Saturday, November 19, 2011

WHL Top 20 Quarter Pole 2011-2012 Draft Eligibles

WHL 2012 Draft Eligible Top 20:

1) Ryan Murray D Everett - I'm giving Murray the benefit of the doubt here, because his play has slipped a bit while some other have either been stable or ramped up their play. Murray still has high hockey sense and strong work ethic, but his Everett team has struggled this year. They were not very good with him and terrible without him. Murray is currently out with a high ankle sprain that should keep him out until December. Top pairing capabilities. Last Rank: #1

2) Mathew Dumba D Red Deer - Dumba has stayed on course through the first quarter of the season. A Dman with a penchant for a big play, either through making a rush up the ice, shooting cannons from the point or delivering open ice hits. His hockey sense is still somewhat in question with me and ultimately could hold him back as being a top pairing Dman at the pro level but he is undeniably a highlight reel waiting to happen. Last Rank: #3

3) Morgan Rielly D Moose Jaw - Rielly answered the questioned of whether or not he could bring Moose Jaw out of the doldrums and bring them to the next level. He has been the offensive catalyst for this team from the backend and has really become a tempo setter for the Warriors. Moose Jaw currently sits 3rd in their division and are well within the playoff threshold. Rielly, unfortunately, had his season ended by a torn ACL, he likely won't get the opportunity to be higher than this spot. Last Rank: #4

4) Griffin Reinhart D Edmonton - Reinhart is a player that doesn't have a lot of "wow" factir in his game, but he is solid and steady, someone you want on the ice a lot of the time. As I mentioned in the previous pole, Reinhart was going to have to take one of his skills and make it elite. Reinhart has yet to do that. He started off slowly, got suspended for a knee on knee hit, but now has his game back up to stride. Someone looking for a big minute eating Dman that can contribute at both ends of the ice will look the way of Reinhart. Reinhart slipped only because Dumba and Rielly really upped their games. Last rank: #2

5) Derrick Pouliot D Portland - Pouliot's season thus far has run hot and cold, much like his Portland team. Pouliot got off to a real hot start, but has tapered off a bit as Joe Morrow came back from the Penguins camp to take back his #1 spot on the team. Pouliot has some offensive ability, his real value comes as being a point man on the power play. Pouliot's game at times seems to succomb to indifference at times. He played better when he was the #1 option than being the 2nd fiddle. Pouliot will have to be better to crack the top 4. Last Rank: #5

6) Damon Severson D Kelowna - Severson has had a strong year so far with the Rockets, already within a point of eclipsing his point totals from last year. Severson's points have come in bunches and then will go long stretches without getting anything. Severson's positional play is top notch. He has already established himself as a very dependable defender. Severson is on the cusp of breaking into the top 5. He will have to up the point total to do so. Last Rank: #6

7) Colton Sissons RW Kelowna - Sissons had a feather put in his cap to start the year by naming him captain of the Rockets. Sissons, at the very will least will be an up and down winger that finishes checks and goes to the rough areas. At most, he could become a scoring power forward. Sissons just has that look to his game that scouts love. He's a strapping player that keeps the game simple. He definitely has that Nathan Horton thing going on for him. It will be interesting to see where he ends up. Last Rank: #11

8) Dalton Thrower D Saskatoon - Thrower is a high event defenseman. He embraces the physicality of the game. A typical middle pairing Dman, plays tough, blocks shots, contributes some offense. I don't question his toughness but I question his hockey sense to a degree. He is coming along nicely in Saskatoon and Saskatoon is able to put him roles where he can succeed. A team looking for a high energy Dman, Thrower is that player. Last Rank: #10

9) Tim Bozon LW Kamloops - Kamloops is off to a really strong start this year and Tim Bozon is one of the reasons why. Bozon is a player that has some offense to his game, but brings a real reliable game to both ends of the ice. He is 2nd on his team in plus/minus, 4th on his team in points and has shown himself to be a fine complementary player on the Blazers this season. He's put himself on the radar with a strong start to the year. Last Rank: NR

10) Coda Gordon RW Swift Current - Gordon is having a season much like Bozon is. The difference is the teams they play on. Kamloops is one of the best teams in the Dub, while Swift Current is a team trying to keep its head above water. Gordon is being featured on the top line with Taylor Vause and Adam Lowry. He is managaing to stay on the even side of the ledger while the rest of his team is heavy into the minuses. A strong start from Gordon gets him on the board. Last Rank: NR

