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2008 Draft: Top Rising Prospects

by Jay Levin / Nashville Predators
As a lead-in to the 2008 NHL Entry Draft June 20-21 in Ottawa, Ontario, will be taking a look at the top prospects available in this year's draft class. Today we will compare the midterm and final rankings to point out the biggest movers in this year's draft.

The #1 skater in both the North American and European Central Scouting rankings remained the same from the midterm to the final rankings. However, after them there were several players to charge up the charts over the second half of the season.

Among the top-50 North American prospects, no one moved up farther than BCHL forward Derek Grant. Grant made a jump of 66 slots to slide from 104 in the midterm to 40 in the final rankings. Inside the top-10 things were a little more stable, with the biggest gain being made by forward Zach Boychuk, a three slot jump from #11 (and just outside the top-10) to #8 in the final rankings. On the European side, Swedish defenseman Erik Karlsson flew up 59 slots to rank #4 in the final rankings.

Top Rising North American Prospects

Derek Grant (Langley, BCHL) - 57 games, 24g-39a-63pts, 44 penalty minutes
Pos: Forward (+66 slots; CSS mid-term NA#106, final NA#40)
NHL Central Scouting's Blair MacDonald
"Derek was one of those players who was under the radar the whole season. A lot of teams were going to go see another player on his team, and I kept reminding guys to watch him too. He had a slow first half, but in the second half he got a lot more ice time and he made the most of it. He played on Langley's first line and did very well in the playoffs this year, carrying his team through. He's a big guy – a very smart player and handles the puck well. He was ranked in the sixth round at the mid-term and moved up to the second round in the final rankings. He was a guy that didn't initially get a lot of ice-time and he could surprise a lot of people."

Daulton Leveille (St. Catharines, GHL) - 45 games, 29g-27a-56pts, 38 penalty minutes
Pos: Forward (+42 slots; CSS mid-term NA#89, final NA#47)
NHL Director of Central Scouting, E.J. McGuire
"Daultan is a wonderful surprise who comes out of the St. Catharines Falcons program that never before has produced an NHL draft pick. There has been a lot of interest in him this year and he has performed well in front of NHL scouts such that he may well not be around by the third round selections."

Adam Comrie (Saginaw, OHL) - 58 games, 10g-18a-28pts, 90 penalty minutes
Pos: Defense (+37 slots; CSS mid-term NA#81, final NA#44)
NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards
"He's a big player who has improved a lot this year. When he arrived in Saginaw, the first impression was that he was just going to be a really physical defenseman, but as the year went on he was moving the puck a lot better, playing on the power-play and showed that he has puck skill. He has a really good shot – he has a spunk and feistiness in him."

Corey Fienhage (Eashview, MN High Sch) - 24 games, 6g-6a-12pts, 76 penalty minutes
Pos: Defense (+25 slots; CSS mid-term NA#61, final NA#36)
NHL Central Scouting's Jack Barzee
"Cory is an aggressive and tough player. He's a great skater with a good wrist shot and big shot from the point. He is really aware of his defensive responsibilities, always looking over his shoulder. He's going to be a warrior. He has a little bit of Coyotes' defenseman Ed Jovanovski in him and there won't be too many people who will want to play against him when he gets going."

Matthew Calvert (Brandon, WHL) - 72 games, 24g-40a-64pts, 53 penalty minutes
Pos: Forward (+21 slots; CSS mid-term NA#45, final NA#24)
NHL Central Scouting's Blair MacDonald
"Matt skates well, has a great work ethic every shift and plays a heady, positional game. The more I watched him play, the more I liked his game, he moves the puck well, making plays coming off of the boards and he plays special teams and all of the important minutes. He plays bigger than his size."

Top Rising European Prospects

Erik Karlsson (Frolunda Jr, SWE Jr) - 38 games, 13g-24a-47pts, 68 penalty minutes
Pos: Defense (+59 slots; CSS mid-term E#63, final E#4)
Karlsson also played in seven games for Frolunda in the Swedish Elite League and was the star of the Under-18 World Junior Championships to Sweden, taking home the tournament's Best Defenseman honors.
Director of European Scouting Goran Stubb
"Erik is excellent on the power-play; he makes smart passes and has great vision. He plays the game with confidence, has a natural hockey sense and is a consistent offensive threat. He compensates for his lack of strength and size with his mobility, passing and vision and is at his best as an offensive d-man. Overall, he needs more weight and strength in order to be more effective in front of his own net."

Kirill Petrov (Kazan, RUS) - 47 games, 4g-6a-10pts, 54 penalty minutes
Pos: Forward (+31 slots; CSS mid-term E#33, final E#2
Director of European Scouting Goran Stubb
"I'm impressed with Kirill's excellent skating and mobility as well as his work ethic playing on Russia's (Under-18) top line. He displays toughness in one-on-one situations and delivers smart passes creating a lot of scoring chances. He is also very physically strong; he was successful in one-on-one situations along the boards and in the corners."

A trio of Scandanavian prospects made tremendous leaps up the charts over the back half of the season. Swedish forward Andre Petersson improved 135 slots from #154 in the mid-term European rankings all the way up to #19 in the final version. Fellow Swede forward David Ullstrom was unranked in the mid-term Central Scouting rankings before checking in at #17 in the final version. While Finnish forward Jori Lehtera finished at #23 in the European rankings after also being unranked mid-season.

Among goaltenders, Jake Allen made the biggest leap, a 17 slot jump to the #8 North American netminder. Though playing in just 30 games for St. John's in the QMJHL regular season, Allen made his mark during the Under-18 World Junior Championships by backstopping Team Canada to the Gold Medal with a .948 save percentage, 1.43 goals-against average and two shutouts in seven games. For his efforts at the Under-18 Worlds, he was named the best goaltender of the tournament and to the tournament All-Star team.

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