For a description of the methodology in these rankings, including the Projected Peak and Statistical Comparables (courtesy of Iain Fyffe), please see the Introduction. We'll be revealing more of the Top 100 every few days leading up to the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
Full list of Top 100 NHL Draft Prospects
41. Victor Rask, Center, Leksand-Allsvenskan
Victor Rask came into the season as one of the elite draft prospects in the class, and while his stock has fallen off somewhat, there is still a fair amount to like in his skill set. He's a true plus passer and when he's on his game Rask has the ability to execute dishes that leave observers in awe. Rask is a solid to above-average puck protector who uses his 6'2", 200 lb. frame well to box defenders out and when he's in open space in the offensive zone, it's very hard to get the puck off him. His stick-handling is above-average, and while there are times where he may not look the most coordinated with the puck he has the ability to make quick moves, can bring it up on the rush and make multiple players miss. Despite the notable frame, he excels on the perimeter when he can look his options down and has time to work with. He projects as an average physical player at the next level, but at the Junior level he definitely was hard to handle for the opposition at times and bounced off checks rather easily and looked decent when battling for loose pucks. His skating is fringe, his feet are heavy and the stride mechanics don't look great however he does flash notable agility. Rask's defensive is game is okay, and I have seen him kill penalties with moderate effectiveness. While Rask is a tremendous passer in terms of ability, I'm not sold on the vision and the offensive awareness looks below-average, with Rask at times forcing the wrong decision with the puck or simply not seeing the ice well.
Projected Peak GVT: 4.7
Statistical Comparable: Jonathan Hedstrom
42. Joseph LaBate, Center, Holy Angels-Minnesota High School
Joseph LaBate is a big and very wiry-framed centerman who I've also seen line up on the wing. LaBate is a low-ceiling guy who will get by on his physical assets. He has a good stride and is moderately coordinated for a 6'4" forward at his age, but the skating tool is fringe and the feet look heavy. Joseph's puck skills look decent at best and he probably can't be guy who will be relied on to execute beyond the basics in that regard. He has a notable shot that generates solid power and good mechanics for a larger man, especially on his one-timer which he likes to unleash from the right circle on the power play. His physical game projects as plus as he uses his frame well and has a noticeable work ethic in that regard. It will really flourish once he fills out and gains better balance. His hockey sense is decent with the odd adjustment required such as penalty kill and defensive positioning; I would have wanted to see more of him, as the high school environment always makes it hard to evaluate that tool.
43. Joel Edmunson, Defense, Moose Jaw-WHL
Joel Edmunson was a player who came on as the season progressed and for a first year WHL player, he showed above-average defensive play for a prospect with his birthdate and experience level. His skating tool still needs to come, although he moves at a decent level when going in a straight line and for a 6'4" defender he has above-average mobility. Edmunson displays a good first pass out of the zone, even being able to hit targets effectively at long distances and will be able to move the puck at a decent level at the pro game. While I haven't seen him shoot the puck much, scouts rave about the power behind it and some of the one timers they've seen him launch on the power play. His frame is still a little thin and has room to fill out, but that hasn't hampered his physical game. Edmunson is hard on opposing forwards, showing the ability to consistently out-battle opponents and will step into a forward when he senses he can close the gap that way. His defensive game progressed in the second half of the season, as he wasn't simply throwing his weight around, rather using his stick with moderate effectiveness and staying within his means positionally. The mobility is an area he'll need to work on or he'll get burnt at the next level, but there's good signs of Edmunson being able to be a player who helps his team's possession numbers five years down the line.
Projected Peak GVT: 2.3
Statistical Comparable: Shane Hnidy
44. Matt Nieto, Left Wing, Boston University-Hockey East
Matt Nieto was one of the top scorers on the USA U-18 team last year, but as a late birthdate, he will be drafted after completing his freshman year at BU. Nieto's best tool is his above-average to plus skating ability. He can get up to an above-average top speed within a few strides with smooth extension. He's very good on his edges with the ability to stop and move around freely and quickly even while in full stride. His puck skills are solid and while I don't see him being able to puck handle through guys at the next level, he can make quick, accurate passes and will be able to set up plays, although I'm not sure if he'll project beyond above-average as a ceiling in that regard. He has a solid shot, but the tool isn't good enough to score a lot without getting them from the high percentage areas. For a sub-6'0" player, Nieto shows decent ability in the physical game from a work ethic standpoint and does go to the slot/crease area, but he has a ways to go in the strength department.
Projected Peak GVT: 4.6
Statistical Comparable: Martin Kariya
45. Gregory Hofmann, Center, Ambri-Piotta-NLA
Gregory Hofman has been a standout in international play the last two seasons including when he made quite an impression at the most recent U-20's. He's a solid skater, with a notable first step and very quick legs that move at a nonstop pace. His puck skills are decent, excelling more as a passer than a dangler and he relies more on his smarts and vision than extra crisp or lengthy passes to be an effective distributor. His intangibles are terrific and despite a physical game that is fringe, he works his tail off when the puck gets along the boards, even showing a little edge when he gets into a battle although the obvious lack of strength is a hindrance. His goal-scoring is more of a result of his smarts and play in the crease as opposed to a pro-level shot tool, but the smarts really drive his results as he's an above-average thinker. I've rarely if ever have seen him make a poor turnover and his defensive and penalty killing work is solid.
Ranking Explanation: As with the Russians, an ongoing concern about Hofmann coming to North America is not taken into account in a talent-based ranking.