11) Cody Corbett D Edmonton - This is my darkhorse that scouts are still trying to get to know. To this point he only has 2 points in 7 games but has a style of game that looks very translatable to the pro level. Thick bodied Dman that can play in a variety of roles. Looks very comfortable with the puck and plays the point on the power play very well. The Oil Kings are very deep on the backend, so I'm not sure how much opportunity will be there for him, but I think he will find a way to break through once he finds some comfort on his team and in his role. Last Rank: NR

12) Brendan Leipsic C Portland - Leipsic has had a season much like his teammate Derrick Pouliot. He has been hot some games, ineffective in others. Unlike Pouliot, Leipsic's predecessor, Ryan Johnasen, has not come back to Portland, forcing Leipsic into some bigger roles, ones that I don't think he is quite ready for. Leipsic is a small, dynamic player. Great hamds, great speed, just not big enough to get to the hard areas of the ice. Leipsic will be a gamble pick by anyone who takes him. Last Rank: #8

13) Troy Bourke LW Prince George - Bourke is likely the player on the list that is having the most disappointing start to his year. I had him ranked as the best forward out of the Dub this year and the numbers are just not coming very frequesntly for him. Prince George, as a team, have the least amount of goals for in the WHL. I believe everyone is missing the contributions of Brett Connelly, a player that stuck with the Lightning. A 17 and 16 year old in Bourke and Forsberg are expected to lead this team offensively, isn't an ideal situation for either of them. Last Rank: #7

14) Dominik Volek LW Regina - Volek is a player that found a niche in Regina and is thriving in a secondary scoring role. He has some nice versatility in his game. I think he's a player that's still adapting to the North American game, but he some nice skills that he has shown off. Quick skater, quick release, very darting type player. It will be interesting to see how he evolves in Regina with a lot of other players also trying to make names for themselves. All being said, a strong start for Volek thus far. Last Rank: NR

15) Brendan Troock RW Seattle - A very slow start for Troock to start the year, but I am still mesmerized by this player becasue there seems to be a big, solid hockey player in there somewhere. The thing that is hurting him the most is his skating, despite his size, his isn't very strong on his skates. He only has 6 points in 17 games and is -10. If someone takes a gamble on him, he is a true project. He has the hockey body, but someone will need to redefine his game and his skating. Last Rank: #17

16) Brandon Magee C Victoria - I love the way Magee plays the game. He's tenacious, play with a high motor and never gives up on a play. The thing lacking in his game is size. The size kind of hurts in battles but it will really hurt him when it comes to durability. He is averaging a point a game to this point for a Victoria team that has been very inconsistant. Last Rank: #12

17) Steven Hodges C Victoria - Hodges plays a decent two-way game, seems to have found an offensive gear this year, already achieving a points high of 19. Hodges seems to be finding a way to contribute secondary scoring on a team that desperately needs it. Hodges is a player that I will be keeping my eye on more as the season progresses. Last Rank: NR

18) Mike Winther C Prince Albert - Winther is having a decent year despite his Prince Albert team struggling to find wins. Winther plays a solid two-way game. Kind of a utility knife type player that can play in a variety of roles. Great skater, reminds me of a Todd Marchant type. Someone looking for this type of player would be wise to look the way on Winther. Last Rank: NR

19) Chris Driedger G Calgary - Goaltenders in the WHL are a tough breed to gauge in their draft years, unless they are total studs like Carey Price. Tyler Bunz, I thought was a stiff of a pick for the Oilers, has turned into one of the best junior goalies in all of Canada. I get an inkling Driedger is on the same curve. Some games he looks great, others he looks blah. The good news for him is he will get a lot of looks in Calgary, a team that is trying to get out of the basement of the WHL, looking for respect. Last Rank: #19

20) Chandler Stephenson LW Regina - Stephenson's year has been one of wild inconstancy. Looks like a first rounder some nights and other nights looks like he doesn't belong in the WHL. It will be interesting to see how Stephenson, Volek, and Klimchuk all push each other thoughout the year. Last Rank: #9

Out of the rankings.
#13 Ryan Olsen Saskatoon
#14 Jaynen Rissling Calgary
#15 Daulton Siwak Red Deer
#16 Tyrel Seaman Brandon
#18 Colton Heffley Kelowna
#20 Reid Gow Spokane

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