2011 NHL Entry Draft
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Peterborough's Puempel could be class of OHL

Friday, 11.05.2010 / 9:00 AM / 2011 NHL Entry Draft

By Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

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Peterborough's Puempel could be class of OHL
The Ontario Hockey League has produced the top picks in the last four Entry Drafts. NHL.com takes a look at some of the candidates who could make it five in a row.
The season-long game of one-upmanship between Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin became the focal point of the Ontario Hockey League season in 2009-10, as Windsor Spitfires left wing and Plymouth Whalers center tied for the league scoring title and became the top two picks at the 2010 Entry Draft.

When Hall was picked first by the Edmonton Oilers, it marked the fourth straight year an OHL graduate was the first player picked in the NHL draft. Can someone from the league make it a five in a row? NHL.com examines who some of the top 2011 Draft-eligible players could be:

Austen Brassard -- A late-season trade sent him from the stacked Windsor Spitfires to the Belleville Bulls, where the 6-foot-2, 191-pound right wing earned top-line ice time.

Belleville struggled last season, but Brassard had a strong finish, with 17 points in 26 games for the Bulls. For the season, he had 10 goals and 29 points in 63 games.

"He was a bright spot on a team that had some issues," NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards told NHL.com. "He's real energetic guy, goes into the dirty parts of the ice and he battles. He's got good puck skills. He sees the ice, moves it very well."

Daniel Catenacci -- The Sault Ste. Marie center jump-started his season with 2 goals and 4 points in four games in helping Canada win gold at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament in August. That rolled into a strong start to the OHL season, as he had 5 assists and 6 points in his first three games. He currently leads his team with 13 assists and 20 points in 16 games.

The first pick of the 2009 OHL draft, the 5-foot-9 1/2, 176-pounder had 10 goals and 20 assists in 65 games last season. He's also shown a level of fearlessness that belies his small stature.

"He'll take a hit to make a play," said Edwards. "He shows no fear getting involved in traffic. He's got real high-end playmaking skill."

Dougie Hamilton -- As a rookie defenseman with the Niagara IceDogs last season, the 6-foot-4 1/4, 193-pounder had 16 points and a minus-8 rating in 64 games. Now, with the benefit of experience, Hamilton is off to a nice start, with 12 points and a plus-11 rating in his first 15 games.

It's doubtful Hamilton -- whose teammate and older brother, Freddie, was a 2010 fifth-round pick of the San Jose Sharks -- ever will be a big point producer, but he does a lot of other things very well.

"He moves the puck well and makes good outlet passes," said Edwards. "He does make good decisions with the puck, moves it very well out of his zone. He's a big guy, he'll take the body. … He uses his size well. He can muscle people off the puck."

Scott Harrington -- A solidly built 6-foot, 207-pound defenseman for the London Knights, Harrington has 7 points in 13 games, which follows a strong performance for Canada at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament.

"He's a very good skater -- good mobility and speed," said Edwards. "He jumps up to support the rush often. He is used both on the power-play and penalty-kill units. His puck movement is normally very good -- crisp and accurate passes make him a steady puck-moving guy. His play positionally has been good."

Boone Jenner -- On an Oshawa Generals team that didn't do a lot offensively last season, the 6-foot, 194-pound center finished second among all OHL rookies with 54 points, and his 19 goals were fourth on his team. He has 4 goals and 10 points in 13 games this season.

Jenner plays in all situations, and is very good in the face-off circle.

"There's no shortage of compete in his game," said Edwards. "He tries to be first to the puck every time. He finishes his checks with authority and can hit hard. He is used in every situation -- power play and penalty kill, as well as the Gens' top line. He is very aggressive on the penalty kill, forces turnovers and is a threat to score shorthanded.  He has good puck-handling ability but is most effective in a puck-chasing role. He knows the game and anticipates the play very well. … He's a real hard-working, up-and-down guy. He really gets involved in battles, goes to the net. He's scrappy -- battling, hacking and whacking. … There's a lot of energy in his game."

Gabriel Landeskog -- The Swedish forward made a big name for himself last season with the Kitchener Rangers, finishing third among all OHL rookies with 21 goals and 46 points. He was even better in the playoffs, finishing seventh among all players with 23 points in 20 games. He has 17 points in 14 games this season, and recently was named team captain.

A 6-foot, 207-pound left wing, Landeskog enjoys the physical elements of the North American game.

"Gabriel adapted very well to the Ontario Hockey League," Edwards told NHL.com. "His production was excellent especially for it being not only his first year in the OHL but living and playing in North America. He is a good-size guy who is solid on his skates, not afraid to take the puck to the net or battle for it along the boards. His skating is very good in all areas."

Kitchener coach Steve Spott raved about Landeskog, comparing him to Flyers captain Mike Richards, and saying Landeskog nearly is NHL ready right now.

"He plays the game with so much passion, he plays the game hard, he's a great mentor for players that are younger and older," Spott told NHL.com. "It's maturity beyond his years. That kid doesn't need one game in the American league next year -- he should step right into the NHL.

