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Top prospects set for tiebreaker

by Mike G. Morreale

Prince Albert Raiders center Leon Draisaitl, No. 2 on NHL Central Scouting's midterm list of the top North American skaters eligible for the 2014 NHL Draft, will lead his charges against the Red Deer Rebels on Tuesday in a tiebreaker game to determine the final playoff spot in the Western Hockey League's Eastern Conference playoffs.

The winner will play the top-seeded Edmonton Oil Kings in the first round of the best-of-seven WHL playoffs on Saturday in Edmonton.

The WHL, Ontario Hockey League and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League begin postseason play this week.

The Raiders and Rebels finished the regular season tied for eighth place with 35 wins and 75 points apiece. Since Red Deer won the season series between the teams, taking three of the four games, the tiebreaker will be held ENMAX Centrium in Red Deer.

Draisaitl is having a season to remember for the Raiders. He is fourth in the league with 105 points (38 goals, 67 assists). His teammate, forward Reid Gardiner, has 22 goals and 44 points in 70 games. The 5-foot-10.5, 183-pound right-hander is No. 40 on Central Scouting's midterm list.

Draisaitl, chosen No. 2 in the 2012 CHL Import Draft by Prince Albert, has 59 goals and 163 points in 128 career regular-season games spanning two seasons.

"All season long, he's continued to develop as a prospect," NHL Director of Central Scouting Dan Marr said. "You noticed him all the time last year, and he's gone out there and become a dominant player for Prince Albert this year. We like him as a top-five pick."

The Rebels are led by draft eligible prospects Haydn Fleury and Conner Bleackley. Bleackley, who plays center and serves as captain, is No. 31 on Central Scouting's midterm list. He leads the team in goals (29), points (68) and power-play goals (10).

"Conner deserves every point he has because he has a strong work ethic and decent size (6-0.5, 192)," Central Scouting's B.J. MacDonald said. "He hustles almost every shift, and is not afraid to get in on forecheck and make things happen."

Fleury, the second-highest rated defenseman on Central Scouting's midterm list at No. 6 among North American skaters, has nine goals, 37 points and a plus-15 rating in 70 games.

"He's got good strong mobility, great vision and has a knack for making that first good outlet pass," MacDonald said of Fleury. "He's composed and calm with the puck, and has an ability of knowing when to join the rush at the right moments."

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