After publishing two “players to watch” lists in September, respectively November, the NHL Central Scouting Bureau published its midterm rankings this week. I analyzed the rankings and compared it to the players to watch list from earlier in the season and came up with some surprising rises or falls. Let’s have a look at the players ranked by Central Scouting that surprised me:
Graham McPhee (LW, 92nd NA Skater list)
Graham McPhee is the son of former NHLer George McPhee and will join Boston College next year, which is coached by Jerry York. Graham won’t be the first McPhee coached by York; his dad played for the Bowling Green State University under York. Graham might not possess high-end offensive skills but he brings a good work ethic and two-way game to the table. McPhee has very powerful first strides and he is extremely strong on his skates.
Throw in international prospects, plus international & North American goalies, & Graham McPhee (George's son) likely a 2016 late-round pick
— Ben Raby (@BenRaby31) January 19, 2016
McPhee could fly under the radar of teams as he is listed at only the 92nd position by Central Scouting. He has the potential to become a reliable third or fourth liner in my eyes.
Cam Dineen (D, 117th NA Skater list)
Cam Dineen is a mobile, puck-moving defender who displays a great defensive positioning game. He is playing his first season in the OHL with the North Bay Battalion and is clearly the most productive defenceman for North Bay. Central Scouting has listed him at only the 117th position, which seems to be too low. Indeed, there are valid concerns about his strength and size but he definitely shows upside in the skating department and can be a productive defender.
He looks more like a late third or early fourth rounder to me than a fifth round selection or below.
William Knierim (RW, 130th NA Skater list)
Big winger William Knierim dropped quite a bit as he was rated a B in November, but he finds himself only at 130th on the North American Skater list, which is way too low. He has great size and can play physical if needed. Additionally, he is a good puck protector and decent set up guy.
There are pre-draft rankings which have him even listed in the first round, but to me he looks more like a second or third rounder. It would definitely surprise me if a team drafts him at a position near the projection of Central Scouting.
Yegor Korshkov (7th Int. Skater list)
Yegor Korshkov’s draft stock has risen quite a bit since the World Junior Championship, where he tied for Russia’s top scorer with eight points in seven games. He scored the game-winning goal in the semi-final against the U.S., which was a thing of beauty. He was one of the top players on his team and demonstrated his strong net drive and puck-protection skills at the tournament. Korshkov wasn’t even listed on Central Scouting’s first two watching lists, but currently sits at No. 7 on their newest released International Skater ranking.
— theNHLarena.com (@nhl_arena) January 15, 2016
Korshkov, who plays in the KHL, will need to continue his strong performance from the WJC in order to maintain his top-10 ranking as there is some concern on his puck-handling and shot skills.
Jacob Cederholm (18th Int. Skater list)
Towering defender Jacob Cederholm seems like a second rounder to me. He is an impressive leader on and off the ice, leads pre-game warm-up exercises and is a great communicator on the ice. Although he is a pure defensive-minded defender who plays an invisible offensive game, he has the maturity, leadership skills and defensive competitiveness to be selected within the top 60.
Central Scouting had him rated with a B in November but has him now at only 18th. That seems a bit too low in my opinion, especially as players like Eetu Tuulola and Filip Hronek are listed ahead of him, which shouldn’t be the case.
Janne Kuokkanen (C, 27th Int. Skater list) behind Tuulola)
I have seen quite a bit of Janne Kuokkanen this season at the Hlinka Memorial Cup and five-nation tournament in Switzerland, and I really liked his play. He is a smart center, who can play wing as well, and possesses silk, smooth hands. He is not excelling too well when executing but he does have strong playmaking skills.
There are some valid concerns about his physical game and strength. That could be one of the reasons why Kuokkanen is only at the 27th position as per Central Scouting. However, I am really surprised that he is behind fellow Finn Tuulola. I do see Kuokkanen as a third round pick if a team takes the risk on him.
Antti Kalapudas (C, 58th Int. Skater list)
Antti Kalapudas’ draft stock was rising at the WJC, where he played a decent tournament in the shadow of Jesse Puljujarvi, Patrik Laine and Sebastian Aho. He provided the Finnish team with valuable secondary scoring and is playing games in the highest Finnish league with Karpat, where he tries to transfer his productive junior numbers into pro hockey.
Kalapudas wasn’t listed in November but sits now at 58th. At least he is listed at all, but it seems that he could be picked slightly earlier than expected if he can keep up his good play and show decent numbers with Karpat. He could become a valuable depth player if he continues to work on his strength.
Tim Wahlgren (C, 87th Int. Skater list)
I have Swedish center Tim Wahlgren as a potential third rounder in my personal rankings but Central Scouting sees him at 87th position in the International Skater list. He is behind a couple of guys he really shouldn’t be. He is playing a strong season with Modo’s junior team.
Veini Vehvilainen (G, 4th Int. Goalie list)
The Finnish goalie hero from the U18 World Championship 2015 couldn’t confirm his strong performances at the WJC. he had shaky games, especially against Canada, and displayed big trouble in finding pucks and had troubling rebound control. He was only the backup in the gold medal game against Russia. Veini Vehvilainen missed a great chance to rise his stock even more at the WJC, but dropped to fourth place in International Goalie ranking.
However, I still think he should be considered one of the best International goalies and I am surprised to see that he has fallen even behind Czech Adam Brizgala. Furthermore, let’s not forget his outstanding numbers in the Finnish Liiga against men.
Vladislav Sukhachev (G, not listed by Central Scouting)
Really surprised to see that Central Scouting hasn’t listed Russian goaltender Vladislav Sukhachev in any of the lists published. He was already missing in the players to watch list and isn’t on the midterm rankings either. Sukhachev played an outstanding Hlinka Memorial Cup and puts up great numbers with Russians U18 program with a GAA of under 1.5 and save percentage over 95 percent. In my opinion, Sukhachev should be one of the top goalies on the International goalie list.
Independent Scout covering European Hockey and Prospects for TheHockeyWriters. Located in Switzerland and blogging on www.scouting-factory.blogspot.com. Opinions on blog are my own