"I think the team that gets him next year is going to get a player that helps them win a Stanley Cup."

Michael Morrison -- The Kitchener Rangers goaltender has split time early in the season with veteran Brandon Maxwell, but certainly has held up his end of the partnership, going 3-1-0 with a 3.72 goals-against average and .863 save percentage in seven games. He played just 11 games last season, but posted six wins and three shutouts.

"He's a butterfly goalie, has a great feel for the game," Central Scouting's Al Jensen told NHL.com. "He plays big, square to the shot. Not all over the place, very controlled. Very good size (6-foot, 177), great leg extension in the butterfly. He plays like a veteran goalie."

Ryan Murphy -- After a solid debut season with the Kitchener Rangers last season, the defenseman has rocketed out of the gate in 2010-11, with 9 goals and 22 points in 14 games. He leads the league's blueliners in goals, assists (13) and points.

The 5-foot-10 1/2, 176-pounder is a highly-skilled offensive player -- he was second among Rangers defensemen with 39 points last season.

"He's got real good mobility," said Edwards. "He's a bit of a gambler. He does move the puck well, but he's going to have to concentrate on making good plays. He got himself into trouble at times making those high-risk plays. That's what they used to say about (Montreal rookie) P.K. Subban. He's at least as good a skater as Subban."

Matthew Puempel -- The Peterborough Petes left wing had a tremendous debut season, leading the league's rookies with 33 goals and 64 points, and earning the Canadian Hockey League Rookie of the Year Award. He's just the second 16-year-old in the 50-plus year history of the team to score 30 goals in a season.

The 6-foot, 198-pounder tied for the team lead with 7 points as Canada won a gold medal at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, and he's had a strong start to the OHL season, with 9 goals and 18 points in 14 games.

"He's a very good goal scorer," Edwards said. "Very good with the puck, sees the ice well. He goes to the net and he battles. He's not shy about getting involved in traffic and going to the net."

Tobias Rieder -- The Kitchener Rangers appear to have hit another home run in the CHL Import Draft, snagging the 5-11 1/4, 178-pound center with the fifth pick this past July. Rieder had 23 points in 45 games for the Landshutt Cannibals in Germany's second-division pro league last season, and that scoring has carried right over to the OHL.

With 21 points in 14 games, Rieder is second on the team and second among all first-year OHL players in scoring.

"He's an excellent skater -- speed, agility and quickness off the mark," said Edwards. "He is smart in the offensive zone, gets himself into good scoring position and has very good finish around the net.  Despite being not a big man, he shows no fear of getting involved in battles and he can be effective at winning those battles."

Brandon Saad -- The Pennsylvania native jumped to the Saginaw Spirit after spending last season with the U.S. National Team Developmental Program. He dominated the USNTDP, leading the team with 29 goals and 58 points in 63 games, and that strong play has carried to his first OHL season -- the 6-foot-1 1/4, 208-pound left wing has 9 goals and a team-leading 18 points in 15 games.

"Brandon is a strong and well-balanced skater," said Edwards. "He shows very good breakaway speed. He sees the ice very well and gets (the puck) through traffic. He handles it very well with speed.  He has an excellent shot and he is often used at the point on the power play. He is solid on his skates and fights through checks very well. His playmaking and puck skills are that of a top-three forward."

Ryan Strome -- The Niagara IceDogs center didn't score much last season, either with the Barrie Colts or IceDogs. He's certainly found the touch this season, however.

In 16 games, the 6-foot, 183-pound center is third in the league with 26 points, and his 17 assists are second.

"He skates very well and has very good speed," said Edwards. "He's a creative playmaker who sees the ice very well. He goes to the net and battles in front.  He is able to get to rebounds and loose pucks in front. He has good hands and has scored some goals off tip-ins in front."

Tyson Teichmann -- The Belleville Bulls goalie's numbers aren't impressive playing behind a struggling team -- he's just 3-8-0 with a 3.93 GAA and .892 save percentage in 11 games -- but his play at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament in August was a chance for him to showcase his full skill set.

He went 4-0 with a .928 save percentage in the summer under-18 international tournament, including a 22-save shutout of the U.S. team in the gold-medal game. He also earned an invitation to the NHL's Research, Development and Orientation camp in August.

The only knock on Teichmann is his size -- Central Scouting measured him at 5-11 3/4 and just 140 pounds.

"He's very good technically, got strong legs," said Jensen. "He's a good goalie."

Vincent Trocheck -- The Saginaw center has a nice job building on the lessons he learned last season, his first in the league.

After scoring 15 goals and 43 points in 68 games, the 5-foot-10, 184-pound center, has shot out of the blocks with 8 goals and 17 points in 16 games for the Spirit.

"Vincent plays with very good energy every shift," said Edwards. "He sees the ice very well and is creative in the offensive zone. He has an excellent wrist shot. He is used both on the power play and penalty kill units as well as the Spirit's top line. You don't have to look too hard to find him most nights."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com