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Prospector Files
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Prospector Files

Prospector Files: Frolunda again boasting top talent

Thursday, 11.28.2013 / 3:00 AM / Prospector Files

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

No European country in the past nine years has seen more top prospects drafted into the National Hockey League than Sweden.

And within Sweden is a junior hockey team that has produced at least one NHL Draft pick in each of the past 16 years: Frolunda. No other club team in the country can match that streak of pipeline popularity. Over that 16-year stretch, in fact, 48 players have been chosen, almost twice as many as Djurgarden (27) and Brynas Gavle (26).

This year's group of budding prospects from Frolunda's team in Sweden's under-20 league is also sure to please.

Pair of American goalies top Central Scouting's list

Thursday, 11.21.2013 / 3:00 AM / Prospector Files

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

Goalies Thatcher Demko and Alex Nedeljkovic are the top-rated players at their position on NHL Central Scouting's November players to watch list for the 2014 NHL Draft.

Demko, a San Diego native, and Nedeljkovic, born in Ohio, each have a chance to become the first American-born goalie drafted in the first round since the Dallas Stars selected Jack Campbell with the 11th pick of the 2010 draft. They are the only goalies to receive an A rating on Central Scouting's most recent players to watch release.

That's where the similarities end.

Prospector Files: Top scouts talk talent evaluation

Thursday, 11.14.2013 / 10:00 AM / Prospector Files

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

What do the top evaluators at NHL Central Scouting look for in players eligible for the upcoming NHL draft?

With the release of Central Scouting's November Players to Watch list Thursday, figured now was as good a time as any to learn what goes into a scout rating a skater or goalie a "can't-miss" performer. It's a process Central Scouting has taken great pride in as the premier scouting service for NHL teams since the 1975-76 season.

The first area scrutinized is a player's ability to skate and do it well in all situations.

"If he can't skate, he can't play," Central Scouting's Greg Rajanen told

Prospector Files: Top Russians on the radar

Thursday, 11.07.2013 / 3:00 AM / Prospector Files

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

Whenever the conversation shifts to the top Russian-born players available in the upcoming NHL draft, words such as "gifted," "talented" and "Russian factor" frequently are heard.

Some Russians prefer to hone their craft in North America during their draft season with an eye toward gaining an edge over those opting to remain at home.

The Dallas Stars selected the first Russian-born player at the 2013 NHL draft, choosing Valeri Nichushkin of Dynamo Moscow of the Kontinental Hockey League at No. 10. The ultra-talented Nichushkin was the first of eight Russian-born players selected at the draft, the highest total in five years.

Prospector Files: Four Nations Tournament on tap

Thursday, 10.31.2013 / 9:00 AM / Prospector Files

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

Many of the top players eligible for the 2014 NHL Draft will go head-to-head early next month when the 2013 Under-18 Four Nations Tournament is played at Kupittaa Rink in Turku, Finland.

The United States has won the past five tournament championships, including a 3-1 victory against Sweden in last year's final when 2014 draft-eligible goalie Thatcher Demko made 22 saves at the Ann Arbor Ice Cube in Michigan. Switzerland earned a 5-2 win against Finland in the consolation round of the tournament.

The round-robin tournament, scheduled Nov. 8-10, pits under-18 teams from the United States, Sweden, Finland and Switzerland. At the end of round-robin play, the top two teams meet for first place while the bottom two play in the consolation game.

Prospector Files: Slattery, Sheehy pacing Elite League

Thursday, 10.24.2013 / 9:00 AM / Prospector Files

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

Each season the Upper Midwest High School Elite Hockey League has attracted many of the top scholastic standouts eligible for the upcoming NHL draft.

"I have watched the Elite League for eight years and I don't think I've seen a bad game," NHL Central Scouting's Greg Rajanen told "The players really compete hard knowing there are many junior, college and NHL scouts in the stands."

Two players creating quite a stir in the league this year are left wing Mitchel Slattery of Hill-Murray High School and right wing Tyler Sheehy of Burnsville High School. Slattery, who is committed to St. Cloud State for the 2015-16 season, recently was upgraded to a "B"-rated skater on NHL Central Scouting's players to watch list for Minnesota high school players. Sheehy is a "C"-rated prospect.

Slattery, a 5-11.5, 185-pound senior for Team Northeast (12-9-0), finished the regular season second in goals (18) and third in points (31) in 21 games. He had nine multiple-point games. The league playoffs are scheduled Friday through Sunday at New Hope (Minn.) Ice Arena; the championship game is Sunday.

Prospector Files: Top Czech duo playing in Sweden

Thursday, 10.17.2013 / 3:00 AM / Prospector Files

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

Don't think San Jose Sharks forward Tomas Hertl flew under the radar in his draft year after posting impressive numbers for Slavia in the Czech Republic during the 2011-12 season.

In fact, the gurus at NHL Central Scouting had Hertl fifth on their final release of international skaters in April of 2012. He was deemed a potential first-line candidate and was graded as "excellent" in two categories, stickhandling and scoring touch, before being selected No. 17 by the Sharks.

Following Hertl's remarkable four-goal outburst against the New York Rangers on Oct. 8, reached out to NHL Director of European Scouting Goran Stubb in an attempt to get a handle on the next wave of top prospects born in the Czech Republic and eligible for the 2014 NHL Draft.

Interestingly, Stubb acknowledged that the two top Czech natives aren't even playing in their own country. Instead, forwards Jakub Vrana and David Pastrnak have decided to hone their craft in Sweden.

"Usually, promising Czech talents move to North America, but these two are trying to reach the NHL via Sweden," Stubb told "Both are exceptional talents."

Stubb predicts both players will earn roster spots for the Czech Republic at the 2014 World Junior Championship in Malmo, Sweden.

Prospector Files: Barbashev could be QMJHL's best

Thursday, 10.10.2013 / 9:00 AM / Prospector Files

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

It was quite the banner year for the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League at the 2013 NHL Draft, when 31 players from the league were chosen, the most since 2005, when the draft was cut to seven rounds.

It marked the highest total since 2003, when 38 players were selected from the league over nine rounds, including goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury of the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, who was selected by the Pittsburgh Penguins with the first pick.

While the prospect pool for the 2014 draft at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia might not be as prolific as it was in 2013, when two of the first three players picked were from the QMJHL, there is one player earning plenty of attention.

Prospector Files: Gilmour's Frontenac, WHL D-men

Thursday, 10.03.2013 / 3:00 AM / Prospector Files

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

Doug Gilmour's patience could very well pay off in a big way this year for the Ontario Hockey League's Kingston Frontenacs.

After leading the Frontenacs back to respectability in two full seasons behind the bench as coach in 2009-10 and 2010-11, Gilmour took over as general manager in the summer of 2011. He named his former Toronto Maple Leafs teammate, Todd Gill, the new coach and vowed to rebuild an organization that hasn't advanced beyond the conference quarterfinals since 1992-93.

"[Director of hockey operations] Darren Keily and I hired a new scouting staff and we had a plan of retooling and getting rid of a lot of players and going with youth," Gilmour told "We would absorb our lumps and start from scratch and that's what we did."

The move has paid off in spades. Now entering his third season as GM, Gilmour's team will not only be in the hunt for a J. Ross Robertson Cup as OHL champion, but perhaps even a Memorial Cup. And if it doesn't come together this season, the future looks very promising. The Frontenacs are loaded with young talent.

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