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NHL Central Scouting unveils preliminary rankings

by Mike G. Morreale

NHL Central Scouting on Tuesday completed the next phase on the road to the 2013 NHL Draft with the release of its league preliminary rankings for the top levels of North American junior hockey and Europe.

* An overall take on the release can be accessed here.

* An in-depth review of the top goalies can be accessed here.

* Breakdown of the top European players can be accessed here.

In the Ontario Hockey League, center Sean Monahan of the Ottawa 67's is the No. 1-ranked player, followed by defenseman Darnell Nurse of Sault Ste. Marie, left wing Kerby Rychel of Windsor and London centers Max Domi and Bo Horvat.

OHL Fast Fact: The London Knights have four players (No. 4 Max Domi, No. 5 Bo Horvat, No. 7 Nikita Zadorov, No. 16 Remi Elie) listed among the top 25 skaters and goalie Jake Patterson is rated No. 6 at his position.

To no one's surprise, center Nathan MacKinnon of the Halifax Mooseheads was regarded as the No. 1 player in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He was followed by Halifax teammate and No. 2-ranked left wing Jonathan Drouin, No. 3 Valentin Zykov of Baie-Comeau, No. 4 Frederik Gauthier of Rimouski and No. 5 Adam Erne of Quebec.

QMJHL Fast Fact: Halifax occupies the top two spots on the skaters' list and the No. 1 spot (Zachary Fucale) among goalies; Rimouski has five of the top 25 players on the board, including No. 4 Frederik Gauthier, No. 10 Jan Kostalek, No. 11 Maxime Gravel, No. 21 Vladimir Bryukvin and No. 22 Samuel Morin.

  Nathan MacKinnon, Halifax; Seth Jones, Portland

The Western Hockey League is once again loaded with talent. The league might also possess the best defenseman of the 2013 Draft in 6-foot-3.5, 208-pound Seth Jones of the Portland Winterhawks. Jones is one of three defenders among the top five, including No. 3 Ryan Pulock of Brandon and No. 4 Shea Theodore of Seattle. Coming in at No. 2 is center Hunter Shinkaruk and filling in at No. 5 is Morgan Klimchuk of Regina.

WHL Fast Fact: Seven of the top 10 players in the league are defensemen. They include Jones, Pulock, Theodore, Joshua Morrissey of Prince Albert, Mirco Muller of Everett, Eric Roy of Brandon and Madison Bowey of Kelowna.

The United States Hockey League is led by left wing J.T. Compher of the Under-18 U.S. National Team Development Program. Compher is one of five players representing the USNTDP among the top 10 skaters in the league. Defenseman Ian McCoshen of the Waterloo Black Hawks is No. 2, right wing Hudson Fasching of the USNTDP is No. 3, defenseman Steven Santini of the USNTDP is No. 4 and defender Keaton Thompson of the USNTDP is No. 5.

USHL Fast Fact: The University of Michigan, Boston College and the University of North Dakota each have two players among the top 10 in the league who are committed to the school in the fall of 2013. the Michigan recruits include No. 1 Compher and No. 6 Michael Downing of Dubuque. The B.C. recruits are No. 2 McCoshen and No. 4 Santini. Future standouts for the Fighting Sioux include No. 5 Thompson and No. 8 Luke Johnson of Lincoln.

Among the European skaters, defenseman Martin Kokes of Litvinov Jr. heads the Czech Republic; left wing Matthias Asperup of Copenhagen heads Denmark; center Aleksander Barkov of Tappara heads Finland; defenseman Tim Bender of Mannheim Jr. heads Germany; right wing Valeri Nichushkin of Chelmet heads Russia; center Eduard Simun of B. Bystrica heads Slovakia; center Elias Lindholm of Brynas heads Sweden; and Fabio Hogger of Kloten Jr. heads Switzerland.

The top-ranked goalies in each league are as follows:

OHL: Spencer Martin of Mississauga

QMJHL: Zachary Fucale of Halifax

WHL: Eric Comrie of Tri-City

USHL: Eamon McAdam of Waterloo

Czech Republic: Rene Svoboda of Vitkovice Jr.

Finland: Juuse Saros of HPK Jr.

Russia: Ivan Bocharov of MVD Balashikha 2

Slovakia: Maros Mikolas of Zilina Jr.

Sweden: Ebbe Sionas of AIK Jr.

Switzerland: Nicola Aeberhard of Kloten Jr.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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