm really happy I came over here a year ago," he said. "But saying that, there are a lot of different paths you can take to the NHL and get to that level you want. Some players prefer the Swedish Elite League and go that route. I felt like I wanted to show Sweden and other young players this is possible too; a path you can take.

"Players ask me all the time how the life and hockey is over here," he continued. "I always recommend it and if that's what you want to do, it's not going to make you a worse hockey. It has strengthened me as a person and a player. I've learned a lot about the lifestyle and how playing 68 games plus playoffs is a bonus. It's a lot of games and that's the type of schedule you want to have if you want to reach the next level."

--Mike G. Morreale

Sound advice for 2011 draft prospects
11.03.2010 / 01:00 PM ET

In case you missed it, Edmonton Oilers amateur scout Stu MacGregor offered plenty of interesting insight into his job and what it entails. Read it right here.

MacGregor is in his eighth season with the Edmonton Oilers scouting staff and fourth as the organization's head amateur scout.

He's responsible for the team's amateur scouting staff and is usually the one working the table at the NHL Entry Draft for the Oilers.

"When I'm not on the road, I'm usually completing and reading reports on the players that our scouts have filed and then following up with our scouts via email or phone," MacGregor told NHL.com. "I have to be cognizant that we have the proper coverage in all the leagues and where the players appear to be for that particular league. I also have to be conscious of our budget and work with it."

In addition to that administrative work, MacGregor is also one heck of an evaluator of future talent. Here's some advice he had for those draft-eligible players entering the 2011 Entry Draft in St. Paul, Minn.

NHL.com: What would be your advice to those high-end prospects in the 2011 Draft?

MacGregor: "I would just tell them to enjoy it, it's a great experience, and it should be a lot of fun -- the greatest time of your life. Just try to work as hard as you can and keep your head up. Keep trying to push forward. Don't worry about what people are saying. Do as you're told by your coach and work hard and, most importantly, enjoy the whole experience."

NHL.com: What's the best tip you can offer a player about to enter his first interview with an NHL team?

MacGregor: "I just think a player going into that just needs to be himself. Offer conversation and try to step forward as an individual. Show them that you're a good person and interested in the process, interested in the people you're talking to. Have your head up and look people square in the eye."

--Mike G. Morreale

Scholastic stargazing at NIT Tournament
11.02.2010 / 12:20 PM ET

The two Minnesota high school rosters for the Bauer National Invitational Tournament scheduled Nov. 5-7 at New Hope Ice Arena in New Hope, Minn., have been confirmed.

Two teams -- Minnesota White and Minnesota Red -- were selected using players from seven regular-season Elite League squads. Players were notified of their selections on Oct. 31 -- Trick or Treat!

High schools in Edina, Benilde-St. Margaret's and Grand Forks Central (N.D.) are among the scholastic teams possessing three players in the annual event.

For a complete schedule, click here. In addition to the two Minnesota squads, six other teams will compete in the eight-team tournament, including prep powerhouse Shattuck-St. Mary's, Michigan U-18 White, Massachusetts All-Stars, Manitoba Prep, Northwood School (N.Y.) and an all star team from Dallas.

There are a few Minnesota kids competing in the event rated as 'B Players' by NHL's Central Scouting Service. Keep in mind, a 'B' rating represents a potential 2011 selection in the third-to-fifth round in the Entry Draft.

Those players include forwards Joe Labate (Holy Angels) and Tony Cameranesi (Wayzata) of Minnesota White and forwards Steven Fogarty (Edina) and Kyle Rau (Eden Prairie) of Minnesota Red. The Shattuck-St. Mary's roster will likely include 'B rated' forward Tanner Sorenson and defenseman Mike Reilly.

The only 'A' rated player from the Minnesota high school ranks, left wing Mario Lucia of Wayzata HS, is currently on loan to the U.S. Under-18 National Team Developmental Program in Ann Arbor, Mich. Lucia will not be participating in the NIT Tournament.

I'll have more information as it becomes available.

If you haven't already seen it, NHL.com's Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's 'players to watch' list is out. Get it here.

--Mike G. Morreale

Drummondville's Sean Couturier -- Let the buildup begin
10.29.2010 / 3:36 PM ET

So if the NHL Entry Draft were held tomorrow, odds are Drummondville center Sean Couturier would be the No. 1 overall selection.

At least that's the gut feeling. It seems scouts like his tough two-way acumen and the confidence within. It certainly doesn't hurt being ranked sixth in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with 25 points, including 11 goals, in 19 games.

At this point in the season, Couturier's agent, former NHLer Gilles Lupien, would prefer not to have his client speaking with reporters. So, I spoke to Lupien about his budding prospect, who led the QMJHL in scoring in 2009-10 with 96 points (41 goals) in 68 games.

Lupien compared Couturier to a young Darryl Sittler, the former Toronto Maple Leaf, Philadelphia Flyer and Detroit Red Wing inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1989.

