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TSN's Top 60 Draft Prospects

TSN Hockey Insider Bob McKenzie interviewed more than a dozen NHL scouts in order to put together a list of the top 60 prospects to look out for on draft day. Widely regarded as the media's foremost draft expert, McKenzie has covered every NHL Draft since 1980 and his annual TSN rankings are considered the most accurate indicator of how the draft will unfold. In addition to TSN's ranking (TSN), others are listed for comparison, including NHL Central Scouting (CSB), International Scouting Service (ISS), Red Line Report (RLR), McKeen's (McK) and The Hockey News (THN).

1-10 | 11-20 | 21-30 | 31-40 | 41-50 | 51-60 | Hon. Mentions | McKenzie's Analysis

1. PATRICK KANE

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Right Wing
Shoots: L
Height: 5'10"
Weight: 160 lbs.
Born: 11/19/1988
From: Buffalo, NY
Team: London (OHL)
RANKINGS
TSN: 1
CSB: 2 NA
ISS: 1
RLR: 1
McK: 1
THN: 1
The TSN Insider's Forecast: It seems virtually certain Kane will be the first player chosen. He did what no other draft eligible player did, aside from Alexei Cherepanov, and that was to dominate the World Junior Championship. Kane is the smartest player available; he is the most skilled player available. He sets up goals as well as he scores them and his speed is deceptive, especially in tight situations or moving east-west to get into scoring positions. There is only one downside and that is size, but the success of players like Daniel Briere is helping to allay any fears about Kane's viability as an elite prospect. Still, one scout did say the following: "Kane is very skilled, very smart and very, very small and that scares me, to be honest." But it is a minority viewpoint. A significant majority of teams have him as the best player available. The only uncertainty is who Kane will choose as his agent. He is likely the only top-end prospect yet to engage an agent.

From NHL Central Scouting: A skilled playmaking forward with great hockey sense. High-end passing skill with excellent use of the saucer pass to move the puck. Aable to fight through checks and protect the puck. Is not afraid to take the puck into traffic and can be very elusive. Very good at anticipating the play and has a good wrist shot.

From ISS: Showed at the WJC why he is one of the top prospects for the 07 NHL Draft. A very dangerous player from the blueline in. Has good speed and a very good shot. One of the most offensively gifted players eligible for the 07 NHL Draft, Does not always pay attention to defense. Will cheat on the offensive side of the puck and come back late into D zone, but certainly has offensive skills required to play at the next level. Kane's skill package would fit beautifully into today's NHL, which features several players in the top 20 in scoring who are about the same size as Kane.
YearTeamGPGAPtsPim
2006-2007London (OHL)58628314552
2007 PlayoffsLondon (OHL)1610213116

2. JAMES VAN RIEMSDYK

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Pos: Left Wing
Shoots: L
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 200 lbs.
Born: 4/5/1989
From: Middletown, NJ
Team: US U-18 (USDP)
RANKINGS
TSN: 2
CSB: 3 NA
ISS: 2
RLR: 4
McK: 5
THN: 2
The TSN Insider's Forecast: It is rare to find an NHL team who does not have the big power forward from the U.S. Under-18 team in their top three, so it is difficult to imagine him not being chosen in the top three of this draft. The scouts like his size and strength and skating ability, as well as his touch around the net and willingness to go there. There is some debate amongst scouts about how naturally aggressive he is. A few question how gritty he will be in the pro game, but most think he'll be fine in that regard. Some scouts have questioned his choice of college – the University of New Hampshire – because UNH plays on a huge ice surface and it may not be particularly suited to the pro power game they want him to play. His OHL rights are owned by the Brampton Battalion and there is speculation Brampton will push hard to get him to change his mind about playing NCAA hockey, although the player himself says he's excited about becoming a Wildcat. Regardless of where he plays, the kid is a blue-chipper in this draft.

