Draft Week Post #6: Blue Bullet’s 30

I’ve been posting the Blue Bullet top 30 for a few years now, and want to thank Brad for giving me this opportunity. I use it for reference purposes years after the draft and enjoy it thoroughly.


1. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
Team: Red Deer Rebels
League: WHL
Position: Centre
Height: 6-1
Weight: 170 lbs
2010-11 Stats: 69-31-75-106
When it comes to deciding who to place in my number 1 slot it is actually an easy decision. It is simply determining which player in the draft has the best chance of becoming the star player of the draft and this year it is Nugent-Hopkins. He was not always my number 1 choice but his second half production and development is what took the number 1 spot away from Larsson. He has elite vision and hockey sense that do not come along every year and is the type of player that elevates the teammates around him. Another thing to remember when it comes to Nugent-Hopkins is that no other player in this year’s draft has been consistently compared to other all-star calibre players. The one knock on him is his slender build but I actually see it as a positive because that means he has more room to grow than a lot of other players in the draft. There are players in the draft like Larsson and Couturier who are safer picks but the one player I feel has potential superstar status is this guy.

2. Jonathan Huberdeau
Team: Saint John Sea Dogs
League: QMJHL
Position: Centre/Left Wing
Height: 6-1
Weight: 168 lbs
Stats: 67-43-62-105
Huberdeau is a player that just kept going up and up in my rankings until the point where I can’t keep him out of my 2nd spot. Like Nugent-Hopkins he is a slender player with a lot of upside but whereas Hopkins has the better vision, Huberdeau is the feistier player. Described as a two-way player with a nose for the net I believe Huberdeau can be a 1st line left winger at the NHL level. I find that some people have had a tendency to underrate him due to the stacked Sea Dogs teamed he played on but like Hall he was the best player on the best junior team in hockey and was the straw the stirred the drink on that team. Outside Hopkins, I think Huberdeau has the best chance to become a player with elite potential at the next level.

3. Adam Larsson
Team: Skelleftea HC
League: SEL
Position: Defence
Height: 6-3
Weight: 200 lbs
Stats: 37-1-8-9
Larsson was my first choice coming into this season and held on to it through about March. Since there is so much to like about Larsson’s game it was not an easy decision at first to move him down. In the end it came down to the fact that I do not see as high an upside with Larsson as I do with Hopkins or Huberdeau. Larsson however is a safer pick than both those players as he is a big safe steady two-way d-man that does everything well. He definitely looks to be a sure-fire future top pairing player but whether he is an elite d-man or a very solid #1/2 is the big question when it comes to his game.

4. Sean Couturier
Team: Drummondville Voltigeurs
League: QMJHL
Position: Centre
Height: 6-4
Weight: 195 lbs
Stats: 58-36-60-96
Like Larsson, Couturier fell down a couple of spots in my list from 2nd spot at the start of the year to the 4th overall spot. While he had another solid year he did not show the growth in development that you saw from other players like Huberdeau or Hopkins who both passed Couturier by in terms of top end potential. Despite that Couturier has a lot to like with his size and skill combined with a well rounded two-way game. He needs to work on his skating but with the right development he should be able to improve and become a very solid 1st line centre in the pros. I don’t think he has elite status but could become a very solid big man down the middle like an Arnott or Primeau.

5. Gabriel Landeskog
Team: Kitchener Rangers
League: OHL
Position: Left Wing
Height: 6-1
Weight: 207 lbs
Stats: 53-36-30-66
Landeskog has been described as the Swedish Mike Richards and is definitely one of the fan favourites heading into the draft. He is a heart and soul player with good offensive ability and has been described as being future captain material for whoever selects him. He is the type of player that could provide a similar impact as Dustin Brown does for the LA Kings. At the combines, Landeskog was physically described as a man among boys which likely means he can make the jump to the pros, maybe as early as next year, but it also means he doesn’t have as much room for growth as a lot of his peers. I do not think he has as high an upside as the players above him so that is why he falls to the fifth spot.

