Rankings are a constant debate for us at ISS, and each month the debate burns over who should be our top ranked prospect. At times, the entire staff agrees, but most often the case is there is always one or two of us, at least, who disagree.
The best part about having a large staff is cultivating and challenging each other’s opinions and coming to a conclusion about where to rank the best draft eligible players in the world. This year has already created some lively debate between two dynamic offensive Russian talents who have chosen to play in the CHL. Those two players are Nail Yakupov and Mikhail Grigorenko. Yakupov has the upper hand in most circles of thought because of his play and numbers from last season and his hot start to the year this season. Grigorenko has been playing catchup, playing in his first CHL season with after joining the Quebec Remparts this year.
There is a vast difference in the way the two play the game, Yakupov reminds ISS more of a Pavel Bure/Taylor Hall type player, while Grigorenko seems to be a Joe Thornton clone. Thus, the great debate ignites. Yakupov has done nothing to warrant falling out of the top spot, but after many viewings and much debate the time has come for Grigorenko to reap the rewards of his continual and dominant development.
Grigorenko will top ISS’s rankings for the first time this month as the number one prospect for the NHL draft. His ability to amplify the skill sets of those around him is what sets him apart from the rest of the pack, and while the incredible offensive talents of Yakupov are nothing to take lightly, Grigorenko has shown better as of late and this isn’t the first time. During last year’s U18 World Championsips in Germany, the combo of Grigorenko and Yakupov scored at a torrid pace, and while Yakupov was likely to put up significant numbers regardless of his linemates, it was evident that the skill set of Grigorenko made it easier for Yakupov to succeed.
The two are likely to do battle all year long and hopefully junior hockey fans and NHL fans take note, as it’s not often that two talented Europeans such as these sacrifice so much to come play in North America to round out their games and improve their North American prospect standing. Both will challenge for scoring titles in the Quebec and Ontario league respectively and should be locks to lead the Russian World Junior squad on their quest for a second straight gold medal. Both will have to remain hot and continue to impress as the competition and quality of the top prospects for this year is very strong and a number of candidates should continue to emerge as the season goes on. For now though, the crown is hovering over the head of Mikhail Grigorenko.
1. Grigorenko, Mikhail, RW 5/16/94 L 6.03.25 200 Québec QMJHL
2. Yakupov, Nail, LW 10/6/93 L 5.10.5 189 Sarnia OHL
3. Forsberg, Filip, RW 8/13/94 R 6.01 176 Leksands SweAl
4. Murray, Ryan, LD 9/27/93 L 6.00.5 201 Everett WHL
5. Dumba, Matt, RD 7/25/94 R 5.11.75 183 Red Deer WHL
6. Trouba, Jacob, RD 2/26/94 R 6.02 196 USA Under-18 NTDP
7. Koekkoek, Slater, LD 2/18/94 L 6.02 184 Peterborough OHL
8. Aberg, Pontus, LW 9/23/93 R 5.11 187 Djurgarden SweE
9. Gaunce, Brendan, C 3/25/94 L 6.02 215 Belleville OHL
10. Rielly, Morgan, LD 3/9/94 L 5.11.5 190 Moose Jaw WHL
11. Ceci, Cody, RD 12/21/93 R 6.02.5 207 Ottawa OHL
12. Reinhart, Griffin, LD 1/24/94 6.03.75 207 Edmonton WHL
13. Maatta, Olli, LD 8/22/94 L 6.01.5 202 London OHL
14. Maidens, Jarrod, C 3/4/94 L 6.00.5 178 Owen Sound OHL
15. Frk, Martin, RW 10/5/93 L 5.11.5 204 Halifax QMJHL
16. Collberg, Sebastian, RW 2/23/94 R 5.11 Vastra SweJE
17. Galchenyuk, Alexander, RW 2/12/94 L 6.00.5 198 Sarnia OHL
18. Pouliot, Derrick, D 1/16/94 L 5.11.25 186 Portland WHL
19. Kerdiles, Nicholas, C/L 1/11/94 L, 6.01.5 200 USA Under-18 NTDP
20. Girgensons, Zemgus, F 1/5/94 L 6.01.25 201 Dubuque USHL
21. Matheson, Mike, LD 2/27/94 L 6.01.25 180 Dubuque USHL
22. Ebert, Nick, RD 5/11/94 R 5.11.25 205 Windsor OHL
23. Athanasiou, Andreas, C 8/6/94 L 6.00 179 London OHL
24. Sissons, Colton, C/R 11/5/93 L 6.01 189 Kelowna WHL
25. Slepyshev, Anton, LW 5/13/94 R 6.02 187 Novokuznetsk KHL
26. Wilson, Thomas, RW, 3/29/94 R 6.03.5 203 Plymouth OHL
27. Curcuruto, Gianluca, LD 2/25/94 L 6.00.25 195 S.S. Marie OHL
28. Skjei, Brady, LD 3/26/94 L 6.03 203 USA Under-18 NTDP
29. Finn, Matthew, LD, 2/24/94 L 6.00.25 195 Guelph OHL
30. Thrower, Dalton, RD, 12/20/93 R 5.11.25 189 Saskatoon WHL
Mikhail Grigorenko, RW, Quebec Remparts
The big talented Grigorenko is just producing more and more excitement with every game he plays. Girorenko currently leads his team and all rookies in the QMJHL with 16 goals and 18 assists in 23 games. He is a big skilled Center with high Hockey IQ and very good puck presence; he protects puck well, great reach, and excellent puck control. He has exceptional vision and on ice awareness and makes good tape to tape passes while at speed.
