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January 19, 2012
From Daigle To Datsyuk
Midseason Top 50 NHL Prospects, 26-50
by Corey Pronman
26. Sven Bartschi, Left Wing, Calgary Flames (Preseason Ranking: 61)
Bartschi has really emerged as an impressive weapon in the WHL, a league he is absolutely torching. His speed is a notch higher from last year and his entire game is above average across the board aside from his size, with a few tools touching high end.
27. Zack Phillips, Center, Minnesota Wild (Preseason Ranking: Unranked)
Phillips is the leading scorer amongst QMJHL drafted prospects and has really stood out all the year. He has great hands and sense ad his skating has made some nice improvements.
28. Brandon Pirri, Center, Chicacgo Blackhawks (Preseason Ranking: 53)
Pirri has the chance to be quite a pick for the Blackhawks after being picked 59th in 2009. He's a high-end puck handler and thinker whose strength is coming along but he still has a pretty wiry body.
29. William Karlsson, Center, Anaheim Ducks (Preseason Ranking: Unranked)
Karlsson was a player I saw last year at the Under-18's who intrigued me with his skill and I thought had a chance to be a player. However, he looked so good at this past World Juniors and although it was a small sample, it is very hard to ignore the high-end possession skills he put on display. He's a gritty two-way player too, and aside from improving his skating a tad, there's little to be worried about with Karlsson and a lot to like.
30. Tomas Tatar, Left Wing, Detroit Red Wings (Preseason Ranking: 18)
I've reined back my more optimistic projection of Tatar from last season, but I still think he has an admirable upside and he's really come alive in the AHL the last few months. Like Gustav Nyquist and Brendan Smith, he's blocked by a pretty deep Detroit team but should be able to break through soon.
31. Mark McNeill, Center, Chicago Blackhawks (Preseason Ranking: 34)
McNeill unfortunately did not Team Canada's WJC roster after an inconsistent camp, but I still like the well-rounded game he brings to the table, accentuated by impressive possession skills.
32. Chris Kreider, Left Wing, New York Rangers (Preseason Ranking: 70)
Kreider has looked significantly better this year in college and arguably could already be a notable player in the NHL. Says one NHL Head Scout, "any hockey sense concerns some may have had are gone" which has been my main issue with Kreider in the past and based on what I've seen I agree with that assessment. Now that doesn't mean he's making great passes or looks high-end in that aspect, but he doesn't seem awful and that's all he ever needed to do to skyrocket up my board due to some of his elite level physical tools. Kreider also has made a lot of physical progression and is a man amongst boys in the college ranks.
33. Emerson Etem, Left Wing, Anaheim Ducks (Preseason Ranking: 75)
Etem has shown some nice progression in the WHL the last little while. He's still an elite skater and plus shooter who can play a north-south game with the best of them, but has started to add an average passing element to his repertoire and doesn't look like the raw athlete he was at the time of being drafted.
34. Jakob Silfverberg, Right Wing, Ottawa Senators (Preseason Ranking: 85)
Silfverberg isn't a standout player in any one aspect, but does a lot well as he has good skills, thinks the game at a desirable level and is a hard-working two-way player. He should be able to make an easy transition to the North American pro game next season.
35. Mark Barberio, Defense, Tampa Bay Lightning (Preseason Ranking: Unranked)
I remember talking to someone with the Lightning last year who described Barberio using the words "the sky is the limit with him". As usual when a team describes their prospects to me, I usually approach praise with skepticism, however this year I'm not so sure I need to be skeptical. 35 points in 37 games in the AHL as a 21-year-old defenseman is just an exclamation point on a player who has developed so much in a brief amount of time. He's a gifted skater who moves the puck well and has steadily earned the responsibility to log big minutes.
36. Nicklas Jensen, Left Wing, Vancouver Canucks (Preseason Ranking: Unranked)
Jensen I thought had another gear from what he showed at the World Juniors, but he was held back a lot due to the dreadful team he played for. He's a gifted puck handler who has a solid all-around skill set but there's nothing about his game that I think is truly a wow type of tool.
37. Rocco Grimaldi, Center, Florida Panthers (Preseason Ranking: 36)
Grimaldi has been hurt for most of the year and while I think he's a fantastic prospect, I had a really hard time putting a small player who's been hurt higher than this. If he was running on all cylinders with no injury, he absolutely had a chance to possibly crack my top 25.
38. Stanislav Galiev, Left Wing, Washington Capitals (Previous Ranking: 35)
Galiev has an awesome skill set that can certainly project to play an NHL top six and possibly beyond that. His failure to climb my rankings has to do with his injury and the fact I haven't seen him all year, while other prospects have impressed.