6. Dougie Hamilton
Team: Niagara IceDogs
League: OHL
Position: Defence
Height: 6-4
Weight: 193 lbs
Stats: 67-12-46-58
When it comes to d-men, if Adam Larsson has already been taken off the board, Hamilton is a very good consolation prize for any team. Hamilton has everything you want in a d-man as he is big, mobile, physical and can play at both ends of the rink. When comparing him and Larsson there is not a huge separation in terms of potential but the difference is that Larsson has been playing at a higher level against men and is likely to be ready for the pro game at a sooner time than Hamilton. Like Larsson, he faces similar questions as to whether he can become an elite d-man at the pro level or if he is the next tier below like a Ryan Whitney.

7. Ryan Murphy
Team: Kitchener Rangers
League: OHL
Position: Defence
Height: 5-11
Weight: 176 lbs
Stats: 63-26-53-79
Looking at the players that have the potential to be a star, Ryan Murphy is right at the top of the class. With his elite level of offensive ability and puck movement for a d-man it has given buzz that he could be the next Phil Housley. He could be a huge steal at #7 if the defensive side of his game rounds out and he adapts well to the more physical NHL game. However, whichever team drafts him has to be patient as he has longer to go with his defensive development. Murphy is definitely the type of players that will pull you out of your seat and give you a major headache sometimes on the same shift.

8. Ryan Strome
Team: Niagara IceDogs
League: OHL
Position: Centre
Height: 6-0
Weight: 183 lbs
Stats: 65-33-73-106
When it comes to stick handling ability there may not be a better player in this year’s draft than Strome who can be a magician with the puck. A very skilled player, Strome has the potential to be a #1 center with his hockey sense and puck ability. I do question whether he is going to be a true #1 centre at the next level or more of a tweener #1/2 center as I was expecting more out of Strome in the playoffs. I do thinks he needs to get stronger so that he can be more effective at the pro level when the games get tougher.

9. Mika Zibanejad
Team: Djurgarden
League: SEL
Position: Centre
Height: 6-2
Weight: 191 lbs
Stats: 26-5-4-9
I don’t know what they’re feeding the kids in Sweden today but Zibanajed is the last of the 3 tough, physical, gritty Swedish players in my top 10. Like Huberdeau, Zibanajed was a huge draft riser and has solidified himself as a top pick in the draft. He plays a power forward game and is strong at both ends of the rink which has drawn comparisons to Bobby Holik. The main question when it comes to him is how much offensive upside does he have? In my opinion he is more likely to be a good two-way 2nd line centre.

10. Duncan Siemens
Team: Saskatoon Blades
League: WHL
Position: Defence
Height: 6-3
Weight: 197 lbs
Stats: 72-5-38-43
The last player in my top ten is Duncan Siemens who is one of the toughest players, if not the toughest in the draft. He is a player that likes to play for keeps and models his game after Scott Stevens. While he is not as polished and developed as Larsson or Hamilton, Siemens has an underrated upside as you must remember he is one of the youngest players in the draft as he was only draft eligible by a week. Some people like to put him in the same boat as former WHL d-men Ellerby or Teubert but I think he has a higher upside than either of those players and could be anywhere from a #2-4 d-man.

11. Joel Armia
Team: Assat
League: FinE
Position: Right Wing
Height: 6-3
Height: 191 lbs
Stats: 48-18-11-29
The first European player on my list not to be a Swede goes to Armia who is a big, strong, goal scoring winger from Finland. He has been compared to Johan Franzen which is a somewhat appropriate comparison as they both can be very strong goal scorers when on their game but do go through inconsistent stretches. His foot speed does need to be improved for him to be effective at the top level but if he does that he has all the makings of a 1st line power winger. I see Armia as more of a complimentary player than a go to guy which keeps him out of my top 10.

12. Mark Scheifele
Team: Barrie Colts
League: OHL
Position: Centre
Height: 6-2
Weight: 177 lbs
Stats: 66-22-53-75 PTS
Scheifele’s strong performance at the U-18 allowed him to demonstrate what he can do with his skills when he has better players around him and in doing so has shot up the rankings. Like Zibanajed, he is a very competitive player that likes to play a powerforward game and drive the puck to the net. He is a lanky player that does need to fill out so that his game is effective at the pro level. However, when his size does match his competiveness Scheifele’s game could go to a whole other level.

