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Players looking to break a fall

by Shawn P. Roarke

Mitch Wahl was not able to meet the lofty expectations of a number of scouts and as a result fell from rank No. 37 to No. 64.
A number of players took significant drops in their ranking position when Thursday's final ranking of North American draft-eligible prospects was released by NHL Central Scouting. Here's a look at some of the biggest fallers:

Andrew MacWilliam, Camrose, AJHL -- There was a lot of hype surrounding MacWilliam at the start of the season and the 6-foot-2, 205-pound defenseman was on the radar screen of a lot of scouts. In fact, he was ranked No. 59 in the mid-term ratings. He didn't do anything negative to take such a precipitous drop to No. 147; rather, it was more of a market correction. In fact, one scout praised MacWilliams' tremendous upside and insisted it was just a matter of the rookie becoming consistently aggressive.

Mathieu Tousignant, PEI, QMJHL -- Traded from Baie-Comeau to PEI at midseason, Tousignant's numbers and effectiveness dipped slightly. His defensive inadequacies also came to light with the Rocket. The center was a plus-7 for Baie-Comeau, but was minus-14 for PEI in just 27 games. Hence the drop from No. 55 to No. 111. Scouts were looking for the pesky Tousignant to be more of a two-way presence to be effective in the roles he likely would have to occupy as a pro.
Philippe Cornet, Rimouski, QMJHL -- Entering the season, scouts were sky-high on Cornet, an offensive center with good size and good hands. He was taken No. 2 overall in the QMJHL draft and was selected to play in the ADT Canada-Russia Challenge and the CHL-NHL Top Prospects Game. But he did not turn in strong performances in either of those showcases and his draft ranking suffered, as he fell from No. 31 to No. 80.

Mikhail Stefanovich, Quebec, QMJHL -- This fancy Belarusian center most have done something right this year. He not only totaled 32 goals and 34 assists – just three fewer points than teammate Angelo Esposito (a first-round NHL pick last year) – and he also earned the Mike Bossy Award, given to the QMJHL player viewed as the best pro prospect. But scouts did not like everything they saw from Stefanovich, resulting in a fall from No. 16 to No. 57.

Mitch Wahl, Spokane, WHL --
The American-born center had a very good year for Spokane. His 73 points were 25 more than he posted in his rookie WHL season and he finished with 21 more assists. Wahl also was a much better defensive player than he had shown in his first season of junior hockey. But Wahl's performances did not meet the lofty expectations a number of scouts had for the product of the California Wave program and he slipped noticeably, from No. 37 to No. 64.

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