39. Ryan Murphy, Defense, Carolina Hurricanes (Preseason Ranking: 20)
While there is no denying Murphy's enormous potential in terms of his elite skating and high-end offensive skills, he certainly shows some concerns with his decision making and it's hard to picture him as a true tough minutes defenseman.
40. Brandon Saad, Left Wing, Chicago Blackhawks (Preseason Ranking: Unranked)
Saad was pretty invisible all tournament at the World Juniors and I haven't seen a ton of good games from him. This ranking is based on the praise I'm hearing from NHL sources.
41. Alexander Khokhlachev, Center, Boston Bruins (Preseason Ranking: 37)
Khokhlachev has some pretty impressive possession abilities in terms of his high-end puck skills and hockey sense but his speed is just average and his physical game is quite underwhelming although he does work hard.
42. Charlie Coyle, Center, Minnesota Wild (Preseason Ranking: 69)
Coyle doesn't have plus tools aside from his great physical gameas he's built like a truck and is a pain to checkbut he has a nice offensive skill set that is well-rounded but not a real standout in any aspect. His issues with pace are still persistent but aside from that I have no nitpick with him. I have liked his skating improvement which has contributed to him climbing up on my board.
43. Ryan Spooner, Center, Boston Bruins (Preseason Ranking: 66)
Spooner is a brilliant skater with great puck skills and he's a player who can create a lot of offense. The knock on him used to be that he was a one-dimensional prospect but he's shown significant improvements to his all-around game.
44. Marco Scandella, Defense, Minnesota Wild (Preseason Ranking: 42)
While Scandella has not played well recently, his being sent down was a bit of a surprise considering that he has still been one of Minnesota's better defensemen. Nevertheless, his reassignment gives him prospect status again. Scandella is a pretty well-rounded player who can skate, pass, and think the game at a solid level and should be back up with the big club shortly.
45. Kirill Petrov, Right Wing, New York Islanders (Preseason Ranking: 84)
Petrov started off the year well getting a lot of ice time, being a primary weapon on the PP, and putting up points, but has fallen off lately and has even seen time on the fourth line for Ak Bars. He's a pretty skilled winger who can make plays, but is also a big man who can protect the puck and is hard to deal with in the cycle game.
46. Mark Stone, Right Wing, Ottawa Senators (Preseason Ranking: Unranked)
No, Mark Stone is not ranked this highly because of the World Juniors. Ever since his explosion onto the scene last year, I have been keeping a close eye on Stone and actually was very optimistic about him after seeing Brandon last year, but scouting sources dampened my expectations. He's a high-end thinker whose skating isn't fine but is nevertheless improved; he can still set up and finish plays in bunches with a solid physical game.
47. Calvin De Haan, Defense, New York Islanders (Preseason Ranking: 47)
De Haan has been the same old efficient puck-moving defenseman this year in the AHL that he has always been but is starting to show notable progression in the physical game. With how his game is rounding out, he likely could make the jump to be a full-time regular next season.
48. Nikita Kucherov, Right Wing, Tampa Bay Lightning (Preseason Ranking: 63)
Kucherov is an above-average skater who's a great playmaker and is able to finish plays as well. He certainly needs to improve his build, but overall he's a nice little player who does a lot well and could bring great value for the Lightning after being picked in the second round.
49. Brian Dumoulin, Defense, Carolian Hurricanes (Preseason Ranking: 97)
Dumoulin is a pretty gifted big man who has great hand-eye coordination for a defender his size and can move the puck at a desirable level. He doesn't crush people like you hope a big man would, but he does fine in the physical game and uses his body well to rub people off the puck. He's not a good skater, but better than where he was years ago.
50. Maxim Chudinov, Defense, Boston Bruins (Preseason Ranking: Unranked)
Chudinov has had a tremendous campaign over in Russia this season. The 21-year-old defender has been putting up huge offensive numbers while also showing the ability to play good defense. He's an impressive do-everything offensive player with fine skating, good technique and ability as a puck-mover and a high-end shot. He thinks the game at a very desirable if not high-end level in terms of his vision, offensive instincts and defensive reads. Chudinov does try to play the body, but when he does, his physical limitations are apparent.
Honorable mentions: Michael Sgarbossa (San Jose), Riley Sheahan (Detroit), Ty Rattie (St. Louis), Kyle Rau (Florida), Oscar Klefbom (Edmonton), Nathan Beaulieu (Montreal), Kyle Palmieri (Anaheim).
Corey Pronman is an author of Hockey Prospectus. You can contact Corey by clicking here or click here to see Corey's other articles.
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