13. Sven Bartschi
Team: Portland Winterhawks
League: WHL
Position: Left Wing
Height: 5-11
Weight: 175 lbs
Stats: 66-34-51-85
While Bartschi is not the biggest player in the draft by any stretch he makes up with it with his skill and competitive drive. Like his countrymen last year Nino Neiderieter, Bartschi is helping to redefine the stereotype for the Swiss hockey player. He is a hard working two way player that is solid in all aspects of the game. His lack of size may keep him from being a top line player and more likely a second line scorer but he has proven in the WHL playoffs, with his strong performance that he can step up his game when it counts.

14. Oscar Klefbom
Team: Farjestad
League: SEL
Position: Defence
Height: 6-4
Weight: 196 lbs
Stats: 23-1-1-2
Klefbom was one of the big late risers on my rankings with his very strong performance at the U-18 tournament. A large d-man, who due to playing in the SEL most of the year, was not able to demonstrate his underrated offensive skills. While he is still raw in his development, Klefbom has a lot of upside and could develop into a top 4 d-man.

15. Mark McNeil
2010-11 Team: Prince Albert Raiders
League: WHL
Position: Centre
Height: 6-1
Weight: 204 lbs
2010-11 Stats: 70-32-49-81
McNeil, a local product, is a versatile player that will be able to fit into many roles for whatever team drafts him. While he doesn’t possess the offensive skills to be a #1 centre, McNeil looks like he has the potential to be a very strong two-way centre with 2nd line upside. I think McNeil will be one of the safer picks in the draft as his PK skills, size and strength makes you believe he will be at least a very good checking centre at the next level.

16. Nathan Beaulieu
Team: Saint John Sea Dogs
League: QMJHL
Position: Defence
Height: 6-2
Weight: 185 lbs
Stats: 65-12-33-45 PTS
Beaulieu, a mobile puck-moving d-man with some size is the second Saint John player on my list but definitely not the last. With Beaulieu what separates him from the other d-men with 2nd pairing potential is his ability to quarterback a PP. While he is a well rounded d-man he still needs to improve upon his defensive game as his offensive game is more developed at this time.

17. J.T. Miller
Team: USA U-18
League: USHL
Position: Centre
Height: 6-1
Weight: 198 lbs
Stats: 56-15-35-50
Miller is a hardnosed physical centre that also demonstrated his offensive ability at the U-18 by leading the USA in scoring. Like McNeil he is a very safe pick as he looks to be a sure bet to be a good 3rd line player with potential to possibly be a 2nd liner though there are some doubts whether he has that type of offensive upside.

18. Rocco Grimaldi
Team: USA U-18
League: USHL
Position: Centre
Height: 5-6
Weight: 163 lbs
2010-11 Stats: 58-39-34-73
Grimaldi may make history by being the shortest first round pick in NHL history. It is a testament to his skill and work ethic that has made this a possibility as Grimaldi is an exciting small player who plays much bigger than his size. The big knocks on Grimaldi are despite his high upside is his size and that he can at times not use his teammates which is a very similar scouting report to Tyler Ennis who is doing quite well in Buffalo.

19. Jamie Oleksiak
Team: Northeastern
League: H-East
Position: Defence
Height: 6-7
Weight: 244 lbs
Stats: 38-4-9-13
At the other side of the spectrum from Grimaldi is the giant of the draft in this 6’7 245 lb behemoth of a d-man. He has good mobility for a d-man of his size and with his wingspan he will be a difficult d-man to play against. While he lacks the offensive ability to be a top d-man he could turn out to be a more mobile version of Hal Gill.

20. Jonas Brodin
Team: Farjestad
League: SEL
Position: Defence
Height: 6-1
Weight: 165 lbs
Stats: 42-0-4-4
Brodin is a much more subtle d-man in the way he plays as he is not very aggressive or physical. Instead, he likes to use his quickness for gap control and is very strong at using his stick in his own zone which has drawn him comparisons to Nick Lidstrom. However, I believe Brodin lacks the offensive upside or assertiveness to be a top pairing d-man.