46. William Karlsson, Center, Vasteras-J20 SuperElit
William Karlsson had a good campaign over in Sweden's Junior League, leading all U18 players in scoring. He's an average skater, with solid agility and impressive footwork and mechanics. When he gets to top speed he can touch average level, but he doesn't get much strength during his start-ups and can look a little sluggish during his first few steps. He has solid puck skills and flashes above-average. Karlsson can be shifty with the puck, controls it well on the power play and has the ability to be the main distributor in that role. He's a fringe physical player who may never touch pro-average in that department, but despite his low weight of 165 lbs., his frame isn't twig-like and he does engage frequently in the physical game. Karlsson lacks muscle mass and is easily knocked off the puck or pushed aside during puck battles. His hockey sense drives his value, and while he doesn't have a ton of flash to his game, he does find ways to turn heads when he makes smart plays to spurn scoring chances with his ability to predict the play very well. His defensive game is already notably advanced as well, and despite the below-average size and average skating he has the ability to be a center at the next level.
Projected Peak GVT: 4.5
Statistical Comparable: Andreas Johansson
47. Stefan Noesen, Left Wing, Plymouth-OHL
Stefan Noesen had a notable year for the Whalers as the hard-nosed winger put up good counting numbers and was the team's leading goal and points scorer. He is listed as a winger, although I have on occasion seen him line up at center, but I don't think that's where he'll fit at the next level. His skating is fringe and it's definitely worrisome, but there isn't anything mechanically wrong. Noesen isn't a very flashy player, but I have noticed solid passing skills where he receives the puck, quickly scans the ice and one-touch pucks on target crisply. The hands are decent too, and can make the odd move when needed. Noesen gets his offense through sheer determination and by doing well in the physical areas. He works very hard along the walls and is a nuisance in front of the net with good positioning, hand-eye on pucks put into the crease area and an edge that gets defenders and goalies off their game. When the puck is out in the open, his game is very quiet and he will hover around the top of the slot waiting for a chance and his shot is decent enough to have moderate success doing that. His work ethic translates to the defensive zone too, as he will regularly hustle on the backcheck and covers his assignments well.
Projected Peak GVT: 5.9
Statistical Comparable: Richard Park
48. Rasmus Bengtsson, Defense, Rogle-Allsvenskan
Rasmus Bengtsson has been a prospect I've had my eye on for a while since he impressed at the Under-17's last season. A defenseman with above-average hockey sense, Bengtsson displays a quiet game that controls the possession game well and he rarely makes an error defensively. He uses his stick and body to effectively close on players in one-on-one situations and keeps the play in front of him and to the outside well. He has decent hands for a pro-sized defenseman, although while he can look a little uncoordinated at times, his hands move quick which allow him to be a decent stick-handler. He's also an effective passer and has been a fixture on the power play the last two years for Sweden. He doesn't assert himself in the offensive zone by jumping up and has a conservative feel to his game. His fringe skating makes that necessary to his game, but he can still be a player that could put up decent counting numbers. Bengtsson is a moderately advanced defenseman who may very well end up on a second pairing at the highest level if he just improves his skating a bit.
Projected Peak GVT: 4.8
Statistical Comparable: Andreas Lilja
49. Brett Ritchie, Right Wing, Sarnia-OHL
Brett Ritchie's season was affected when he was hit by mononucleosis mid-year, but he has enough admirable physical tools that helped him put together a decent season given the circumstances. His skating tool was fringe coming into the season but he made some strides in that area to where it is fringe-average and can touch average with good enough mechanics to possibly foresee future improvements. Ritchie's best tool is his physical game which projects as plus. He dominates when the puck gets along the wall and he scores most of his goals from within the blue paint area. I've seen times where opponents would throw their body at Ritchie and basically bounce off him. On the power play, he's the prototypical forward you want standing in front of the net as he has notable hand-eye coordination for a big guy and can get his stick on loose pucks and shots. The puck skills as a whole though are below-average, and he won't be used to start the play or create in open ice. His hockey sense is decent, maybe even flashing a small notch above average. Ritchie knows where he needs to be in the offensive zone and doesn't just drive to the net, and also shows a solid defensive game.
Projected Peak GVT: 4.6
Statistical Comparable: Rob Niedermeyer
50. Max Everson, Defense, Edina-Minnesota High School
Max Everson had a decent year playing high school hockey for Edina, and at the start of the season had a brief stint with the U.S. Under-18 Team. His skating is below-average, and while the tool can look all right when he gets going at full speed, his mechanics are kind of sluggish and there are times when the tool looks fringe level or even below that. He did rush the puck up at the high school level, but won't be that kind of player as a pro. His bread and butter is his puck-moving ability and how calm and smart he is with the puck. Everson has a very high panic threshold, to the point where it looks like he's sleeping out on the ice at times. His breakouts are always crisp and on the mark, and when he's on the power play he consistently makes the right distributions, although I haven't ever seen a stretch pass or any signs of plus playmaking ability from Everson. His shot has decent crispness on it, but his windup takes a little too long. His physical game at the moment is fringe, but he has the height to at least have a chance to be average when he's done filling out but likely the tool maxes out at below-average. While Everson does have a solid work ethic, he is a little shy when it comes to puck battles and doesn't always show 100% in that area. His defensive game is refined for a high school player and his calm play mirrors that of his play with the puck. However due to his stride, when his hips get turned by a speeding forward it's usually game over for him.
Corey Pronman is an author of Hockey Prospectus.
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