From NHL Central Scouting: A power forward with great physical presence and ability to protect the puck. Shows good stickhandling skill. Is a good skater with great acceleration. Does not give up on the play and has an impressive work ethic. Can play in all situations and has a hard shot. Has a good wrist shot.

From ISS: A fast winger with dynamic legs. Very effective in the neutral zone, where is able to steal a lot of pucks. His big advantages are his wrist shot and a high hockey IQ. James has very good offensive instincts, especially when the game is on the line. Needs more muscle mass, needs to work harder. Future NHL star.
YearTeamGPGAPtsPim
2006-2007US U-18 (USDP)4233306381

3. KYLE TURRIS

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Pos: Centre
Shoots: R
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 170 lbs.
Born: 8/14/1989
From: New Westminster, BC
Team: Burnaby (BCHL)
RANKINGS
TSN: 3
CSB: 1 NA
ISS: 3
RLR: 3
McK: 2
THN: 3
The TSN Insider's Forecast: There are some teams who believe the British Columbia Jr. A player is the best prospect available this year, though not so many as to unseat Pat Kane as the No. 1 guy, but there are more than a few teams who don't have him in their top three. When it's all said and done, though, the Burnaby sniper is a clear-cut top three prospect who really only gets criticism for two things. One is lack of physical maturity, which will be taken in due course. Turris, a good skater, has spindly legs and is very lean at this point, but that should change as he matures at the University of Wisconsin. Two is the level of competition he faced in Jr. A hockey this season. "The two occasions when he stepped up in competition against world-class opposition was in the Under-18 last summer and the Under-18 in the spring and he was, at best, okay in those two tournaments," one scout said. "I am concerned that the only time (Turrris) played against tough competition, he didn't dominate. That's okay for someone you take later in the first round but a No. 1, 2 or 3?" Nevertheless, scouts like Turris's vision, his patented under-the-bar shot and his poise, character and off-ice maturity, which shone through in the interview process.

From NHL Central Scouting: A skilled forward with great playmaking ability. Has an accurate shot with a quick release. A fluid skater that has a nose for the net and the ability to control the flow of the game. Not afraid of taking a hit and can perform under pressure. Has good on-ice awareness and a good work ethic. Was second in the BCHL in scoring during the regular season and had 26 points in 14 playoff games in 2007. Was named as the BCHL's Most Valuable Player.

From ISS: Without a doubt, the best prospect in the BCHL, Kyle Turris is a gifted, offensive player. He demonstrates a mastery of puck skills including stickhandling, passing and the ability to make plays. Kyle is still a slight average-sized forward that still needs to prove he is able to compete along the boards. He will easily be able to play as a skilled player, but will ultimately be evaluated on how willing he is to round out his game. Overall, an amazing, gifted forward who would benefit from close attention to the areas he needs to improve.
YearTeamGPGAPtsPim
2006-2007Burnaby (BCHL)53665512183

4. KARL ALZNER

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Pos: Defence
Shoots: L
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 206 lbs.
Born: 9/24/1988
From: Burnaby, BC
Team: Calgary (WHL)
RANKINGS
TSN: 4
CSB: 5 NA
ISS: 6
RLR: 5
McK: 4
THN: 8
The TSN Insider's Forecast: No question about it, Calgary's Karl Alzner is the consensus top-ranked defenceman this year and if he's not the first defenceman chosen in the draft, it's going to come as a surprise to many. But having said that, the praise for the rangy blueliner is somewhat muted. That's because he's not really a high-end offensive defenceman, nor is he a big, physical bruiser or a defensive presence. "He's one of those guys who does everything pretty well, but nothing is necessarily excellent or over the top," one scout said. Alzner is described by some a true modern-day defenceman, whose ability to play strong positionally and whose stick-on-puck, stick-on-stick game is good. He also gets shots through from the point. While the odd scout has Alzner outside of the top 10, most have him there solidly, if not in the top five, and we know of at least two teams who rate him as the third best player available in this draft.