21. Zack Phillips
Team: Saint John Sea Dogs
League: QMJHL
Position: Centre
Height: 6-1
Weight: 181 lbs
Stats: 67-38-57-95
The 3rd Sea Dog player to make my rankings is going to be as good as his skating lets him. Phillips is a skilled center with good vision and had great chemistry playing on the top line with Huberdeau. At the moment his skating will hold him back but if he can improve it in a similar fashion to what Jarret Stoll did since his draft year, Phillips could be a #2 centre.

22. Alexander Khoklachev
Team: Windsor Spitfires
League: OHL
Position: Left Wing / Centre
Height: 5-10
Weight: 188 lbs
Stats: 67-34-42-76
Like Phillips, Khokhlachev has the skill and work ethic to be a 2nd line player at the pro level. Whether this smaller Russian player makes it to the NHL will depend on his improving his skating which it has been over the season. As with all Russian players, where they go in the draft will depend on how likely a team feels they can retain the player and how committed they are to being in the NHL.

23. Matthew Puempel
Team: Peterborough Petes
League: OHL
Position: Left Wing
Height: 6-0
Weight: 198 lbs
Stats: 55-34-35-66
Puempel is a skilled offensive player that has the mindset and hands to be a top line goal scorer at the next level. How well he will turn out all depends on how bad this kid wants it as he needs to increase his compete level and be more consistent in his effort. From all accounts he will fully recover from his season ending hip surgery.

24. Niklas Jensen
Team: Oshawa Generals
League: OHL
Position: Left / Right Wing
Height: 6-2
Weight: 188 lbs
Stats: 61-29-29-58
Jensen, a winger from Denmark, had a good regular season in the OHL and even better playoffs but you wished he was more consistent on a regular basis. He has the size and hands to make you believe that he has the upside to be a top 6 player. Like Peumpel, Jensen may be more of a boom or bust prospect depending on how he improves his consistency.

25. Joe Morrow
Team: Portland Winterhawks
League: WHL
Position: Defence
Height: 6-1
Weight: 196 lbs
Stats: 60-9-40-49
Morrow was a d-man that kept getting better and better as the season wore on. He is an all-around d-man that will play physical and has the potential to be a #4 d-man at the pro level. He is also good on the PP due to his heavy shot though he is not as good a PP quarterback as Beaulieu. The biggest area Morrow will need to improve upon is his decision making and reigning in some of his risk taking.

26. Connor Murphy
Team: USA U-18
League: USHL
Position: Defence
Height: 6-3
Weight: 185 lbs
Stats: 22-6-4-10
Unlike Curtis Hamilton who fell in the draft rankings last year due to injury, the opposite may have happened for the son of NHLer Gord Murphy. The big concern with Murphy is the injuries and their effect on his development over the past years. He is a project but does have the combination of size, mobility, physical play and offensive upside that you want in a top 4 d-man.

27. Tomas Jurco
Team: Saint John Sea Dogs
League: QMJHL
Position: Right Wing
Height: 6-2
Weight: 193 lbs
Stats: 60-31-25-56
The last player on my rankings from the Saint John Sea Dogs is Tomas Jurco, the skilled but inconsistent Slovakian winger. With his combination of size, skating and hands there is nothing stopping Jurco physically from being a top 6 forward. However, he must improve his work ethic and consistency as he is the type of inconsistent skilled player that can drive a coach crazy.

28. Ty Rattie
Team: Portland Winterhawks
League: WHL
Position: Right Wing
Height: 5-11
Weight: 170 lbs
Stats: 67-28-51-79
A small player with good hands and great stick handling ability, Rattie is at his best in the offensive zone. While not the fastest skater or strongest, you are drafting Rattie for his offensive skills and creativity which cannot be taught. However, he will need to improve upon the skating as well as play less of a perimeter game to be effective as a pro.

29. Tyler Biggs
Team: USA U-18
League: USHL
Position: Right Wing
Height: 6-2
Weight: 210 lbs
Stats: 55-19-12-31
While Biggs likely doesn’t have the offensive upside of most of the other forwards in my top 30 it is his unique skill set that makes him a first round choice. A big and very physical winger, Biggs may be the biggest hitter in the draft and has drawn comparisons to LA King Kyle Clifford. Biggs likely doesn’t have the offensive upside to be a 2nd liner but is the type of role player every team can use.

