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Back to business

by Mike G. Morreale /

NHL Central Scouting goes back to the drawing board this weekend when the top draft-eligible North American skaters will be ranked one final time prior to the 2013 NHL Draft on June 30 at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.

Headed by Central Scouting director Dan Marr, the 10 full-time scouts in attendance at the Toronto board offices will don their thinking caps for one final time to establish their final list of the top 210 North American skaters and 30 goalies. The five-day selection process begins Friday. From a separate location, the Director of European Scouting, Goran Stubb, will also offer his recommendations to Marr on the top 120-plus European skaters and 10 goalies.

The final rankings release will be made official later this month.

"It's never easy to produce a final ranking list and this year is no different, but it's always interesting when our discussions involve excellent NHL prospects for the first overall spot," Marr told "During the course of the season, a couple more players have come into consideration for the top spot so I'm anticipating considerable debate to get the first few names in order."

Here is how Central Scouting ranked the top five skaters at its midterm release in January:

1-Seth Jones, Portland Winterhawks (WHL) - Seth 'Popeye' Jones

2-Nathan MacKinnon, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL) - Former coach knew Mac was special

3-Jonathan Drouin, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL) -  The amazing Jonathan

4-Sean Monahan, Ottawa 67's (OHL) - Ex-teammates aide Monahan

5-Hunter Shinkaruk, Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL) - Driven to succeed

The top North American goalie at the midterm ranking was yet another player from the Mooseheads in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League - Zach Fucale

The scouts in Toronto will debate, scrutinize and review the future of all potential blue chip prospects from within the Ontario Hockey League, Western Hockey League, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, USA-West and USA-East, which includes all U.S. colleges and high schools, and the Canadian junior and midgets.

"The rest of the field for the first round is also going to be quite interesting as many of the same players from the mid-season ranking will be in the mix, but the order could change considerably," Marr said. "That's how close, yet complex, this draft field is for the first round."

Rounding out the top 10 North American prospects on Central's midterm list were defenseman Ryan Pulock of the Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL), center Frederik Gauthier of the Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL), left wing Valentin Zykov of the Baie-Comeau Drakkar (QMJHL) and Darnell Nurse of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL).


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