1. C, Steven Stamkos - New York Rangers (angelo25)
While he may not have quite the same impact that 2007 No. 1 pick Patrick Kane had with the Blackhawks last season, Stamkos is still expected to be an immediate contributor on a completely remodeled Tampa Bay Lightning team. Stamkos started last season as the consensus top draft prospect, and lived up to the hype, racking up a scintillating 105 points with the Sarnia Sting of the OHL, before being selected first overall in the 2008 Entry Draft. Stamkos, who has been compared to Steve Yzerman and Joe Sakic, is an absolute wizard with the puck, equally adept at setting up as he is scoring. He is a great skater, plays a sound two-way game and should be a great compliment playing second fiddle to all-star center Vincent Lecavalier this season in Tampa Bay. Expect an immediate impact this year as he should be considered a top candidate for the Calder Trophy.
2. D, Drew Doughty - Atlanta Thrashers (Fedro)
The second overall selection in the 2008 Entry Draft is a complete package on the blueline. Smooth skating, offensive skills and a leadership mentality, Doughty joins Los Angeles with a strong possibility of contributing to the NHL squad as early as this season. But even if his more likely return to the Guelph Storm of the OHL is in the cards for this 18-year-old, the future of the defensive corps in Los Angeles is being shaped around the pairing of Doughty with Jack Johnson for the next decade. He is a true franchise cornerstone who is adept at playing in all situations. While he may never become a bruising defenseman in the mold of Chris Pronger, his offensive ceiling is as high as any defensive prospect drafted in recent memory and has earned his high initial position in these rankings.
3. C, Kyle Turris - Anaheim Ducks - Sensational Spezza
As the Coyotes top prospect, big things are expected from first-year pivot Turris. A clear frontrunner in the Calder chase, the former 2007 Entry Draft pick is ready to take-on a top six role in the desert. The 19-year-old spent just one year at the University of Wisconsin before turning pro. Turris possesses good speed and great stick-handling abilities, which will be crucial on a team that wants its players to be light on their feet and ferocious on the puck. After getting a brief taste of the NHL last year and spending the summer in Phoenix, Turris should hit the ground running.
Brassard is a creative forward with top-notch vision and awareness. He made his living last season in a playmaking role with the Syracuse Crunch of the AHL, finishing the year with over a point per game average. Brassard does have a scoring touch, though, which will only help his cause as he tries to crack the Blue Jackets lineup this fall. His work will certainly be cut out for him, competing with highly touted Jakub Voracek. He has also made efforts to increase his grit and has demonstrated he has some battle in him as well.
5. RW, Jakub Voracek - Washington Capitals (HockeyHooligans)
Voracek is an extremely intelligent player with keen awareness and pinpoint-accurate passing ability. Voracek drops slightly on the list from a year before but through no fault of his own as the new draftees from the 2008 Entry Draft are added. Voracek’s arrival with the Blue Jackets is getting increasingly close. The Czech forward lived in Columbus over this past summer, training with the Blue Jackets’ strength and conditioning coach, adding significant weight and muscle to his 6’2 frame. Last season, Voracek improved his already superb numbers from the year before, when he earned a long look in training camp. Voracek is a candidate for the Calder Trophy in 2008-09.
6. LW, James vanRiemsdyk - Detroit Red Wings (cantwell7)
The Flyers have accumulated quite a startling amount of talent up front over the course of the past few seasons, and one of the headliners of that group is vanRiemsdyk, who is coming off of a fantastic freshman season with the University of New Hampshire. He scored at just over a point-per-game clip (34 points in 31 games), and starred at the World Juniors Championships where he led with 11 points in just six games. Standing at 6’3, 205 lbs, vanRiemsdyk is a power forward in the making. He has good speed for a man of his stature, to go along with superb playmaking skills and great hands. He is set to return to UNH for his sophomore season this year, but it is likely that he will turn professional at the conclusion of the season. While he may need at least a year of minor league seasoning, expect to see him holding down a spot on a scoring line in Philadelphia by no later than 2010-11
HF's Analysis: The closer Berglund gets to the NHL, the more like a dominating offensive force he looks. Strong on his skates and difficult to knock off the puck, he greatly resembles Anze Kopitar in style and skill-set, another product of the SEL. His scoring will come around as he uses his strength and physical play to gradually wear down the competition. Berglund will spend a considerable amount of time with St. Louis this season and could compete for the Calder Trophy as the top rookie in the league. While Coach Andy Murray tends to work younger players into the line-up very slowly, it will be difficult to keep Berglund out as he can contribute either scoring or physical play from any of the forward lines.