"He's a bright kid, he gets 95's in school, he's a brainer and quiet guy and doesn't say much," Lupien said of Couturier. "He's the type of guy who sits in the room, like a Bob Gainey and doesn't say much but shows by example. He's like a Joe Thornton, that silent type, and Darryl Sittler. Sittler was like that. He's tall and appears slow-moving but then, all of a sudden, poof, he's out like a rocket like Sittler."

Lupien has limited Couturier's interview requests during the early stages of the season in order to minimize the pressure of his draft year.

"I just want him to concentrate on being the best player he can be right now," Lupien said.

--Mike G. Morreale

Draft Fodder Friday
10.29.2010 / 2:47 PM ET

If you haven't already checked out Adam Kimelman's report on the players to watch this season in the Western Hockey League, you can find that right here.

I recently had a great conversation with the head amateur scout for the Edmonton Oilers, Stu MacGregor. While the veteran talent-evaluator wasn't about to reveal any secrets, he did tell me that Ryan Strome of the Niagara IceDogs in the OHL is really opening some eyes. Strome has 8 goals, 24 points and a plus-3 rating in 14 games this season.

Strome, draft eligible next June, was a 'B List' player on the NHL's Central Scouting 'Futures List', but will undoubtedly be at or near the top by the time the preliminary rankings are released in mid-November. If you haven't yet seen Strome's highlight-reel goal against Plymouth, check it out here.

MacGregor informed me how the most "interesting experience of his scouting career" took place last season when he was routinely reporting on Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin. As we know, the decision would ultimately be Hall, but it was only after countless meetings and viewings.

Gabriel Landeskog, Kitchener Rangers (OHL)
In other news, Gabriel Landeskog, who is also high on 2011 draft lists, was named team captain for the Kitchener Rangers on Oct. 24. Landeskog was Kitchener's Rookie of the Year in 2009-10 after notching 24 goals and 46 points in 61 games. He was the youngest player -- at 16 years and 90 days -- to play for  Djurgarden in the Swedish Elite League during the 2008-09 campaign.

"I play a lot like Jarome Iginla and Mike Richards," Landeskog told NHL.com. "They're kind of my role models. I look a lot at how they play and I kind of try to be like them. They're good leaders and good role models for me."

--Mike G. Morreale

E.J. McGuire talks 2011 Entry Draft
10.28.2010 / 2:46 PM ET

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.

--Mike G. Morreale

World Junior 'A' Challenge set
10.27.2010 / 11:45 AM ET

In case you missed it, the rosters for the six-team 2010 World Junior 'A' Challenge in Penticton, B.C., slated Nov. 8-14 have been established. Several players on each roster will likely be selected in the 2011 Entry Draft, so check them out when you have the chance.

Group A
Team USA (gold medalist 2009, '08)
Sweden
Canada East

Group B
Canada West (gold medalist 2006, '07)
Russia
Switzerland

Round-robin play runs through Nov. 10. The semifinal round takes place Nov. 13 and the gold-medal game, shown nationally on TSN and RDS, is scheduled Nov. 14 at the South Okanagan Events Centre.

Also, 2011 draft-eligible prospect Seth Ambroz of the Omaha Lancers in the United States Hockey League has filed his initial blog on NHL.com. Check it out here.

--Mike G. Morreale

Prepping for St. Paul (Minn.)
10.25.2010 / 10:00 PM ET

No better time to fire up the 2010 Entry Draft blog than right after Central Scouting's initial 'Players to Watch' release for high schools, Canadian provincials and international skaters.

It's the first step in attempting to pinpoint the crème de la crème among draft eligible prospects for 2011. While it's certainly no easy process, it's something the NHL's Central Scouting Service takes great pride in. So with eight months to go before draft day, in St. Paul, Minn., it's time to get informed.

In case you missed it, here are the high school and Canadian provincial players to keep an eye on.

Here are the international players to watch. Of course, Adam Larsson, a defenseman from Sweden, is being touted as the next Victor Hedman (or better).

NHL.com has already featured several future stars, including a few players from the United States Hockey League in Scott Mayfield of Youngstown and Seth Ambroz of Omaha and two from the Western Hockey League in Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Red Deer) and Shane McColgan (Kelowna). Adam Kimelman has written reports on goalie prospect Christopher Gibson of the Chicoutimi Sagueneens in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and Adam Clendening of Boston University.

In case you missed it, NHL.com's list of the top draft-eligible prospects from the USHL also hit the front page of the web site. Get it here!

Four players have also offered to provide NHL.com with a monthly blog that will chronicle their season, start to finish. You can check out a new blog each Wednesday every month leading up the Entry Draft at Xcel Energy Center in June.

Scott Mayfield's blog

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins' blog

Shane McColgan's blog

Seth Ambroz' blog

The Draft blog will be updated as often as possible with player updates and information as it becomes available, so check back often.

--Mike G. Morreale