TORONTO (January 10, 2011) –
Left wing Gabriel Landeskog
(Kitchener Rangers) of the Ontario Hockey League and defenseman Adam Larsson (Skelleftea AIK) of the Swedish Elite League today were named the top draft-eligible skaters from North America and Europe, respectively, as the NHL Central Scouting Bureau released its mid-season rankings. The Swedish duo -- Landeskog from Stockholm, Larsson from Skelleftea – aim to be the first Swedish player selected first overall in the NHL Entry Draft since Mats Sundin was selected in 1989 (Quebec Nordiques).
North American Skaters
I North American Goalies
I European Skaters
I European Goalies
Landeskog, in his second season with the Kitchener Rangers will appear in studio tonight on NHL Network’s On the Fly along with NHL Vice President of Central Scouting E.J. McGuire. Landeskog became the youngest player in 30 years to be named captain of Kitchener and the first European captain in the 48-year history of the Rangers’ franchise. Despite being currently sidelined by an ankle injury, he has 25 goals in 32 games to lead the Rangers in goal scoring this season.
A 6-3, 200-pound defenseman, Larsson was a towering presence for Team Sweden at the 2011 World Junior Championship and is competing in the Swedish Elite League. In 2009-10, he posted 17 points (4-13-17) to equal the record for most points by a defenseman under the age of 18.
The debate over which player will be selected first overall at the NHL Entry Draft in June has officially begun as Landeskog is followed closely in the North American rankings by center Sean Couturier (Drummondville Voltigeurs) of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Red Deer Rebels) of the Western Hockey League. Speculation is sure to increase throughout the countdown to the 2011 NHLEntry Draft first-round selections on June 24 in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Couturier, the No. 2-ranked North American skater, was the only draft-eligible player to compete for Team Canada at the 2011 World Junior Championship. Born in Phoenix, Arizona, and raised in Bathurst, New Brunswick, he is the reigning QMJHL scoring champion after leading the league in points as a 17-year-old.
No. 3-ranked skater Nugent-Hopkins is leading the WHL with 40 assists in 39 games. In 2009-10, the Burnaby, British Columbia, native helped lead the Rebels to the playoffs for the first time in three years and captured WHL Rookie of the Year honors.
Joining Landeskog, Couturier and Nugent-Hopkins among the top North American skaters are No. 4-ranked Jonathan Huberdeau (Saint-Jerome, Que.), a center with the QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs, and No. 5-ranked Tyler Biggs (Binghamton, NY), a right wing competing for the U.S. Under-18 National Team Development Program (USHL). John Gibson (Pittsburgh, PA) from the U.S. Under-18 National Team Development Program is the No.1-ranked North American goaltender.
The mid-season ranking features the top 210 skaters and 33 goaltenders in North America as well as the top 140 skaters and eight goaltenders from Europe.
In its 36th year of operation, the NHL Central Scouting Service provides scouting and evaluation of draft-eligible players to NHL member clubs. Headed by Vice President of Central Scouting E.J. McGuire, NHL Central Scouting employs eight full-time and 15 part-time scouts throughout North America. To report on prospects playing in Europe, the NHL employs the services of Goran Stubb and his staff of six scouts at European Scouting Services based in Finland. Combined, the NHL Central Scouting and European Scouting Service will see in excess of 3,000 games this season.