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NHL RELEASES FINAL RANKING OF PROSPECTS
FOR 2005 ENTRY DRAFT
Crosby, Kopitar, Price Top-Rated In Respective Categories

TORONTO (July 22, 2005) - Center Sidney Crosby of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's Rimouski Oceanic, center Anze Kopitar of Sweden's Sodertalje junior team and goaltender Carey Price of the Western Hockey League's Tri-City Americans top their respective categories in the final ranking of eligible players for the 2005 NHL Entry Draft as compiled by the League's Central Scouting Service. The final ranking features the top 250 skaters and 30 goaltenders in North America and top 144 skaters and 10 goaltenders from Europe.

Crosby, ranked first among North American skaters, capped a legendary junior career by claiming his second consecutive QMJHL scoring title (and led all Canadian Hockey League players) with 168 points (66 goals, 102 assists) in 62 games. The 17-year-old Cole Harbour, N.S. native also earned CHL MVP honors; led Rimouski to the Memorial Cup Final, where he topped all tournament scorers with 6-5--11 in five games; and was Team Canada's fourth-leading scorer (6-3--9 in six games) in its gold medal-winning performance at the 2005 World Junior Championships in Grand Forks.

CSS Rankings

2005 Final CSS Rankings:
North America:
Skaters (PDF) | Goalies (PDF)
Europe:
Skaters (PDF) | Goalies (PDF)
* You will need Adobe Acrobat reader to view the rankings. Download it here:
Kopitar, vying to become the first Slovenian-born player to skate in the NHL, is the top-ranked European skater. A 6'3", 200 lb. center, Kopitar played junior hockey with Swedish club Sodertalje in 2004-05, leading the league in scoring with 49 points (28 goals, 21 assists) in 30 games. He represented Slovenia at the Olympic qualification tournament last February in Latvia and at the World Championships last May in Austria.

Price, who appeared in 63 of Tri-City's 72 games in 2004-05 -- all as a 17 year-old -- is the top-ranked North American goaltender. The 6'2", 222 lb. Williams Lake, B.C. native posted a 2.34 goals-against average, eight shutouts and a .921 save percentage.

The 2005 NHL Entry Draft will take place on Saturday, July 30 (noon, ET) at the Westin Hotel in Ottawa.

The NHL Central Scouting Service provides scouting and evaluation of draft-eligible players to NHL member clubs. Headed by NHL Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations Jim Gregory and Director of Central Scouting Frank Bonello, NHL Central Scouting employs nine full-time and six part-time scouts throughout North America and works with Goran Stubb of the European Scouting Service and his staff of five full-time scouts to cover prospects playing throughout Europe. NHL Central Scouting and European Scouting Service together saw more than 3,000 games this season.

Joining Crosby among the top North American skaters are #2 Benoit Pouliot, LW, Sudbury (OHL); #3 Bobby Ryan, RW, Owen Sound (OHL); #4 Jack Johnson, D, U.S. National Under-18 Team and #5 Gilbert Brule, C, Vancouver (WHL).

Following Kopitar among top European prospects are #2 Martin Hanzal, C, from the Ceske Budejovice junior club in the Czech Republic; #3 Jakub Vojta, D, from the Czech Republic's Sparta juniors; #4 Denis Istomin, W, from Chelyabinsk (Russia-2) and #5 Nicklas Bergfors, D, Kopitar's teammate with Sodertalje juniors.

Behind Price as the top-ranked goaltenders in North America are #2 Pier-Olivier Pelletier, Drummondville (QMJHL), #3 Tyler Plante, Brandon (WHL); #4 Alexandre Vincent, Chicoutimi (QMJHL) and #5 Daren Machesney, Brampton (OHL). The top-ranked European goaltender is Finland's Tuukka Rask (Ilves Jrs.).

North America Summary Of Ranked Players (Skaters and Goaltenders)

Canada Major Junior: 144
Ontario Hockey League (OHL) -- 53
Western Hockey League (WHL) -- 49
Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) -- 42

U.S. Junior: 58
United States Hockey League (USHL) -- 32
U.S. National Under-18 Team -- 14
Eastern Junior Hockey League (EJHL) -- 9
North American Hockey League (NAHL) -- 3
U.S. High Schools/Prep Schools: 37

U.S. College: 24
Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) -- 8
Hockey East -- 8
Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) -- 4
Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) -- 3
Atlantic Hockey Association (AHA) -- 1

Canada Junior: 16
British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) -- 6
Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) -- 4
Ontario Provincial Junior Hockey League (OPJHL) -- 4
Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL) -- 1
New Brunswick Midget AAA -- 1

Canada High Schools/Prep Schools: 1

Quote of the Day

Because of the way they play and their skill set I don't think they're fourth-line players, so in my mind I'm looking at one of those guys I'll have to move over to the wing.

— Capitals coach Barry Trotz on his four-player battle for second-line center