From NHL Central Scouting: A skilled stay-at-home defenseman with good skating ability. Is calm under pressure and composed with the puck. Has good positioning and reads the play well. Has a strong shot from the point. Wins battles along the boards and in his own zone. Needs to improve his acceleration and his ability to change tempo throughout the game.

From ISS: Alzner has emerged as a legitimate top 5 candidate for the 2007 NHL Entry draft. A tremendous World Junior camp got him named to the team. He was the seventh d-man. The quiet type who continues to make the difficult plays look easy. He is noted for his outstanding poise and ability to make plays in each zone. He is very skilled and handles the puck with confidence. Would like to see him take more risks offensively and carry the puck but rarely chooses to do so. Is capable of playing physical but needs to demonstrate this on a more regular basis. Overall, an outstanding, well-rounded player who is a definite leader for Calgary.
YearTeamGPGAPtsPim
2006-2007Calgary (WHL)638394732
2007 PlayoffsCalgary (WHL)18112134

5. ALEXEI CHEREPANOV

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Pos: Right Wing
Shoots: L
Height: 6'0"
Weight: 183 lbs.
Born: 1/15/1989
From: Barnaul, RUS
Team: Omsk (RUS)
RANKINGS
TSN: 5
CSB: 1 E
ISS: 4
RLR: 11
McK: 6
THN: 5
The TSN Insider's Forecast: Aside from Pat Kane, no draft eligible player played the game at as high a level this season as Russian forward Alexei Cherepanov. He set a goal scoring record for an 18-year old in the Russian SuperLeague and, next to Kane, he was regarded as the most dynamic presence at the World Junior Championship. But he has two considerable knocks against him. One of them he has no control over. He's a Russian. And in the absence of a transfer agreement between the Russian federation and the NHL, many NHL teams will be hesitant if not completely opposed to taking a Russian prospect, especially in the first five or six picks of the draft. But make no mistake, his talent level is consistent with a No. 1 to No. 5 pick. The other criticism, though, is that for as highly skilled and talented Cherepanov is, he is tremendously inconsistent, maddeningly frustrating and a player who only turns it on when he feels like it. "Talented but temperamental," one scout said. "He's either the best player on the ice or he's not even there. There's no in between. When the effort is there, he can dominate and score goals like no one else in the draft. When the effort isn't there, you feel like giving him a shake." If teams in the top five pass him over, there is no telling what's to become of him in this draft. At some point, though, transfer agreement or not, someone has to step up on a player this talented.

From NHL Central Scouting: An offensive winger with great acceleration and a nose for the net. Has a quick release and can shoot at top speed. Has good puckhandling and makes good decisions with the puck. Works hard at both ends of the ice. Doesn't shy away from being hit, but needs to add a physical presence to his game and improve his consistency from game to game. Named the Top Forward at the 2007 World Junior Championships where he helped lead Team Russia to a silver medal – he led all scorers with eight points (5-3-8) and was also selected to the Tournament All-Star Team. Broke Pavel Bure's record for goals by a rookie in the Russian Elite League.

From ISS: Alexei is a very talented player right, something that is obvious the moment you see him. His dynamic skating, vision, knack for scoring and great speed shows that he will be able to be make a big impact when he goes to an NHL training camp.
YearTeamGPGAPtsPim
2006-2007Omsk (RUS)4618112945

6. JAKUB VORACEK

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Pos: Right Wing
Shoots: L
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 187 lbs.
Born: 8/15/1989
From: Kladno, CZE
Team: Halifax (QMJHL)
RANKINGS
TSN: 6
CSB: 7 NA
ISS: 5
RLR: 2
McK: 3
THN: 4
The TSN Insider's Forecast: In some respects, Halifax Moosehead forward Jakub Voracek is the polar opposite of Alexei Cherepanov. Voracek is an all-around type player, a solid two-way threat who is rated a better playmaker than a natural goal-scorer. He provides a consistent work ethic most nights, isn't particularly flashy but plays a mature game at both ends of the ice. His game is well suited to the North American style and his versatility is a key plus as he can play all three forward positions as well as the point on the power play. He has exhibited leadership and character with the Mooseheads, is said to be well liked by his teammates and is the all-around solid citizen. But he's not going to put up huge numbers. He's considered a safe pick – someone who will play for sure in the NHL – and is rated as one of the players most ready to step into the pro game immediately.

