The 2011 NHL Entry Draft takes place on June 24-25th in St. Paul, Minnesota. Once again, I love the dates – the 24th and 25th representing hockey’s version of Christmas!
Many shots will be taken. Many saves will be made. Many hits will be dished out. Many battles for loose pucks will be fought. Many passes will be delivered. Many savvy puck moves will be executed. Many coach tirades will fall on deaf ears.
The debate now rages on as to who will emerge as best of class – 2011. At present, it is a three-headed race led by: Centreman Sean Couturier of Dummondville Voltigeurs, Sweden’s brilliant blueliner Adam Larsson and centerman Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Red Deer Rebels.
The Race For First Overall:
As THW’s Greg Thomson recently reported, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has emerged as the frontrunner. Swedish blueliner Adam Larsson, Gabriel Landeskog, Sean Couturier and Ryan Strome will put the heat on NHL scouting teams and their decision-making process come June. I had RNH going 4th in my Holiday Edition Mock Draft – Grand Larsson-y, but his play since being cut from Team Canada World Junior team has been amazing – 65 points in 38 games.
Ryan Strome (great profile by THW’s Jeff Blay) is undeniably the greatest riser in terms of NHL 2011 draft stock, since the season started. Heck, I’ve even listed him amongst the Top 10 Young Guns with Potential to join Jarome Iginla in the exclusive 10 x 30 club.
The countryman and Portland Winterhawks teammate of “El Nino” Nino Niederreiter, Sven Baertschi has had himself a superb WHL rookie season and has therefore, not surprisingly, seen his draft day value continually on the rise.
High and Low
- Prospects I have ranked higher than most:
I’m quite certain some will question the placement of Ryan Strome at fourth ahead of Gabriel Landeskog. Landeskog is probably the most NHL ready prospect in the draft and one of the most complete players available. Strome’s high end potential is the main factor I considered in this case.
I wanted to have Ryan Murphy even higher than sixth to be honest. I was higher than most on Ryan Ellis in his draft year, and while the two offensive blueliners are different on many levels, they are both rare, elite, dynamic difference makers from the back-end. Size is a factor with Murphy but his skating and off the charts hockey sense will allow him to succeed in the big league.
Daniel Catenacci’s hockey sense has been compared to Rico Fata. Unfortunately, proponents of this statement are not complimenting Catenacci. However, I beg to differ. The speedster has a very high compete level and knows how to play the game. Should he fall to the late first round, notch it up as a steal for the team selecting him.
- Prospects I have ranked lower than most:
I mentioned Landeskog already. I really like him as a player and prospect. I simply like several players more and it’s mostly to do with long-term projections.
Tyler Biggs has been creeping up many draft rankings. The power forward is definitely an intriguing combination of size and skill. My concern is does he top out as a third line checking winger?
Seth Ambroz came into the season hyped as Top 10 material. Great size. Questionable skating. He may go late first, but he’s more worthy of a second round flier.
Many also have centreman Jonathon (J.T.) Miller landing in the first round. His lack of offensive production is the biggest red flag for me at this point.
A couple of notes up front as we get on to the March Madness edition of the rankings. Also be sure to check out THW’s new Prospect Guide page.
- The table is “sortable” – that is, if you click on any of the headings it will sort them.
- The table is also searchable (top right hand corner of table).
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Christopher Ralph is THW’s prospect and draft analyst
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