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Signing off from the Conn Smythe Board Room

by Mike G. Morreale
Well, it was another tremendous success joining the boys at NHL Central Scouting in Toronto this weekend as they put the finishing touches on the final North American list for the top 2011 draft-eligible prospects.

At the time I left the Conn Smythe Board Room, the scouts had dissected and debated the top 123 skaters from North America. I think they feel pretty strongly about the list they put together. David Gregory asked me to speak to the group to provide some idea how important their work is to not only the NHL scouts and GMs, but our hockey fans world-wide. He'd need to look no further than Twitter, actually!

Their efforts are certainly appreciated. The respect I have for these traveling bloodhounds is tremendous, not only from the standpoint of the amount of hockey they see per week during the season in order to "get it right" come June, but the fact just about all of them have families they must leave in order to do so.

That's called dedication. And I was fortunate they welcomed me in with open arms. Director of Central Scouting E.J. McGuire once told me, "First round picks can only underachieve but those picked from the second round on can only overachieve."

I firmly believe that to be the case this year as there seems to be great talent available right on through the second round this year. Now, I'm not saying these players are NHL ready, but a majority might claim to be ready to roll in two-to-three years. It's going to be very interesting.

And, really, that's what NHL Central Scouting thrives at … finding those diamonds in the rough in the later rounds to make life a tad easier for those NHL scouts and general managers making the big decisions.

Make sure to check back to next week when myself, Adam Kimelman and Steve Hoffner will offer our mock drafts. On April 12, Central Scouting's final release becomes official and we'll have every angle covered at the announcement.

Finally, I was able to catch up with each scout and get their opinion of those potential gems for 2012. Some great stuff, as always. Here is Central Scouting's preview of the 2012 Draft class.
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