From NHL Central Scouting: A skilled forward that possesses good speed. Attacks with his feet moving and can execute plays at high speeds. Has good passing ability and can play in traffic. Shows something new on each rush. Attempts risky plays that sometimes result in turnovers. Needs to improve his consistency.

From ISS: Was a force for Halifax after coming back from a less than spectacular world juniors. Dominates when he has the puck. He demonstrates a mastery of puck skills including stickhandling, passing and the ability to make plays. In the playoffs, Voracek was been absolutely phenomenal against the heavily favored Moncton Wildcats led his team to a seven-game series win. He was #1 in our April rankings. Voracek also occupied the top spot earlier in the season in our November and December rankings.
YearTeamGPGAPtsPim
2006-2007Halifax (QMJHL)5923638626
2007 PlayoffsHalifax (QMJHL)12717246

7. SAM GAGNER

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Pos: C/RW
Shoots: R
Height: 5'11"
Weight: 191 lbs.
Born: 8/10/1989
From: London, ON
Team: London (OHL)
RANKINGS
TSN: 7
CSB: 6 NA
ISS: 7
RLR: 6
McK: 9
THN: 6
The TSN Insider's Forecast: Along with Pat Kane, Sam Gagner ripped up the OHL this season. The London Knights' forward has spectacular highlight-reel puckhandling skills. As one scout said, "he can do things with the puck that other players in this draft only dream about." But for all the fancy dangles, he also has a lethal shot. But as his 83 assists, as opposed to his 35 goals, will attest, his strength is as a creative playmaker with great vision and passing ability. He is slightly bigger than Kane, a little thicker, but some scouts are concerned how his game will translate at the pro level and wonder if he isn't destined to be a power-play specialist in the NHL whose effectiveness 5-on-5 is limited. "Skating is okay, not like his Dad's," said one scout of former NHL speedster Dave Gagner, who was blessed with great wheels but didn't have nearly the creativity or vision that his son brings to the table. For him to be more than a PP guy, scouts believe he will have to learn to win more battles and increase his competitiveness, but they duly note that this a young man with character and work ethic who grew up in a pro environment and understands what it takes to play at the next level and will work diligently toward that goal. For whatever concerns there may be about him, it's difficult to find anyone who believes he won't be taken in the top 10 of this draft.

From NHL Central Scouting: A skilled forward with the ability to make the big plays. Has very good hands and is creative with the puck. Has a good wrist shot with a quick release. Has high-end passing skill both forehand and backhand. Sees the ice very well. Reliable in the defensive end and used in critical situations. A good skater, but needs to work on his acceleration and mobility. Needs to improve his ability to fight through checks.

From ISS: Sam is a tremendously gifted player. His offensive skills are unquestionable and he has been a top point producer at every level that he has played. Shows very good puck control at a high rate of speed. Linemates benefit from Sam's excellent anticipation, vision and passing skills, often being set up in excellent scoring positions. Like other young players, at times will cheat on the offensive side of the puck, however he is dependable if game situation clearly requires strong defensive play. Does not have great size, must continue to work on core strength.
YearTeamGPGAPtsPim
2006-2007London (OHL)53358311836
2007 PlayoffsLondon (OHL)167222922

