It used to be that the NHL's Central Scouting Service would put out their final rankings at the end of May/early June and it took prospect performances into account. That is no longer the case, but E.J. McGuire and his staff have done much more than CSS in the past to publicize their rankings and engage with the media to highlight the players and explain their decisions. That's a good news/bad news story, because ultimately, NHL teams DO take playoffs and the Under-18 Championship tournament performances into account, so while the Central list is certainly helpful, the reality is that the public rankings will bear little resemblance to those secret lists maintained by the NHL's 30 teams.
The 2010 final rankings were released this week, so with that in mind, here are some observations along the lines of what this blog did for the midterm list here.
Topping the North American Skaters list is Plymouth Whalers captain and center Tyler Seguin, who edged Windsor Spitfires' star winger Taylor Hall. Seguin doesn't have Hall's speed or pedigree, but had a sensational season, tying Hall for the OHL's scoring lead with 106 points. Seguin is a more complete player than Hall at this point, and Central compared his game to that of Hall of Fame center Steve Yzerman, which is a comparison I've heard before. If you want to link Seguin to a current NHL player, I'd liken him to Blackhawk captain Jonathan Toews, while Hall is more of a Patrick Kane.
Seguin's stock took a bit of a hit this week in the wake of his team's sweep at the hands of the superior Spitfires team, spearheaded by Hall. Seguin was held scoreless in the four game series, but that is less an idictment of Seguin than it is of just how good and deep a team Windsor is. For his part, Hall was outstanding, scoring goals and setting them up. I think the bottom line here is that the teams holding the first two picks will get the two top talents in the draft, and potentially have players who will contribute immediately in the 2010-11 season.
Don Cherry was in Boston last month and emphatically declared that Edmonton, who finished last and has the best chance of landing the first overall selection, coveted Hall and would certainly take him with the top pick. At the same time, there have been numerous media reports saying that the Oilers will opt for Seguin because of his upside and the team's all-around need at center. Hall is probably a better fit for Boston, so depending on how the lottery goes on Tuesday night, expect this debate to rage from now until the first round of the draft happens on June 25 in Los Angeles (got my plane tickets and hotel booked- I'm there).
One caveat: the longer Hall plays and the deeper his team goes, the more first overall hype he'll generate.
Who will it be? That is for the top club in the pole position to decide, but if the Bruins finish even second, they will have a terrific forward on their hands-- whether it be Hall or Seguin.
I'll be back with detailed posts this weekend on both the North American skaters and goalie lists (How could Central have completely omitted Brian Billett? I don't get it.) and the European lists. This analysis is simply too encompassing to limit to one post.
So, I'll have the soup-to-nuts rundown, plus quotes from several NHL scouts on the lists and who they think are the most curious of the players on them (Hello? Jeff Skinner 34th? Hello?)