Top five fair for Cade?
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02-21-2012, 01:24 PM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Mt.Crested Butte, CO
I think Fairchild will be an NHLer. Tough to put him above Cole at the moment based on almost any measure, but all those guys coming out of USTNDP seem to be solid lately: Shattenkirk, Cole, Fairchild.
I remember on the other board getting killed a few months ago for scoffing at the idea Rattie was behind Junland and Lehtera (think someone had posted Strickland's list and then told me no offense but Strickland has a better pulse on prospects thank you very much). I'm glad to see it's now taken as a given that Rattie is well past those two.
Hard to not have the first four as:
Cole is a likely top-4 NHLer and is basically ready to play every day. Physical defenders are less sexy than snipers so some want to put Rattie above him. However, Rattie has more hurdles to clear before he proves he can compete when competition becomes more physical (as it will at the higher levels) so either listing of 3/4 is legit. I'd probably give the slight edge to Cole but wouldn't quibble with others who didn't as long as Cole was in the top 4.
I don't want to put Bishop in there as a prospect. HF has already removed him because he's past the age cutoff and realistically he has no future with the Blues. Goalies are so unpredictable anyway those are two good reasons to avoid it. I even hate listing Allen.
After the first four it becomes a more interesting debate than we've seen in awhile. Hakanpaa really impressed me at WJC. He would seem for a moment like he was awkward skating and the next moment his athleticism would just pop. He's very raw but obviously has HUGE upside. I mean, Erik Johnson athleticism upside. They're strikingly similar body type/athleticism. EJ was a vastly more fluid skater earlier than Hakanpaa, but skating is a thing that improves more easily than other things. He has farther to go than prospects in the next tier of discussion: Allen, Fairchild, McRae, Lehtera but of that group if he reaches his capacity he'd have by far the highest impact.
McRae should be an NHL player but it's not likely to be a top-6 role (at least with the way the Blues are looking) unless he makes another development leap. Still, bottom-six center in the NHL is not a bad get for a second round prospect. His shot is good so it's not inconceivable he winds up as a 2d line center one day.
Allen has had a down year but has been better lately. Look at Bishop for evidence that where Allen is now in his Peoria career is not the final say. The fact that he's had so much competitive experience so young is only a good thing. He's really not falling anywhere but I always hate even ranking goalies mixed in with skaters because there's almost no purpose to it.
Lehtera's season is over due to injury. He's big, very talented and once in the offensive zone clearly has top-6 skills. His first few skating strides are way behind NHL quality and this alone would keep him out of the league until those are fixed. He plays in Russia but is not a native Russian so there's no particular reason to think he wouldn't come over, but my guess is he carves out a career and makes some comfortable money in Europe.
Proximity to NHL is McRae, Fairchild, Allen, Lehtera, Hakanpaa in that order probably. Upside order is Hakanpaa, Allen, Lehtera, Fairchild, McRae.
My list based on the foregoing:
3. Cole (or Rattie)
4. Rattie (or Cole)
10. Grachev (a 6.0B in HF terms, but 5.0A at worst)
11. Ponich (still a project dligently making progress at pro level)
12. Eronen (was an overager to begin with and having a leap forward year)
After that there are plenty of options. Lots of quality prospects who could make a case for themselves. Edmunsen, Jaskin, Tesink, Wannstrom, Lundstrom, Beach, Villieux, Karpowich.
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