8. ANGELO ESPOSITO

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Pos: Centre
Shoots: L
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 180 lbs.
Born: 2/20/1989
From: Montreal, QC
Team: Quebec (QMJHL)
RANKINGS
TSN: 8
CSB: 8 NA
ISS: 11
RLR: 12
McK: 16
THN: 9
The TSN Insider's Forecast: Where do we begin? By now, the Quebec Rempart forward's story has been well documented. Once the odds on favorite to be the No. 1 pick in the 2007 entry draft, his production fell off significantly this season and he became the whipping boy for the same scouting fraternity that was singing his praises a year ago. Now? Good question. Esposito seems to be making a bit of a comeback in terms of his perception with the scouts. Perhaps they realized they were being overly harsh, weighing him against a higher standard than the other prospects. So in terms of a consensus rating, Esposito remains a top-10 prospect, although in our survey of scouts no one had him at No. 5 or higher. But is it possible he will fall out of the top 10? In a word, yes, although the sense now is that any fall out of the top 10 won't be so precipitous. "The truth is he isn't the prospect we thought he was a year ago," said one scout, "but he isn't as bad as he's been made out to be. He is still a good prospect in this draft." Esposito's strength is quickness and his skill with the puck. His critics suggest he needs to battle harder on a more consistent basis and use his linemates better. But the kid has scored high points with how he's handled his fall from grace. Numerous scouts commented on how mature he was in the interviews and how he recognized that he allowed the draft-year pressure get to him, but that it's all behind him and he can only focus on being a better player. "In the long run," a scout said, "this adversity could make this kid a lot better hockey player. He's already had to deal with a lot more than the others in this draft and if he can use that to his advantage, he'll be alright." Some have dubbed him the Phil Kessel of this draft, but Esposito could be waiting a lot longer for his name to be called than Kessel did when he fell from can't-miss, No. 1 status to fifth overall last year.

From NHL Central Scouting: A skilled forward with excellent skating ability. His top-end speed and mobility backs off defenders. Sees the ice well and has the ability to make pin-point passes. Not afraid to go to the net. Needs to increase his physical presence and his play in traffic. Needs to show more consistency.

From ISS: We feel strongly that as the season progressed, Esposito displayed some traits that are slightly concerning. He creates so much offense by using his tremendous skating, but will need more at the next level. Plays on the outside - does a lot of fishing with stick near scrums for loose pucks. Needs to show more competitiveness. Used his speed to win races, but wouldn't battle for loose pucks. Soft mentally and questionable leadership ability at next level.
YearTeamGPGAPtsPim
2006-2007Quebec (QMJHL)6027527963
2007 PlayoffsQuebec (QMJHL)54372

9. BRANDON SUTTER

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Pos: C/RW
Shoots: R
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 170 lbs.
Born: 2/14/1989
From: Huntington, NY
Team: Red Deer (WHL)
RANKINGS
TSN: 9
CSB: 28 NA
ISS: 30
RLR: 27
McK: 24
THN: 10
The TSN Insider's Forecast: The first reaction of many who see Brandon Sutter at No. 9 is, Say what? This is a prospect, after all, who scored only 20 goals in 71 games and chalked up a mere 54 penalty minutes, which some would say is anything but Sutter-like. But those who think the son of Brent Sutter is riding on the coattails of the family name, well, they obviously don't share the opinion of this scout. "Brandon Sutter has a chance to be the most complete player in this draft," said the talent evaluator who has the 6-foot-3, 170-pounder rated solidly in the top 10. And that scout is not alone. A few others have him as a top 10 possibility, although the projections for this player are all over the map, everything from top 10 to teens to the 20s. The knock is that Sutter possesses limited offensive ability, that he's only going to project out as a third or fourth-line player. But not everyone is convinced of that. Some scouts note that Sutter's greatest attributes are his smarts, his ability to play in any situation, be it the point on the power, penalty killing, taking key faceoffs, you name it. "Understands the game better than anyone in the draft," said another scout. On the issue of offensive potential, Sutter has 17 goals in the first half of the season but hit the wall in the second half and scored only two. "His problem is his strength, or lack of it," a scout said. "That hurts his skating, he wore down so much over the season. He was just worn out. When he gets stronger, and he will, he's going to be a big time player. I don't buy he can't score, I don't buy he can't skate. He just needs to mature." The question seems to be not whether Sutter will play in the NHL, but how good he will be. Some, though, believe what you see is what you get and the offensive limitations are legitimate and that he's better suited to being a top 20, not a top 10; pick.