HF's Analysis: Filatov possesses incredibly high upside, as well as definite superstar scoring potential, possibly the highest of all forwards in the draft class. At 18, Filatov mentally is well ahead of the curve, but physically there is plenty of room for growth. Filatov appears committed to playing in North America, but will need to put on a significant amount of weight before tolerating the rigors of the NHL.
9. D, Luke Schenn - Dallas Stars (Ivey)
HF's Analysis: Schenn is a smooth-skating, right-handed defenseman drafted fifth overall in 2008 by the Toronto Maple Leafs. The 18-year-old has already played three seasons in the WHL and is poised beyond his years. He also brings something to an ailing Maple Leafs organization that has been lacking for a while - a franchise defenseman who can log a lot of minutes. Having been favorably compared to Scott Stevens and Adam Foote, the Saskatoon native plays a physical stay-at-home style of game. Though he’s not a puck-moving defenseman, he has a solid outlet pass and some untapped offensive potential. The Maple Leafs are very serious about not rushing their blue-chip prospect and will heavily evaluate him during this season to see if he is ready for NHL duties.
HF's Analysis: After leading the OHL's Peterborough Petes in scoring with 61 points in 60 games as a defenseman, Bogosian capped off the season by being the third overall selection at the 2008 Entry Draft by the Atlanta Thrashers. Bogosian has everything that NHL teams crave in potential franchise defensemen. He is a big and strong workhorse, with an array of skills, including a willingness to shoot. He is also a top-notch skater with tremendous mobility for a 6'2, 200 lbs player. Bogosian will likely start the season with the Thrashers, but don’t rule out returning to junior for another year. He only turned 18 in July.
Last edited by Hale The Villain: 12-29-2008 at 04:21 PM.
HF's Analysis: Making the cut out of training camp in 2007-08, Ryan struggled to keep pace with the speed of the NHL and was subsequently sent down to Portland of the AHL. He continued to shuttle between the NHL and AHL over the season, and finished with two playoff appearances for the Anaheim Ducks. With his size, vision, goal-scoring ability, and willingness to engage in physical play, Ryan has all the makings of a power forward. He has nothing left to prove at the AHL level and will once again make a strong bid to start the season in the NHL.
HF's Analysis: With little left to prove at the collegiate level, Oshie signed an entry-level contract with the St. Louis Blues after the 2007-08 season with the University of North Dakota. Now Oshie must prove himself at the professional level. Gritty and offensively gifted, Oshie must mature both as a person and as a player to take the next step in his development. If he can rededicate himself to his profession, Oshie emerge as one of the most well-rounded forward prospects in these rankings. It will take Oshie some time to establish himself. He will spend some time with Peoria of the AHL before he receives his first legitimate chance on the NHL roster. If he demonstrates focus in addition to dominating the scoresheet, he will receive his opportunity.
HF's Analysis: Second only to Price on the list, Bernier also comes with the same high expectations of a franchise goaltender as his counterpart in Montreal. While Price already has a great deal of experience in the NHL, Bernier is beginning his first full professional season in 2008. In his short time with Los Angeles in 2007-08, Bernier flashed brilliance while giving up only a single goal in the opening game of the season. this year Bernier appears to be slated for the starting goaltender position in Manchester of the AHL so that he can gain the one portion of his game that is lacking – experience against professional competition. By this time next year, look for Bernier as the starter in net for the Los Angeles Kings.
14. D, Alex Pietrangelo - Anaheim Ducks (Sensational Spezza)
HF's Analysis: Of the three defensemen drafted at the top of the first round in 2008, Pietrangelo has the outside potential to be the best of the bunch. He may have more offensive skill than Bogosian and a better physique than Doughty -- a complete package in a 6’3 frame. But, Pietrangelo is raw. He has the most developmental progress to make before he can realize his full potential. At only 18, he is already making a case for himself to stay on the NHL roster, especially with the season-ending injury to Blues defenseman Erik Johnson. But his lack of readiness may return him to Niagara of the OHL for another season. The sooner he can learn to use his large frame as an advantage on both sides of the ice, the more rapidly he will develop.
