11. Nikita Filatov, LW – Columbus Blue Jackets
This first-round pick from the 2008 Entry Draft debuts just outside the top 10. 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.
12. Zach Bogosian, D – Atlanta Thrashers
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.
13. Bobby Ryan, RW – Anaheim Ducks
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.
14. Tuukka Rask, G – Boston Bruins
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.
15. Patrik Berglund, C – St. Louis Blues
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.
16. Luke Schenn, D – Toronto Maple Leafs
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.
17. T. J. Oshie, C – St. Louis Blues
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.
18. Ondrej Pavelec, G – Atlanta Thrashers
Pavelec made the transition to the pro game in style last year, helping the Chicago Wolves to a Calder Cup victory. In his first professional season, he started 52 AHL games and finished with a 2.77 GAA and a .911 save percentage. He also had seven starts in the NHL where he averaged just over three goals a game and had record of 3 wins and 3 losses. He still needs to round out some of the finer points of his game and become more consistent — he too often goes on streaks of good or bad play. Behind another young and talented goaltender in Kari Lehtonen in the system, the Thrashers have the luxury of not having to rush Pavelec along and will allow him to further hone his game without pressure.
19. David Krejci, C – Boston Bruins
After spending the majority of the 2007-08 season in Boston, Krejci has proven that he is more than capable of playing at the NHL level. But he has not yet reached his potential. His rookie NHL season started off slow, and for a time he appeared to struggle, however, a late-season surge of confidence provided a glimpse of the type of player he can be. A gifted playmaker, he has the potential to be one of the better centers in the league. He had terrific vision and hockey sense as one of those players who always seems to be able to find the right spot at the right time. Krejci is willing to pay the price to make a play, and while he is not overly physical, he will hit.
20. Thomas Hickey, D – Los Angeles Kings
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.
21. Colin Wilson, C – Nashville Predators
Wilson had a tremendous freshman season at Boston University in 2007-08, propelling him into the top ten picks of the 2008 entry draft. Logging a lot of ice time and playing in virtually every situation, his impact for the Terriers was immediate. Wilson averaged nearly a point per game and will look for a strong follow-up as a sophomore in 2008-09. He has good size, exceptional hockey sense, and his overall vision and ability to read and anticipate plays is above average. He’s tough to knock off the puck, has good hands, can both make plays and score goals, and is defensively responsible. If he continues his strong rise, he could find himself enticed into professional hockey before graduation.
22. Michael Frolik, C – Florida Panthers
Frolik was signed by the Panthers in May and will make his professional debut this fall. He is both a dangerous passer and a shooter, and capable of excelling at high speeds. But for his high-end offensive sensibility, more could be done for his play away from the puck and in the defensive zone. Granted, Frolik has made progress during his years with Rimouski Oceanic in the QMJHL, but a visit to the AHL should still serve him well. Even so, the Panthers have shown no hesitation in the past to bring their young players into the fold, and there is no shortage of spots available coming into training camp.
23. Mikkel Boedker, LW – Phoenix Coyotes
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.
24. Claude Giroux, RW – Philadelphia Flyers
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.
25. Nikolai Kulemin, LW – Toronto Maple Leafs
A standout with Magnitogorsk of the RSL, Kulemin is trying to make his North American debut on a rebuilding Maple Leafs team. A former teammate of Evgeni Malkin, it was not until Malkin had left for Pittsburgh that Kulemin emerged as an offensive threat, putting together two consecutive 20-goal seasons for Metallurg Magnitogorsk. The 6’0 201 lbs winger is a natural goal scorer who generates most of his offense cycling the puck around the net and along the boards. If his talent translates to the North American ice, he has the potential to be a centerpiece for the Leafs’ offense for years to come.