From NHL Central Scouting: A skilled forward that is opportunistic in the offensive end. Is very smart with the puck. Has a good work ethic and excellent puck-pursuit. Very versatile and used in all situations. Sometimes tires at the end of shift and needs to work on his conditioning. Needs to improve his one-on-one skills.

From ISS: Sutter has great bloodlines. He is coached by his father. Not a flashy player. Works hard at both ends of the rink. Makes simple but effective plays. Improvement in first couple of steps would improve skating. Is heavily relied upon in all situations. Has good size but is light. Is still dominant. With some more physically maturity, he will be able to play at next level. Well-above-average hockey sense.
YearTeamGPGAPtsPim
2006-2007Red Deer (WHL)7120375754
2007 PlayoffsRed Deer (WHL)703314

10. KEATON ELLERBY

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Pos: Defence
Shoots: L
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 186 lbs.
Born: 11/5/1988
From: Strathmore, AB
Team: Kamloops (WHL)
RANKINGS
TSN: 10
CSB: 4 NA
ISS: 9
RLR: 21
McK: 14
THN: 11
The TSN Insider's Forecast: The Kamloops Blazers' big blueliner has a lot of qualities you look for in a defenceman. Keaton Ellerby is mobile and big and tough and some would even say nasty, but while he's going to be a consideration for any team in the top 10 who is looking for a defenceman, he's far from guaranteed as a top-10 selection. Some teams have him as that top 10 pick but some also have him as a late first-rounder. One factor may be the sheer volume of the competition with defensive prospects like Ryan McDonagh, Kevin Shattenkirk, Thomas Hickey and Nick Petrecki nipping at Ellerby's heels. The other factor, though, is that as big and tough and mobile as Ellerby is, some scouts question his decision-making and ability to read the play with and without the puck. Any time the scouts begin to form a chorus questioning the level of hockey sense a player exhibits, that player is a candidate to slip. But he's still an awfully attractive package and he's got some great hockey bloodlines. Shane Doan is his first cousin and his dad Cal was a 296 penalty minute man for the Calgary Wranglers back in the late 1970s. His uncles Dallas and Bernie also played the rough and tumble game. The Alberta Ellerbys are legendary for their toughness and there is nothing in the WHL that compared to the intensity of the annual Boxing Day games between the Ellerbys and the Doans. Just ask Shane Doan about those games. In the end, Keaton Ellerby will be a first rounder, might even be a high first rounder but there's a chance he could hit a bit of a skid on D-Day.

From NHL Central Scouting: A playmaking offensive defenseman that finishes his checks well. Is a good skater with great mobility. Has a good active stick and uses his reach effectively. Handles the puck well and is a heads up player.

From ISS: Ellerby is the real deal. A person who can skate and think the game at 6-foot-4 will go very high in the draft. He has a presence on the ice like no one else. He will play in all situations. Played just OK in the ADT Challenge as he seemed a bit nervous in front of his home crowd. Did play well at the Prospects game. Plays with confidence and control well above his age. The knock on him is he needs to do it when he is pressured heavily. With his excellent skating ability, he is usually able to get away. Is rumoured to be very tough in the fighting department as well. Needs to fill out. Is a definite high pick.
YearTeamGPGAPtsPim
2006-2007Kamloops (WHL)6922325120
2007 PlayoffsKamloops (WHL)412312

1-10 | 11-20 | 21-30 | 31-40 | 41-50 | 51-60 | Hon. Mentions | McKenzie's Analysis

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