30. David Musil
Team: Vancouver Giants
League: WHL
Position: Defence
Height: 6-3
Weight: 200 lbs
Stats: 62-6-13-19
Last but not least to make my top 30 is the son of former Oiler Frank Musil. Like his dad, David has the size, character and physical ability to be a very solid #4-6 defensive d-man. He needs to improve upon his quickness to be more effective at the NHL level but has shown improvements over the year. His lack of offensive upside is what keeps him from being a higher pick.

31. Dmitri Jaskin
Team: Slavia
League: Cze
Position: Right Wing
Height: 6-2
Weight: 196 lbs
Stats: 33-3-7-10

32. Brandon Saad
Team: Saginaw Spirit
League: OHL
Position: Left Wing
Height: 6-1
Weight: 208 lbs
Stats: 59-27-28-55

33. Scott Mayfield
Team: Youngstown
League: USHL
Position: Defence
Height: 6-4
Weight: 197 lbs
Stats: 52-7-9-16

34. John Gibson
Team: USA U-18
League: USHL
Position: Goaltender
Height: 6-3
Weight: 205 lbs
Stats: 32 GP, 2.64 GAA, .918 SV%

35. Boone Jenner
Team: Oshawa Generals
League: OHL
Position: Centre
Height: 6-1
Weight: 194 lbs
Stats: 63-25-41-66

36. Victor Rask
Team: Leksand
League: SweA1
Position: Centre
Height: 6-2
Weight: 194 lbs
Stats: 37-5-6-11

37. Vladislav Namestnikov
Team: London Knights
League: OHL
Position: Centre
Height: 6-0
Weight: 170 lbs
Stats: 68-30-38-68

38. Chris Gibson
Team: Chicoutimi Sagueneens
League: QMJHL
Position: Goaltender
Height: 6-1
Weight: 193 lbs
Stats: 37 GP, 2.42 GAA, .920 SV%

39. Nikita Kucherov
Team: CSKA Moscow
League: RusJr
Position: Right Wing
Height: 5-10
Weight: 163 lbs
Stats: 35-25-28-53

40. Stefan Noesen
Team: Plymouth Whalers
League: OHL
Position: Right Wing
Height: 6-0
Weight: 195 lbs
Stats: 68-34-43-77

41. Adam Clendening
Team: Boston University
League: H.E.
Position: Defence
Height: 5-11
Weight: 190 lbs
Stats: 39-5-21-26 PTS

42. Phillip Danault
Team: Victoriaville Tigres
League: QMJHL
Position: Left Wing
Height: 6-0
Weight: 178 lbs
Stats: 64-23-44-67

43. Daniel Catenacci
Team: Sault. Ste. Marie Greyhounds
League: OHL
Position: Centre
Height: 5-10
Stats: 67-26-45-71
Weight: 176 lbs

44. Mario Lucia
Team: Wayzata
League: MN-HS
Position: Left Wing
Height: 6-2
Weight: 183 lbs
Stats: 24-25-22-47

45. Rickard Rakell
Team: Plymouth Whalers
League: OHL
Position: Right Wing
Height: 6-0
Weight: 191 lbs
Stats: 49-19-24-43

46. Xavier Ouellet
Team: Montreal Juniors
League: QMJHL
Position: Defence
Height: 6-0
Weight: 182 lbs
Stats: 67-8-35-43

47. Shane Prince
Team: Ottawa 67′s
League: OHL
Position: Centre
Height: 5-10
Weight: 181 lbs
Stats: 59-25-63-88

48. Brett Ritchie
Team: Sarnia Sting
League: OHL
Position: Right Wing
Height: 6-3
Weight: 210 lbs
Stats: 49-21-20-41

49. Miikka Salomaki
Team: Karpat
League: FinE
Position: Right Wing
Height: 5-11
Weight: 198 lbs
Stats: 40-4-6-10

50. Robbie Russo
Team: USA U-18
League: USHL
Position: Defence
Height: 6-0
Weight: 189 lbs
Stats: 60-4-26-30 PTS

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