15. D, Karl Alzner - Florida Panthers (jcorb58)
HF's Analysis: Not as flashy as other defensemen on this list, Alzner is no less important to his team. While he was rock-solid as a two-way defenseman in major junior hockey, it is likely that Alzner will focus more on the defensive side at the professional level and bring leadership to the table. He has a tremendous chance to contribute to the Capitals as early as this season and, as the Capitals rely heavily on their extremely talented forwards for the bulk of their scoring, Alzner will not be immediately looked to for offense. But as he settles onto the roster and continues to grow with each season, eventually Alzner will be one of the best defensemen in all of hockey.
16. G, Steve Mason - Anaheim Ducks (Sensational Spezza)
HF's Analysis: Mason is a big goalie who plays sound positionally. He is a mature, confident and extremely poised goaltender, capable of making big saves at the key times in games. Mason has a strong work ethic, and thinks the game well. He's got good lateral mobility, and plays the puck extremely well.
17. Claude Giroux - Tampa Bay Lightning (TBLbrifri)
HF's Analysis: Giroux capped of his major junior career in style, putting up an eye-popping 106-point season in only 55 games, to go along with an astonishing 51 points in 19 playoffs games, in helping Gatineau to the QMJHL Championship and a berth in the Memorial Cup. His stellar season was also highlighted by a strong performance for Team Canada at the World Junior Championships, along with a quick two-game NHL cameo mid-season with the Flyers. Giroux is a quick, fantastically skilled right winger with soft hands and superb playmaking ability. Though he is a bit undersized at 5'11, 185 lbs, he continues to build muscle mass and get stronger, which will only help accentuate his spunky, aggressive on-ice style of play. The Flyers will not rush Giroux, but if he proves he is ready for a spot on a scoring line, he could skip the AHL altogether.
18. D, Tyler Myers - Columbus Blue Jackets (Modo)
HF's Analysis: Myers has premier size and excellent potential as an offensive defenseman. At this early stage in his development, he is already a great skater, but needs to become a more reliable passer and point man. At 6’”, if he can add some bulk and an edge to his game, he can be an imposing presence on the blueline. As it stands, he is one of the most promising young prospects in the Buffalo system.
HF's Analysis: As a rookie playing in North America for the first time, Rask spent the majority of the 2007-08 season with the Providence Bruins in the AHL. He played behind a team where he was not relied upon heavily and outshot its opponents the majority of the time, so he did not need to show how good he is. Rask is quick and so precise in his movement that he makes getting into the right position look easy. Additionally, he has good hockey sense and the work ethic necessary to push himself to the next level. Rask will play in the NHL, but when he lands a full-time job is the question. He is expected to play another season in the AHL — if he impresses, Boston may be calling soon
20. D, Thomas Hickey - San Jose Sharks (bloodyhell)
HF's Analysis: Do not let Hickey’s relatively slight build for an NHL defenseman fool you. He has developed a grittiness to allow him to stand up to larger and more physical forwards and complement his offensive skills. Hickey is more than accustomed to playing against physical competition, having developed in the rough and tumble WHL. But it will be his offensive game, tremendous skating skills and solid defensive positioning that will keep him in the NHL. He is likely to return to Seattle of the WHL for another season as it is improbable that the Los Angeles Kings will go with multiple rookies on the blueline. However, Hickey is not far from joining the Kings and has a high offensive potential, including the skills to quarterback the power play for many years to come
Last edited by Hale The Villain: 12-31-2008 at 09:00 PM.
HF's Analysis: Drafted last June, Boedker's name has already risen to the top of the list of young forwards who have a chance to make the Coyotes roster. With speed and stickhandling ability, Phoenix also loves his visible edge. The Dane is not afraid to get dirty to make things happen and handles adversity very well. Boedker's ability to rise above the rest at critical stages thus far in his career makes him a welcomed addition to the Coyotes line-up
HF's Analysis: Though he is not overly big or overly quick, Hodgson is an extremely strong all-around player at a young age. The 18-year-old can put the puck in the net and make plays with the puck, as well as being responsible in his own zone. Hodgson is smart as well as clever on the ice, controlling the puck well and making good decisions. The Canucks took Hodgson with the expectation that he could be integrated in their lineup in the not-too-distant future. The first step will be to build on his scoring outputs from a year ago, as he begins the 2008-09 season with the OHL’s Brampton Battalion
23. D, PK Subban - Phoenix Coyotes (odishabs)
HF's Analysis: The young blueliner's offensive abilities are well documented, but to progress within the organization's ranks he needs to continue to refine his play within his own end. Last season he showed a willingness to improve in that regard and he has all the tools to be a solid contributor to the club's organization.
Last edited by Hale The Villain: 01-04-2009 at 08:28 PM.