Nicholas Kerdiles, C/W, USA Under-18
Sniper, once again impressed scouts at recent U18 4-Nations Monthey, Switzerland. Led tournament in points with 5 all goals while helping USA go undefeated in 3 games. Kerdilesi is a highly skilled and highly competitive forward who has the knack of elevating his play in the proverbial big game. He seems to be the type of player who wants the puck when it matters, and when he does get it he will do whatever is necessary to make things happen. He tends to play the game with a little more urgency offensively. He is at his best when he has the puck, displaying a high level of confidence and composure.
Michael Clarke, C, Windsor Spitfires
One of the most improved players in the entire CHL. Clarke is a very effective and productive two- way forward, always on the right side of the puck. The type of player that just goes out and plays a very subtle, almost business like game, however by doing so he contributes immensely to his teams success. Used in all situations and is great on draws and PK. Poor mans Adam Henrique (NJD). Should be 3rd selection come June, still needs work on strength and shot.
Thomas Wilson, RW, Plymouth Whalers
Wilson is a big bodied right winger blessed with great physical tools. He possesses an attractive set of physical tools; he has good size, which he uses on a consistent basis, and better then average hands. As a true power forward he shows excellent puck protection to the outside and punishing hits whenever he can on the opposition. He scored a highlight reel goal where he picked off an errant pass up ice, did a 360 turn around the last defender and let go a quick release low glove side. He does his best work around the net and in the slot, constantly moving and creating lanes making it tough for the goalie to see past his big frame.
Colton Sissons, RW, Kelowna Rockets
Sissons is an effective two-way power forward that projects the potential to produce offensively at the next level. He plays a very responsible game when playing on the wall, looking after his responsibilities, making quick and simple plays.
Cody Ceci, D, Ottawa 67s
For the 2nd straight month Ceci finds himself in our Rising list. Impressive offensively and showed the coming of potentially a powerplay juggernaut at the next level. However like most offensive defenseman there is a degree of high risk high reward which must be taken into account. His coverage at times was spotty defensively but he does show great mobility to get back into position.
Matthew Finn, D, Guelph Storm
Finn is a very effective, calm and poised defender who is effective in all three zones of the rink. Currently injured, Finn has silently become the backbone of this Guelph squad through his tremendous defensive game and composure. He wears the ‘A’ on his jersey for a reason, he directs his teammates and is the vocal leader on the ice. Plays a simple yet extremely efficient game does the little things right and never seems to get in trouble.
Vladislav Shalimov, LW, Val d’Or Foreurs
Good size. Power forward type. Skates well with a nice long smooth stride. Has some late round potential. He was matched up against MacKinnon several times throughout this game. Has some very good offensive potential and should turn some heads and could garner some late-draft attention this year.
Scott Laughton, C, Oshawa Generals
We are very disappointed with this player. Doesn’t seem to be the player the Generals brass had hoped for him to be. It is frustrating to watch him because of how well he is playing in his own end and off the puck that if he had his offensive game going he could definitely be on the rise.
Julien Leduc, D, Val D’Or Foreurs
Too many giveaways, one led directly to 6th goal. Average size, just a good skater/mobility for size. Has a lot of work to do… does not show enough offensive upside to negate lack of defensive play. Positioning, read and decision making also need work. Val-d’Or’s 2nd Round Pick, 22nd Overall in 2010 QMJHL Draft.
Dane Fox, D, London Knights
Had a rough start to the season. He needs to work on his skating, has slow feet and average acceleration up ice. Defensive game was up and down, needs to focus more on his play in his own end. Was London’s 3rd Round Pick, 51st Overall in 2009 OHL draft.
Luca Ciampini, LW, Halifax Mooseheads
Once again really didn’t show anything in this game. Draft stock is falling at this point.